Why is non-consensual sex so common in romance novels? (self.AskWomen)

AskWomen

208 ups - 44 downs = 164 votes

When I had to leave my PhD program, I sort of "rebelled" against all the academic reading I'd been doing. I ordered a couple big box lots of period (mostly regency era) romance novels for fluff-reading. Over the time since, I've read the majority of them, and I've been surprised and saddened by how many of the books that do have sex scenes have non-consensual scenarios.

The last book I finished was particularly egregious. I don't think there was any described sex scene that was not forced.

Perhaps this is partly because the books are older, used romances, some going back as far as the 60s (and others from the 90s and 2000s). But still, I don't understand why rape plays such a big role in what is basically erotica for women. I would expect it to appear from time to time, but not as often as it has.

Any thoughts?

159 comments submitted at 17:34:05 on Mar 7, 2014 by AnneNeville

  • [-]
  • celestialism
  • 250 Points
  • 17:36:37, 7 March

Because a lot of women have ravishment fantasies.

  • [-]
  • Derpina42
  • 119 Points
  • 17:55:50, 7 March

I love how you say "ravishment"... Because, contrary to popular belief it is not really "rape-fantasies".

I will steal that.

  • [-]
  • mangleopolis
  • 41 Points
  • 18:38:55, 7 March

What's the difference between the two? (not being flippant; actual question)

  • [-]
  • Whole_new_me
  • 39 Points
  • 21:17:41, 7 March

Unlike actual rape, ravishment centered around the idea that the heroine is soooo desirable that the man must have her even though society says it is forbidden. Together they succumb to sexy forbidden fruit and (often) he teaches her about the heights of pleasure.

The woman is always tempted, but resists out of societal propriety (i.e. "we shouldn't, you sexy thing!" not "No. Get off me!"), there is no intent to hurt and she feels swept up and dominated, but not violated. The ravisher is always the object of pre-existing desire, not just some guy.

I mean, it's not that hard to understand a fantasy that you are so sexy your lover loses control.

  • [-]
  • soradsauce
  • 1 Points
  • 23:32:49, 7 March

> I mean, it's not that hard to understand a fantasy that you are so sexy your lover loses control.

Hahaha. I can't figure out if this is sarcastic or not, but either way it made me chuckle in the middle of this kind of intense debate.

  • [-]
  • Dubsland12
  • 1 Points
  • 00:37:19, 8 March

My understanding is that In ravishment the woman resists the mans advances at first but is won over after, this is the male romantic fantasy. After I ravish her she will worship me.

  • [-]
  • thatoneguy54
  • 66 Points
  • 18:57:01, 7 March

Rape is a horrible, traumatic experience. Ravishing is much more consensual.

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • 48 Points
  • 19:13:23, 7 March

I'm having a hard time imagining consent as anything but binary, yes/no. Could you explain what partial consent would be?

EDIT: Consensual non-consent is consent. It may be meta in nature, but it is no "more" or "less" consensual than Consent Original(tm).

  • [-]
  • shelleythefox
  • 122 Points
  • 19:48:45, 7 March

In those books, it's usually a virgin who is super curious about sex and WANTS to know what it's all about, but "society" doesn't allow her to know anything about it until her wedding night.

The scene is usually where the guy sneaks into her bed, or finds some way to get her alone and takes advantage of her, but she actually wanted it anyway. She tells him no, because she's always been taught that she should do to be "proper". He usually kisses her, and turns her on, but she doesn't really understand what's happening with her body because she was so sheltered. In the end, the only time he actually hurts her is when he breaks her hymen, and in the end is "well-loved" and goes away from the experience with fond memories, not traumatized ones.

Basically, the fantasy is that her lover knows what she wants before she does, gives it to her and more, and takes control and decision-making out of her hands so she can just lay back and enjoy the experience. He's totally turned on because he's her first lover, and her innocence is what does it for him. Oh, and she's feisty. He likes that.

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 22 Points
  • 22:05:58, 7 March

And, in away, she doesn't have to feel guilty or slutty, because she didn't make an active choice to seduce the hero.

  • [-]
  • Hellomontrealll
  • 14 Points
  • 20:44:51, 7 March

This is spot on. I've tried explaining this a few times to people but I've never been able to successfully get the point across. Your description is perfect!!

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • 41 Points
  • 20:50:21, 7 March

I fully understand the premise of these books and the nature of the sexual fantasy. I'm not trying to be pedantic here, but I do think that having the concept of more/less/partial consent is not useful and is actually harmful. The consensuality (consentedness?) of the sex is not dependent upon whether or not either/both parties ultimately wanted and/or enjoyed the sex. Consent is consent. There is no superstate of consent that will be resolved when it is observed later. Consent is not retroactive. Parties either give consent or they do not. Having consent be anything else opens the door a crack for the "well, she really wanted it" rape apologists and sympathizers.

Ultimately, whether one calls it "ravishment" or "rape" is irrelevant. The person who enjoys this sexual fantasy needs to realize that they enjoy reading about non-consensual or that they enjoy the illusion of having non-consensual sex (that they've previously consented to). And if that's their kink, sure, have at it. But to muddy the waters of consent seems counterproductive.

  • [-]
  • celestialism
  • 41 Points
  • 21:47:58, 7 March

I agree with you completely when we're talking about real life.

However, in the world of fantasy (whether it's just in your head or you're playing out a fantasy with a partner), there is such a thing as consensual non-consent. It would be silly and invalidating to say that such a thing doesn't exist or is "wrong."

In real life, consent is black and white: yes means yes, and everything else means no. But in a fantasy, everything that's happening to you was chosen by you (unless you don't have control over your mental faculties due to a mental health problem) so even the "non-consensual" is in fact consensual.

That's why I use the phrase "ravishment fantasy" as opposed to "rape fantasy." No one really fantasizes about being raped because rape is a forcible, non-consensual act. Consensual non-consent is ravishment. It's wanted, even if the "victim" pretends it's not wanted.

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • 1 Points
  • 23:03:01, 7 March

I never said it was "wrong." In fact, I said "And if that's their kink, sure, have at it." But "consensual non-consent" (though a silly term, in my opinion) is still, ultimately just consent wrapped in a layer of meta-ness, masquerading as objection or apathy. There's no partial consent or kinda consent or a little consent. There is only consent.

