Fantasies of abuse

(54 Posts)
Tortoiseonthehalfshell Wed 11-Jun-14 03:45:29

Not a pervy thread, I promise! I'm posting here because I'm really, really struggling to articulate what I mean, and if anyone can put this into better words it's you lot. It's a really delicate area, so if I'm coming across as victim-blaming or dismissing experience, please tell me off because that's not even slightly where I'm coming from.

(For full disclosure, I'm also trying to write a blog post about this)

Okay. So here are some disjointed thoughts.

Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight, etc. Romanticising abusive relationships. Classic literary trope, actually - the idea of the dominant/stalky boyfriend as true love object. Wuthering Heights, and all that.

Lots of feminist critique of these books/media. Blaming Hollywood plot lines, lazy storytelling, etc., for teaching women that controlling relationships are actually romantic. Very useful stuff, glad it exists. Important to teach young women that this is not a healthy model.

BUT. Popular culture is descriptive as well as prescriptive. And these books are targeted at, and - to our communal chagrin, I'm sure - devoured by women. So they strike some sort of chord.

There's a bit, early in The Women's Room, where young Mira is described as conjuring up elaborate sexual fantasies involving torture and rape. Which struck a chord with me, in a 'it wasn't just me!' way - and this is back when I was 12, 13, already a self-identifying feminist without any abusive or patriarchal models in my life (I was raised by an awesome single mother, with no male relatives on the scene in any significant way).

So. I guess I'm thinking that there is something about that abusive/controlling/dominant relationship model which is darkly attractive to a lot of women. Not because we're confused about consent, or because we've been lied to by Hollywood, although maybe we are those things as well. But underneath that. Why?

I mean, who knows. Chicken/egg, products of patriarchal culture, etc. I'm certainly not about to run an evo-psych argument here. But ... does anyone know what I'm trying to get at? That the reason that these storylines are so popular is not because we're confused that this is real love, but because on its own level, they tap into something that a lot of women actually do fantasise about?

calmet Wed 11-Jun-14 06:31:02

Under patriarchy, women are taught to eroticise their own oppression. We are taught to be turned on by the thought of a strong man "taking us", by being treated roughly during sex, by being dominated.

This puts women into a double bind. How can we complain when we are indeed treated roughly or forced? After all, we had fantasised about it, we wanted it.

But you can also unlearn these fantasies, and sexually responding to being treated roughly. It is not natural, it is taught by patriarchy.

Beachcomber Wed 11-Jun-14 07:19:39

Yes, I agree.

Oppression/subjugation/submission is sold to us as sexy. Usually by eroticising dominant/controlling/rapey male behaviour.

We are conditioned at a social level to submit to men at an individual level. This is the definitive example of "the personal is political". It is absolutely key to the social/political control of women and girls; we are taught to love a person who dominates us, we are shackled by this mechanism.

So when he stalks you, it isn't harassment it is desire to be near you. When he rapes you it is because you are so desirable. When he controls your movements (sometimes actually with restraint such as bondage) it is because you are so sexy, etc, etc.

It is grooming, plain and simple. Social wide grooming.

I don't believe for a second that it is anything else. This grooming (which starts at birth) has entered and altered female psyche, both at an individual (private) level and at a wider (political) level.

Makes me think of Simone de Beauvoir "women and men are made, not born".

A concept which Dworkin wrote a lot about; "Woman is not born: she is made. In the making, her humanity is destroyed."

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Wed 11-Jun-14 07:21:12

Nancy Friday has some comments on rape fantasies - IIRC, the "motivation" is often a permission one ie women who have been socialised to believe sex is big and scary (pregnancy risk, risk of being called a slut etc) and that they are the "gatekeepers", can enjoy the freedom of the idea of someone taking responsibility for all that by "taking them" - but the actual fantasies are not of rape, because by designing the fantasy they are in fact consenting.

It's probably more accurately described as a BDSM fantasy.

Twilight et al I think are more insidious.

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Wed 11-Jun-14 07:22:50

Interesting points beach.

Beachcomber Wed 11-Jun-14 07:23:34

Forgot to say, it is the same thing as women getting turned on by dressing up in the trappings (shackles) of femininity such as high heels, lingerie, short skirts, etc.

Patriarchy is a one trick poney; everything comes down to sex.

calmet Wed 11-Jun-14 07:31:36

It is also why viewing BDSM in isolation, is a dead end. In reality BDSM is simply part of a continuum of eroticising our own oppression that stretches from wearing high heels, to extreme BDSM.

