I’ve been on a personal quest lately to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning behind sexual fantasies, and have been reading a book by Michael J. Bader, called Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies, in order to gain some insight on myself. The giant breast fantasy isn’t exactly my thing, but it certainly is a common thing, and I found Bader’s explanation of it pretty interesting, so I thought I’d share.
We already know that hetero men love breasts. Some guys refer to themselves as “breast men” after all, so no surprise there. But have you ever wondered why there’s a sexual fascination with women’s mammary glands whose biological purpose is to feed milk to young infants? If you made the obvious connection and guessed it has to do with motherly nurturing, you’d be right, but according to Bader there’s a lot more to it than that. Actually, this might get weird because it has nothing to do with mothers, and everything to do with mothers.
As I covered in my first post on sexual fantasies, we once again see the primary purpose of a fantasy is to relieve feelings of guilt and worry, which are brought on by pathogenic and negative beliefs about the self and others. Orgasm can only be reached once these harmful beliefs are somehow negated, and the fantasy works to do just that. So what sort of negative beliefs does the breast man have?
According to Bader, he likely has a pathogenic belief that he is undeserving of caretaking, and that his needs are burdensome and greedy, that a woman would experience giving to him as depleting. Therefore he feels he has to prove himself worthy of any caretaking from women. He actually feels guilty needing nurturing from a woman, and feels like it is coercive because, after all, he believes women have nothing to give. That’s pretty harsh. Why would he believe these things? Childhood neglect is a big part of it.
He likely had a relationship with his mother that was very one-sided, one that was all about her: her needs, her moods, her wants. He sees his mother as weak and fragile, as someone who he has to worry about all the time. Bader notes that the result of this relationship is a belief that women don’t “have the capacity or inclination to devote themselves to a man’s pleasure or to their own,” and so to want such a thing leads to extreme guilt.
So with all that unsexy guilt for wanting nurturing in the way, he fantasizes that a woman is turned on by “mothering him,” a.k.a giving him the breast, so that he can get sexually excited. For some men this means fantasizing about actual breastfeeding during sex, but it’s not that he is making any direct sexual connection to his own mother. It’s all about removing the guilt and worry he was trained to have for women. He needs to receive pleasure without having any responsibility for his partner’s needs. He needs her to happily give to him and expect nothing in return.
In the breastfeeding/breast sucking scenario, where the woman wants to give to him and is gratified by giving to him, he is free to let go of the guilt. Not only does she not need him to be her caretaker, she wants him to take from her and isn’t depleted when she gives him maternal nurturing. His desire to take is met with her desire to give. His negative unconscious belief that women are too preoccupied, burdened, depressed, or busy to take pleasure in nurturing him is thus negated. And the bigger the breast, the more nurturing she has to give him.
So there you have it! Even in “extreme” cases where a man is turned on by fantasies of breastfeeding from a woman, it has nothing to do with any creepy latent desire to be sexual with his mother. It’s just that his mother was a selfish narcissist! Or maybe just dysfunctional and depressed. Either way, it’s not about his mother, ladies, it’s all about your enthusiasm and happiness to give to him… and your super luscious breasts.
The more I learn about the psychology behind sexual fantasies, the more impressed I am by the kinky yet intelligent conversation going on between our unconscious beliefs and our sexual expression. Here’s what Dr. Michael J. Bader has to say about bondage and beating fantasies from his book Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies.
Once again, we see that the fantasy is a means of removing guilt, anxiety, and worry in order to find a safe place to “let go.” Negative unconscious beliefs are what make us feel these negative and unsexy things in the first place and by creating a very specific fantasy role for ourselves and our partner(s), we find a way to disprove our negative beliefs about ourselves and others.
Turns out a belief that others are fragile and will be hurt by one’s own exuberance, energy, and self-assertion can lead to super hot bondage fantasies that work to remove the guilt a person feels for pretty much existing at all. Neat.
Ironically, when being tied up, the person is released from guilt and freed of responsibility for anyone’s pleasure but their own. While being tied up and/or blissfully beaten, they know that they are not hurting their partner. They are 100% being done to rather than doing to someone else, and so there is also no question of the partner’s complete interest and pleasure of involvement. They know their partner is having a good time, so now they are free to have a good time too.
