“But anxious Cares the pensive Nymph opprest,
And secret Passions labour’d in her Breast.”
Have you ever dreamed of a dark knight?
There is an archetypal fantasy of a man tantalizing and teasing a woman wildly and beyond her control:
He hovers over me, just lingering in anticipation while I lay helpless, restrained, and exposed to him. Ever so lightly he trails his fingertips over my breasts, while unwillingly they swell to meet his touch. He brings his fingers over my sex and begins to escalate my arousal in bittersweet torment, my body begging him for more, pushing and pulling against my restraints as he increasingly becomes aroused himself. In a heady combination of enjoyment, surrender, and begging to be released, he takes me at his will.
I had always kept this type of fantasy a secret, never telling a soul, not my therapist, and especially not my partners. I truly never wanted to be raped, and I could not understand where this fantasy came from or why it appealed to me. It felt wrong for so many reasons. Not the least of which, it began when I was just a six-year old girl. Over the years I pushed it out of my mind. But some detective lingered within, eager to unravel the mystery, to understand why this turns me on from zero to 10. How did a six year old come up with this? I don’t know, and was scared to find out the hidden truth.
Something changed when, late in my 20’s, after a lot of very unsatisfying sex, I decided it was time to brush the dust and cobwebs off my self-pleasuring skills and, go get it tiger. At this point, I had solely relied upon my partners to please me, (or more truthfully, consensually please themselves inside and on top of me).
I decided to get a book to aid me, help light the fires that had burned out long, long ago. I found Nancy Friday’s ‘Women on Top,’ a compilation of real women’s fantasies. I enjoyed the idea of exploring what other women fantasize about to discover my own desires, to discover what normal women dreamed of, and to discover something more than the single horrifying fantasy I’d had since girlhood.
It was then that I discovered I was normal.
The most fantasized scenario among women (and men) is what I previously called the rape-fantasy, now call the ravishment fantasy. The distinction I make is that the first is absolutely non-consensual, the second is consensual and desired (secretly or overtly). Statistically, 62% of women admitted to some form of this fantasy in a recent study.
After discovering all of this, I suddenly felt more normal. But still confused, and definitely uncomfortable with it.
Perhaps you think she doesn’t want to yield.
She wants to. in her heart of hearts. Stolen love is just as sweet to women as it is to us.
-Ovid, Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love)
There was no way I could muster up the bravery to say to a man face-to-face, as he’s kissing my neck and fondling my breasts:
“You want to throw me down on that bed, tie me up and wickedly have your way with me?”
It just sounds so good…
But then, there is reality.
Let me explain:
In my fantasy, the man always pleases me. He makes me orgasm over and over, long, and hard. He just knows how to do it, he knows my body better than I do. And he does it because his pleasure and arousal is tied to mine. Reality Check #1: guys like that are as rare as four-leaf clovers.
Reality Check #2: Asking someone to ravish you kind of defeats the purpose. The whole point is that they do it without you asking or wanting it. It just happens because they desire it. Then, back to point #1, they read you so well, they know you secretly desire it too. Too good to be true?
Reality Check #3: There is a potentially HUGE gap between what I might imagine this scenario to be like and what he might imagine it to be like. What if he thinks pulling my hair is a turn-on and I don’t? What if his thing is pain and mine is pleasure? How can we know unless we talk about it? Which leads me to…..
Reality Check #4: We have scarcely been given the tools and bravery to talk about sex in a very basic way. What does a woman actually call herself even? There’s a whole mass of women who don’t connect with the literary titles. ‘Vagina’ sounds clinical. ‘Cunt’ feels lesbian. ‘Pussy’ has a stripper vibe. If we can’t even find a word for our bodies, for our pleasure, how likely is it that we can talk about our desires, especially the ones that feel vulnerable and risqué?
With these revelations, I was kind of stuck between fantasy and reality, two parallel and non-intersecting universes. This was not good enough for me. I desire union and ecstatic collision….
The more I explored my own pleasure and internal landscape, the more bravery I have called upon, and the more I looked into my naked self, raw, and non-judged, the deeper I have understood the origins and the secrets behind this show-stopping fantasy, and the raw ingredients that I can work with.
This is the juicy part….
It is a fairy tale as old as time.
How many maidens have been abducted?
How many Greek goddesses have been raped?
This is in itself an archetype of the subconscious for both men and women.
The core element: Power play.
This sounds obvious, but it is grossly misunderstood.
Here is what this fantasy is not:
- The woman is not getting off because a man is sticking his cock in her when she doesn’t want it. (I know, this seems to be the whole point, but it’s not.)
- The woman is not enjoying a man’s grunts and groans while he is thrusting and oozing onto her lifeless body.
- The man is not tying her up to torture her with pain and aggression. There is a dance between pain and pleasure that walks a fine line between getting arousal through pleasing someone versus getting aroused through hurting someone. The first is love, the second is dysfunction.
Let’s start at the beginning, with the basics.
It’s fascinating to think about the role of power in sex.
A woman holds power of attraction.
A man holds physical power.
The bottom line of deep desire is that each one wants to feel the full force of these powers.
And there is a sequence.
She must start with her power.
She turns him on, intentionally or not, just because she is. And she can use this power over him, to sway him, push or pull him. She holds power of attraction and beauty.
Thus begins an interplay…
He holds power of decision and action.
When he feels her power over him (allurement), he can decide to act in 3 ways:
- Ignore it
- Dominate, show his physical power, or
- Submit, let her power wash over him.
