Male or female, young or old – what is the source and impact of sexual fantasy in your life?
If you saw my last post, you’ll know I have recently been in Japan for a number of weeks. I really enjoyed the journey and seeing all the amazing scenery across Honshu and Hokkaido. I also loved all the otaku culture – I’m a big fan of the Gundam series’, and all the great games and stories that come out of the land of the rising sun. I went to a number of the Otaku areas of different cities, such as Akihabara in Tokyo and Den Den Town in Osaka.
Everyone was telling me to expect people to be cosplaying as different characters. I saw a few Super Saiyan Gokus and some Sailor Moons, but far and away the biggest cosplay happening was done by staff of various maid cafes. Basically, large numbers of ladies dressed in maid uniforms line the streets, mainly approaching men about coming to visit. These places allow men to be waited on hand and foot and be called “Master” by women in scantily clad costumes and “longing” expressions. In addition to the maid cafes, throughout the anime stores are incredibly large adult sections that mainly men (but also some women) would frequent for their fix of disproportionately shaped young girls in next to no clothes.
I didn’t visit any of these cafes but it was pretty clear how successful they were and what the main selling point was.
What, don’t we talk about stuff like that? For all our progression and interconnectivity, we sure do avoid talking properly about this topic a lot. And yet it is a topic that holds such great relevance in the lives of men and women alike in our modern age.
During the years of the sexual revolution of the 70s, men and women would constantly tout about how repressed they had been. The structure that had existed of family and order and dress codes was seen to be constrictive of the sexuality of human beings. “People like sex” was the main message, and they should be able to do it however and whenever they wanted.
It was probably from this point where sexuality began to become quite pervasive in media. While initially labelled as a taboo topic for publishing, the sheer numbers of those exploring these topics and issues pushed it out into “acceptable” and “normal” territory, and into what we have today.
People are sexual beings after all. They like thinking about sex, talking about sex, and exploring this aspect of their lives. And people also have imaginations and like to dream and think about their future. We try to imagine what life would look like in the best possible scenarios for ourselves – what it would be like to be the boss one day, what it would be like to have lots of money, to live in a certain suburb, to be married to X, Y, or Z.
Oh yeah, and what it would be like to have X Y or Z in bed.
And those in media are well aware of this reality. Look at the rise in sexual activity in TV shows and movies in the last 30 years for instance. Heck, even in the last 10 years. It is rarer to find a TV show or movie that does not contain some sort of sexual allusion, scene, or comment, or multiple, than it is to find one without them. And these movies and TV shows sell in droves. The advent of “adult television” is marked by shows that explore mature content by way of sexuality – look at the overwhelming success of shows like Game of Thrones, True Blood, or Vampire Diaries. I think of even Australian classics like Neighbours and Home and Away that regularly visit “progressing to the next base with your boyfriend/girlfriend” as a main story arch. As one of my friends is quick to point out, if a movie is a chick flick, it means it usually has a “Sexual References” warning in its content advisory. I am yet to find a recent movie that proves him wrong on that point.
Movies and TV are a way that we as human beings explore big topics through the realm of story. We do so with books and images also. We can make people look like something else. We can explore what a person that looks like X or Y would look like in a costume of X or Y, in a relationship with Z, and then out of the costume. We can explore vicariously the experiences of these characters through our mirror neurons – elements in our brain that allow us to react to characters in fiction as if we were going through their experiences. And thus the success and power of sexual imagery and exploration in our modern age.
And I haven’t even mentioned the internet yet. If you’re looking for a place to explore any topic you ever wanted to, it’s up in the tubes of the web. All you need is a few words in Google and you can explore any reality you ever wanted to. Find out information about topics you’ve always wondered about.
Oh yeah, and find exploratory material of the fantasy in your mind.
The realm of sexual imaginations is quite a powerful one. There has been a lot of study into it, with Alfred Kinsey probably marking the real launching pad for sophistication in exploring these issues. There have been numerous people who study pornography, mainstream movies, and other forms of media to look into the what and the why behind what is going on in so many minds. Why is that so many women will regularly re-watch the movie Ghost with Patrick Swayze and that pottery scene? His strong arms around her and her feeling safe and loved – and the mirror neurons in the audience causing them to feel similar stimulation. Why is it that so many will joke about the Slave Leia costume in Return of the Jedi – subjugation of a woman in a suggestive outfit, where her beauty is held captive and the male enforcer/s are empowered when maybe they don’t feel so strong usually.
These are kind of tame examples, with unlimited variations of similar scenarios available – domination, the fetishes, schoolgirls, teachers, pool cleaners, firemen, medieval maidens in distress, same gender, mixed – and all of these you can see being explored even on any of today’s news sites reporting on what has been on TV in the last few days.
