If sex is the most essential act of human creation, then it’s only natural it gets along well with the imagination. But until pretty recently, sexual kinks approached the realm of taboo, something you might chat about hush-hush over drinks with friends. Now, a recent study suggests it’s only a matter of time before they become polite dinner conversation.
Last year, three academics at the University of Montreal published extensive data on the relative rarity of different sexual fantasies in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. Their goal was determining what exactly constitutes an “unusual” fantasy and what’s rather more “typical”, statistically speaking. Time to find out if you're actually a freak like your OkCupid profile says.
This information constituted what was probably one of the more thought-provoking sex studies in recent memory, not only because it charts the prevalence of these fantasies in men versus women, but because it even delves into some of the far “touchier”, and altogether dark and illegal, thoughts that visit some people.
The following are 18 shocking sets of figures from this study - ranked by decreasing normalcy and increasing shockingness - for your curiosity, outrage and assorted kinks.
19 Being dominated sexually
Power has always been sexy, but has domination officially gone mainstream? The survey found 46.7% of women and 59.6% of men have fantasized about it, making it “common” for men and just shy of common for women by the study’s criteria. This would certainly be one of the more sweeping indications of how sexual attitudes have changed.
18 Sex in an unusual place (office, public toilets)
Ever since Bob Eubanks asked What is the most interesting place you and your husband made whoopee? in the 60s, location became popular criteria for sex, and sex became whoopee for some odd reason.
Of all the fantasies surveyed, hooking up in risqué places was shared most closely by men and women. Separated by barely half a percent, 81.7% of women and 82.3% of men know it well—about as typical as fantasies get.
17 Someone I know who isn’t my spouse
66.3% of women and 83.4% of men have fantasized about sex with a non-spousal relation. The rest are lying. To all men and women: don’t beguile your partner’s quips about the sexy co-worker. Commend them for their honesty. The fantasy is labeled “common” for both men and women.
16 Sex with a stranger
People have different criteria of “fantasizing”. A flirty glance is all the inspiration some people need, and by "some people" we mean most men.
Men are far worse at controlling their imagination than women in this respect. The study estimates 48.9% of women have fantasized about sex with an unknown person, compared to 72.5% of men (the rest of which are lying again).
15 Sex openly in a public place
Secrecy is sexy, but what exactly is hot about the thought of performing for your local 7-11? This one seems a little more niche.
But maybe that’s an unfair example. We know sexiness makes a fine companion to blatant disregard for rules and good sense (except in some very important cases, which we’ll get to). Maybe that’s why sex openly in a public place is a common fantasy for both genders: 57.3% of women and 66.1% of men.
14 Being tied up
What’s the correlation between BDSM and liberal society? It might seem a little counterintuitive, but allowing partners to assume dominating roles in the bedroom is thought to repurpose normal power relations. In a sense, consensual domination becomes about equality (exceptions may apply, unfortunately).
With great thanks to Christian Grey, bondage is a common female fantasy and a nearly-common one for men. 52.1% of women versus 46.2% of men have fantasized about being tied up during the act.
13 Being pleasured by a stranger
For some reason this sounds a lot freakier than what we’ve seen so far. But why is sex with a stranger any less weird? Even the stats echo this peculiarity: with 33.4% of women and 62.5% of men, considerably less fantasize about being lent a hand by strangers than being lent considerably more. But for men, it’s still common.
12 Sex with more than three people, all women
A threesome is already too much adventure for many of us, but greater-than-threesomes with women are a fairly-prevalent female fantasy, and a near-prerequisite of having a penis it seems. Besides gay men, straight women, sexually conservative straight men and sexually conservative gay women, who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by the fairer sex during sex?
No surprises here—the study predicts 24.7% of women and 75.3% of men have fantasized it.
11 Sex with more than three people, all men
As Louis C.K. points out, a man gets to do it with a woman, but a woman has to do it with a man. At 28.3%, only 4% more women registered in the all-male fantasy than the all-female one. Most women don’t find anything even hypothetically arousing about a sex party, but the ones that do don’t gender discriminate much. For men, a rate of 13.1% makes it uncommon by the study’s criteria.