EBearhug Wed 11-Jun-14 07:35:34

I think it's important to remember that they are fantasies, not reality. Some of the stuff that goes on in my head I'd be seriously uncomfortable with in real life, if not completely disgusted or terrified or - well, some of it's physically impossible, unless I wake up being able to fly.

I think some of it's just testing ideas out in a safe place (i.e. not real.) Also, even if they are things like rape scenes, they're not real - I have full control, because it's in my head, and it is actually about my pleasure.

calmet Wed 11-Jun-14 07:39:14

But it is also about recognising that those fantasies are socially conditioned.

Beachcomber Wed 11-Jun-14 08:09:51

Sexuality is a very very powerful tool of control/oppression/abuse.

Because it is "private". Because it is "personal".

And "consensual" (with "consent" being one of the biggest rape myths ever).

Therefore it is somehow immune to analysis. And attempts at analysis are easily painted as "prudish" or moralistic or sticking one's nose into people's private lives when everyone knows that anything that happens in the bedroom between consenting adults is between them and them only and happens in a weird vacuumed bubble which is immune to both socialization and any past personal history of trauma/male violence. hmm

Dworkin is good on this in "Right-Wing Women"

Male dominance in society always means that out of public sight, in the private, ahistorical world of men with women, men are sexually dominating women.

It's a bit like how an abuser will isolate his victim from her network of family and friends. Sexuality and all the libertarian clap trap about privacy, consent, agency, choice, fantasy, hot and sexy, etc. isolates women.

Analysing sexuality is painted as intrusive. This protects actual institutions of oppression such as porn, prostitution and marriage but it also allows abusive practices such as BDSM, the pornification of women and rape to flourish unexamined and exposed for the misogynistic, manipulative and controlling practices they are.

Beachcomber Wed 11-Jun-14 08:12:58

Unexposed

Beachcomber Wed 11-Jun-14 08:41:41

And I understand why you are examining this, That the reason that these storylines are so popular is not because we're confused that this is real love, but because on its own level, they tap into something that a lot of women actually do fantasise about?

However I would say that the above demands an examination of male behaviour too if we are to take the questioning to its logical conclusion.

Do men actually like to rape, abuse and dominate women in the bedroom? Not because they are confused about love but because it taps into something deeper than socialization?

If we are going to examine women's behaviour we must examine men's too IMO. Personally I find it very uncomfortable to consider that males are inherently abusive and dominating, sometimes it is hard to think otherwise though and we will never know where nature ends and nurture begins.

calmet Wed 11-Jun-14 08:48:43

Although if we argue that women's fantasises about being raped and dominated, and in some cases, sexual pleasure at being dominated, are socialisation and not inherent; it would be contradictory to argue that men's fantasies about raping and dominating, and getting sexual pleasure out of doing this, are inherent.

Hazchem Wed 11-Jun-14 08:56:02

I was thinking a bit about this the other day. One of most watchable shows on FTA TV in Australia is Law&Order SVU almost every single week it is about horrific crimes against women. I'm considering that I might need to give it up as I think it contributes to the sex as control, violence as weapon even if they are fighting it. The thing that sparked it in my head was an episode where an author of 50 shades style book is raped repeatedly in scenes from her book. A DA mentioned that a jury the week before didn't convict someone because b most of them had read the book and now saw choking as "normal", "consensual" sex.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Wed 11-Jun-14 09:22:15

hazchem
www.thelocal.se/20140110/rape-suspect-freed-claims-womans-no-was-part-of-sex-game

Basically a man raped a woman, and when she said "No, don't rape me" he believed that that actually meant, she was partaking in a sex game that they had never discussed.

SO they let him off. Because how could he know she didn't want to have sex with him?

angry confused

Beachcomber Wed 11-Jun-14 10:03:51

Although if we argue that women's fantasises about being raped and dominated, and in some cases, sexual pleasure at being dominated, are socialisation and not inherent; it would be contradictory to argue that men's fantasies about raping and dominating, and getting sexual pleasure out of doing this, are inherent.

Not necessarily.

Branleuse Wed 11-Jun-14 10:09:06

i think its because power imbalAnces are juat inherently sexual for a lot of people, but it goes both ways. Just as many people fantasise about dominating as about being dominated.

