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Today psychologists suggest that women’s rape fantasies have three possible explanations:
- Sexual blame avoidance. This is the most popular explanation. It recognizes that women’s erotic desires may trigger feelings of anxiety, guilt, and shame. How can women enjoy robust sexual fantasies without developing these feelings? Fantasize about being forced. That way, women aren’t responsible for sex and need not feel distressed about it. I was forced. It wasn’t my fault.
- Sexual desirability. This explanation reflects the arc of romance fiction, which is wildly popular among women (and the single largest-selling category of fiction). In romance novels, a powerful, dangerous man becomes so enthralled by the protagonist that he must have her, even if his pursuit is assaultive. Eventually, she tames him and they marry and have children. The sexual-desirability explanation says that women have rape fantasies to bolster feelings of seductiveness and desirability. I’m so hot. I drive men crazy.
- Sexual openness. This explanation says that women who enjoy sex and accept their enjoyment without anxiety, guilt, or shame feel sufficiently free to play with erotic scenarios beyond the boundaries of what they’d ever want to experience in real life. It’s fantasy. I’m free to fantasize anything.