Social dominance and forceful submission fantasies: Feminine pathology or power?

Patricia H. Hawley, William A. Hensley IV

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


This study addresses forceful submission fantasies in men and women. Although many approaches implicitly or explicitly cast women's force fantasies in a pathological light, this study seeks to explore the associations of such fantasy to female power. By adopting an evolutionary meta-theoretical perspective (and a resource control theory perspective), it was hypothesized that highly agentic, dominant women prefer forceful submission fantasies (more than subordinate women) as a means to connect them to agentic, dominant men. In addition, it is suggested that dominant women would ascribe a meaning to the object of the fantasy different from that assigned by subordinate women (i.e., "warrior lover" vs. "white knight"). Two studies were conducted with nearly 900 college students (men and women) from a large Midwestern university. Hypotheses were largely supported. Analysis of meaning supports theoretical perspectives proposing that forceful submission reflects desires for sexual power on behalf of the fantasist. Implications for evolutionary approaches to human mate preferences are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-585
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2009


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