I dont think its necessarily problematic unless people cant tell the difference between sexual dynamics and real life, or there isnt consent

Hazchem Wed 11-Jun-14 10:36:27

Jesus ""I recognized the way she said no as a part of the sex; I recognized it from other girls," So he's done it before! That is so fucked up ReallyFuckingFedUp

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Wed 11-Jun-14 10:57:08

How can the court have concluded this but still thrown out the charge:

Among other things, the court said it was clear that the 27-year-old had used violence to force the woman to have sex with him and that the woman's "muted protests" could be attributed to fear that the man might become even more aggressive.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Wed 11-Jun-14 11:02:57

They admit he raped her. But in their courts they have to prove he meant to rape her.

But he thought she was play acting like the other women he had raped

If they actually had been playing a game she would have a safe word she could have used, but because it hadn't been discussed (because they wern't playing a sex game) she literally had no way of making him stop. Saying no wasn't enough.

Think about the precedent set there.

grimbletart Wed 11-Jun-14 11:38:35

OK, anecdote is not analysis but I can honestly say that fantasises of abuse, being "overcome" or any 50 Shades of Gray crap have never ever appealed to me or even crossed my radar.

This makes me wonder why if it is so relatively common and conditioned.

Could it possible be because my feminism (I'll call it that although it did not have that name at the time) started for me in very early childhood. I saw, perhaps unconsciously, that boys were valued more, that they were more fun and sporty, allowed to do 'stuff' that girls weren't etc. and I kept asking why, protesting that it was unfair and rebelliously refusing to conform to gender expectations. My indignation amused my parents who were very supportive but I was looked on as a bit odd by outsiders, even in retrospect I think they thought I might be going to 'bat for the other team' as it was put then. It must have puzzled them when I turned out to the heterosexual mother of a couple of DCs. I used to get comments from some about "never thinking you would get married" grin.

It was even to the point that I had my hair cut short like a boy as a seven year old and always wore trousers out of school (bear in mind this was the 1950s so a different world from today in a bad way mostly, though in a good way in that there was no pink glitter tat and tutus grin).

It was not that I actually wanted to be a boy - it was that I wanted to do what I wanted to do and the only way to get away with it outside my family was by 'passing' as a boy.

So, did I not have these fantasies because from an early age I had actively and consciously resisted conditioning, leading to my second wave feminism in the 60s. Or was there some other reason?

Any thoughts anyone?

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Wed 11-Jun-14 14:00:59

Grimble, but that's how I was raised as well, and yet.

Beachcomber, oh, I agree that examining male behaviour is part of the answer here. I absolutely DO NOT want to run a line of 'women secretly all want to be raped and abused', because, duh.

But I find the theory - referenced by BillnTed - that rape fantasies are about letting go of the guilt of wanting sex, less than convincing.

Oh, I don't know. I'm not even just talking about rape fantasies, but destructive relationships generally. Maybe? I'm kind of flailing around here. Relationships as self-flagellation?

I just know that when I google this, I just get a lot of stuff about how stalker/abusive tropes are portrayed as romantic and that's Bad, but there's nothing underneath it. And I think there's deeper stuff here that is less examined - I mean, that it isn't as simple as someone telling you 'oh, well, it's just Hollywood'. I guess. De-programming sexuality isn't that straightforward, accepting that as calmet said, it's programming and not inherent in the first place. And I have to accept that, because otherwise we get into icky crap about innate instincts and that leads down the evo-psych path and we do not want to be there. There be stinky dragons.

So, Dworkin. Who else writes on this?

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Wed 11-Jun-14 16:09:16

I think people who have rape fantasies maybe think rape is about sex, not power.

The "so gorgeous he couldn't help himself" trope.

Beachcomber Wed 11-Jun-14 16:50:56

I agree it runs much deeper than the influence of Hollywood or culture in general. This stuff is woven into the very fabric of society and is as old as history. Stuff like marriage, obeying one's husband, the fetishization of virginity, the fetishization of youth, harmful cultural practices, madonna/whore complex, objectification, othering, witch burning, wife burning, dowry, chastity, chaperones, feminine clothing, the trappings of femininity, blah, blah, blah, I could go on.

They are all sadistic. They are all about humiliation, degradation, subjection. BDSM and the like are just sexualised rituals which reflect the sadistic nature of cultural hegemony both past and present.

Yes Dworkin is good at getting to the bottom of this, MacKinnon too. Have a couple of quotes for you, will look them up.

