What is an 'unusual' sexual fantasy?
November 6, 2014 11:08 AM   Subscribe

The existing scientific literature on paraphilias, or atypical fantasies, does not define what these types of fantasies actually consist of. Christian Joyal and colleagues conducted a survey among the general population Of Quebec to find out. The survey shows that the nature of sexual fantasies are very varied among the general population, with surprisingly few fantasies actually being statistically "rare" or "unusual." The researchers urged professionals to be careful when labeling a sexual fantasy as deviant or unusual, given that so few sexual fantasies are actually rare or uncommon.

The study suggests that “certain so-called kinky fantasies” are present among the general population, with 50 per cent to 60 per cent of both men and women reporting their sexual flights of fancy include activities classed as BDSM, or bondage, domination, sadism and masochism, Joyal said.
posted by showbiz_liz (46 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite


 
The single best sexual fantasy (it was actually a fetish and it was the single best fetish, too) that I've ever heard of was from a young man who needed his partner to be chewing bubble gum and blowing bubbles in order to reach orgasm during PIV sex. I tried to open the study itself to find out if that is actually common, but couldn't. Can someone else figure this out?
posted by janey47 at 11:17 AM on November 6, 2014


Oh come on though, these are Quebecers. Just look at what they do to their french fries. They're deviant to the core, we already knew that.
posted by XMLicious at 11:30 AM on November 6, 2014 [42 favorites]


I have no problem at all with what the Quebecois do with their french fries, but it is true that within Canada they have something of a reputation for general debauchary and being oversexed. They're not the province that has the most sex, but we all kind of assume they have the weirdest sex, or to put it more positively, that they're the most sexually open and experimental/exploratory province.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:43 AM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


The chickflixxx subreddit, "a place for Pro-Porn women to share links to great sexual content and discuss porn", can be pretty illuminating sometimes, at least for me as your bog-standard cis male. My favourite this far: a thread requesting videos of bearded men masturbating so that they would cum in their own beard.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 11:45 AM on November 6, 2014 [11 favorites]


I jokingly said I had a sexual fantasy about a lover who was a slug hive mind once to see how a friend would react. Never quite gotten that look before or since.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:48 AM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have been dreading the discussion about this.

First of all, the authors use the term "shemale". They refer to evolutionary psychology to suggest that certain fantasies, including attraction to "shemales," are "counterintuitive" and cite A Billion Wicked Thoughts. Finally, despite protestations that rare=/=deviant, the lead author goes ahead and denounces a number of minority sexualities as pathological: 'Clinically, we know what pathological sexual fantasies are: they involve non-consenting partners, they induce pain, or they are absolutely necessary in deriving satisfaction," says lead author Christian Joyal. "But apart from that, what exactly are abnormal or atypical fantasies?" '

The fantasy survey used (a modified version of the Wilson's Sexual Fantasy Questionnaire) is heteronormative and designed with men in mind. 'Having sex with more than three people, all women,' 'Having a sexual relationship with a women with very large breasts,' 'Having a sexual relationship with a women with very small breasts,' each have no equivalents for individuals primarily attracted to men. Also 'Ejaculating on my sexual partner (for men only),' as if no women can ejaculate or even fantasize about it.
posted by wrabbit at 11:48 AM on November 6, 2014 [55 favorites]


I've talked about the awesome human sexuality course I took in college. A couple years later I also saw My Own Private Idaho, in which there was a scene where River Phoenix's character catered to a particularly unusual fantasy for one of his clients.

I also had a college friend who spent a year picking up extra money by working as the receptionist for a phone sex line. She never actually "did" any of the calls; instead, she was the one who the phone sex call girls gave their notes to when they were done. And she told us about one very memorable set of notes where the worker said the call incorporated "an ice pick, a mousetrap, voodoo, candle wax, a meat tenderizing hammer, and a snake". (That was the point at which my friend interrupted her to ask "no matter what, please promise me that you will NEVER explain this to me.")