10 Watching someone undress without them knowing
Paying dues to classical perversions, 63.4% of men have fantasized about being peeping Toms. But hold it, ladies: 31.8% of you have fantasized about being peeping Thomasinas.
Let’s keep in mind this isn’t envisioning someone naked, out there in the world, stripping in their private quarters. This is fantasizing about peering through their curtains, dirty windowscreens, cracks in the closet door and other creepy degrees of separation. Apparently it’s common for men, and fairly frequent for women.
9 Being filmed
If this ever happens it won’t be purple hot lights and fog machines. Chances are it’ll be some dude in jeans and a goatee, sidestepping around your mattress and zooming in for close ups with his Nikon. Even with no third-party involved, there’s about a 95% chance it’ll end up on the Internet. That’s a fact.
Somehow, this is a familiar fantasy to 31.9% of women and 43.9% of men. Not quite common, but shockingly high.
8 Being spanked or whipped
We’ve measured the B and the D, as people often do, but the SM: This is one of the touchier subjects, and one of the few sex kinks women share considerably more than men. 36.9% versus 20.6%, respectively.
The encyclopedia on “disciplinary” role play will be written forever ongoing. But the rulebook will probably never change. Safewords or agreeing not to have them— either way consensus is key. Also candle wax, so we hear.
7 Being forced to have sex
Sometimes human beings don’t really mean what they say in the bedroom. Unfortunately this makes for a bit of confusion around that magic word “consensus”. Without the guise of roleplay, a fantasy of “being forced” to have sex comes awfully close to a fantasy about rape. Though again, we are talking about the lawless land of make-believe.
The researchers found 28.9% of women and 30.7% of men have entertained this fantasy.
6 Sex with an object
We’ve all heard through one grapevine or another how big the sex toy industry is, but generally we assume the inanimate object is the means to fantasizing. Commodity fetishism has clearly gone too far.
According to the study, for a nearly equal 26.3% of women and 27.8% of men, getting freaky with the object can be the fantasy itself. Depressing? A little demented? We won’t judge.
5 Sex with a sex worker or stripper
Getting busy with an escort spells the opposite of fantasy for most—maybe a last resort for someone who’s been fantasizing a little too much. But a seasoned practitioner can encompass several thrill potentials all at once: lack of commitment, unequaled experience, domination prospect, risk (to your health).
12.5% of women and 29.5% of men know what we’re talking about. Perhaps surprising and certainly an uncommon fantasy for women, but not uncommon in men.
4 Sexually abusing a person who is drunk, asleep or unconscious
Everyone needs a good fantasy or ten to keep them soldiering through the pedestrian life. But if the great Jay Gatsby’s demise taught us anything, it’s that some fantasies are best left alone. Also something about time travel, we don’t really remember.
And yes, you can bet your unwary bottoms there’s a tasteless Bill Cosby joke here somewhere. Actually, that may have been it. The study worryingly predicts 10.8% of women and 22.6% of men admit to fantasizing about sexually abusing a drunk, asleep or unconscious person.
A woman may wonder what it’s like to be kicked in the testes; what man hasn’t thought about strutting his stuff in a pair of high stilettos?
Whether openly or in secret, people who’ve had cross-dressing sexual fantasies probably don’t subscribe to the gender binary. But a fantasy is all many of them get for exploring their androgynous kinks. 6.9% of women and 10% of men have had one according to the survey, making it pretty uncommon.
2 Urinating on a partner
Like we said, sex psychology can be frightening. (R. Kelly.) Some people—3.5% of women and 8.9% of men—simply have kinks you’ll never understand. (R. Kelly.) This is not the kind of freaky night you’re likely to recount to your closest friends, but somehow, the urine fantasy didn’t qualify as “rare” for men or women. (R. Kelly.)