I’m coming back to a theme I’ve visited before.
Because it’s an important theme.
When it come to fantasies, especially fantasies that women have, the ravishment fantasy is a big one. It gets other names, but I prefer not to use them. I think that those names do more harm than good when discussing the fantasy, creating not only blurry lines, but misunderstanding of what the fantasy actually is. When we misunderstand the fantasy, then as writers, we do not do it justice. We create stories that are not just problematic. They are irresponsible and disrespectful.
What is the Ravishment Fantasy?
French intellectual, author, and revolutionary, Madame de Stael said it very well.
The desire of the man is for the woman, but the desire of the woman is for the desire of the man.
With the ravishment fantasy, the woman is overwhelmed by a man’s desire. He does not take her initial “no” or her hesitation as anything except an obstacle to overcome. In the fantasy, the woman gives in to this strong desire and enjoys a deeply sensual and erotic encounter.
Most women have this fantasy to some degree or other, and to discount it is irresponsible. It diminishes a woman’s fantasy life and sexual expression, which I think we do too much. Every woman who enjoys the fantasy, will enjoy different levels of control loss, and all of the fantasies are equally valid in a healthy internal fantasy life. Our fantasies are how we express or sexual desires and needs internally, and as long as we are not bothered by the fantasy in our mind – as long as it does not distress us – then there is nothing wrong with it.
Even yours truly has her own levels of ravishment fantasy she enjoys.
As writers, however, we want to make sure when we present the ravishment fantasy in fiction that we do so in a way that we are both comfortable with as writers, and that respects women (and men if they are the recipient of the ravishment). As I talked about before, in our stories, we create a normalcy in the world those stories take place in. Stories are not just fantasy. They become part of our culture as well, whether we are talking about mainstream culture or a counter-culture. It is important, then, that when we translate the fantasy, we do it responsibly.
In BDSM, there is a simple statement that people argue about, but it is for the most part true. In a Dominant/submissive dynamic – or even in Top/bottom fetish scenes or kink play – the submissive (or bottom) is the one that ultimately has power.
This statement gets misunderstood all the time, but here’s what it means.
- The activity/dynamic does not begin until the submissive/bottom hands the power to act on him/her to the Dominant/Top.
- The submissive/bottom can, with a single word or signal (the Safe Word) end the scene immediately. Even in Owner/slave dynamics, the slave can leave. That right is never given up, no matter how much power a person gives over.
The reason I mention BDSM is because power exchange, something that is a part of almost all BDSM play, whether or not the participants consider themselves Dominants and submissives (you can enjoy being tied up without being a submissive, but you are still giving power to the person tying you up – the power to move), is a big part of what the Ravishment Fantasy is.
In the Ravishment Fantasy, the woman is willingly giving over power to her imagined lover. This happens when she begins to envision the fantasy. If she feels the fantasy goes to far, she stops thinking about it and moves onto something else or changes in her mind what is happening. Like the D/s dynamic between a Dominant and a submissive, the fantasy does not begin until the woman envisions it, and she can use her mind (like the submissive’s Safe Word) to change the fantasy or stop it altogether.
The ravishment fantasy can be a way for a woman to imagine herself in a situation that she would not otherwise imagine herself “willingly” going into. For example, a woman who feels very strongly that anal play, a threesome, or same-sex relations, are too taboo to imagine herself seeking out or asking for might imagine a situation where she is made to participate in such activities. The ravishment allows her to enjoy the sensual and erotic nature of those fantasies without having to compromise herself to “ask” for them.
The ravishment fantasy is also about a woman’s power over a man. In many ravishment fantasies, the man behaves in a way that is erratic and counter to his own normally controlled behavior. A popular one these days is the billionaire or successful entrepreneur who becomes obsessed with a woman. Unable to turn away his own desire for her, he strives to ensure she does not turn away his desire as well. In this aspect of the fantasy, the woman is so captivating and alluring that the man cannot help but want her.
He cannot control himself.
If you’re a woman and feel turned on by the thought of that, then you understand how powerful the ravishment fantasy is.
In Writing about Ravishment
So, when we are writing about the Ravishment Fantasy, it is important to consider the aspects of what the fantasy represents, and then apply them to our story. Remember, the Ravishment Fantasy is about
- Power exchange
- The fulfillment of something too taboo to actively seek out
- A woman’s power over her partner
How we write about the fantasy and apply these three ideas depends on our own comfort levels. Now, the second one is not always the case with Ravishment Fantasies and you may not want to include taboo subjects in your story at all. 1 & 3, however, are the bread and butter of this fantasy and vital for you to be aware of in the story.
