“Eat Me”: The Fascinating Dreamworld of Vorarephilia

For most of us, it’s unthinkable. You simply don’t eat people. Conversely, when a date invites you to dinner, it never occurs to you that you’ll be on the menu.

Sure, sharks do it. Spiders and praying mantises do it, too. But modern Homo Sapiens don’t eat members of their own species, let alone their sexual partners – at least, not in the usual, digestive sense.

Death by cannibalism might seem like a high price to pay for sexual pleasure, yet some people find the idea of being someone else’s lunch quite arousing.

Sexual fetishes involving cannibalistic fantasies are very rare but not unknown. Vorarephilia – usually shortened to vore – is a fixation on the idea of being eaten, eating another person, or observing this process for sexual gratification.

Henry Miller touches on the idea behind the fetish in his essay, “Inside the Whale,” in which he discusses the cocooned “safety” of infants in the womb.

Sexual fetishes involving cannibalistic fantasies are very rare but not unknown.
Sexual fetishes involving cannibalistic fantasies are very rare but not unknown.
(Art by Karbo via deviantart.com)

Hunger, Sexual Desire, and Vore

There isn’t much statistical research out there on the eat-or-be-eaten fetish. Vorarephiles are unsurprisingly reluctant to speak about their sexual predilections.

But most behavioral experts agree that the fascination develops early in a person’s life. A study from the 2015 International Academy of Sex Research conference says the median age at which a person might develop an interest is 12.

Some 113 vorarephiles aged 18 to 46 participated in the study, most of them were heterosexual males who fantasized about being eaten by women.

Since the fetish is unlikely to actually be carried out except in the ghastliest cases of sexual cannibalism, “soft vore” usually involves role-playing and different media.

Participants in the 2015 study reported acting on their fantasies in a variety of ways. These included the use of puppets, swallowing small animals that are still alive, as well as “fashioning a makeshift predator’s stomach out of blankets, pillows, or sleeping bags.”

Psychologists have investigated comparisons between hunger and sexual desire in porn and literature and suggest this may play a part in the popularity of the fetish.

“Soft vore” usually involves role-playing and different media.
“Soft vore” usually involves role-playing and different media.

From the Sensual to the Violent

The man-eating scenarios in vore pornography come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You’ll find anything from bikini-wearing popular anime characters eating each other to enormous, ferocious giantesses gobbling up villagers.

“Compared to ‘hard vore,’ soft vore is usually seen as more sensual and sexually-oriented because of its relatively non-violent nature,” says Mark Griffiths, a professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University.

Enthusiasts point out that soft vore and hard vore porn aren’t always strict binaries, though. Some sexually explicit depictions may straddle the line between the sensual and the outright violent.

For example, the artist Karbo shows stomach acid and digestion in his giantess vore illustrations, but stops short of depicting blood and dismemberment.

That said, given the paraphilia’s primary basis in fantasy, almost any orifice or body part can be capable of engulfing a person.

For instance, female genital vore is where the person is consumed by the vagina. This is often called ‘unbirthing’ or ‘reverse birth,’ Griffiths says.

There are still other types, says Griffiths. “Anal vore is where the person is consumed by the anus and taken into the rectum, colon, or stomach,” he adds. “Breast vore is where the person is consumed by the nipples and taken into the breast.”

You’ll find anything from bikini-wearing popular anime characters eating each other to enormous, ferocious giantesses in vore pornography.
You’ll find anything from bikini-wearing popular anime characters eating each other to enormous, ferocious giantesses in vore pornography.

“What did I just watch?”

The regular porn viewer who stumbles on a vore video or illustration will probably miss the eroticism beyond noticing the highly-sexualized depictions of women. Indeed, the comment section of vore videos on Youtube will sometimes have one or two viewers asking, “What did I just watch?”

But the driving force underlying vorarephilia in some people appears to resemble that of sadomasochism, according to a study published in 2013. Researchers have also found that it could be motivated by a strong urge to merge with a powerful other to escape loneliness.

In both interpretations, the act of devouring someone is viewed as a definitive act of dominance. One does not have to stray too far to get a sense of the mental construct behind this particular fascination.

In everyday, colloquial language, we say someone beautiful “looks good enough to eat” or that a sexually attractive person looks “tasty” or “sweet.”

Being eaten alive, on the other hand, would be the ultimate act of submission. The ‘victim’ in vore porn is usually helpless: a man bound, gagged, and humiliated, or else he is tiny – literally, the size of a bug.

The driving force underlying vorarephilia in some people appears to resemble that of sadomasochism.
The driving force underlying vorarephilia in some people appears to resemble that of sadomasochism.
(Art by Karbo via deviantart.com)

“Eat me. It’s my fantasy.”

Pop culture references to vore are many and varied. Man-eating women have been appearing in a range of film genres, TV shows, and comic books for decades.

An early example is the 70’s film, Die Weibchen, which is set in a women’s health spa where men are food. There are also cannibal horror-comedies, such as 1973’s Cannibal Girls and 2009’s Doghouse and Jennifer’s Body.

The voracious women in these movies are portrayed as literal monsters. That’s probably because it’s much easier to accept a person eating someone alive if mainstream viewers are told they’re actually not human.

There are hundreds of animated videos along this theme on YouTube. They all more or less run along the same basic elements: scantily clad women consuming men whole and alive.

These clips sometimes garner views running into the hundreds of thousands. Some of those who comment on the clips are acknowledged vorarephiles. “Eat me,” says one. “It’s my fantasy.”

In one of the most popular vore Youtube videos, an attractive woman in lingerie teasingly describes how she needs to eat men to feed her “giant body.”

“You’ll be sliding around my small intestine, going around and around – it’s such a long way to travel to the exit,” she says, pointing to her belly with a provocative smile. “Then you’ll reach my large intestine, where you’ll be nothing but a pile of shit for me to poop out.”

Man-eating women have been appearing in a range of film genres, TV shows, and comic books for decades.
Man-eating women have been appearing in a range of film genres, TV shows, and comic books for decades.

Bon Appetit, Ladies

While the sexy, man-eating woman isn’t new to pop culture, she’s gained new relevance in ways that go beyond shock and erotic value.  In the new women’s empowerment movement, the man-eating woman is framed against ever-present social anxieties about gender, hunger, sex, and emancipation.

“Portrayals of female hunger in visual culture more broadly are tangled up in social expectations about how women manage their bodies, expectations shaped in part by fad diets, targeted advertising, and celebrity culture,” says the writer Kate Robertson for The Atlantic.

In addition to eating men, the sexually cannibalistic woman undermines and disrupts expectations for how women should look and behave.

The man-eating women of vore are driven by sexual desire, making them another iteration of the erotic femme fatale – the beautiful woman who deceives and entraps men.

In making them eat human flesh, pop culture frames the fear and sexual fascination for strong, sexually-oriented women inside an erotic fantasy. There really is no big leap of the imagination involved there, when you think about it.

There’s a persistent stereotype that sexually aggressive women will “eat men up,” anyway.

Well, these girls will literally swallow you whole. Bon appetit, ladies.

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