...BDSM just plain doesn't seem all that weird by comparison.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:48 AM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


videos of bearded men masturbating so that they would cum in their own beard.

Be right back.
posted by goethean at 11:49 AM on November 6, 2014 [13 favorites]


"...so few sexual fantasies are actually rare or uncommon."

And yet I get the strangest looks when I say: "Here, hold this fluttering parakeet."
posted by Floydd at 11:51 AM on November 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


as if no women can ejaculate or even fantasize about it.

The full study says they coded for "female ejaculation (squirting)". I guess it didn't make the summary table. The summary table does have an entry for "my partner ejaculates on me" that doesn't specify "my (male) partner", so that's something, if sort of inconsistent.

each have no equivalents for individuals primarily attracted to men

Actually there is specifically a 'Having sex with more than three people, all men' entry in the summary table. There's also 'watching two men make love' and various other entries centered on having sex with men or otherwise being attracted to men.

But I will grant that there's nothing in there about penis size fantasies, and the use of the derogatory term for a trans person is indefensible.
posted by Sockenpuppe at 11:55 AM on November 6, 2014 [12 favorites]


"Here, hold this fluttering parakeet."

There's nothing wrong with that as long as the parakeet consented. It did sign the form, right?
posted by localroger at 11:59 AM on November 6, 2014


Thanks for catching those other entries, Sockenpuppe.
posted by wrabbit at 11:59 AM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Years ago, my mate told me that when he was young and just starting out in the world of work, he had a fantasy about the lift at work breaking down with him and a girl in it, and how it would get hotter and clothes would be removed and so on. I laughed, and he continued, saying he used to put extra layers of clothes on and get into bed so he would get warm like in the fantasy and then remove clothes until he got to the main act. So, anyone else try anything like that?
posted by marienbad at 12:07 PM on November 6, 2014


I jokingly said I had a sexual fantasy about a lover who was a slug hive mind once to see how a friend would react. Never quite gotten that look before or since.

I surmise that neither of you are from Japan.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:08 PM on November 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


videos of bearded men masturbating so that they would cum in their own beard

gross, it would get all over the Doritos
posted by thelonius at 12:08 PM on November 6, 2014 [22 favorites]


Fantasies that mirror powerful man/submissive woman themes popularized in the trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey have become “so usual, this is mainstream,”

...

Many respondents also fantasized about switching to the opposite role, for instance being the dominant partner, a finding Joyal called unexpected.


I guess I'm not super surprised by those findings, given how impossible it is to get away from that discourse, and it makes sense that people would want to try out the other side (of whatever side they landed on).
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:15 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's nothing wrong with that as long as the parakeet consented. It did sign the form, right?

Yes, but his safe word is "pretty boy" and he screams it out, like, every 30 seconds. The we get out another copy of the form and the whole thing starts all over again.
posted by PlusDistance at 12:51 PM on November 6, 2014 [19 favorites]


It did sign the form, right?

You can try to get it to prove consent, however, in the case of non-sentients, I find it better to go to the full ethics review panel route to ensure that you're following internationally-accepted animal care best practices.

No ERP sign off, no love.
posted by bonehead at 12:52 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Evidence that it does indeed, only seem kinky the first time.
posted by TedW at 12:57 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


I had a pet parakeet when I was a kid, and his sexual fantasy involved the blue connector block pieces from my Construx set. I know this because whenever he came across one he would not stop trying to fuck it. RIP Voltron, I hope you're happily humping Construx blocks up there in bird heaven.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:57 PM on November 6, 2014 [44 favorites]


I don't think ethics review panels convene to discuss sexual experimentation.

