Rough sex: the pleasure of violence

Rough sex: the pleasure of violence

A study recently published in Evolutionary Psychological Science (Burch & Salmon, 2019) focused on the nature of rough sex (translated mainly in Italian with “pushed sex” or “violent sex”) consensual and, in particular, on the reason for which is preferred to the more typical sex. 


Advertising message Over the years, numerous studies have focused on data deriving from rough sex understood as aggression and sexual abuse, in particular on rape (Messing, Thaller and Bagwell 2014; Camilleri and Stiver 2014). However, the amount of research is narrowed when rough sex is considered as a consensual practice and preferred to typical sex by one of the two partners or by both. Ryan and Mohr, in a research carried out in 2005, highlighted how some aggressive behaviors are interpreted as playful by the participants if they manifest themselves without being accompanied by negative emotions or physical injuries.

Some of the behaviors that fall into rough sex practices are pulling the hair, biting and tightening the throat; these can leave slight marks on the body, such as redness or bruising but, in any case, they must always be shared and accepted by both partners (Burch & Salmon, 2019).

In order to determine what rough sex entails and what behaviors trigger it, the participants of this study were asked for their personal definition of the practice, how often they implement it and what factors and sensations have been associated with rough sex (Burch & Salmon, 2019).

Advertising message The sample consisted of 734 university students, both male and female. Everyone was asked to answer a short demographic questionnaire and then to describe their rough sex experiences. In particular, the authors’ focus was on questions related to the different sensations between typical sex and rough sex, how often they adopted this practice and the main behaviors they put in place.

The results showed that most of the participants reported only slightly aggressive behaviors regarding rough sex (e.g. slapping, pulling their hair, and being held / tied) and with rapid and violent penetration.

Although both men and women primarily agreed on the factors that triggered rough sex, there was a difference regarding the “sexual jealousy” factor: men reported that the elements that made them jealous (eg being separated, being betrayed , attention of the partner to others) increased the probability that they would engage in violent sexual behavior. Finally, women reported a slightly higher tendency than men to begin rough sex and less orgasm latency. In addition, they also reported greater satisfaction in this type of practice than more typical sex (Burch & Salmon, 2019).

In conclusion, rough sex seems to be a largely recreational behavior, triggered by both the desire for novelty and jealousy, which in many cases can be even more satisfying than typical sexual intercourse.