It's like boxing: even though the opponents are not actually trying to kill each other, it's still violence. And even if two people are playing at rape, if they both agree to it, it's still consensual.

  • [-]
  • MlleChartreuse
  • 1 Points
  • 00:35:57, 8 March

"Consensual non-consent" is not a silly term. It has a place in real life. BDSM practitioners use it, for example, to define the type of fantasy role play that might incorporate ravishment fantasies. It means that I consent to anything that will be done to me for the duration of the scene that we are about to engage in until it is ended.

Most people can engage in fantasy elements without muddying any waters in real life. Books contain violence, death, danger, sexual exploits, and the average someone can enjoy those make-believe scenarios without real-life consequences. It's not just those that have a "kink" for it.

  • [-]
  • thegreenwolf
  • 1 Points
  • 22:17:27, 7 March

Unfortunately, a lot of what happened in such books could easily fall under the aegis of BDSM. However, what happens is that since so many people are still squicked out by the idea of kink, instead of calling it what it is and then having a mature discussion about safe words, boundaries, hard and soft limits, consensual non-consent, etc. we instead end up with a story of ravishment without the background context needed to translate such desires safely into real life. That's part of my gripe with "Fifty Shades of Grey" and its sequels--even as a blatantly BDSM-themed book, it completely skips some really important parts of the negotiation and consent issue.

  • [-]
  • boredwillow
  • 1 Points
  • 00:07:57, 8 March

I don't consider myself an expert in romance novels at all, but I read lots circa the early 00s and they're BDSMy at all. There are totally books like that, but it isn't quite the same genre as Harlequin.

  • [-]
  • Drabby
  • 9 Points
  • 21:54:33, 7 March

You, sir, are doing it right. The key to all these "ravishment" scenarios are that they are fictional. There is no way to pull them off in real life without hurting somebody. You'd have to literally be a mind-reader. People who use these fantasies as an excuse for pushing somebody else's boundaries need a refresher course on the difference between the real world and fiction.

Edit: Yes, I am aware that people role-play these fantasies in safe and consensual situations all the time. The key is communication. I'm not talking about BDSM and role-play. There are still a fair number of people in our society who think that these sorts of scenarios happen spontaneously. Some of these people are judges in sexual assault cases.

  • [-]
  • MilkHoney
  • 1 Points
  • 22:53:32, 7 March

Of course there is. Discuss consensual non - consent before hand and establish a safe word.

  • [-]
  • technicolournurd
  • 1 Points
  • 23:38:18, 7 March

People role play and act out these fantasies all the time. The key is trust and discussing it fully beforehand.

  • [-]
  • twatzillawaffle
  • 1 Points
  • 22:18:24, 7 March

Umm, no. I agree with what you're saying in terms of law. But human experience, emotion and expectation are far more vague and varied than a simple "yes/no." It is necessary for consent to be explicit in the real world. But when a woman is home alone, safe and sound in the solitude of her thoughts she is allowed to wish and think and fantasize about whatever the hell she wants. It could be anybody, any thing. Taboo, vanilla, perverted, something terribly illegal, or quite sweet. It doesn't matter one damn bit because what she wants is a release, an escape from daily, normal life and sometimes the stale-ass sex that comes with it. I don't care what society thinks about what women think about (and therefore feel drawn to read about) in the safety of their heads. I know you think there is a barrier that can be crossed from the solitude of the mind to the company of reality. But really it is seldom crossed. You might be surprised what that bubbly girl at your favorite store has thought while all alone. And she wouldn't so much as hurt a fly ;)

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • 1 Points
  • 23:13:37, 7 March

She is free to think about it all she wants; I give no shits what her fantasies may or may not be. Hell, if I was into it, I'd be right there with her, dreaming of ravashing and being ravished all day!

But at the end of the day, call it what it is: a non-consensual sexual fantasy. Don't church it up. Don't try to redefine "consent" to shoehorn this fantasy in. It is what it is. And what it's not is consensual.

  • [-]
  • boredwillow
  • 1 Points
  • 00:06:23, 8 March

It isn't necessarily non-consensual. There are a shit ton of forced marriages in romance novels. And not old school ones, recent ones.

But the outline is something like this:

Dashingly handsome man infuriates the heroine. My isn't he full of himself! But oh so handsome!

Hero and heroine must marry for the good of their families. (The forced marriage thing is very common in historical novels).

Heroine agrees to the marriage, but is nervous about the wedding night. It must be borne for the good of the family. Oh but he is so sexy! And such a considerate lover! Oh my!

Hero and heroine have lots of sex, without fully getting along outside of the bedroom. Something happens that makes them put down their armor and open up to each other. They're in love! And darling, have I mentioned I'm pregnant? In nine months, there will be an heir to the earldom!

  • [-]
  • AirmanEpic
  • 1 Points
  • 23:33:43, 7 March

I applaud you for your tact and honor in the way you asked an extremely sensitive question that needed to be asked.

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • 1 Points
  • 23:37:10, 7 March

If I was tactful, it was purely by accident. They don't call me "Mr McBastard" for nothing.

  • [-]
  • AirmanEpic
  • 1 Points
  • 23:41:05, 7 March

You could have said it a lot worse. Mc-what-evah

  • [-]
  • shelleythefox
  • 2 Points
  • 21:03:50, 7 March

I agree with you completely. Young women read those books. I know I did. They were my first introductions to sex, actually. I'm glad I turned out "normal" in spite of it.

  • [-]
  • mattyoclock
  • 1 Points
  • 23:51:07, 7 March

I'm admittedly a man, and have only briefly glanced at these as I bought them for an ex, but they all seemed to written solely from the female perspective. This allows a hell of a lot more gray area then would be possible from the POV of a man. When you can explicitly see all the thoughts spelled out before you, you can see that consent is there in the mind, just not uttered for fear of the consequences. Someone saying "I shouldn't" or "I can't" with cuts to their mind yelling "yes yes yes". It allows a very clear picture of the desires of the woman not possible in real life.

