Bondage, submission common sexual fantasy themes among both men and women: study

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TORONTO — Fantasies about sex,  from making love outdoors to bondage and submission scenarios, cover the gamut, but many are surprisingly common among both men and women, a study of what constitutes sexual deviation has found.

In fact, a survey of more than 1,500 Quebec adults by the Universite de Montreal found that few sexual fantasies are unusual or rare, despite being labelled “atypical” in the bible of mental health, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM-5.

Fantasies about bondage, for instance, are deemed atypical by the DSM-5, said neuropsychologist Christian Joyal, who led the study published Friday in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

However, the survey found that bondage fantasies were common among both male and female respondents, with 30 to 60 per cent of women reporting that they imagined scenarios in which they were tied up or otherwise forced to submit to a sexual partner.

Fantasies that mirror powerful man/submissive woman themes popularized in the trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey have become “so usual, this is mainstream,” said Joyal. “Thinking about it is arousing for many women, but that’s it — they don’t want to live it, though.”

While men often want to turn their fantasies into reality, that’s not true for most women, the survey suggests.

“Women, when they have a fantasy, it doesn’t mean at all it is a wish. So they can say ‘I have fantasized about being overpowered, but I wouldn’t like to realize it. I don’t want this to happen in real life.”‘

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

Males tended more toward fantasies that didn’t involve their spouse or partner, including having sex with two woman at once. In contrast, many women’s fantasies centred on their significant other, but in sexual scenarios that often were exhibitionist in nature.

“Women will not begin to wear trench coats and be walking nude in the park,” quipped Joyal. “But making love where there’s a window in a car, for instance, maybe someone will see you — the idea of being caught, maybe, the thrill. This is really common.”

Of 55 fantasy themes dealt with in the Internet-based survey, only two were rare and nine unusual. Men’s fantasies encompassed more themes overall than did the women’s imaginings.

The Quebec 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.

While researchers don’t know the proportion of people who move from just fantasizing about BDSM to actually engaging in those acts, he said it’s an important issue and one that’s being studied.

“If you’re tying up your girlfriend in your bedroom, this is none of my business, as long as she likes it,” he said.

But Joyal stressed if a sexual act is violent in nature and hasn’t been consented to by one’s partner, it could be considered not only psychopathological but also possibly criminal.

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