And of course, these imaginations are rarely without followthrough. These images, thoughts, scenarios – they imprint themselves on the mind and are taken into the bedroom, and “acted upon”. And yes, masturbation is as big an issue of women as it is men.
A good statement on the matter I heard from a good female friend is, “You don’t have to a person physically in your bed to be sleeping with someone”.
And this is the reality of the world we live in. This is the impact of sexual fantasy. It is not just a single person problem either – marrieds frequently find themselves in situations where someone is either compromising or seen to be compromising by inviting fantasies of others into their lives, and sometimes this can be quite hurtful.
And why is that?
Because fantasy is usually about what you can get.
In those maid cafes for instance, I’m sure that those women aren’t getting much beyond the money their employer is given them. They are essentially degraded to fulfill the role of pleasing the male patron.
That male model who is taking his clothes off and displaying his strength and understanding eyes – you don’t care about him, you care about how he’s making you feel and what he’s doing to your body.
That female actress who is acting out a scenario of sexual discovery in that movie or game or book or TV show – as long as you get your good feeling, that’s all she’s really there for.
And sex workers are becoming more and more aware of this reality. In a few articles I read last year, a number of prostitutes were interviewed. And they were finding more and more that they were being asked to perform girlfriend-like duties rather than any heinous or crazy sexual acts. To cuddle and caress and listen. I didn’t read any articles from male escorts, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out if they find themselves doing something similar.
The old school term for sexual fantasy is “lust”. Most forms of media exploring these topics are pretty open about that being what it is, and in today’s society, it is becoming more and more acceptable for it to “just be lust”, even if you’re with your significant other. And we can see above the inherent problem with it.
Lust is about you… but love is about the other.
And this is why people have such massive problems in these areas.
It’s because their love is broken.
I’ve worked in volunteer positions in numerous church environments for a number of years with teenagers and young adults, and for sure every time someone has experienced greater bouts of having these thoughts dominate their lives it’s been when they have been hurt.
The man who has had his love rejected tries to comfort himself with imaginations of force and power.
The woman who has not felt valued, safe or cherished, turns to the movies and the stories of that man who’ll hold her and keep her close and protect her.
The person who has had others walk all over them or not felt heard or appreciated will explore the realms of thought that lead to the domination of others or further restriction of their own bodies.
Because fantasy can’t hurt me like others have.
We would rather have the naive joy of our fantasy than the reality of a true love story.
And in some cases, these imaginations are eventually acted out.
And these fantasies become prescriptions to what the romantic interests in their lives look like. Single people look for men and women who match the physical and emotional characteristics of the subjects of their fantasies. “Well, she needs a bigger chest and less hair”, or “He needs bigger arms and more understanding”, and all the variants in between. Husbands and wives get frustrated with the contents and behaviours of their spouses, and sometimes pressure them into dressing up and acting out a fantasy they had harboured and obsessed over earlier on.
When fantasy has especially been coupled with masturbation or other physical actions, then you really start to get rose-coloured glasses in how you see others.
So, what do we do? Very few people enjoy being dominated by the thoughts that so often rule their lives.
Well, if lust and selfish thoughts run rampant if you’re in pain or have had your love destroyed, the answer is to stop avoiding it and get that area of your life fixed and moving forward.
The book of Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) in the Bible is full of erotic descriptions and exploration. It borders on the realm of erotic fantasy. And yet it is vastly different from the explorations that we produce in our society. Because the descriptions used are not about what the other person is not, and wishing they were someone else – it is a full celebration of who the other person is. From top to bottom, these two lovebirds sound off their great affection for every aspect of the body of the others.
Because of their love for each other.
And love for others has to start from a healthy love for yourself. That is, a belief that you are worthwhile. An understanding that you’re beautiful. A knowing that you bring light to the life of others. A comprehension that you are a great gift to the world. And when you’ve had others in your life especially who have made you feel to the contrary, this is where you even moreso need the love of God in your life to address these hurt areas. We all need His love to help show us these things about us, to help us believe them, and to show us how to demonstrate this love to others.
And don’t be afraid to start talking about it. This stuff gets its power by living in your secrecy. Tell someone, talk about what’s going on. Even more important than talking about the fact you’ve had those thoughts is talking out some of the pain you’ve been through. Was it an ex or an unrequitted love or a father or a mother or a movie or a bully or a word that broke your heart in such a way you’re still covering it with fantasy?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the boxes below. Let’s get a hold of our imagination and start to love others in reality.