Also you are totally fucked in the head if you think that consent is never grey in real life. It should never be taken as grey, and no has to mean no regardless, but I've had women ask me why I stopped before. Even say I shouldn't while guiding my hands or head to some fun areas quite forcefully. Legally, and practically consent must always be given, never assumed, and no means no. But that is not the same as a defining trait for humanity.

Never had a problem with explaining I was respecting them after stopping and telling them to say "red" if they meant it though. Just pay attention to the clues. If someone seems put out that you stopped, have the conversation right then, not the next day after you awkwardly go home.

  • [-]
  • Circlesmirk
  • 2 Points
  • 21:12:21, 7 March

And this comment I fully agree with. I think that this sentiment is also pretty prevalent among the romance readership community too... perhaps lending to the popularity of the 50 shades of grey books, where concepts of dominance and submission were explored within a consensual and loving relationship.

  • [-]
  • puppysnuff
  • 1 Points
  • 22:37:14, 7 March

As a male, I think it's difficult to understand what a woman wants when she's actually trying to tell me. Communication between genders is difficult enough without setting an expectation that another person should know what the other wants magically.

  • [-]
  • StabbyStabStab
  • 1 Points
  • 00:57:10, 8 March

The context of this discussion is romance novels, not real life. Talking about one another's desires beforehand is necessary for consensual non-consent to work out. Safe words are good and, in some cases, necessary.

  • [-]
  • captain_craptain
  • 1 Points
  • 23:25:58, 7 March

My girlfriend loves these books to death. Doesn't read anything but. I was flipping through one once and kept seeing things about, 'his throbbing member' or 'his growing manhood' etc and I found it a bit funny since they want to say penis without saying penis or whatever.

Now I refer to 'myself' as my 'throbbing manhood' or 'growing member' sometimes and receive the cutest blushes and giggles in response. Sometimes she gets annoyed though and just tells me to shut up.

  • [-]
  • mattyoclock
  • 1 Points
  • 23:53:28, 7 March

Oh man, I am totally stealing that. That is a hilarious way to refer to his holiness. Odds are good any woman you bring it up with has read them as well.

  • [-]
  • adokimus
  • 1 Points
  • 22:13:10, 7 March

You nailed it.

  • [-]
  • EveryonesFriendJoe
  • 1 Points
  • 23:42:16, 7 March

> In those books, it's usually a virgin who is super curious about sex and WANTS to know what it's all about, but "society" doesn't allow her to know anything about it until her wedding night.

So basically, what a bunch of people got worked up about when they accused Blurred Lines of being "rapey"?

  • [-]
  • boredwillow
  • 1 Points
  • 00:00:00, 8 March

I think what you're leaving out is that the heroine is attracted to the man and ends up married to him. He doesn't just sneak into her bed, there's been foreshadowing of her attraction.

  • [-]
  • shelleythefox
  • 1 Points
  • 00:05:57, 8 March

Quite right. That was a bad oversight on my part.

Nothing like marrying your almost rapist. /s

  • [-]
  • boredwillow
  • 1 Points
  • 00:21:17, 8 March

Honestly, I don't consider those kinds of scenes rapey in context. I get why others would.

  • [-]
  • Tomur
  • 1 Points
  • 23:20:22, 7 March

>The scene is usually where the guy sneaks into her bed, or finds some way to get her alone and takes advantage of her, but she actually wanted it anyway.

That just sounds so rapey.

  • [-]
  • shelleythefox
  • 1 Points
  • 23:34:16, 7 March

Yup. Rape fantasy.

  • [-]
  • Ninjakitty07
  • 23 Points
  • 19:42:36, 7 March

My husband and I occasionally play with this fantasy. No matter how rough and nonconsensual it may look from the outside, I always know that there's an escape. If things go too far, I can use my safeword. Everything stops immediately and does not continue until the situation has been discussed and I give renewed consent.

I think ravishment is a better description because I want the illusion of being held down, controlled, and taken by force, but I want it within safe boundaries. I do not want a sexual encounter to leave me feeling violated and traumatized.

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • 2 Points
  • 19:59:17, 7 March

I understand that your fantasy involves the illusion of rape, but you've consented nonetheless. This is similar to BDSM enthusiasts desiring the illusion of complete power or powerlessness, but ultimately they've still consented to the power dynamic.

  • [-]
  • Brookface
  • 13 Points
  • 20:38:27, 7 March

My wifes words, not mine - "I want it, but I want to make you want it so bad that you take it from me."

For her, its about seeing me use some sense of masculine power to get what I want, her. There is always a safeword,.and both people have to pay attention to body language.

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • 1 Points
  • 21:02:32, 7 March

Sure, but ultimately, regardless of how much force was involved, there was consent.

  • [-]
  • Circlesmirk
  • 12 Points
  • 21:07:00, 7 March

Which is why it is a ravishment fantasy, and not a rape fantasy. Rape isn't something people fantasize about.

  • [-]
  • Procris
  • 4 Points
  • 22:00:24, 7 March

No one is disagreeing with you; you're highlighting the not-rape part.

  • [-]
  • ladyintheatre
  • 1 Points
  • 22:48:32, 7 March

Yes. That's why it's called consensual non-consent.

  • [-]
  • iatemysocks
  • 11 Points
  • 19:52:45, 7 March

In real life, I don't think it's possible, but in a fantasy, you can pretend to be a person who doesn't consent to something that real-you actually wants. Kind of like how you can also pretend to be a person who really enjoys things that real-you has never tried and may not ever want to do in real life, like skydiving, or robbing a bank and killing your stupid boss. Fantasies are magic like that.

Personally I really like stories about someome being "forced" to do things that they secretly really want to do, even if they don't know it yet, not things they actually really don't want to do. So there's that distinction too. It's not a real distinction in real life outside of BDSM-style play, because obviously in real life no means no (or the safeword means no) regardless of any potential secret desires. But in stories I think it can be different.

  • [-]
  • TheOresteia
  • 4 Points
  • 21:54:36, 7 March

Here's a funny, relevant bit.

