Study On Canadians' Sex Fantasies Finds There's No Such Thing As 'Normal'

TORONTO - Fantasies about sex — from making love outdoors to bondage and submission scenarios — cover the gamut, but many are surprisingly common among both men and women, a study of what constitutes sexual deviation has found.

In fact, a survey of more than 1,500 Quebec adults by the Universite de Montreal found that few sexual fantasies are unusual or rare, despite being labelled "atypical" in the bible of mental health, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM-5.

Fantasies about bondage, for instance, are deemed atypical by the DSM-5, said neuropsychologist Christian Joyal, who led the study published Friday in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

However, the survey found that bondage fantasies were common among both male and female respondents, with 30 to 60 per cent of women reporting that they imagined scenarios in which they were tied up or otherwise forced to submit to a sexual partner.

Fantasies that mirror powerful man/submissive woman themes popularized in the trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey" have become "so usual, this is mainstream," said Joyal. "Thinking about it is arousing for many women, but that's it — they don't want to live it, though."

While men often want to turn their fantasies into reality, that's not true for most women, the survey suggests.

"Women, when they have a fantasy, it doesn't mean at all it is a wish. So they can say 'I have fantasized about being overpowered, but I wouldn't like to realize it. I don't want this to happen in real life.'"

Many respondents also fantasized about switching to the opposite role, for instance being the dominant partner, a finding Joyal called unexpected.

Males tended more toward fantasies that didn't involve their spouse or partner, including having sex with two woman at once. In contrast, many women's fantasies centred on their significant other, but in sexual scenarios that often were exhibitionist in nature.

"Women will not begin to wear trench coats and be walking nude in the park," quipped Joyal. "But making love where there's a window in a car, for instance, maybe someone will see you — the idea of being caught, maybe, the thrill. This is really common."

Of 55 fantasy themes dealt with in the Internet-based survey, only two were rare and nine unusual. Men's fantasies encompassed more themes overall than did the women's imaginings.

With rough sex in national news because of the Jian Ghomeshi affair, Joyal said the study's findings are timely.

As many as nine women — two named — have come forward in the media to allege abusive behaviour by the former "Q" host. Police said they are investigating after three women came forward to complain.

Ghomeshi admitted he engaged in rough sex, but insisted it was always consensual, and he said CBC fired him because of the risk that his sex life would become public "as a result of a campaign of false allegations." Ghomeshi also issued a Facebook post saying he plans to meet the allegations against him head-on.

The Quebec study suggests that "certain so-called kinky fantasies" are present among the general population, with 50 per cent to 60 per cent of both men and women reporting their sexual flights of fancy include activities classed as BDSM, or bondage, domination, sadism and masochism, Joyal said.

While researchers don't know the proportion of people who move from just fantasizing about BDSM to actually engaging in those acts, he said it's an important issue and one that's being studied.

"If you're tying up your girlfriend in your bedroom, this is none of my business, as long as she likes it," he said.

But Joyal stressed if a sexual act is violent in nature and hasn't been consented to by one's partner, it could be considered not only psychopathological but also possibly criminal.

Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.

Here are the top 10 fantasies shared by both genders, according to Business Insider's results from the paper:

  • I like to feel romantic emotions during a sexual relationship (women 92.2%; men 88.3%)
  • I have fantasized about taking part in fellatio/cunnilingus (women 78.5%; men 87.6%)
  • I have fantasized about having sex in an unusual place (e.g. in the office; public toilets) (women 81.7%: men 82.3%)
  • Atmosphere and location are important in my sexual fantasies (women 86.4%; men 81.2%)
  • I have fantasized about having sex in a romantic location (e.e. a deserted beach) (women 84.9%; men 78.4%)
  • I have fantasized about having with someone who I know that is not my spouse (women 66.3%; men 83.4%)
  • I have fantasized about masturbating my partner (women 68.1%; men 76.4%)
  • I have fantasized about being masturbated by my partner (women 71.4%; men 71.7%)
  • I have fantasized about having sex with two women (women 36.9%; men 84.5%)
  • I have fantasized about watching two women make love (women 42.4%; men 82.1%)
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