I’ve often wondered why bondage has historically been so popular in Japanese culture, where they have basically turned it into a beautiful art form called Kinbaku or Shibari. Perhaps there is some collective cultural guilt among Japanese women that they are too strong and men are fragile and must be protected from their strength. Similarly, there may be a belief among sexually dominating Japanese men that they are responsible for the feelings of women and capable of unintentionally hurting them. I covered the topic of Master-slave fantasies in a previous post.
So, isn’t that interesting how a sexual preference for bondage and beatings isn’t so much kinky as it is purely considerate? The person who longs for whips and handcuffs is really just saying, “See? I’m all tied up and helpless over here so if you’re into playing along, I can’t do anything to hurt you even if I lose control!” So the BDSM community has been stigmatized called deviants for nothing? Turns out a lot of them are just super considerate because they falsely believe that they’re the sexual-emotional equivalent of a bull in a china shop. That’s deep.
~ “I don’t mind working, holding my ground intellectually, artistically; but as a woman, oh, God, as a woman I want to be dominated. I don’t mind being told to stand on my own feet, not to cling, be all that I am capable of doing, but I am going to be pursued, fucked, possessed by the will of a male at his time, his bidding.” – Anaïs Nin
I was seriously considering moonlighting as a dominatrix a few years ago, seeing it as a healthier outlet for my anger towards men than disrespecting them in general. The idea came up when I’d met a practicing dominatrix in a Shanghai nightclub. She was a blonde German woman, which would have made her quite popular among the locals, and I remember her grinning ear to ear as she told me how much money men pay her to “stomp on their balls with my stilettos.” I never actually did the dominatrix thing, but I’ve always wondering about why it appeals to me so much, although it’s not a general appeal. I’d never feel the urge to dominate a man I feel safe around already, just the ones I don’t feel safe around. Dr. Michael J. Bader’s book, Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies, offers this explanation.
Many “tops” have experienced feeling like a helpless victim as a child, and in identifying with the abuser rather than as a victim, they overcome the belief that they are in fact helpless and capable of being overpowered. Instead, they claim the “power” their abuser had over them. It can relieve the self-blame and self-hatred a person has for themselves for “allowing” the abuse to happen to them by putting them in control.
“Tops” also often experience being labeled as a “bad person” in day to day life. This might look like being told that they are responsible for the feelings of others, when in fact they are not responsible for how others choose to feel. “Tops” can feel tremendous guilt and worry about the person or people they’ve been told they are responsible for. For instance, a son who is always told he is responsible for this mother’s negative emotions will tend to relate to women in the same way, feeling responsible for their hurt feelings when no negative intent is actually there. He might believe that he’s a “bad guy” if his girlfriend gets upset and blames him for her feelings.
In a consensual Master-slave relationship, the arousal of the slave is essential to the Master’s arousal. The slave’s pleasure at being dominated, hurt, and abused proves that the Master isn’t really a bad person or an abuser after all. It helps the Master get past their negative beliefs that they are guilty for hurting others, guilty for not being able to help or save others, that they are somehow responsible for others’ suffering. It also relieves the guilt of wanting to be in control of another.
Master-slave sex takes all of the “bad” about the Master, and turns it into “good.” It proves to the Master that they are not a helpless victim, but a powerful and appreciated dominator. I was always told by both of my parents that I was “bad,” and deep down, I always believed it. So for me, having always felt like I was a “bad person,” the urge to dominate and inflict pain on men might be more about wanting to feel like a “good person” than a revenge fantasy.
It’s usually men who take the role of dominator during sex, so this is insightful as well to explain how society socializes men to feel responsible for everyone else. I wonder how many men out there feel like they’re a “bad guy,” and that they’re responsible for womens’ feelings? And, since being a dominator is also the socially acceptable role for a man to play in his sex life, I also wonder how many men out there are playing “top” when they really want to play “bottom”? I’d bet it’s more than we think.
~ “It is always by way of pain one arrives at pleasure.” – Marquis de Sade
So, if you caught my first post on sexual fantasies, you’d already know that I’ve been reading Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies by Dr. Michael J. Bader to gain a bit of understanding about human sexuality and the impact of traumatic events on it. I’ll be sharing interesting bits of info as I read, and I thought this topic was worthy of a post.
