The 'Heterosexualisation' of Sadism and Masochism
Lynch, Karen, Hecate
When initially researching this article, I intended to examine the myth of female masochism and how this is employed, problematised and reinvented in female Gothic and feminist detective fiction. But as I began the research I realised that this myth was inseparably paired with another -- the myth of male sadism; and together they form what I have termed the `heterosexuality' of masochism and sadism. My contention is that our notions of heterosexuality have a sedimented association with the binary of the beater and the beaten: traditional concepts of heterosexuality, in so far as they involve the roles of domination and submission, are dramatically re-enacted in texts which show a woman victimised at the hands of a man. This is part of a larger project that argues that feminist detective fiction and the female Gothic share a narrative structure that pursues a woman's detection of patriarchal crime.
This article will not detail in detail with aspects of female Gothic fiction. Suffice to say that female Gothic employs a fantasy that could traditionally be called `masochistic', in pairing a victimised woman (the heroine) with a sadistic man (the villain). The dramatic scenario of victim/villain is repeatedly redeployed in the hundreds of texts that make up the female Gothic genre of the eighteenth century. The authors and readers of these works were typically women. Two centuries on, feminist detective fiction largely deconstructs the myth of female masochism, but continues to employ the construct of woman-as-victim, usually at the hands of a patriarchal sadist. In both genres the problem of `masochism' is arguably located at the readerly level, where the reader takes pleasure in a genre that repetitively murders or victimises women in order to both right and write their wrongs.
The Beating Drama
I frame my essay with a discussion of Michelle A. Massé's study of women, masochism and the Gothic.(1) Massé argues that the female Gothic can be interpreted using the psychoanalytic paradigm of the beating fantasy in which a spectator watches someone being hurt by a dominant other. This triadic drama occurs in two possible combinations. Textually, the scenario is held amongst three characters -- for example, a Gothic heroine may hold the spectator position, watching the villain subjugate, even kill another woman, until she decides to take up an active role as either as beater or beaten. Extra-textually, the reader is automatically located in the spectator position, but may vicariously assume any role in the beating scenario (usually following the protagonist). Massé defines this beating drama as a purely pathological, albeit normalised system of gendered socialisation, arguing that `we must consider "normal" feminine development as a form of culturally induced trauma (i.e. masochism) and the Gothic novel its repetition'.(2)
What I intend to do in my analysis is to lever Massé's concept of the beating scenario to demonstrate the ways in which it is used as a heterosexual binary that informs notions of gender and patriarchy. I will also be arguing the inverse of this: that the key tenets of heterosexuality have become problematically linked to a sexualised binary of sadism and masochism. To do this, it is necessary to trace the ways in which the terms `sadism' and `masochism' have been deployed, pathologised and normalised from the late eighteenth century onwards.
To a large extent my thinking on the terms of masochism and sadism is framed by Foucault's History of Sexuality -- Volume 1. Here Foucault argues that our modern concepts of sexuality were deployed in a discursive explosion of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (of which the texts of the female Gothic formed a significant part) and, in particular, in the discursive appearance of medicalised and pathologised sexualities. In Foucault's work, this deployment involves the invention and incorporation of a new specification or classification of individuals. This is not to say, of course, that these (so-called) peripheral sexualities did not exist prior to this time, but Foucault argues that this period created psychological depths and biological theories to explain the behaviour of certain individuals. The difference is aptly demonstrated, for example, in the historical difference between the concept of sodomy and the homosexual:
As defined by the ancient or canonical codes, sodomy was a category of forbidden acts; their perpetrator was nothing more than the juridical subject of them. The 19th century homosexual became a personage, a past, a case history, and a childhood, in addition to being a type of life, a life form, and a morphology, with an indiscreet anatomy and possibly a mysterious physiology...The sodomite had been a temporary aberration; the homosexual was a new species.(3)
Foucault goes on to cite what he calls the `strange baptismal names' that nineteenth century psychiatrists and sexologists gave to these new medicalised sexualities: zoophiles, zooerasts, mixoscophiles and sexoesthetics are just some of the exotic terms listed. What is interesting for my project, however, is that Foucault does not mention the rise of the terms masochism and sadism, a puzzling omission given that the terms were invented and deployed in volume after volume of sexual tomes around the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In part this omission may be due to Foucault's deliberate bracketing of heterosexual monogamy -- that is, the only legitimated sexuality -- to concentrate on the heterogeneous and polymorphous sexualities to which this period gives rise. According to Foucault, the deployment of peripheral sexualities had a specific effect on legitimated alliance that was:
a centrifugal movement with respect to heterosexual monogamy. Of course, the array of practices and pleasures continued to be referred to it as their internal standard; but it was spoken of less and less, or in any case with a growing moderation...the legitimate couple, with its regular sexuality, had a right to more discretion. It tended to function as a norm, one that was stricter perhaps, but quieter.(4) (my italics)
Counter to Foucault, then, but in line with his theory on the deployment of sexuality, I wish to argue that the medicalised, pathologised and normalised terms of masochism and sadism found their initial focus within the heterosexual exchange and created a discourse on that heterosexuality that spoke very loudly. Specifically, I will be tracing several historical moments that demonstrate the ways in which these terms have played a large role in negotiating the cultural interchange between masculinity and femininity and have become rigidified within notions of patriarchy, particularly in the construct of `woman-as-victim'. From here, I pursue a deconstruction of this axis/construct by utilising a lesbian appropriation of these terms that releases the rigidified notions of sadism and masochism, renegotiating the historical process of the term, in the practice of S and M. In the final section, I turn to the issue of masochism in feminist detective fiction.
