Twenty-five-year-old Jaime is understandably cautious about personal safety. As an intern at a law firm, she often has to brave the subway back to her Jersey City apartment long after the rush-hour crowds have been and gone. “I carry a cell-phone, a rape alarm and a can of pepper-spray,” Jaime admits. “But I’m still terrified of winding up another crime statistic.” Yet, Jaime has a paradoxical personal secret: “When I masturbate,” she whispers, “my favorite fantasy is being abducted.”
Jaime is the first to admit the contradiction. “I couldn’t imagine anything more horrible in real life,” she confesses, “but it’s a scenario I always back to … I imagine it’s late at night, and I’m walking home from the subway, when a van screeches to a halt on the curb. The door bursts open and I’m bundled inside by big, masked men.” Jaime adjusts the collar of her Donna Karen pantsuit, then continues. “There are three of them,” she says breathlessly. “They’ve got goatees and shaved heads—like bikers you’d meet in a rough bar. They look,” she bites her bottom lip, “dangerous …”
Jaime describes a scenario straight out of a porn film. The everything, she reveals, is pretty all-inclusive. “In my fantasies, they make me do things I never do: anal sex, double penetration. It’s utterly debauched, but when I masturbate, this fantasy makes me come incredibly hard. But it’s just a fantasy,” she reiterates. “I’d never want anything like that to happen in real life.”
It was author Nancy Friday who first began to explore the science of female fantasies in her groundbreaking 1973 book, My Secret Garden. Friday interviewed dozens of women to uncover what turned them on when they got themselves off. Strangely enough, her research revealed that many women’s sexual fantasies—like Jaime’s—involved scenarios in which they are “forced” into sexual scenarios they’d never consider in real life. From being kidnapped by strangers to being blackmailed by the boss, the theme of “losing control’ is a consistent one. It’s even reached the realms of romantic fiction: When the romantic hero ravishes the reluctant heroine, rather than calling it “rape,” it’s euphemistically labeled “forced seduction.” But given how women have fought for decades against being the victims of sexual subjugation, what’s the appeal of such fantasies?
Back in the ’70s, Friday had an elegant theory as to why women daydreamed about being kidnapped, coerced, raped and ravished—and it had nothing to do with wanting to experience such things for real. She surmised that such fantasies originated from deep within women’s sophisticated sexuality; rooted in rebellion against centuries of established gender politics. Throughout modern history, society has dictated that women should be “good girls.” At the time, promiscuous men were still lauded as “studs,” while promiscuous women were labeled “sluts.” Even in supposedly sexually liberated cinema, leading men like Burt Reynolds and Roger Moore would fuck their way through a symphony of seductive sirens, but more often than not, rode into the sunset with a blushing, but thoroughly buttoned-up beauty.
Society considered there to be something sinful about women who took control of their sex lives, so it was perhaps inevitable that they’d create elaborate sexual fantasies in which they could experience sexual pleasure without being held responsible for it. Says Geri, a 45-year-old divorcee, “I got married in the early ’80s, and I had two kids by the time I was 22. For me, sex was definitely a duty. That’s not to say I didn’t get pleasure from making love with my husband, but as a good Catholic girl, I’d certainly never admit it. I didn’t even masturbate until I’d been married for several years—and when I did, it wasn’t about my husband.”
One day, Geri was caught speeding after dropping her kids at school. “The cop who pulled me over was so stern and frightening. I honestly thought arrest me then and there,” she shivers, but not out of fear. “In the end, he let me off with a warning, but from then on, I couldn’t get him out of my mind.”
That night, after making love to her husband, she found herself still aroused. “So very quietly, with my husband snoring beside me, I began to touch myself,” she recalls. “I was thinking about that cop.”
A fully formed fantasy jumped straight into her head. “He wasn’t that attractive; but he was so stern and powerful—towering over me in that uniform—he was incredibly sexy.” In her fantasy, the cop ordered Geri to get into his cruiser. After throwing her onto the back seat, he ripped off her clothes, and proceeded to do something her husband rarely did. “Hid head disappeared between my knees,” she says, “and he was licking me … My husband almost never went down on me—and when he did, it was only after I was freshly showered.” In her fantasy, however, the cop was completely wanton. “He literally devoured me.”
That first night, Geri let her fantasy end once she’d climaxed, but admits it was like opening Pandora’s box. “ I started masturbating several times a week,” she says, “and it was always that fantasy I’d come back to, but the action would change. Sometimes, I’d imagine the cop made me give him a long, sloppy blowjob. Other times, I’d imagine him fucking me from behind, hard and rough. He’d pull my hair, slap my ass and call me dirty whore.”
Initially, Geri didn’t get what the appeal was. “Maybe it was because, in my fantasy, the cop found my whole body wildly sexy. I wasn’t self-conscious about stretch marks or wrinkles or whether I smelled fresh.” But over time, she realized what really got her off was that the cop didn’t give her a choice. “He ordered me to suck his big cock, or bend over and take it. It was all wildly sexy and pleasurable, but I didn’t need to feel guilty about it because it wasn’t my fault. He made me do all those terrible, wonderful things. “Like a lot of Catholic girls,” she says, “I was brought up to think that sex was dirty and nice girls didn’t enjoy it… So in my fantasy, I got to have the pleasure, but I didn’t need to take responsibility for it. Sometimes, I even imagined being driven home afterward, all sweaty and sticky, and my husband would hug me and tell me it was okay, that I hadn’t done anything wrong.”
Women on Top
These days, 35 years after My Secret Garden was released, many women continue to enjoy fantasies in which they’re controlled, coerced or simply forced into pleasurable sexual scenarios. However, with women finding increasing equality in the workplace, and elsewhere, a growing number of them appear to be embracing their sexuality, instead of being ashamed of it. Take Jodi, a twenty-seven-year-old restaurant manager. She has a fantasy that’s a complete reversal of the traditional “good girl forced to do bad things.”
“I worked hard to become a manager,” she explains, “and now I find myself in charge of college-aged kids.” When Jodi masturbates, she often pictures herself with a member of her staff—and she’s still the boss. “Just the other night, I was fantasizing about Vinnie. He’s your typical Long Island jock—all fake-bake tan and gold jewelry. He was sweeping the floors and I was ringing up the receipts. Vinnie’s till was down 50 bucks, so I called him over. He was full of attitude—as usual—but I told him unless he did exactly as I said, I’d get him fired.
“I ordered him to strip,” she continues. “His body was youthful, muscular. I climbed onto one of the tables, spread my legs and pulled down my boy shorts, then told him to get down on his knees and eat me.” In her scenario, she does not allow her boy toy to come until she is good and ready, even though he begs for release. “What I love about this fantasy is that I’m in charge,” Jodi says. “Working in hospitality, you spend so much of your time trying to please customers. I love the feeling of being in control.”
As society becomes more accepting of women who take ownership of their sexuality, it seems inevitable that more of them will have fantasies that include a power trip. However, while great steps have to level the playing field, America remains a stubbornly puritanical country. Many continue believe that a woman’s place is not in command of her sexual destiny—which may explain why submissive fantasies is—even 40 years after the so-called “sexual revolution”—are still so prevalent. A woman “coerced” into wild sexual adventures, remains a “good girl”’ at heart, so essentially, she gets to have her cock, and eat it, too.