Beachcomber Wed 11-Jun-14 16:57:36

Dworkin on her concept of «sexual intelligence» in Right Wing Women ;

Sexual intelligence asserts itself through sexual integrity, a dimension of values and actions forbidden to women. Sexual intelligence would have to be rooted first and foremost in the honest possession of one’s own body, and women exist to be possessed by others, namely men. The possession of one’s own body would have to be absolute and entirely realised for the intelligence to thrive in the world of action. Sexual intelligence, like moral intelligence would have to confront the great issues of cruelty and tenderness; but where moral intelligence must tangle with questions of right and wrong, sexual intelligence would have to tangle with questions of dominance and submission.

One preordained to be fucked has no need to exercise sexual intelligence, no opportunity to exercise it, no argument that justifies exercising it. To keep the woman sexually acquiescent, the capacity for sexual intelligence must be prohibited to her; and it is. Her clitoris is denied; her capacity for pleasure is distorted and defamed; her erotic values are slandered and insulted; her desire to value her body as her own is paralyzed and maimed. She is turned into an occasion for male pleasure, an object of male desire, a thing to be used; and any wilful expression of her sexuality in the world unmediated by men or male values is punished. She is used as a slut or a lady; but sexual intelligence cannot manifest in a human being whose predestined purpose is to be exploited through sex.

Sexual intelligence constructs its own use: it begins with the whole body, not one that has already been cut into parts and fetishized; it begins with a self-respecting body, not one that is characterized by class as dirty, wanton and slavish; it acts in the world, a world it enters on its own, with freedom as well as with passion. Sexual intelligence cannot live behind locked doors, any more than any other kind of intelligence can. Sexual intelligence cannot exist defensively, keeping out rape. Sexual intelligence cannot be decorative or pretty or coy or timid, nor can it live on a diet of contempt and abuse and hatred of its human form. Sexual intelligence is not animal, it is human; it has values; it sets limits that are meaningful to the whole person and personality, which must live in history and in the world.

Women have found the development and exercise of sexual intelligence more difficult than any other kind: women have learned to read; women have acquired intellect; women have had so much creative intelligence that even despisal and isolation and punishment have not been able to squeeze it out of them; women have struggled for a moral intelligence that by its very existence repudiates moralism; but sexual intelligence is cut off at its roots, because the women’s body is not her own.

DonkeySkin Wed 11-Jun-14 20:35:28

I've never been convinced by the Nancy Friday theory that women have rape fantasies because it gives them 'permission' to have sex, and I think it's even less convincing the further we move away from Victorian/religious sexual mores.

And while I agree with Beach that girls and women are groomed by the culture into masochism/submission, I find this an insufficient explanation as well, in that it centres the notion of society as an outside force acting upon us (we receive these ideas and absorb them), whereas I think rape fantasies and Jane Eyre/50 Shades of Grey type stories are better seen as expressions of women's psychology under patriarchy; that is, they are the products of our own psychological response to the actual conditions we live under, where male violence is a ubiquitous threat, and viewing this as simple masochism misses the fact that this is a survival response that is also expressive of the desire to be loved and valued and safe.

I think the concept of adversary transformation sums up this psychological response well:

(9) Adversary Transformation. Rape fantasies are an effective means of creating dramatic tension in a story that will ultimately have a positive ending. As in trashy romance novels (which account for 40% of paperback sales in the U.S., 54% of them involving the rape of the heroine) the woman/heroine envisions herself winning over her rapist in the end: having him voluntarily make a lifetime commitment to her, and transforming his cruelty into love. The rape is a dangerous piece of excitement and momentary evil that she will prove capable of transcending, analogous perhaps to a man's fantasy of being temporarily crushed by an evil foe. The theory is plausible, because people love to reinvent themselves in unrealistic fantasies. In this light, consensual fantasies can become mundane and boring, like novels and movies which lack dramatic conflict.

The above definition is from a website discussing horror movies and therefore leaves out any political analysis of the phenomenon of adversary transformation (going for a purely dramatic one), but 'transforming his cruelty into love' is the key insight here I think.

Men are cruel to women. They inflict violence on us. And we can't escape from them - indeed, we are forced to live intimately with them. These facts form the materials conditions under which girls and women grow up, and it would be deeply weird if this didn't shape our psyche and sexuality. When women create fantasies of men being cruel and violent to them, they are incorporating these actual conditions (and what they reflect about the nature of men) into narratives that allow them to transform the situation into one over which they have control, and even one that is advantageous to them.