Sadism and masochism are, of course, named after famous practitioners -- the Marquis de Sade (1740-1824) and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1835-1895) -- who stand approximately one hundred years apart, but well within the Foucauldian dates of deployment. As with the psychiatric discovery of all peripheral sexualities, it cannot be claimed that sadism and masochism only exist from their neologistic birth date; yet it is possible to claim a distinction (similar to that of sodomite and homosexual) between sadistic or masochistic acts prior to the medicalisation of the term, and the proliferation of discourses surrounding such acts after the invention of the terms. What I find most interesting is the possibility that these terms, once invented, have been mobilised in the service of a particular understanding of heterosexuality, a mythic structure that regulates notions of domination and submission, the beater and the beaten.
From the moment of their `discovery', the terms `sadism' and `masochism' were aligned almost directly with notions of heterosexuality, coming by route of a reworked and `normalised' notion of the pathological. This path can be demonstrated by tracing two separate but linked processes: the first being the rehabilitation of the Marquis de Sade within intellectual texts; the second being, the psychoanalytic naturalisation of a specific type of (heterosexual) sadism and masochism.
The Sadean experience I wish to invoke is not so much about the texts of Sade himself, but rather the way in which his life and works have been used as a massive project or deployment of sexuality primarily concerned with unbounded intellectual (and masculine) desire. Initially pathologised as the sadist par excellence in works such as Krafft-Ebbing's Psychopathia Sexualis, a barrage of later writers -- most notably the French surrealists -- re-worked the Sadean experience as primarily that of a victim, both of his own time and of subsequent medical interpretations. Yet Krafft-Ebbing himself provided the terminology necessary to translate pathological sadism into normal, indeed healthy masculine sexuality:
In the intercourse of the sexes, the active or aggressive role belongs to man; woman remains passive, defensive. It affords man great pleasure to win a woman, to conquer her; and in the art of lovemaking, the modesty of woman who keeps herself on the defensive until the moment of surrender, is an element of great psychological significance and importance. Under the normal conditions man meets obstacles which it is his part to overcome and for which nature has given him an aggressive character. This aggressive character, however, under pathological conditions may likewise be excessively developed, and express itself in an impulse to subdue the object of desire, even to destroy or kill it.(5)
This continuum from normalcy into pathology is part of the project that Foucault describes as a kind of humanisation, a strictly controlling one, of the sexually perverse. Likewise, much of the discourse on Sade both mirrored and generated this deployment of medical power, clearing a space where the sexuality of the (masculine) self was continually up for negotiation. In The Self and Its Pleasures, Carolyn Dean asks `how did Sade...come to symbolise what was most fundamental (sometimes unpleasant but most often exhilarating) about human nature'.(6) Amending `human nature' to heterosexual `masculine' nature, I would argue that the question asked of this Sadean embodiment is already partially answered by the sexologist who works to establish that there exists between the pathological and the normal only a matter of degree. But the other part of this question involves the intellectual `revolutionary' vision of Sade, a fascination that transformed Sade into a cypher that mirrored the attitudes and agendas behind his many transformations. Dean, for example, compares various late nineteenth and early twentieth century portraits and descriptions of Sade. In the earlier period, Sade is primarily written of as a sadist rather than as a writer or philosopher. According to Dean's research, most of the various literary interpretations of this period deem him a madman. A typical example, cited from the Grande Encyclopedic of 1895, declares that `his works are unreadable', his writing `extravagant', and his imagination `delirious'.(7) But even these earlier depictions are mixed with those that that see in his sadism a `self-dissolution characteristic of martyrdom', marking Sade as the exemplary figure of an age of spiritual dissipation and catholic degeneracy. Flaubert, for example, has been quoted as saying that Sade had `the last word on Catholicism', a view that anticipates the later surrealist re-inventions. In the early twentieth century, Sade is invented as alarmingly androgynous, a dandy, a pretty boy whose dissipation had left him `impotent [and]...prey to his own weakness'.(8)
