November 19, 2011

Violence and Sex

Littlegirlyone (LG) wrote a blog post recently on the subject of sexual violence and violent sex, about her feelings and reactions to watching the video of a Judge beating his daughter with a belt. She spoke both about the beating the girl received and her reaction to it, and with wonder, her visceral reaction to watching the video. Her self analysis and the subsequent comments indicate that her reaction was not uncommon. I think there was a fair amount of self doubt expressed, how could they have such an erotic reaction to such a horrific event?

This reminds me of a number of other situations, where there is a “good reaction” to a “bad event”, such as:

- Arousal when viewing the judge beating his daughter

- Arousal or bodily response when being forced or raped

- Being in a NO situation but finding yourself being aroused

- A behavior or desire that is learned from a negative experience

There are many other examples.

I think it can bring clarity to consider that there are two separate and distinct things going on at the same time. One of them a horrible violent thing that everyone agrees is despicable and wrong, and justly so. On the other hand, there is stimulation of erotic triggers.

Just as LG says, there is disgust at finding eroticism in these events, that can produce a sense of self loathing.

I think if we can learn to separate the two events, we can have the appropriate responses to each of the events. But when the two are viewed as related or that one causes the other, there is condemnation of self.
Irrespective of whether the judge beating his daughter with a belt is wrong or not, and in the example we are talking about it is clear that he has gone over the edge. It is far far beyond any kind of discipline. In spite of that, the thought of it or viewing of it triggers an erotic response from some/many people. The fact that these violent acts trigger an arousal mechanism does not mean that the viewer approves and condones what he is doing, or even that what is going on is the root cause of the reaction.
When a woman suddenly finds herself in the unrelenting pursuit of a man who has decided that he ought to, or is entitled to, have has way with her. It seems inappropriate for her to feel aroused by the attention or thoughts of what is/might/could happen. The fact is that it triggers a non-consensual fantasy in her mind, but that does not mean she wants the sexual or sensual assault to continue, or that the man is justified in his actions.
So many women who have been raped or assaulted carry around a tremendous feeling of guilt at their body's response. They think there is something wrong with them that even while they are being taken against their will and being forced to do things they would never consent to, they are experiencing some kind of sexual stimulation. In many cases even have intense sexual stimulation and intense orgasms.
A woman who, along with her husband, is confronted by a burglar in her home and is bound and gagged, along side her husband. After they are both secured and disabled, the burglar scours the house looking for valuables to steal. Eventually he returns and begins a sexual assault on the wife, cutting her clothes off of her and eventually taking her sexual, ultimately resulting in an orgasm. In addition, the woman develops an arousal affiliation between being bound and gagged, and the husband has developed a strong interest in his wife when he has bound her in ways that are similar to what the burglar did.
In all of these examples consider the fact that there are two distinct and separate things happening.

In the LG's example, it is very likely that the arousal would be the same if she were viewing a staged video, although it might not have been so visceral, because it was staged. But I am sure that the popularity and success of dungeon scenes as portrayed on and other kinky porn sites speak to this point.

In the instance of a friend who was raped, the only way I could get her to eventually accept that it was not her fault, that she did not “want it”, was to work with her and drill into her the fact that her response was purely a physical reaction. It did not mean she was bad or that she wanted it to happen or that she permitted it. There were two things happening, she was being taken sexually against her will, and she was having a perfectly normal sexual stimulation.

Clearly, violence or the threat of violence will trigger a fight or flight response. With that response comes an adrenalin rush. I understand that there is a physiological component to women becoming stimulated during a sexual assault that has nothing to do with any psychological component. There is belief in the scientific community that physiological changes occur as a kind of self protection mechanism, lubricating the woman and keeping her from suffering bad physical damage as the result. It is not all in the head, it is automatic, and occurs in other mammals as well. This is part of the guilt fallacy that women often describe as “my body betrayed me.” In no way does the woman's physiological reaction transfer any responsibility for the rape to her.

I know it can be difficult to separate these events, particularly when they are happening in essentially the same time and space, but I think there is value in dissecting the violence of an event and separating it from any physical reaction that occurs. The stimulation that occurs is not caused by the violent event, it is caused by internal triggers that are set off, triggers which may look very similar to the violent event that is occurring but are really very separate and distinct.


  1. David - thank you so much for writing this out. i tried a few times in response to those posts - but just couldn't make it coherent. There are several distinct processes happening - and it is confusing, but not an indication of one's morals or goodness/badness. Thank you.

  2. This is such a well considered response to LG's posts and I take your point re the automated / biological reaction in the case of rape.

    I was shocked , enraged by the video under discussion. My rage comes also I believe from a mothers biological need to protect a minor. I am still nutting through my difficulty in accepting a 'common reaction'. Though I understand the person in the video is an adult now and so my point is moot, I feel (and its all about emotion for me) that we are complicit in the abuse as through an arousal response. This is where the guilt is framed I guess. Like GG above, for me I cannot nut this out in a coherent manner it seems.

  3. Hi David, I had never heard of the lubrication theory as a protection mechanism! But surely that can't work in all (or most) rape situations since physical damage usually occurs? I'm by no means an expert and have never been sexually assaulted, just curious.

    But on the subject of the belting video, as a submissive, I was aroused by it, as was my Dom (after I shared it with him anyway). But unlike LG or most others, I simply had no conflicting feelings about it. Maybe I have just come to accept, embrace and love the way that I am. My world would be colorless without D/s and I would not change a single thing about my innate desires!

    Thank you for such a thoughtful post! Love, squirrel

  4. thought-provoking post.

  5. Thank you David - so well done. I appreciate you laying out the facts so clearly.


  6. Personally, I find it pays to be extremely careful with one's language when discussing topics like this. There is a galaxy of difference between fantasy and the real thing. The fact that so many people can't distinguish the difference is disturbing.

    God knows, I've written enough about women's rape fantasies and it's gotten me into considerable trouble.

    However, I would make a clear distinction between bodily reactions to actual rape and the reaction of the body to minimize harm and identifying that as arousal. It's not.

  7. RG your point is well taken, the word "arousal" used in this context is inappropriate.