50 Shades, remember, is about a man with cruel instincts and a taste for inflicting violence who is transformed by the love of a woman into a caring partner. Similarly, Jane Eyre is about a brusque and secretly brutal man who keeps a woman imprisoned in an attic, and it is only when he meets another woman (the 'right one') that his true and loving nature comes out. Both of these stories are about adversary transformation. As long as men wage war on women, we'll keep creating these narratives I think.

Psychologist Dee Graham writes extensively about female masochism as a survival response in her book Loving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men's Violence and Women's Lives. It's such an important piece of feminist analysis.

ressourcesfeministes.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/dee-graham-loving-to-survive.pdf

Beachcomber Wed 11-Jun-14 22:34:57

I would agree with that DonkeySkin, that rape fantasy, etc is a survival strategy and a way of coping with the stress girls and women live under WRT sexualized violence. A way of grappling some sort of control no matter how tiny. A way of processing the constant assault we are under.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 12-Jun-14 00:38:53

You guys are fabulous, thank you! I'll maybe come back and talk more when I've read this stuff, since I feel like I'm sounding idiotic at the moment.

DadWasHere Thu 12-Jun-14 08:38:01

...but 'transforming his cruelty into love' is the key insight here I think.

Hmmm. Beauty and the Beast.

AskBasil Thu 12-Jun-14 08:55:07

Transforming his cruelty into love.

Another light bulb moment from Mumsnet FWR.

smile

DadWasHere Thu 12-Jun-14 10:59:32

Transforming his cruelty into love. Another light bulb moment from Mumsnet FWR.

I agree, but what makes it a hook over a man who is not cruel to begin with? I watched a David Attenborough documentary on possible behaviours of early humanoids in social interactions. While it was flawlessly executed it was still pure speculation and the parts on mate selection, they seemed very quaint and optimistically kind, at least to me, considering that reproduction in the wider biological world has no basis at all in being 'kind' or 'thoughtful', which are evolved human conceptual ideas that have more to do with evolved empathy and the personal security of a full stomach next week.

Is this social re-parroting of abuse/rape/redemption fantasy with powerful figures like Grey and The Beast just a hangover of a base human survival mechanism formed millennia ago where a female was required to attempt to form a bond with an ideally strong as possible male in order to best ensure the chances of personal survival of herself and offspring? Behaviour that became entrenched in human thinking through evolution?

Sillylass79 Thu 12-Jun-14 11:14:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

almondcakes Thu 12-Jun-14 12:16:27

'Is this social re-parroting of abuse/rape/redemption fantasy with powerful figures like Grey and The Beast just a hangover of a base human survival mechanism formed millennia ago where a female was required to attempt to form a bond with an ideally strong as possible male in order to best ensure the chances of personal survival of herself and offspring? Behaviour that became entrenched in human thinking through evolution?'

No, because you just made up a description of the past based on no actual evidence and stated it as a fact, and then made up your own explanation of how human evolution works, and stated that as fact.

Donkey, that book is both amazing and disturbing. I haven't even got on to the chapters about how this applies to society yet, but have just been reading the law enforcement guidance on how hostages should behave. It is so similar to descriptions of Feminity that I was shocked. The research in the book indicates Stockholm syndrome is as likely to happen to men as it is to women - that is very telling about femininity.

AskBasil Thu 12-Jun-14 12:40:42

"a base human survival mechanism formed millennia ago where a female was required to attempt to form a bond with an ideally strong as possible male in order to best ensure the chances of personal survival of herself and offspring? "

Was a female required to attempt to form a bond with a male?

What evidence is there of that?

AskBasil Thu 12-Jun-14 12:41:17

The strongest chance of survival would surely be to bond with a group, not with one individual.

turbonerd Thu 12-Jun-14 12:50:18

Have to come back and Read thread properly. Struck a chord aswhen young, christian background,wanted not to be "atfault" instigati g sinful sex. I know that sounds twisted. After abusive relationship and time to think, no more of that. Only want decent,equal sex. So Will throw my lot In with those who say it is learnt behaviour.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 12-Jun-14 13:15:23

My OP specifically excludes evo psych explanations for a reason!

DadWasHere Thu 12-Jun-14 13:20:27

No, because you just made up a description of the past based on no actual evidence and stated it as a fact, and then made up your own explanation of how human evolution works, and stated that as fact.