Realistically, it is usually a combination of these.
Ideally this interplay empowers both the man and the woman, calling upon both of their strengths.
She wants him to decide and to act (in her favor).
He wants her to allure and attract (in his favor).
These two pull each other together like a magnet. Her deepest desire is to be naturally alluring, to hold this power within her core, within every tissue of her being.
A pimple, a smelly fart, a scar or any other kind of blemish whether it is of her body, her personality or her imagination risks the fact or the feeling of loss of her power. (And this is why a wise man will not point out her blemishes, but always make her feel alluring and attractive).
Ultimately I believe that the feeling of powerlessness is her kryptonite in sex.
And, I believe that the ravishing kind of fantasies that are so popular with women are due to the feeling of power she has over a man, that it takes such strong hold of him that he cannot hold himself at bay whether she consents to it or not. And I believe that a man holds the power of decision and action and suspect that when this is jeopardized this becomes his kryptonite. (Inside and outside the bedroom, a woman can emasculate a man in these ways).
In this scenario/dynamic, a woman’s enjoyment is double-fold. There is a lot of contemporary research confirming that women gain pleasure through feeling their own power of attraction, their own beauty and allurement, perhaps even far more than the physical pleasure itself.
Marta Meana points to research she did showing that women find it arousing to think of themselves in lingerie or nude. Thinking of themselves as sexy boosts desire. ‘Women have this sexual relationship with themselves that’s integral to their sexual relationships, period. Feeling good about themselves emotionally and physically appears to be a bigger mediator of women’s desire than men’s. Over and above anyone else, women are their own point of reference for how sexy they are’.
The ultimate sign that her beauty holds a spell over him is literally that he can’t stop himself from having her. His masculine nature kicks in with roughness, with his strong-handed power to overcome whatever obstacle is in his way to have her, to please his own mounting ache. Which reinforces two pleasurable feelings:
- Her own underlying power (because he can’t resist her beauty) and,
- Surrender (because he is overpowering her internal and/or external resistances to something that feels so good).
So it is this unique interplay of gentleness and generosity with hardness and greed that when played back and forth skillfully build a feminine climax and heighten a man’s. Ironically within the feeling of his power over her are the feelings of her own empowerment, and within her increasing pleasure is his.
Now we have touched on another core element:
Whether that obstacle is an ivory tower that he must climb, an army he must fight, a father he must face or her own stubborn will; a woman ultimately wants to feel that he desires her beyond compare, is willing to go to the ends of the earth to have her, and that he has the strength and tenacity to fight for her. Sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? It is.
Perhaps romance and ravishment aren’t so different after all?
The pinnacle and unforgettable element is:
In ravishment, she receives and only receives. She becomes purely a recipient of pleasure. This is often quite contrary to her common roles as the doting, caring giver and mother to all. It would not be an enjoyable fantasy if she did not enjoy his ravishment. And, a good ravisher knows how to make a lady beg for more, which feeds his feelings of masculinity, skill, conquest and strength. In turn, her pleasure feeds his empowerment and pleasure.
noun: interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.
Other elements in this dynamic include a desire to be driven wild with yearning, and being unleashed. And being encouraged to do so. To let her guard down, to forget her inhibitions. To be forced beyond her psychological or emotional blockages like shyness, stress, self-loathing, and disconnection. To simply enjoy pleasure for pleasure’s sake.
What a gift.
“Female pleasure is more complicated than male pleasure. It generally takes longer for women to come; there are more ways of achieving orgasm, or failing to; numerous emotional and psychological factors enhance or inhibit a woman’s pleasure. Perhaps this is why I often imagine scenarios of coercive sex…. Deprived of the capacity to respond to the often convoluted demands of my will, I can experience sex as pure sensation, immune to striving and analysis. It’s sexy to be freed—even through a trick of the imagination—of the complications of my own needs and the elusive but constant fear that they will not be met.”
And, lastly this fantasy is ironically about:
From an evolutionary psychology perspective, women want to know that their man can take care of them, and can hold them, both emotionally and physically.
There is something archetypal about a man who can overcome all obstacles in pursuit of sweeping a woman off her feet and providing her with roiling waves of pleasure. There is a security in that kind of man. A trustworthiness. A capacity to deliver on his promises. That’s sexy. But I think the sexiest part is that his mission is not to conquer her with pleasure, but to conquer her with her pleasure, and with all the fickleness and patience a woman’s libido can be, he is a man whom she can trust and surrender into to take her there, to take her to a place beyond where she could get to alone.
You want to feel a passionate man of true heart-integrity loving you deeply. You want him to see who you really are and desire you, feeling into your deepest heart. You want his tender force of love-desire to enter you deeply, opening your heart’s secret core and unfolding your divine essence of love. Although you may be reluctant to trust your own love’s yearning, your deepest heart waits to be loved so fully that you are opened to more than you are willing to open by yourself, blissfully forced open by love’s deepest claim, revealed open and held in love’s gentle command. -David Deida
What about men?
I don’t think most people give credit to what it takes for a man to take this on. It looks like she risks it all. But this is not true. They both risk vulnerability. Hers is in wanting it, in letting go into surrender. His risk is that she fails to enjoy his touch, his technique, his power. And in that failure, he fails as a man. Because the ravishment is as much a maiden’s tale as it is a warrior’s, a conqueror’s, a king’s, a man’s.
In part 2, we will examine the men’s side.
-by Sera V.