Many women report that they use sexual fantasy to increase their arousal, self-esteem, and sexual interest, or to relieve stress and cope with past hurts (Maltz & Boss, 2001). Overall, women’s sexual fantasies tend to be more passive and submissive than men’s and include more touching, feeling, partner response, and ambiance than men’s (Zurbriggen & Yost, 2004). The five most common sexual fantasies for women include sex with current partner, reliving a past sexual experience, engaging in different sexual positions, having sex in rooms other than the bedroom, and sex on a carpeted floor (Maltz & Boss, 2001).

Female sexual fantasies tend to be more romantic than male fantasies, as illustrated by this 21-year-old woman’s fantasy:

My ultimate fantasy would be with a tall, strong man. We would spend a whole day together—going to a beach on a motorcycle, riding horses in the sand, and making love on the beach. Then we’d ride the motorcycle back to town, get dressed up and go out to dinner. After dinner we’d come home and make love by the fire. Or we could make love in a big field of tall grass while it is raining softly. (Author’s files)

Lesbian and bisexual women also use sexual fantasy. Research has found that rela­tionship quality affects the content of sexual fantasy (J. D. Robinson & Parks, 2003). One 20-year-old lesbian shares her favorite sexual fantasy:

She has black hair and I stop the car and motion her to get in. She walks quickly, with a slight attitude. She gets in with silence—her hands and eyes speak for her. I take her home, and she pulls me in. I undress her, and she is ready for me. Down on the bed she goes, and down on her I go. With legs spread, her clitoris is swollen and erect, hungry for my touch. I give her what she wants. She moans as orgasm courses through her body. (Author’s files)

Sexual fantasies are commonly used by women over the age of 50. In fact, using fan­tasies may help women experience arousal and orgasm (Maltz & Boss, 2001). Studies have shown that age is unrelated to what types of sexual fantasies a person has (Block,

1999) . One 50-year-old woman reveals her fantasies at this point in her life:

One big change in my imaginary sex life since I was a young woman: I no longer have those fluffy romantic fantasies where most of the story is about pursuit and the sex at the end is NG, no genitals, in view. Now I picture the genitals, mine and his, and I watch them connect in full juicy color. I see a big penis, always a big penis, and every detail, including the little drops of pre-ejaculate like dew on the head. (Block, 1999, p. 100).

Over the years, there has been some exploration of women’s sexual fantasies in which force is used. In one study, more than 50% of the respondents reported using sexual force fantasies (Strassberg & Lockerd, 1998), and these force fantasies are also found in lesbian couples (J. D. Robinson, 2001). Why would a woman incorporate force into her sexual fantasies? Researchers claim it is a way to reduce the guilt women feel for having sexual desires; a way for women to show their “openness” to a variety of sexual experiences; or a result of past sexual abuse (Barner, 2003; Strassberg & Lockerd, 1998).

Women who incorporate force in their sexual fantasies have been found to be less sexually guilty and open to more variety of sexual experiences than those who do not. However, it is important to keep in mind that even though a woman fantasizes about be­ing forced to engage in certain sexual behaviors, being forced in real life is a very differ­ent thing. In a fantasy, the woman is in control. In her fantasy she is able to transform something fearful into something pleasurable (Maltz & Boss, 2001).