If I wanted to state it as facts I would not have bothered with question marks. It was something I thought about after I watched the doco on early human socialisation and thought Attenborough was crediting males as being far kinder to females than I imagined they might have been.

AskBasil Thu 12-Jun-14 13:22:23

Seems a bit harsh.

No reason to assume men weren't "kind" is there?

Why wouldn't they be?

Chachah Thu 12-Jun-14 13:26:19

Tortoise, out of curiosity, what are these reasons exactly?

I don't particularly want to believe in evo-psych stuff, but thinking about it, it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that something like sexual arousal would be partly socially determined, and partly biologically determined.

I guess my question is, is the emphasis on cultural explanations evidence-based, or is it that we discard biological explanations because we don't want them to be true?

almondcakes Thu 12-Jun-14 13:36:09

Okay, but that isn't clear in your question. If someone asks is A caused by B, C and D, it is isn't clear whether or not they think B and C are facts or whether the existence of B and C are being questioned.

If I ask is there is a link between many fatal accidents and feather decorated unicycle displays on main roads, it strongly suggests I think that feather decorated unicycle displays on main roads factually exist.

In your case - are abusive fantasies (A) caused by a preference for strong men (B), who are more likely to have surviving offspring (C) and this can evolve into entrenched human thinking (D) around abuse.

Where is the evidence for B,C or D, before we even start to answer the question of if they are related to A, the actual topic?

Beachcomber Thu 12-Jun-14 17:40:52

Thanks from me also for The book link donkeyskin have downloaded and will definitely read.

DonkeySkin Thu 12-Jun-14 19:44:18

Dadwashere's evo-psych hypothesis shifts the premise of the thread, which is specifically about fantasies, not behaviour.

If you want to argue that women have evolved an instinctive preference for violent and abusive mates, you need to have evidence that women do indeed prefer such men as partners. The evidence from the past 40 years suggests that the opposite is true. Most divorces are initiated by women, and services to help women escape from abusive men are typically over-stretched by demand. Female-on-male domestic homicides have dropped dramatically since the establishment of women's shelters, because battered women now have another option for escape beyond killing their abuser. This indicates that the vast majority of women prefer not to be hit or violently controlled by their partners.

I also fail to see how a preference for a male who is violent towards herself and her offspring could possibly give females an evolutionary advantage.

DonkeySkin Thu 12-Jun-14 19:49:17

You're welcome Beach. Graham's book was one long lightbulb moment for me. Her development of the concept of Societal Stockholm Syndrome is a crucial contribution to feminist thought.

DadWasHere Fri 13-Jun-14 01:06:43

DonkeySkin. I have no intention of making a case that human women, as a gender in our species, have 'an instinctive preference for violent and abusive mates' as you project. But I would make the case that, given context of how badly human females seem to have been treated as a gender by human males through recorded human history, that there is plenty of reasonable evidence to infer that, pre recorded history, females had to co-exist with one hell of a lot of males who wanted to have sex with them and kill other males, with consent in the back seat not the front. You want to talk human preferences of the past 40 years, sure, I see all that. Its also true that almost any complex species under less stress reduces hostility within its ranks and that could be applied to humanity on a global scale as, pound for pound, there are far less global conflicts now than in centuries past.

But I do not see evolution ever serving the preferences or desires of individuals in a species, its pretty clear male spiders 'prefer' to escape the web of a female after they mate with her, because that’s what they try to do. Some species its common to escape, others a 50/50 shot, for others its a suicide mission to reproduce.

You want to talk fantasies rather than behaviour, ok, but it need not be about fantasy in things as extreme as 50 Shades, what about Twilight? Safe for teens to read, apparently. Have not read the book myself, even though I saw it when it came out as a first edition- just another book on a shelf, not a pop culture sensation. Synopsis: Girl falls for powerful man-creature who desires her but could just as easily kill her if he loses control and fucks her. She is empowered because she wants him too but endangered by her own desires and his at the same time. Another man-creature wants her, he seems much kinder but.. oh oh... she discovers he has a darker side and his type are prone to rip the faces off the women they love if they get pissed at them. So in the movie the heroine gets to meet the facial scarred 'wolf girl' and they have a moment to empatheticly communicate to each other the ecstasy and pain of loving difficult men. Is that an accurate synopsis of that pop-culture fantasy? Mums swooned over Twilight in their droves, including my wife and a female relative who writes professional horror-erotica for... surprise... a female audience.