  • [-]
  • SpermJackalope
  • 15 Points
  • 19:39:32, 7 March

In your fantasies - which take place in your head - you are actually God, so nothing you don't want to happen ever happens.

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • 7 Points
  • 19:53:42, 7 March

That doesn't address my question at all.

  • [-]
  • SpermJackalope
  • 9 Points
  • 20:22:36, 7 March

Consent is yes/no. But in your fantasies consent isn't actually a question so you can fantasize about stuff you wouldn't actually want in real life.

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • -3 Points
  • 20:59:17, 7 March

> you can fantasize about stuff you wouldn't actually want in real life.

Yes, that is the nature of fantasy.

> But in your fantasies consent isn't actually a question

This is where we disagree.

  • [-]
  • cog92_
  • 8 Points
  • 21:28:50, 7 March

Consent is not a question if the fantasy exist solely in your imagination, if you're acting it out obviously consent becomes a question because not everything will be within your control.

  • [-]
  • cog92_
  • 9 Points
  • 21:26:50, 7 March

It is not possible for a fantasy to be non-consensual, because it's happening inside your mind and you have control of everything.

  • [-]
  • nastibrutishort
  • 1 Points
  • 22:18:30, 7 March

I agree that describing a fantasy as non-consensual doesn't make much sense, but I disagree that you necessarily have control over your fantasies/feel happy about the nature of your fantasies, especially if they can't be carried out without horrific consequences. Intrusive thoughts and desires are about as close as it gets to a "non-consensual fantasy" (as they are rooted in internal conflict).

  • [-]
  • Project_Brundlefly
  • 1 Points
  • 00:05:43, 8 March

I take it you don't have much experience with mental illness? OCD is a great example of intrusive thoughts you have no control over. But intrusive thoughts are present in other disorders too.

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • 3 Points
  • 19:58:59, 7 March

[deleted]

  • [-]
  • rhinecat
  • 6 Points
  • 20:30:30, 7 March

>It's like how guys imagine what it would be like to blow someone away or smash their face into the pavement until their eye socket collapses into their brain

And girls!

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • 2 Points
  • 20:52:16, 7 March

Uh, sure, I guess. But what does that have to do with consent?

  • [-]
  • Crackertron
  • 1 Points
  • 22:48:11, 7 March

Well you see, men fantasizing about smashing someone's face is just like women fantasizing about being raped.

  • [-]
  • StabbyStabStab
  • 1 Points
  • 01:00:24, 8 March

This post has been removed because /r/AskWomen doesn't permit graceless generalizations of gender. Please refrain from speaking for all men or women.

  • [-]
  • Circlesmirk
  • 2 Points
  • 21:09:11, 7 March

There is no partial consent in a ravishment scenario, it's full consent with the understanding that this consent can be withdrawn (through use of a safe-word).

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • 1 Points
  • 22:42:25, 7 March

All consent, no matter the situation, can be withdrawn.

  • [-]
  • sammynicxox
  • 1 Points
  • 23:56:08, 7 March

There is also "consensual non consent" which is a pretty common scenario in BDSM relationships.

  • [-]
  • thebumm
  • 1 Points
  • 00:57:18, 8 March

I think stuff like this is where SOME rape can happen in reality. I'm not trying to joke around, just from my understanding of your explanation and things I've seen. Especially in the case of a woman being intoxicated. A guy may think along these lines, that she would say yes if she wasn't so drunk, or that she will say yes once she gets a little of the d. I honestly think that is some percentage of rapists. A larger portion are also predatory and awful people, but I can understand from this thread now that some women view this non-consent/consent thing as how many men may view it, though obviously at different times and places or whatever.

Maybe this is what Robin Thicke was sing/talking about.

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • -2 Points
  • 20:36:51, 7 March

[deleted]

  • [-]
  • ladyintheatre
  • 1 Points
  • 22:50:23, 7 March

No. Ravishment is not rape. Rape is rape regardless of how attractive the guy it. Hot guys can be rapists too.

  • [-]
  • cog92_
  • 0 Points
  • 21:24:38, 7 March

There is no such thing as partial consent. That's why you stop if you are anything but 100% sure your partner wants to have sex. If there is any indication of discomfort at all you stop and start a dialog.

That means you stop if your partner is stiff, uncomfortable, acting weird, intoxicated, not talking, not making any noise, not taking off your clothes, not taking off their clothes, or anything that seems off. You're an adult, you should be able to pick up on social cues.

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • 1 Points
  • 22:45:57, 7 March

You don't have to lecture me, I'm the one arguing for a rigid, no-compromise definition of consent, and I happen to be an enthusiastic-consent enthusiast.

  • [-]
  • ClutchHunter
  • 1 Points
  • 21:44:41, 7 March

If it's non-consensual it's still rape, no? The differences start after that.

  • [-]
  • pie_now
  • 1 Points
  • 00:50:18, 8 March

THeoretically.

In ravishment, a guy takes a woman, throws her down and has sex with her without her consent.

In rape, a guy takes a woman, throws her down and has sex with her without her consent.

So yeah, I guess there's a difference.

  • [-]
  • iamyourfather2
  • 1 Points
  • 23:55:21, 7 March

Vowels and consonants. That is all

  • [-]
  • Laziestredditor
  • 1 Points
  • 00:38:06, 8 March

Simple. When I used to throw my girl down, tear off her clothes, and use her body however I saw fit, that was ravaging. Unless she said no or stop (in her serious voice).

If I ever kept going after I knew she honestly wanted me to stop, that would be rape.

  • [-]
  • Geicojacob
  • 1 Points
  • 00:52:18, 8 March

Google ravishment, the first result is literally "rape fantasy"

  • [-]
  • maninapaperhat
  • -25 Points
  • 19:59:34, 7 March
  1. Attractive mate - ravishment

  2. Unattractive mate - rape

Is this right?

  • [-]
  • javi_intheair
  • 24 Points
  • 20:04:35, 7 March

no

  • [-]
  • maninapaperhat
  • -2 Points
  • 20:07:39, 7 March

Thanks.

  • [-]
  • ZeraskGuilda
  • 10 Points
  • 20:09:14, 7 March

No. Fuck off and shave that neckbeard. /r/theredpill is calling for you to come home.

