“Lying still while saying no, I can definitely do. We’ll even see if I can manage some tears!”
“Heh. Sounds good!”
“Before we set this in stone, I just wanted to state that what you’re asking for is a rape fantasy. I just want to use the word so we’re clear on what this is.”
His next response takes longer but he confirms that this is what he’s looking for. When we meet a few days later we touch on it while reviewing limits and safe words.
“You don’t know me…The word rape is so loaded and I know it can be triggering for women so I didn’t want to say it in my first email to you. But yes, I have rape fantasies.”
What followed was one of the most boring hours of my career.
I lay still, not fighting, sobbing out for him to stop while he thrust in and out of me. There was no arc, no movement, and it got really monotonous for me, but he got off in the end.
Afterwards he told me about his first girlfriend and how she had come from a conservative family. She would only have sex if it was framed as rape, otherwise she would have to face being a woman who wanted sex; one of the worst things she had been told she could be. He had been uncomfortable at first but eventually enjoyed it—even after they broke up. He didn’t know how to express this to others so he hired women like me to act these scenes out with him.
It turns out there are lots of people engaging in rape play or, as people call it to differentiate it, consensual non consent (CNC).
His ex’s story wasn’t surprising. There’s a reason romance novels feature a formulaic trajectory of no no YES. When we shame women for owning their sexuality, it can be hard to admit you want sex. It’s much easier to put it in the hands of someone else.
I am a woman who has had rape fantasies since I was a teenager. I have also been raped and assaulted in my personal life and have vacillated if these competing truths make me a bad feminist. But it turns out there are lots of people engaging in rape play or, as people call it to differentiate it, consensual non consent (CNC).
It’s one thing to do this with someone I have an existing relationship with or someone with a mutual friend I can ask to vouch for. It’s another when it’s a man I’ve never met showing up in my inbox. I’d like to say that I’ve always been a ‘good’ sex worker about screening but in a post-FOSTA/SESTA world it’s becoming harder. Sex workers often have to rely on gut feelings during the email process.
If you think women carry shame about rape fantasies, you should see the men.
But while clients looking for true CNC scenes are a minority and while each of them have had wildly different fantasies, they’ve all had one thing in common: they’ve been the clients most concerned about consent. As the first guy said, “I want to make sure this doesn’t become a real rape. That means more communication.”
If you think women carry shame about rape fantasies, you should see the men.
This is not to say that men shouldn’t examine why they’re turned on by these fantasies. I’m a firm believer that anyone turned on by enacting a privilege they have in everyday life should consider that before acting out scenes. But I have done enough of these scenes now to also know that there are people who have done that work and want to act out CNC fantasies safely and there are people who actively want to rape their partners. Partners I have had in the past who said they were uncomfortable participating in CNC play still wound up assaulting me. Not having the fantasy doesn’t automatically mean people aren’t aroused by non consensual actions, it’s just that some people want it to be real. And yes, as a kinky woman, it can be difficult to find dudes who aren’t shitty.
He sends me a scene of, honest to god, a Lifetime movie. It features a woman wearing a tank top and jeans in a locker room. Two men hold her against the metal while she weakly resists.
This is the vibe I am told to capture.
Chris* lists everything he wants me to look like and assures me the three roleplay scenes he wants can be done in an hour.
“I finish fast. Don’t worry.”
I appreciate his honesty.
He also wants a knife. Not a real knife obviously. He suggests a wooden spoon.
“Something I can hold against your neck but that can’t cut you. A stand in.”
I agree to this. Knife play is one of my top kinks but that’s my personal life. That is multiple scenes and lots of trust giving me permission to actually participate in my more risky fetishes. This is a client. I appreciate that he’s already considered that.
Chris gives me instructions on where to meet him. I go out with my girlfriend for a date and we kill time until I slip into the bathroom to change from my preferred hard femme attire to the requested look that’s more basic. I don’t look like me in the mirror and remind myself that low maintenance looks are very in. I always feel lackluster in them but as long as the client thinks I’m hot it’s a success.
When I arrive the room is small and Chris is baby faced. I say he looks younger than the 30 he claimed to be in emails and he says he’s 23, which makes him younger than me.
I have to try hard to be incredulous rather than laugh at how fun it is.