You bring up Societal Stolkholm Syndrome. More power to you. But which society did that first appear in? The society back in the 70s capable of engineering feats that built multi story skyscrapers, the higher intellectual society that invented the term and a better educated population that were capable of understanding its reason and explanations? Not a chance, it was not a discovery of something new, it was the recognition of something far older. Its clearly ancient and pre-history and 'evo-psyche' was all over it with theories of evolutionary survival-imperative trauma bonding.

'Under patriarchy, women are taught to eroticise their own oppression.' is what calmet wrote in this thread. I agree. The question is, to what end and to what extent and for how long has that been kicking around, because the patriarchy seems pretty old to me, damn ancient in fact. As a simple control mechanism manufactured through social intent in modern times? I doubt its that simple and neat. Even if it is 'taught' is it a lesson that women resist learning or one they easily absorb, and what are the implications of that? No facts, I can explain exactly why ice is slippery when you stand on it because that science is known and absolute, but for human psychology and behaviour the only things that can ever be put forth by anyone, as far as I know, are ideas.

CaptChaos Fri 13-Jun-14 07:32:44

God, how I hate evopsych bullshit.

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Fri 13-Jun-14 07:53:14

Dad, I think most men are physically stronger than most women, so a man being strong enough to rape you wouldn't give good data as to whether he was strong enough to protect your family from - what? Other men? Predators?

EBearhug Fri 13-Jun-14 08:18:28

It's not just about men, is it? You can fantasise about women being abusive, too.

Beachcomber Fri 13-Jun-14 08:32:00

Thanks DonkeySkin, I have come across the concept of Societal Stockholm Syndrome, and it makes perfect sense to me - I didn't know the concept was laid out in that book however. I'm really looking forward to reading it.

Beachcomber Fri 13-Jun-14 08:52:47

This evopsych bullshit is just victim blaming.

You might as well blame a woman for being in an abusive relationship. I mean, rather than blame the man for being abusive.

The question I ask as a feminist is not so much why do women end up with abusive men or have fantasies about abusive situations, but; why do men as a class abuse women? Why have they historically abused us and why do they continue to abuse us and when are they going to stop?

It's obvious why women put up with it and why we attempt to shed positive light on it - as has been outlined on this thread; survival, internalized misogyny, socialization, thousands of years of conditioning via male conceived sadistic customs and rituals, trauma reenactment, processing, attempting to grapple a semblance of control, fear of male violence, fear of rape, fear of pregnancy, fear of ostracization, fear of escalating male violence particularly towards one's offspring. Because we don'y have a choice. Because we don't have another viable option.

I'm sure there are more.

Someone mentioned horror films on here earlier which was interesting. What makes people watch horror films and read crime fiction? Do we think they are fantasizing about being some psycho's victim and that means that they are attracted to psychos? Or do we think that the world is a dangerous place, full of horror and that this is a way of processing that fact?

Living as a woman in a male dominated world is rather like living in a horror film. You never know when your luck is going to run out. No wonder that fucks with women's heads and has us making horror films in our own heads about male violence and abuse.

Beachcomber Fri 13-Jun-14 08:55:23

What's the evopsych theory on why men as a class are abusive?

almondcakes Fri 13-Jun-14 09:06:01

'I can explain exactly why ice is slippery when you stand on it because that science is known and absolute, but for human psychology and behaviour the only things that can ever be put forth by anyone, as far as I know, are ideas.'

All ideas are not equally likely to be plausible. Some are based on an evidence base and a credible theory, while others are not. You can use Physics and Chemistry to explain why ice is slippery, but somebody else could use the language of Physics and Chemistry but use the theory of crystal healing to explain why ice is slippery. Most people would consider your idea the better one. So you using the language of evolutionary biology doesn't make your idea a good one if you are not actually working from the evidence base or using any kind of evolutionary theory. Merely saying the word 'evolution' doesn't suddenly trump people offering theories about social construction from an evidence base.

Your ideas:

1. 'But I would make the case that, given context of how badly human females seem to have been treated as a gender by human males through recorded human history, that there is plenty of reasonable evidence to infer that, pre recorded history, females had to co-exist with one hell of a lot of males who wanted to have sex with them and kill other males.'

Humans didn't evolve in recorded human history. How people have behaved from farming onwards is evidence of how people behave within the context of a series of social and technological constructions that are not present during the period of time when hominids evolved. The arguments of how people in societies like that behave is relevant to explaining how some people have evolved since the development of those societies, so why some groups are less likely to be lactose intolerant, for example. Unless of course you are making the argument that people who have a long exposure to farming and the societies that have developed from it have innately different brains to hunter gatherers, and (quite apart from the racism of that idea) there is no evidence for it.