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • -5 Points
  • 20:18:59, 7 March

[deleted]

  • [-]
  • ZeraskGuilda
  • 4 Points
  • 20:42:12, 7 March

No. Fuck srs. White-knighting trogs, that lot.

Just someone who doesn't feel like being diplomatic about it anymore.

  • [-]
  • maninapaperhat
  • -6 Points
  • 20:18:31, 7 March

try this next time, come off much more intelligilbly

  • [-]
  • ZeraskGuilda
  • 5 Points
  • 20:39:15, 7 March

I'm not gonna be nice to people who play that bullshit card. I don't care how vitriolic I come off as. Though, injection of snake venom does sound like a good idea.

  • [-]
  • maninapaperhat
  • 0 Points
  • 20:44:19, 7 March

Damn, I thought they were draining the venom.

Eh, I needed some bad karma.

  • [-]
  • poesie
  • 2 Points
  • 18:42:16, 7 March

It's pretty common to call them that now.

  • [-]
  • WildBerrySuicune
  • 6 Points
  • 19:57:21, 7 March

Does "ravishment" mean "the man's desire was so strong [because the woman is so desirable] that he was not able to stop himself from having sex with her"? Or is there another meaning of ravishment?

  • [-]
  • celestialism
  • 7 Points
  • 20:00:27, 7 March

I don't know what the official dictionary definition is, but yeah, that sounds like what I'm thinking of.

It's one of the most common sexual fantasies among women. I think it has to do with the fact that we receive cultural messaging telling us we're not allowed to be sexual initiators or sexually aggressive, so some of us may feel more feminine and sexy when we envision ourselves having zero agency/responsibility for a sexual encounter.

  • [-]
  • boredwillow
  • 1 Points
  • 23:57:50, 7 March

I really disagree with this answer. I wrote a longer response, but I think a lot of it comes back to needing to divorce sex and love in order to have a sexy book that ends with a declaration of love. Today writers tend to do that either with an obstacle or an arranged marriage. Back in the day, it ended up with very rapey plotlines or flat out rape.

If "ravishment" fantasies were so common, they'd be just as common in today's novels.

I get frustrated when people chalk up sexual media (romance novels, porn) as expressions of what people truly want. Nothing exists in a void and the desire for erotic experiences can sometimes encourage people to go along with fantasies that have developed through the media. They aren't necessarily inborn desires.

  • [-]
  • SpermJackalope
  • 46 Points
  • 17:51:50, 7 March

Part of it is that they're older, that stuff is more common in older books, and part of it is the subgenre you're reading, actually. Romance novels are highly predictable.

If you go to the Harlequin site, for example, you can see that they have many different series and imprints. These series and imprints all have different "vibes". The Blaze series is HAWT HAWT sex with younger more modern characters and relationship dynamics you'd be much more comfortable with. The American Romance series is older characters and sweet, slow moving romances that are sexist but in that chivalrous "I mustn't rush this delicate woman into something dirty" way. The Superromance series is usually very low-key, actually really realistic romances between two older characters, of which one, if not both, is usually a single parent.

Historical romance novels basically are bodice ripper, forced-sex erotica. That is what they are about. Idk why the period novels got that (possibly because the publisher thinks setting it in the past makes it more realistic, and it makes it feel less real and less like they're encouraging people to behave that way today), but period romances are basically D/s porn that isn't advertised that way.

Edit: Anything from basically before the 80s will be creepy and rapey, though. I think it's the gender dynamics of the time reflected in the writing.

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 9 Points
  • 18:08:50, 7 March

It's interesting. I like period romances, but more in the Georgette Heyer mould. Those tend not to have such violent dynamics.

  • [-]
  • brandon7s
  • 6 Points
  • 20:25:22, 7 March

Georgette Heyer is in a completely different league from anyone HQ has ever put out. She really was a great writer.

  • [-]
  • scarrlet
  • 3 Points
  • 22:03:26, 7 March

I really disagree with you about historical romances being bodice ripper porn. I pretty much exclusively read historicals, and while there's definitely a subset of historicals that still cater to women who like "alpha" asshole controlling heroes, it's a really diverse genre. Even if you stick with Harlequin, look at authors like Carla Kelly.

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 1 Points
  • 00:33:03, 8 March

This is more what I was going for. I don't like the bodice ripper porn style romances. I tend to like rather chaste interpersonal relationship oriented romances.

  • [-]
  • boredwillow
  • 1 Points
  • 00:15:35, 8 March

>Historical romance novels basically are bodice ripper, forced-sex erotica.

This is the genre I've read the most of and while it was about 10 years ago that I read a lot, I think calling it forced sex is a little off base. There are a shit ton of forced marriages, but that doesn't necessarily mean the sex is forced. More like "I guess we have to, good that you're super hot."

It's been awhile, but I read authors like Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas.

  • [-]
  • Tac0_Belle
  • 13 Points
  • 19:53:00, 7 March

There's a reason 50 Shades was popular with older conservative women (this is my anecdote, anyways). There's still a ton of double standards about sex, and "ravishment fantasies" is sort of a way around this. You can get off because "he couldn't help himself", not because you desired it, because that would be "wrong". I'm not saying everyone who has them are trying to enjoy sex scenes without guilt, but it's just a tiny trend I've noticed.

  • [-]
  • Cairnwyn
  • 11 Points
  • 20:07:34, 7 March

Years ago I read one of the content criteria lists for a major romance publisher (I want to say Harlequin, but I'm not positive), and one of the criteria for the historical category was that the heroine be reluctant to engage in premarital sex because it wouldn't be historically accurate for a "good woman" to be ok with that. The writing guidelines essentially force the writers to make their heroes sexually aggressive and their heroines sexually passive. For modesty's sake, the women are required to put up a token struggle. It's one of the reasons most historical romance writers find a way to marry their characters before sex these days. A lot of the novelists aren't very fond of this type of sex either.

  • [-]
  • MadtownMaven
  • 10 Points
  • 17:46:57, 7 March

That was more of a trope for ravishment fantasies in older romances. It's not as typical in modern ones. I tend to read more contemporary and suspense romances and I've not noticed it in those. These tend to be written in the last decade at the most.