...unless that's their kink.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:59 PM on November 6, 2014


<brannigan>The sexy ones do.</brannigan>
posted by bonehead at 1:03 PM on November 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Meh, I can't access the full article through my library, so I can't see the data tables. I do find myself staring at the following article statement:

The researchers noted that there was a significant number of sexual fantasies that were not uncommon, but were almost uniquely male sexual fantasies. These fantasies had no apparent evolutionary or biological theories to explain how common they were in men. Those involved heterosexual anal sex, sex with transgendered individuals, and watching their partners have intercourse with another man.

First of all, I really don't want to know what "evolutionary or biological theory" the authors hold up as explaining the male dom/female sub BDSM fantasies they are so happy to tell us so many people have. (That said, could we please get word to the pile of sex researchers who don't seem to have clued in yet that most human sexual activity is nonprocreative and yet serves important physical and social functions, like partner-bonding and stress-relief?)

Secondly, I'm angered to hear that the actual research report uses the term "shemale." It's blatantly offensive. Yes, it's a term used in pornography--but nobody has said that the actual report employs other terms from pornography that are racist, misogynist, ableist, etc. instead of using neutral or clinical language. (Also, can I say that the article phrase of "transgendered individuals," while not appallingly transphobic, is still weird? Just say trans women, already. Do you really think that these guys are having fantasies about trans people of any random gender?) Anyway, as to the actual finding: lo! now we have proof that fantasizing about sex with trans women is common in (presumably cis) men.

The only finding that struck me as truly surprising was that heterosexual anal sex is apparently plays no part in women's fantasies. Without access to the actual data it's hard to interpret what the authors mean when they say in the news report that anal sex is an "almost uniquely male fantasy," but the authors didn't mention it in the list of rare or uncommon fantasies . So I'm left assuming their data indicate that more women fantasize about "abusing someone while they are intoxicated" or having sex with a child than about engaging in anal sex, as recipient or pegger, with a man. This strikes me as very strange.
posted by DrMew at 1:08 PM on November 6, 2014 [16 favorites]


DrMew: "A gender difference in responses regarding anal sex is also evident: it is fantasized by approximately two-thirds of men (64.2%) compared with only one-third of women (32.5%). Interest for this fantasy was also significantly less intense for women (mean rate 1.81 ± 2.4) than for men (mean rate 3.74 ± 2.8, P < 0.001)."

Fantasies about abusing someone who is drunk, sleep, or unconscious: 10.8% for women and 22.6% for men.

Fantasies about having sex with a child under the age of 12: 0.8% for women and 1.8% for men.
posted by wrabbit at 1:20 PM on November 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


Meh, I can't access the full article through my library, so I can't see the data tables.

I have access to it so I'm gonna pull a blasdelb: memail me and I'll send you the paper. Or at least a non-paywall link to it. Memail does not have attachments I think?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 1:21 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hunh, 2 links out from the first article:

...another study recently reported on by Medical News Today found that women who have read the BDSM-themed erotic fiction of Fifty Shades of Grey are more likely to have abusive partners.

That study found that Fifty Shades readers were 25% more likely to have a partner who verbally abused them, 34% more likely to have a partner who showed stalking tendencies, and 75% more likely to have starved themselves for more than 24 hours.

posted by cotton dress sock at 1:22 PM on November 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think if they included Nicholson Baker in the survey, he would skew all the results.
posted by gladly at 1:29 PM on November 6, 2014


A surprising 15% of fantasies involving berating English speakers with French insults.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:41 PM on November 6, 2014 [8 favorites]


Many respondents also fantasized about switching to the opposite role, for instance being the dominant partner, a finding Joyal called unexpected.