This was always something I’ve wondered about. Why do some people fantasize about rape, when such an event would actually be traumatic? If you remember from my first post on the meaning of sexual fantasies, all fantasies serve to create the psychological safety required for sexual release, as mentioned Bader.
Here’s the deal with rape fantasies, which both men and women have reported, but which are much more common in women. Women are socialized to be objects of desire, not desiring subjects, which can make it hard for women to be ruthless lovers. They are often feeling guilty and worried.
Rape represents an act of overwhelming and controlling another, and so a woman fantasizing about a man raping her means that she feels she overwhelms and controls men, and needs a man so overwhelming that she couldn’t possibly hurt him.
Rape fantasies counter the belief that a woman is too strong for fragile men, that the woman’s needs and wants are too much for him. In a rape fantasy, she doesn’t need to protect him; he knows how to take what he wants so she can focus on getting what she wants.
Bader adds that “though the manifest script often puts her in a passive position, the underlying unconscious message is that she is guilty about being too much for a weak, limited, or inadequate man.”
Similarly, fantasies about gang-bangs derive from guilty feelings about being so “sexually voracious” that it takes numerous people to do the job. Women often have ruthless sexual fantasies of this type since women are socialized to feel guilt about their sexuality.
Does knowing all this kind of ruin it? I wonder how many men out there think their woman has rape fantasies because she just can’t get enough of him?
~ “Gender differences, though real, are not as profound as one might expect. The only relevant question is: what pathogenic beliefs do dominance and submission solve?” – Dr. Michael J. Bader
I’ve been reading Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies, by Dr. Michael J. Bader, out of curiosity. What impact have my childhood abuse experiences had on my sexuality? Turns out… a lot.
I’m only one chapter into the book, but I’d like to share what I’ve learned so far. Apparently, creating safety is the ultimate goal of a sexual fantasy. Why would we feel unsafe? Because we’ve got a collection of negative beliefs, traumas, and emotional hurts from our past that shape our self-image and the image of those around us. A normal part of adapting to any family environment as a child is internalizing guilt, worry, shame, and rejection in varying degrees.
Sexual inhibition is nothing more than our feelings of sexuality threatening our sense of safety, because our warped self-image is incongruent with the freedom of sexual pleasure. A fantasy bridges that gap. As Bader puts it, “our fantasies convince us that we’re not going to harm or betray anyone, and that if we get fully aroused, no one will suffer.”
So here are just a few examples of how certain themes help to make us feel safe:
A sexually submissive role guarantees both an intense connection and an inability to overwhelm or hurt a partner during sex. This role would be preferred by those who have beliefs and experiences that suggest the individual is too much or too powerful, such as those who saw their parents as weak, or even high-ranking CEOs.
A rape fantasy in which one is forced to have sex is an attempt to protect one’s conscience, family, and culture and show that it’s not the fantasizer’s fault they’re having the sex that is forbidden to them. The author notes that men often use this type of fantasy when they make up the story that a woman “made” them lose their sexual control; interesting since rape fantasies are generally attributed to women.
Fantasizing about a ruthless and selfish partner allows the person to be ruthlessly selfish about their own sexual pleasure, not having to feel any guilt or worry about the other or feel responsible for them. Identification with a partner – the opposite of ruthlessness – can also come into play when it bolsters psychological safety, rather than enforcing feelings of guilt, worry, shame, or rejection.
A fantasy about a partner who is helpless to resist our sex appeal – who might even be begging us for sex – serves to negate feelings of rejection, shame, and defectiveness. Genital worship and exhibitionist fantasies also serve to negate shame, showing that others are enthusiastic about sex with us, even powerless to resist us, rather than repelled by us. Group sex fantasies can also show how “wanted” we are.
And… strippers are sexy because they are proudly showing off what they’ve got and the viewer doesn’t need to guilty or worried about her and so can release their inhibitions.
Does this jive for you folks out there? I have found some of it does for me.
No mention yet of why some people like to be humiliated during sex, or why some prefer to play a dominant role. I’ll write another post as I read along…
~ “The quest for psychological safety is at the centre of psychological life.” – Dr. Michael J. Bader