To demonstrate that humans evolved to have a particular trait you would either have to demonstrate it is universal by including hunter gatherers. If you want to present an idea about how people behaved during the evolution of humans you would have to provide evidence from a. the behaviour of hunter gatherers who still experience similar evolutionary pressures to those that existed for our early ancestors and b. evidence based directly on human evolution in the past.

2. 'a base human survival mechanism formed millennia ago where a female was required to attempt to form a bond with an ideally strong as possible male in order to best ensure the chances of personal survival of herself and offspring.'

If females select a certain type of mate, whose traits had an evolutionary advantage, those traits would become more common in the population. For your idea to be supported, there would have to be evidence that hominid males were or became, at some point, bigger and stronger than their ancestors. This has never happened, as far as we know, from the hominid remains we have to work from, in any hominid species including our own.

High sexual dimorphism (the extent of differences between males and females) is a common trait where males fight between themselves for access to females. Hominids have always had low levels of dimorphism. There has never been a hominid species that had high levels of sexual dimorphism or any any of the traits (large canines etc) associated with male aggression. When Attenborough claims (and I haven't watched the tv series) a level of co-operation, that is because the actual physiology of hominids is one found in co-operative species and not usually in species where being an aggressive male is an advantage.

Hominids have never had high sexual dimorphism indicative of male aggression, so as far as we know, it is incompatible with bipedalism, unless a new, highly sexually dimorphic biped suddenly turns up. Pongids may well have included aggressive males, but traits associated with aggressive males were not those selected for our ancestors to evolve into hominids.

Being strong is not, in itself, an advantage in having surviving offspring. It may be incompatible with other more advantageous traits, it may simply by random not be present in those carrying other advantageous traits, and it always has an energy cost in keeping the strong body alive (energy requirements for food etc) that may outweigh the benefit of being able to get more food or fight off aggressors. At some point, weaker pongid males must have been selected for our weak male species (and all the other hominids) to exist.

Added to which, hunter gatherers now or that we have evidence of from the historical period, who actually live under similar environmental pressures to those of our ancestors, tend to be more egalitarian, including gender equality. They also don't have one common way of creating social relationships for gaining resources. In some societies, women bond with sexual partners to get food, in some with their mothers, in some with a wide community. We don't know which social relationships were most common in the past for pregnant women.

In Pre-historic hunter gatherers, there is no evidence for aggression to be a common experience. There are very few examples of females who have injuries as a result of violence, while injuries as a result of accidents, fractures from walking on uneven ground etc, are very common.

3. 'Behaviour that became entrenched in human thinking through evolution?'

Very little behaviour is entrenched in human thinking through evolution. The evidence for that is the vast diversity of human societies and ways of life that exist across the globe. What human have evolved is the ability to move into a massive and disparate range of ecological niches through socially constructing the world. That means we can change those social constructions, and inevitably will do.

On a separate note, I also think it is worth pointing out that according to psychologists, most women don't have rape and abuse fantasies most women don't read Twilight or similar abusive story line romances. Whether anybody believes it is innate, or a tendency that happens to come out in women in certain conditions, or in everyone in certain conditions (as supported by the research in the book on societal Stockholm syndrome), it is a behaviour that is not shown in most women, and I think explaining why women don't have these fantasies is as interesting as explaining why they do.

Keepithidden Fri 13-Jun-14 09:58:00

Its also true that almost any complex species under less stress reduces hostility within its ranks and that could be applied to humanity on a global scale as, pound for pound, there are far less global conflicts now than in centuries past

I'm not sure either of these are true, but I'm willing to be convinced, could you point me to a source?

I can explain exactly why ice is slippery when you stand on it because that science is known and absolute

Unfortunately, no science is known and absolute. Why ice is slippery was being talked about when I was in eductaion (a few years back now) and is still being discussed by far more intelligent people than me! It's up there with "How do aeroplane wings keep aircraft up" and "Why does liquid flow through a pipe like that" in the ever questioning world of science.

Sorry that was all a bit OT, but prompted a couple of thoughts from me.

Chachah Fri 13-Jun-14 11:12:46

almondcakes, would you have any good recommendations for solid academic criticism of evopsych theories?

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