  • [-]
  • LizzieDane
  • 18 Points
  • 17:53:59, 7 March

It's one of the most common female sexual fantasies.

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • 3 Points
  • 19:18:13, 7 March

That sounds specious. Can you please provide support for that claim?

  • [-]
  • stroganawful
  • 17 Points
  • 19:28:28, 7 March

here

here

here, some more

edit: I have done some research on human sexual behavior. Rape fantasies rank highly for both men and women.

  • [-]
  • dalsgaard
  • 5 Points
  • 20:15:23, 7 March

Interesting! How common is the reverse? I mean for men to fantasise about being victims, and women to fantasise about being the agressors?

  • [-]
  • stroganawful
  • 3 Points
  • 21:24:42, 7 March

I'm actually working on trying to figure that out! :)

  • [-]
  • dalsgaard
  • 1 Points
  • 21:31:43, 7 March

Cool! No good research about it yet?

I'm definitely submissive in my fantasies, but it seems to me that it's really uncommon for a guy to be that, and likewise it's almost impossible to find women who fantasise about being dominant.

But because these fantasies go so against dominant gender roles, both sexes are going to be less likely to admit to it. So who knows? Could be a lot more than we think.

  • [-]
  • stroganawful
  • 5 Points
  • 21:50:37, 7 March

Well, I can tell you that male submissives are far more common than people assume, especially because it doesn't get publicized much (more backlash on men for acting in what's considered a "female" role, etc. etc.).

  • [-]
  • dalsgaard
  • 2 Points
  • 21:53:04, 7 March

So are there enough dominant females to go around?

  • [-]
  • Honey-Badger
  • 1 Points
  • 00:38:54, 8 March

Why would you get so many downvotes for asking for some proof, this sub is so silly sometimes.

  • [-]
  • mrmcbastard
  • 1 Points
  • 01:05:44, 8 March

shrug Some people don't like being questioned. It's just the nature of the beast.

  • [-]
  • AnalogDan
  • 1 Points
  • 23:09:06, 7 March

> It's one of the most common ~~female~~ sexual fantasies.

  • [-]
  • thewongtrain
  • 23 Points
  • 18:35:20, 7 March

Not a woman, but two things:

1) If there's non-consensual stuff, it's probably not actual rape, but rather "Oh no, this guy I have a crush on is coming on too strong, and I don't really want it, but maybe I do because I like him, oh he's so strong and sexy, I might just succumb to his charms" kind of sex. I think it's the classic temptation vs chastity battle that makes things steamier. Because it's something you're not supposed to enjoy, but that makes it so much more enjoyable. It's the idea of "naughty".

2) There's probably a liberation component to it. Women have historically been sexually oppressed, and find this dress-ripping kind of non-consensual sex as liberation from the metaphorical female chastity belt.

PS I've never read one of these novels so I literally have no idea what I'm talking about. I should stop now.

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 11 Points
  • 21:28:27, 7 March

The type 1 encounters you mention actually don't bother me very much. It's the right out non-consensual/traumatizing sex that upsets me a lot. Often those books have a plot where the heroine is innocent/a virgin but the hero has, for some reason, come to the conclusion that she's a concubine/slut. He finally rapes her only to discover that she was "pure." Then he feels really guilty and loves her.

  • [-]
  • thewongtrain
  • 1 Points
  • 22:35:14, 7 March

Interesting... but weird. I'd be interested in seeing how that plays out.

  • [-]
  • AngelicMercy
  • 1 Points
  • 00:19:56, 8 March

Gross. It plays out gross.

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 1 Points
  • 00:34:15, 8 March

I agree.

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 1 Points
  • 00:20:21, 8 March

Usually, she is rather traumatized. He is upset. They are alienated. Then some Big Dramatic Thing happens that brings them together and it turns out that despite all the you know, raping and insulting, they really loved each other all along and need each other and happy ever after.

Bonus points when the Big Dramatic Thing happens to be a pregnancy conceived during the rape scene.

  • [-]
  • Provid3nce
  • 1 Points
  • 00:34:07, 8 March

That sounds really unhealthy and stupid.

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 1 Points
  • 00:39:05, 8 March

Which is what drove me to post this Ask in the first place . . .

  • [-]
  • astralrayn
  • 1 Points
  • 00:25:09, 8 March

Holy shit, what books were those?? I don't consider myself a romance novel connoisseur or anything but I definitely went through a phase reading them a few years ago. I don't remember encountering anything like that. It may just be a difference in genres, I was big into fantasy romance novels with magic and castles and that sort of bs.

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 1 Points
  • 00:40:56, 8 March

There were only a couple that followed the pattern I described above, and they were among the worst that I read. I don't remember the titles, because I found them so upsetting I put them out of my mind.

  • [-]
  • astralrayn
  • 1 Points
  • 00:50:18, 8 March

Good on ya for putting them down, that plot doesn't really sound romantic at all. I don't doubt that someone, somewhere, enjoyed it, but that's a great big "no" for me! I'm glad I never stumbled across one of those books.

  • [-]
  • underline2
  • 1 Points
  • 00:41:31, 8 March

Ugh, I've read a few like that. "An Arranged Marriage" by Jo Beverly is the first one that comes to mind.

Entire premise is that the hero was drugged by the villains and rapes the heroine while under the influence. It's so squicky. :(

A ton of romance novels fall under the better "We shouldn't, but you are SO HOT" umbrella though. Those are far preferable. I have no idea why the legit rape ones are popular.

Edit: It's the hero's identical twin brother who rapes her. And he convinces her that it was his brother who did it. Who she then agrees to marry, because marrying your slimeball rapist is a great idea. My bad.

  • [-]
  • shelleythefox
  • 3 Points
  • 19:53:05, 7 March

No, that's pretty spot on.

  • [-]
  • lost2darkness
  • 8 Points
  • 17:42:14, 7 March

In general, non-consensual sex fantasies are actually pretty popular. Why? I can't speak for everyone, but I get off on the intensity of it and the power dynamic. I don't think anyone actually hope for that to happen in real life but the fantasy is fun.