Stories involving Ravishment Fantasies can go very right, and I certainly invite comments for stories you have found that present this fantasy in a way that left you enjoying the story, rather than feeling dirty or like something was – wrong.
Stories involving Ravishment Fantasies can also go very wrong. For all the way that you can use and incorporate the fantasy, here are three things the Ravishment Fantasy should never do (feel free to comment with more).
- You should never completely negate a woman’s sense of sexual agency. Negating sexual agency devalues your character and by extension your readers. While your dominant male lead may be aggressive and ignore your character’s attempts to spurn him, she should have a way out, a way to make the scene definitively stop. This empowerment can be as direct or subtle as you want to make it, but it will make the fantasy you present all the more enticing as it makes true the statement – she really did want it.
- You should never use the Ravishment Fantasy to romanticize or eroticize an abusive or violent relationship, person, or situation. One of the criticisms of Fifty Shades of Grey is that the relationship between Christian and Anastasia is ultimately abusive. While some scenes brought up are taken out of context, one of the things to remember is perception. Chapter 12 is infamous. Looking at it from Anastasia’s point of view, we understand when she tells Christian “no,” why she is doing it (she is only trying to keep him from removing her shoes because she is afraid of him smelling her feet). What you have to remember, however, is that Christian at no point in the scene is told by Anastasia why she is saying no or that she is saying no to anything except the sex he is initiating. He immediately, after showing up in her apartment unannounced after believing she has broken up with him, goes to threats in order to make her comply. This is not romantic, erotic, or sexy. It is violent, abusive, and dangerous and has no place in erotica.
- The Ravishment Fantasy should never come from or devolve into Stockholm Syndrome. This ties into number 2. Picture this. Your heroine has been kidnapped (obviously against her will) and her captor is derogatory, violent or near violent, and emotionally (if not physically) abusive. She is threatened at every turn. All power is stripped from her unwillingly. Somehow in the midst of all of this terror that she is experiencing – she falls in love (or lust) with her kidnapper. This happens enough to be a trope. That it is used and overused, however, is no excuse for it to be perpetuated. Nor does its overuse justify its continued use. It is terrible. It essentially states that the woman devalues herself (and again by extension your reader) so much that she cannot help but fall in love with someone who so obviously devalues her. Is there a way to turn a kidnap scenario into romance? Yes. Not, however, with a character or scenario that fits into number 2.
How Does Holle Use the Ravishment Fantasy?
I have a story that I am currently working on that touches a great deal on the Ravishment Fantasy. It is a series of commission shorts I received through Fiverr and as soon as I saw the fantasy I knew I had to write the stories. I want to put the series of shorts together into one collected story, fleshing it out a little more, so it has not been released yet. Sorry. One of the aspects of the story, however, is a man losing control, to some extent, of his body. At the same time, women respond to him in an unusual way, behaving in ways they would not normally behave, but unwilling and unable to stop themselves. It is essentially a Ravishment Fantasy were both the man and woman are being ravished by something outside of their control.
Another way that I utilize Ravishment is in the context of Dominance and submission. This can range anywhere from a woman not understanding why she cannot seem to resist giving power over to a man, to a woman giving over power and then having to make that decision to obey because she stated she could obey. Think of the latter as a “moment of truth” scenario. The woman is agrees that she will submit and that X action could be called upon. X action is not something that the woman particularly enjoys, and it is not called upon until a key point in the story, at which point she has to decide – “do I obey and keep to the agreement, or do I say no?” Of course in going through with X action, she enjoys a deeper level of submission as well as whatever erotic delights are inherent to X action.
One of the things that I like to do with Ravishment Fantasy in writing is to make the recipient/submissive of the fantasy have to acknowledge and/or utilize his or her agency in some way. It might be in understanding that this is what he or she submitted to and accepting that this is what he or she wanted to happen when the agreement was made. It might be that action being dangled, the taboo or resisted thing plus a reward, but the Dominant will not act until the recipient/submissive once again consents. There can be a great deal of power in making someone admit to their innermost desires. There is a humiliation aspect to this type of twist on Ravishment, so it is important that acceptance is reinforced on the part of the Dominant character.
Ravishment Fantasies are a staple of the internal fantasy life of almost every woman. They can be a powerful tool to utilize in writing. It is important that they are utilized respectfully and that they are utilized well. As with any tool in your erotic arsenal, you have to know how to use it.
I originally wrote this for StreetWraith Press After Dark and am representing it here as well.