A lot of providers won’t see anyone under 30 because young guys can be cocky and a handful. They don’t want to pay. They think their dick is the biggest. Not Chris. Chris has been seeing providers since he was 18. Chris is also visibly disabled. I mention this because it ties into some crucial elements about this kink.
a) Rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power. Since I would be playing a popular girl being undone by the shy nerd boy this is definitely a power fantasy. Much like that other guy’s ex, women raised to be demure can dream of being ravished. The flip side is that some men think that if they can exert dominance in a typically masculine way that they’ll get the girl. Obviously you can’t just whisk a girl away on horseback at any time, and that’s why fantasies exist.
b) Due to his disability, there was no possible way Chris would be able to overpower me. I had at least 20 pounds on him and I was expressly told not to push him hard. He explained that part of me selling this would be pretending to be weaker than him. So already we’re writing a new reality to play in. Knowing someone can turn it off is usually a sign that they understand the boundaries of a scene.
We set up the props and room while Chris explains his freeze frame fetish to me. He snaps his fingers and time stops so he can do things to me. It adds a layer of nonrealism to the already melodramatic scene we’re prepping. When Chris freezes the scene and undoes my blouse, I come back utterly confused and questioning myself. I have to try hard to be incredulous rather than laugh at how fun it is.
Chris has me tie myself up. He sternly tells me to be quiet and then dips out of character for a moment to remind me that the walls are thin. I don’t blame him for being wary. He’s staying in an AirBNB for a work trip, last thing he needs is the cops called. Last thing I need either. One of the most important agreements a pair can have is that cops ruin things.
He feeds me lines and I repeat them back, through fake sobs.
I get myself in and out of the restraints as needed while Chris lightly lays the ‘knife’ along my throat. I wriggle more than I push. I fake cry and I beg him like he asks me to, not to hurt me, to say he’s hurting me, to ask him to stop hurting me. He feeds me lines and I repeat them back, through fake sobs.
Chris comes all over my stomach. While I clean up, he tells me about his social anxiety. He asks about mine, since I mentioned it earlier, and I tell him that anxiety is hard. It doesn’t go away really, you just get better at managing it.
I tell him not to fear therapy and think about how young he is. How he easily passed for 30 online. He’s just awkward. Not because of the disability. He’s awkward because he’s shy. If he weren’t disabled, he’d likely still be an awkward human.
No wonder his fantasies are about being able to go after what he wants.
It was my fault for not safe wording even though I was clearly upset.
The times I’ve been assaulted were much less theatrical. After it happened, those men would think they hadn’t done anything, would just act normally. I fell into that rhythm with them, telling myself I must not have been raped if he was being nice. It was my fault for not safe wording even though I was clearly upset.
With successful CNC scenes I can look at them after and go ‘that was not rape’ and know that it is true. I do not convince myself that I am being dramatic.
I am still a cynic who doesn’t applaud men for basic things, but there’s something about the amount of work that these clients put in that make me go ‘yeah, you’re doing it!’ Plus it proves that #metoo is working: men who are afraid of being rapists (not just of being caught) are, in theory, less likely to rape.
And with the amount of danger sex workers face it helps to have so much discussion. It helps to have a guy come in and be concerned about my wellbeing as much as his dick. It helps to have a guy actually have conversations about consent rather than just saying, ‘I am a gentleman,’ or, ‘I really care about your pleasure’ and then I have to wrap my limits in a sexy bow and soft voice to make him have that conversation with me.
Sometimes I just need to text my own partners and be like ‘hey I did good can you validate that I did good?’
Still, it’s a lot of work. It is draining. Sometimes I can bounce right back but other times I don’t. I have to rest my body because a scene was active. I have to do some emotional aftercare. Sometimes I just need to text my own partners and be like ‘hey I did good can you validate that I did good?’
But until time is up, I give aftercare to the clients. I reassure these guys that they’re fine. They’re okay. I go over our previous conversations and remind them that they cared about boundaries. This is the hardest part where I must be the most careful with myself. I’ve reassured my actual assailants moments after being hurt and this is the conversation where I’m most likely to hit triggers.
But I think exploring CNC, especially at work where I have such clear transactional boundaries, has made it easier for me to look at actual predators and catch those things earlier. Whether it’s a guy speaking in declaratives instead of questions when scheduling a meeting or a partner who doesn’t respect that sometimes a person doesn’t want to be touched.
If someone is putting in the work out of a scene, it makes it easier to explore those scenes with them. Who could have guessed that the ultimate way to not be a monster is just to consider the other person?