  • [-]
  • darkbloomviv
  • 4 Points
  • 21:37:44, 7 March

I don't read romance novels, but I would think that to some minds, the forcefulness of the male emphasizes the desirability of the female. Then, if her agency is removed, she avoids resultant feelings of guilt for the transgression. So the fantasy becomes about the irresistibly desirable female whose power lies in how she innocently controls men through her beauty.

I also think the novels you are referencing are somewhat dated. I know a lot of women who read these books and who claim contemporary narratives rarely include rape or coercion.

I actually don't understand the popularity of romance novels, so I'm not the best person to ask. Every one I've glanced at has seemed to have an execrable writing style, shallow characterization, and many other faults that, for me, would interfere with enjoying the "erotica."

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 1 Points
  • 21:54:56, 7 March

Actually, the erotica is usually the worst written part . . .

For me, the books were a way of getting as far away as possible from theory and academic writing. It worked.

You're right, the boxes I got on Ebay are dated, anywhere from 1960s to 1990s (more commonly) era books.

  • [-]
  • darkbloomviv
  • 1 Points
  • 23:54:26, 7 March

Ha. Probably. I've only read one all the way through. I was fourteen, and a friend of mine insisted it was, um, educational. As all historical novels are you, you know . . .

It was very rapey.

  • [-]
  • hennypen
  • 1 Points
  • 22:31:37, 7 March

This was a huge trend for a while, especially in the late 70s. I think of it as being exemplified by Kathleen Woodiweiss, whose work I cannot read. In part, it's a taming fantasy. The hero exercises control over the heroine in the form of rape. She then domesticates him into a consensual relationship by taming him with love. These books represent a way for women to safely explore fears of rape and to live through a fantasy of being able to recover from rape by gaining control over the rapist.

Romance novels often present a story in which a woman brings an outlier comfortably into a rule more in line with middle class morality. The womanizer, the seducer, the warrior, the vampire, a man who is in some way both powerful and potentially threatening, is turned into someone whose power is used in the heroine's interest. Another really common scenario is the hero saving the heroine from rape. Again, this allows the reader to experience a safe rape scenario. This isn't that different from books where someone tames a horse. The man is like a wild animal and the woman is the one person who can really tame him.

There are a lot of crappy romance novels out there, and some really good ones. If you want suggestions of better ones, check out smartbitchestrashybooks.com. Look for A reviews. Authors like Courtney Milan, Loretta Chase, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway write regencies that often, though not always, do things a little differently.

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 1 Points
  • 00:26:23, 8 March

Thank you. That explanation helps me a bit. It makes sense, but my "ugh" response to these plotlines was really getting in the way of me understanding why (other than a run around for people who were raised to think wanting sex was wrong) these scenarios were so common.

  • [-]
  • Svataben
  • 21 Points
  • 18:12:22, 7 March

1. Generally, female sexuality has been shamed/considered bad/impure/damaging and so on. A lot of that attitude still lingers.

So, how do we get our heroine laid, if getting her laid means she's bad? Well, we get her raped!

Sex scene acquired, heroine got penis, man got vagina, and the heroine is still pure of heart, an innocent Madonna that men can wish to marry and women identify with.

2. Rape fantasies. The reasons for these can be based on the above, but also a lot of other things.

  • [-]
  • rahabzdaughter
  • 4 Points
  • 21:53:35, 7 March

I haven't found anyone else pointing this out yet. But I think one of the things is you stated you were reading books being set in the regency period. I've read a lot of Julie Garwood and Johanna Lindsey novels and they both do a bunch of period works.

One thing about reading books that are period based is that in the past women weren't allowed to refuse their husbands/legally/moral teachings at the time said it was impossible for a husband to rape his wife. He was just making use of his "rights". It's a disgusting thought to us now a days, but at the time.

So it maybe partially a product of the authors doing a good job knowing the periods that they are setting their novels in and writing accordingly. I think Julie Garwood for instance does a great job a good chunk of the time of writing the wedding night of the bride that's scared and doesn't know what to expect, so begs the husband not to sleep with her. But then the husband being desirous of his wife takes her in a tender/insistent way that reads like realism to such a time period.

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 1 Points
  • 21:55:41, 7 March

Good point.

  • [-]
  • what_a_cat_astrophe
  • 7 Points
  • 18:04:16, 7 March

Because many people have rape fantasies. They can read about them and imagine it without having to actually undergo the experience of being forced to have sex with someone they don't want to.

  • [-]
  • smallworm
  • 1 Points
  • 20:28:37, 7 March

Virgina Andrews made me question this too. I wasn't aware being raped by your brother was a good thing yo

  • [-]
  • DonnieTobasco
  • 1 Points
  • 20:43:30, 7 March

Anecdotal, but every long-term relationship I've ever been in the women expressed some sort of rape fantasy to me.

Might be common. I don't know.

  • [-]
  • thelivingroad
  • 1 Points
  • 23:54:23, 7 March

Especially considering that these are older books, I think the target audience are people who have internalized the message that sex is dirty, shameful, etc.. A lady only has sex in the confines of a committed relationship and not out of want, but out of love for her partner. Also, men are more physical (primal?) than women which leaves them less capable of resisting their more animalistic needs. But, that's a lie. We all have desires. We all have needs. So, if you're of the mindset that those impulses are wrong then you need a heroine who can experience carnal things, succumb to them, and not be sullied. Any act can be vicariously enjoyed without the main character (and hence the reader) "losing face".

  • [-]
  • dratthecookies
  • 1 Points
  • 00:04:55, 8 March

I think it's the pressure women are under to suppress their sexual desires. Slut shaming and all that. In these fantasies someone else is making you give in to those desires, so it's no longer your responsibility or under your control. Sadly this also probably plays into the fantasies of those who believe a woman's consent is a foregone conclusion.