If they had read anything written by actual BDSM people since roughly 1981 they would know that this is far more common than identifying solely as a submissive or, especially, dominant.
posted by localroger at 2:17 PM on November 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


My most deviant sexual fantasy would be to do a sex with a girl who didn't roll her eyes when I touched her.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:23 PM on November 6, 2014 [8 favorites]


And mine would be anything not involving water guns filled with bleach and the SWAT team not being called...
posted by Samizdata at 2:35 PM on November 6, 2014


OK, I got to see a copy of the article (thanks Pyrogenesis!), and there's an interesting finding that contradicts the narrative of "men want to do a lot more kinky stuff than women" that the authors discuss in the press. In response to the prompt "I have fantasized about having sex with more than three people, both men and women," 56.5% of women agree (and enthusiastically so, with an average ranking of 3.27 on the 1-5 interest scale), while only 15.8% of men agree (with an unenthusiastic ranking of 0.96 on average). That's right, women but not men fantasize about orgies--but that didn't apparently make the press release.

Also interesting: the prompts offered in the quantitative survey portion of the study don't allow a man to specify that he fantasizes about having anal sex with a woman in which he is the penetrated partner, but this came up as a popular fantasy topic for men in the open-ended qualitative part of the study. (There's no mention of it being brought up by women). It's hard to tell how popular exactly pegging fantasies were, as all the article states is that new themes brought up in interviews were "low occurrence. . . with the notable exceptions among men of shemales, non-homosexual receiving anal sex, and watching spouse have sex with others."

Which brings me to uggggggh. The authors use the awkward, formal language of "non-homosexual receiving anal sex," yet just toss the offensive "shemale" out there. And there's no indication of what sexual activities their presumedly cis gender male subjects discussed engaging in with their fantasy trans women partners, either. It's like reading a list of porn categories including "blowjobs, threesomes, rimjobs, sex toys, Asian." Other people (cis gender, white) are treated as having enough agency to at least select a chosen sexual activity, but the Asian or trans women are classified as fetish objects, like sex toys.
posted by DrMew at 3:09 PM on November 6, 2014 [15 favorites]


It's like reading a list of porn categories

I thought the same thing when I read that "she-male" was a category. And so I checked with XTube (for research purposes only!), and their top categories are:

for Men who like Women: Ebony, amateur, Asian, group sex, teens, BBW, anal, and bisexual.
For Women who like Women: same
For Women who like Men: same
For Men who like Men: Ebony, amateur, group sex, bear, hardcore, anal, Latino, and daddies

others that didn't make the top cut: milf, squirt, mature, voyeur, anime, bdsm, and transexual.

Gah. Even cheap porn sites don't say "shemale."
posted by kanewai at 3:44 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought they could have considered erotica, romance novels and fanfiction (fantasies). A film requires actors; writing doesn't.
posted by ana scoot at 4:27 PM on November 6, 2014


*Consider, as in, determining which terms/tropes to survey. Maybe after reading/watching each piece, have participants rate a list of associated tropes. Helps mitigate having different mental images of the same trope.
posted by ana scoot at 4:46 PM on November 6, 2014


I can definitely think of at least a few, uh, major themes on Literotica that weren't studied here.
posted by Small Dollar at 5:23 PM on November 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is it a fantasy where you see yourself standing in sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you?


Why am I the only one who has that fantasy?
posted by ocschwar at 6:24 PM on November 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


Are the pickles dill or sweet?
posted by TedW at 7:02 PM on November 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm glad my fantasies are too deviant to even be included in such a study.
posted by shvaughn at 7:05 PM on November 6, 2014


"Those involved heterosexual anal sex, sex with transgendered individuals, and watching their partners have intercourse with another man."

Having trouble finding access to any raw data, so I don't know if any of these points were further elaborated on (ie: when speaking about heterosexual anal sex, do they mean pegging or ?)

"Just say trans women, already. Do you really think that these guys are having fantasies about trans people of any random gender?)"

