Received: 16 Aug 2013, Accepted: 25 Oct 2013, Published online: 21 Mar 2014
The ‘problem’ of sexual fantasies
This essay explores the nature and implications of sexual fantasies. The essay begins from the apparent paradox that while it [pornography] is frequently condemned for its absolute explicitness (‘leaving nothing to the imagination’) it is at the same time condemned for arousing ‘uncontrollable fantasies’.
Several strands of theorization are reviewed, attending in particular to their shared assumption that such fantasies are essentially compensatory – making up for either stored-up problems from childhood or signs of inadequacy in a person's sexual maturation.
Challenging these accounts, the essay draws on evidence from a major investigation into the meanings and pleasures of pornography conducted in 2011, which garnered more than 5000 responses to a complex online questionnaire combining quantitative and qualitative questions.
Ten motivations for using and enjoying sexual fantasies are distinguished, within which five distinct ways of understanding the relations between pornography and fantasy are outlined: as magnifying glass, as mirror to self, as emporium, as journey, and as alternative self.
These are understood as productive of new sexual possibilities."
Martin Barkera, Porn Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1-2, 2014, DOI: 10.1080/23268743.2013.863656