The question I posed:
An email is making me wonder — are men more disturbed by certain sexual fantasy situations than women out of a misplaced sense of chivalry?
Last week I got an email from friends (a couple) who run a fetish website that is about fantasies involving female submission in scenarios that include the models being sexually objectified as food objects. The women at the center of these very over-exaggerated cartoonish scenes are submitting to other women, are never portrayed as doing anything against their will, yet the scenes are very graphic with the use of food and cooking implements. It is certain that were this to happen to people in real life, they would not survive skewering or cooking. There is an element of devotion from the submissive female to her chefs; it is often done with a smile and playfulness. On the website it is repeated that these scenes are fantasy only, and anyone wanting to make them real life should seek help immediately. (If only slasher films came with the same extensive warnings and explanations.)
Naturally, as with all extreme fetish and fantasy, some people take the site lightly and jokingly, some think it’s just plain weird, others think it’s kinda hot, while others are freaked out and honestly offended by the material. Such is the nature of sex: like a particular food, some will hate it, some will love it, while most will have a passing reaction not the least of which is neutrality. For instance my friends who work in restaurants thought the images were hilarious and not charged with intent at all, while I did notice that a couple men reacted with strong “ew” to the site’s images.
But how do women feel about it? My friends who run the site said,
In 10 years of doing [redacted], we have noticed an interesting pattern: When our work is exposed to folks who have never seen it before (and never even imagined such a fetish could exist!), men are more likely to get ruffled over it and women are more likely to find it intriguing. We’ve thought about why this is so and our (admittedly very unprofessional) conclusion is that women sometimes enjoy the combination of danger and desire (think vampires) and can see the sexiness in purely fantasy situations, while men might be reacting out of a slightly misplaced sense of chivalry. (Of course there are exceptions; men who are already into the fantasy need no explanation of what is sexy about it and some ladies are so shocked by the images that they are immediately turned off.)
So, intrigued by the concept of misplaced male chivalry as directed at female sexual fantasies, I asked the question on Twitter. (“are men more disturbed by certain sexual fantasy situations than women out of a misplaced sense of chivalry?”) And the response was overwhelming. One person answered, “Not misplaced chivalry, but confusion over when objectification is hot and when it’s not.” A woman wrote, “I would say that’s a totally valid theory. Couple of friends don’t do fellatio bc *he* feels its degrading to her tho she luvs it” while a guy replied to me with “I think social pressures can lead men to confuse chivalry (I know what’s good for u) and feminism (u know what’s good for u).”
One man said, “Absolutely! Can be worse for feminist men with internal conflict b/w quasi-chivalrous 2nd wave and sex+, self-defined 3rd wave.” Gay male BDSM porn performers and female BDSM porn performers alike said that occasionally male fans/viewers want to “save” them from their supposed perils. In a few responses, chivalry and feminism seemed to be at odds (“I’d want to distinguish between ‘chivalrous’ & feminist men. Same result (unease) but different origin.”) One man wrote, “I think you’re right on the money with that. A lot of male sexuality can be explained by expectations of what you call chivalry.” A male friend wrote, “”Taking charge” and “the pedestal” are justifiably confusing to men. Both sexually and socially. Taken together, they’re counter-intuitive.” Another, “Very possible. A lot of us were raised to be “good” and nice to women. Sometimes seen as lack of strength.” A female pal wrote, “in all my Years of phone sex i discovered i was WAY more open as a lady to dive into certain fantasies with ease.”
What do you think?