  • [-]
  • celeste_haze
  • 3 Points
  • 19:24:00, 7 March

It is commonly used to create sad background for character. Then his or her romantic partner helps them to get over it, I think it is try to create realistic relationship. It is also counting on kinks that some women have but rarely experience in real life

  • [-]
  • FlingingDice
  • 1 Points
  • 23:33:54, 7 March

This is a good point not really mentioned above. The other place rape turns up in these books is in the backstory or in interactions with the villain. It can be a cheap attempt at drama, but it can also be used to create a heroine who has been hurt - possibly as badly as she could possibly have been, mentally speaking - and betrayed, and who has good reason not to trust the hero. This is usually paired with a hero who turns out to be extremely understanding and/or protective, who provides all the love that the heroine has been denied (or has been denying herself).

There are some problematic side-tropes of the tortured heroine sub-genre, like the magical rape-healing penis and the implication that the heroine needs someone else to fix her, but overall the romance genre has become increasingly aware of them over the years. When not done horribly, this is my favorite kind of romance. The more I cry for the characters, the more satisfying the inevitable HAE is to me.

  • [-]
  • TheRosesAndGuns
  • 4 Points
  • 19:28:59, 7 March

Because a lot of women can have fantasies about that kind of stuff and it's more complex than it being rape. Often in those novels, it's a case of ''I want that man but I'm going to pretend I don't right up until he's being forceful and then I'll admit it to myself and him and have sex with him'' than ''I do not want this and he needs to stop''.

  • [-]
  • tres_chill
  • 1 Points
  • 21:26:37, 7 March

My take based on conversations with women:

1) It's a book, so it's always just fantasy.

2) No matter how audacious the man's advances are, if the author describes the woman's reaction as "turned on" then it's believable. If you try the same sh|t in real life, the woman will make up her own mind whether it's hot. (and probably not think so most of the time)

3) In the novels, not only is the man always amazingly hot, romantic, cute, etc. but because it's a book, the author can share his thoughts too. And of course, the thoughts add even more intrigue to the character. Therefore, his advances are never creepy. (ever see that video? The weird guy makes a friendly advance and gets maced, then the hot guy makes a creepy advance and the girls are all turned on)

Just my opinion.

  • [-]
  • ohsillybee
  • 1 Points
  • 23:17:12, 7 March

I think its so attractive in romance novels because the woman is so overwhelmingly desirable/beautiful/sexy that the male character can't control himself. Its nice to fantasize being the hottest lady on Earth. These kinds of scenarios are shitty in real life obviously, but this is fantasy here and the hot male character knows everything the woman wants before she realizes it herself.

That said, it is pretty unfortunate that the female character's agency/control of sexuality is removed from this equation. This is partially why I can't read those kinds of books anymore...

  • [-]
  • boredwillow
  • 1 Points
  • 23:53:04, 7 March

I am not a regular romance reader, but I have read some and the only romance novel that was non-consensual was published prior to 1980.

The basic outline of all romance novels is that the couple has sex about 1/3 of the way through the book but doesn't declare their love until the end. In modern books, there is often some kind of practical impediment, like working together, or crossed signals about how each person feels. In historical novels, there is a tendency to have an arranged marriage. While the woman might not be thrilled with the marriage, she is presented as attracted to the guy (as frustrating as he might be) and the sex is a positive experience.

The one pre-1980 book I read was pretty much flat out rape. I kept expecting another hero to appear. I could not imagine the rapist was the love interest. But he was. The idea was the heroine was so sexy, he couldn't help himself. It was fucked up. ETA: I've also seen what Shelly the Fox describes in 90s books, but it skates a fine line where the heroine is very obviously into what is happening and has previously made her attraction to the man clear to the reader. I wouldn't call it so much non-consensual as a very iffy set-up, though I can see how it could in another context be non-consensual.

I don't think that set-up actually says anything about women's desires. I think it comes back to the formula. For the love story to be unresolved but there to be sex, you have to come up with a reason. What is unacceptable today once (apparently) worked for readers. I'm sure there is a range of rapey-ness but in a context where women weren't supposed to be sexual, I understand how people accepted these plots.

  • [-]
  • Vanityfish
  • 1 Points
  • 23:53:59, 7 March

rape fantasies are popular? i would think it might be higher in books because 'rape scenes' are not widely liked in adult film

  • [-]
  • vera214usc
  • 1 Points
  • 00:03:33, 8 March

Are you reading any Johanna Lindsey? She's one of my favorite authors.

  • [-]
  • Michelle-Maibelle
  • 1 Points
  • 00:28:42, 8 March

I write erotic romance. I can say that my stories don't involve these kinds of scenarios.

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 1 Points
  • 00:39:44, 8 March

Thank you.

  • [-]
  • TrueAstynome
  • -4 Points
  • 22:01:06, 7 March

This question is boring and overdone. It's the same as all the other questions here about why so many women have "rape fantasies" or "nonconsensual sex fantasies." Search the subreddit and you shall learn!

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 6 Points
  • 22:02:52, 7 March

This is the first time I have seen this particular question on AskWomen and I've been here for over a year.

  • [-]
  • TrueAstynome
  • 1 Points
  • 22:16:51, 7 March

Right, but what I'm saying is that this question is essentially asking the same as all the other posts here asking "why do so many women have rape fantasies?" Women are the target market of romance novels. Many if not most women have rape/ravishment/nonconsensual fantasies. Therefore, romance novels will feature a lot of rape/ravishment/nonconsensual scenes to appeal to their target market.

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 1 Points
  • 00:27:06, 8 March

I got you. But to me, it isn't the same question at all.

  • [-]
  • [deleted]
  • 0 Points
  • 19:57:21, 7 March

[deleted]

  • [-]
  • peppermind
  • 2 Points
  • 20:20:51, 7 March

This comment has been removed from AskWomen for gracelessly generalizing gender.

Please read the rules here, and take a look through our FAQ while you're there. If you'd like to talk about the removal of your comment, message the moderators.

  • [-]
  • Timboslice82
  • 1 Points
  • 00:31:55, 8 March

Because having consensual sex is so boring. Now having consensual sex with a 17 year old, DD having, tight short wearing angel? That will get you more than 17 years and you are some sort of asshole for giving a "woman" what she wanted.

  • [-]
  • coralfershoral
  • -4 Points
  • 21:59:06, 7 March

rape culture

edit: a lot of women like it, depending on how it is written of course. but i think it's such a common thing in women because of the way our society is about gender and about sex.