Sexual Wellness

Why Stranger-Danger Can Be So Sexy

| 01/07/2021

stranger danger fantasy Illustration by Derek Abella

You’re watching a horror movie. A nameless blonde woman opens a closet, finds it empty, turns around, and is immediately stabbed by the masked killer who has snuck up behind her.

We’ve all seen this scene in some form or other. These mask-murderer movies are popular because they thrill those who love them. They send a shiver down our spines. They force us to check our own closets for baddies before we lay our heads down to rest. Even the most campy thrillers get the blood pumping. To this day I can’t see the mask from Scream without a familiar twinge of anxiety. And for some, this feeling can go a step further, teetering over the edge of the terrifying into the realm of the horny.

Stranger-danger: There is a familiar, almost titillating cadence to the term. It may be the “am I about to die?” terror, or it may be the anonymity of this stranger who holds a life in their hands, but something gives us that tingle. Why are some people turned on by scary masks? People get turned on by everything from Freddie Krueger’s gruesome face to the bunny head from Donnie Darko. We’re hot for the ultra-freaky.

Stranger-danger is particularly encoded into the female psyche (and of those raised female)/ Women are always the ones warned to be “careful” of the strange, masked person (presumably male, but who’s to say?). It always seems to be a woman who is the “victim” of a terrifying masked killer. Cue a hyper-sexualized bottle blonde being stabbed to death, dripping with theatrical blood.

Are you turned on yet? It’s okay if you are. 

Why Anonymous Sex Gives the Libido a Kick

What if that person in the mask wasn’t after your life, but a quick-and-dirty, anonymous bang in the shadows? 

There is something uniquely kinky about a person wearing a mask—the thing that transforms a sexual partner into the fantasy of who we want them to be in the moment of our heightened arousal state. “In some ways, it can tap into the fantasy of fear, but it could also be related to the magic of fantasy in general,” explains Pam Shaffer, MFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “Oftentimes, our imagination is even more vivid and heightened than reality, so masks and costumes can help people slip into character and out of their regular comfort zone.”

“Our imagination is even more vivid and heightened than reality, so masks and costumes can help people slip into character and out of their comfort zone.”

A “Near-Death” Feeling Spikes Adrenaline

As we’ve covered here on Dame, fear and danger can really get us hot and bothered. Consensual encounters designed to amplify the “near-death feeling” are not literally bringing you the brink of death, but your nervous system doesn’t know the difference. Your biological response to the perceived threat to your life spikes your adrenaline levels, giving you that rush so many of us crave.

In scary mask roleplay fantasies, the killer desires you sexually. They’re hungry for you on a base, animal-like level. It’s essentially a mixture of anonymous sex and a ravagement fantasy. “There can also feel like there’s less accountability when masks are worn,” says Kamil Lewis, AMFT, a somatic sex therapist. “There can be a thought that a mask-wearer will feel less inhibited, more able to act out dominance or fantasy without pressure or fear of judgment. This inhibition can be intriguing for women who find themselves wanting to lose themselves in sex, feel more submissive, and even more creative and exploratory.”

Bear in mind that this sort of sex is not for everyone and being into this kind of roleplay doesn’t make you more or less sexy than anyone else. It’s merely a subsection of the erotic that some people enjoy, much like riding a rollercoaster. Some might live for the drop at the top of a theme park ride, while others find the same experience horrifying (or nauseating, or both).

Holding the power by “giving up” power

In a consensual “stranger-danger” roleplay, the idea is to have that “they can do whatever they want to me” feeling without actually violating any of your boundaries. You are in control of the play, even if the object of the fantasy is to pretend you’re not. Masks aside, these are common fantasies that are acted out for everyone’s sexual benefit.

Women (and those raised female) have enough trouble being recognized as fully formed human beings as it is, so this is not about being consumed by male desire without our consent. Instead, it is a chance to play with these roles, to control them in a way that we choose. That is pretty powerful stuff. “The appeal here can be the freedom anonymity offers,” Lewis says. “Sometimes, women occupy care-taker roles in relationships. There are societal pressures to show up in a specific and limited way, physically, emotionally, mentally, and otherwise. Anonymous sex may offer the chance to be focused on and privilege her needs and pleasure. With anonymous sex, she can show up as whoever she wants, however she wants.”

Sex is a dynamic part of the human experience. Our desires come from a complex mix of images, experiences, thoughts, and so on. The more we know, explore, and accept that complexity, free from shame, the more we can indulge in our creepiest horniness. And we all deserve that journey.

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