Functions of Fantasy
Erotic fantasies serve many functions. First, they can be a source of pleasure and arousal. Erotic thoughts typically serve to enhance sexual arousal during masturbation and partners’ sexual activities. Fantasies can be a way to mentally rehearse and anticipate new sexual experiences. Imagining seductive glances, that first kiss, or a novel intercourse position may help a person implement such activities more comfortably.
I Sexual fantasies can allow tolerable expression of "forbidden f wishes." That a sexual activity in a fantasy is forbidden can make it more exciting. People in sexually exclusive relationships can fantasize about past lovers or others to whom they feel attracted, even though I they are committed to a single sexual partner. In a fantasy, a person > can experience lustful group sex, cross-orientation sexual liaisons, Sexual fantasies can take you to times and places that are brief sexual encounters with strangers, erotic relations with friends impractical or impossible in real life. and acquaintances, incestuous experiences, sex with animals, or any
other sexual activity imaginable—all without actually engaging in it. Another function of erotic fantasy can be to provide relief from gender-role expectations. Women’s fantasies of being the sexual aggressor and men’s fantasies of being forced to have sex can offer alternatives to stereotypical roles. In her first book about male sexual fantasy, Nancy Friday reported that one of the major themes is men’s releasing control in favor of passivity:
It may seem lusty and dashing always to be the one who chooses the woman, who decides when, where, and how the bedroom scene will be played. But isn’t her role safer? The man is like someone who has suggested a new restaurant to friends. What if it doesn’t live up to expectations he has aroused? The macho stance makes the male the star performer. (Friday, 1980, p. 274)
The notion of control, aggression, and sex can play out in different ways for women and men. Although the fantasy of being forced to have sex provides an alternative to gender-role expectations for men, the same type of fantasy has other meanings for women. For women, who often learn to have mixed feelings about being sexual, this type of fantasy offers sexual adventures free from the responsibility and guilt of personal choice (Critelli & Bivona, 2008). Research indicates that almost twice as many women as men fantasize about being forced to have sex (Maltz & Boss, 1997). One study found that 62% of women have had one or more fantasies about rape (Bivona & Critelli, 2009). Another study found that women who reported having fantasies of being forced to have sex had more positive feelings about sex in general than women who did not have such fantasies. The research also showed that forced-sex fantasies are not usually an indication of having had past abusive experiences (Critelli & Bivona, 2008). It is important to emphasize that enjoyment of forced-sex fantasies does not mean women really want to be raped. A woman is in charge of her fantasies, but as a victim of sexual aggression she is not in control.