How about trans men? Or are we the "trans people of any random gender" you meant there?
posted by stubbehtail at 11:42 PM on November 6, 2014


That paragraph is specifically referring to (presumably cis) male fantasies. If you combine what you know of degrading mainstream cishet male-oriented porn and its accompanying ignorant terminology and marketing with the fact that the study authors literally use anti- trans woman slurs and "transgendered" as a noun, it's disgustingly clear what they mean. I really don't think these people deserve whatever kind of benefit of the doubt you're extending them.


kanewai: "I thought the same thing when I read that "she-male" was a category. And so I checked with XTube (for research purposes only!), and their top categories are:
for Men who like Women: Ebony, amateur, Asian, group sex, teens, BBW, anal, and bisexual.
"

I don't use sites like these and I'm not going to visit one just for this, but from another MeFi thread I know that some of them don't include their gross "trans" category under the "men who like women" heading because they treat us like a separate thing (just like these researchers). That may or may not play a part in your findings.
posted by Corinth at 12:28 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


God, I really want to do some quant studies with Literotica. What a gold mine.

/notmykink
posted by geek anachronism at 1:22 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Stubbehtail, it's pegging the Inquisitr piece is referencing as being in the bizarro-not-evolutionarily-sensible! category of men's reported fantasies.

As for the question of "What about trans men," you are right that the Inquisitr article says "transgendered individuals," a term which presumedly applies to trans people of all genders, and yet people seem to act as if it could only mean trans women. And that's because it really does only means trans women. In the actual research article, the term used is "shemale," not any "trans" term.

As a trans man, I'd argue strongly that we're better off that people seem to have forgotten trans men exist in this discussion of fantasies. When it comes to a choice between being treated as a taboo fetish object for cis men and being ignored by them, I'll take being ignored every time. It does suck to be treated as a sexual nonentity by penis-obsessed men who are certain your jonk is pathetically inadequate. But I'm married to a trans woman, and I know all too well that whenever she leaves the house, it's to experience an onslaught of stares and leers, and men yelling at her that she's disgusting while their pants are tent-polled, and to mothers yanking their children away, and to police officers curb-crawling her as a potential prostitute. When I leave the house, I just go about my business, ignored as a nonthreatening-looking little white man whose masculinity is pretty nebbishy. Better to be ignored than harassed out of confused lust-disgust. . .
posted by DrMew at 9:47 AM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


DrMew,

As a trans man myself, I've been both ignored and harassed. How quickly or effectively someone can 'pass' varies greatly and not all trans men share your experience. At this point I would much rather cis men (more specifically bi-curious and gay-identified ones IME) respond to me with outward confusion or disgust than with the false acceptance that hides their "omgyes a guy with a built-in-fleshlight"/"omgyes sex with a vagina but not a girl" fantasies. Once you've shattered their dreams by politely declining or not returning interest, you get the confusion and disgust anyway.
posted by stubbehtail at 3:57 PM on November 7, 2014


The fifth version of the DSM, published last year, is slightly more liberal. It distinguishes between paraphilias and paraphilic disorders. So, your paraphilia only becomes a troubling "disorder" if it causes "distress" or harm to yourself or others. As Slate's Jillian Keenan ​put it, "Happy kinksters don't have a mental disorder. But unhappy kinksters do."

The idea seems to be that it's all fun and games until you cross some arbitrarily drawn line in the sand, at which point you become a potentially dangerous pervert. The thing is, pretty much every type of sexual desire can cause distress or harm to others, regardless of the kinkiness involved. Why fixate on kink? How can you even determine what is normal or paraphilic in the first place?

Canadian researchers tried to answer this question in a study ​published at the end of October, titled "What Exactly Is an Unusual Sexual Fantasy?" His team got 1,500 adults to respond to an online questionnaire asking them to rank 55 sexual fantasies and describe their favorite. Yet few of the fantasies they looked at were rare in the population, and most were actually pretty common.
So, Are You A Pervert - Martin Robbins for Vice
posted by wrabbit at 3:06 PM on November 11, 2014


Is it a fantasy where you see yourself standing in sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you?

Why am I the only one who has that fantasy?
Seems like a perfectly normal gherkin-off fantasy to me.
posted by scrump at 1:33 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


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