From this celebration of artifice and androgyny, Sade was again reinvented by the surrealist movement as a site for intense, intellectual, even apocalyptical masculinity. In Man Ray's `Imaginary Portrait of the Marquis de Sade' of 1938, Sade is seen as a prophetic figure, a weary philosopher committed to changing the world; most importantly Sade's sadism was celebrated and reinterpreted as a `kind of male spirituality that bursts forth as a healthy, powerful, even revolutionary force'. From here André Breton could claim that `Sade is surrealist in sadism', and Gilbert Lely that `Sade means Love'. In the process, his misogyny is either celebrated or erased, and his real victims (the torturing of Rose Keller is a prominent example) are dismissed as whores or willing accomplices.
Sade, then, was a transformable entity who figured as an important site of mythologised masculinity: most obviously these various re-inventions work to erase the pathology of sadism, to make it signify something else -- surrealism, love, androgyny, artifice, and so on. By contrast, Sacher-Masoch, while indeed famous, has not figured as such a voluble site of masculinity: and I can't resist asking, is this because he did not do the beating?(9)
`A secret kinship present' -- The Freudian influence
If Sade has been re-invented in intellectual life from aristocratic degenerate into the essence of prophetic masculinity this has been done against a cultural background that continues to normalise -- even at the very moment it pathologises -- the practice of sadism and masochism. Freudian psychoanalysis returns to the beating drama of heterosex, previously canvassed by Ellis and Krafft-Ebbing, in the concept of the primal scene: for Freud the child witnesses the scene as `some sort of ill-treatment or act of subjugation: they view it, that is, in a sadistic sense'.(10) In this schema, sexual initiation necessarily incorporates the beating fantasy. The child is the spectator, poised on the threshold, both of the bedroom and of assuming one of the two positions. However, as many commentators have shown, Freud initially deconstructs this heterosexual binary. In `Instincts and their Vicissitudes', for example, he sets up pairs of instincts, each of which can turn in on the other. Calling them `the three great polarities that dominate mental life', Freud enacts a move later made more explicitly by Hélène Cixous in the famous columns of binaries under the heading `Where is She'.(11) Similarly Freud sets up binary opposites, whilst stressing their reversibility. These are:
Freud also discusses how all component instincts have their active and passive counterparts; thus scopophilia can turn into exhibitionism, epistemophilia into not knowing, and sadism into masochism. In `The Sexual Aberrations', Freud again stresses the interchangeability of the component instincts, and approaches an understanding of the term `sadomasochism' which collapses the binarism of the two terms. He writes:
Every active perversion is thus accompanied by its passive counterpart: anyone who is an exhibitionist in his unconscious is at the same time a voyeur; in anyone who suffers from the consequences of repressed sadistic impulses there is sure to be another determinant of his symptoms which has its source in masochistic inclinations.(13)
Returning to his `three great polarities' in `Instincts and their Vicissitudes', Freud warns his readers not to align the active/passive component instincts with maleness and femaleness respectively. However, as Massé and other commentators have pointed out, Freud's discussion `shows a consistent pattern of gender differentiation in the supposedly neutral drives'.(14) So, whilst acknowledging the reversibility of drives, he can simultaneously state `that sadism has a more intimate relation with masculinity and masochism with femininity, as though there were a secret kinship present'.(15) The pairing is somewhat metaphorical, but is carried even further by Marie Bonaparte and Helen Deutsch in (now notorious) subsequent works. Bonaparte writes: `In coitus, the woman, in effect, is subjected to a sort of beating by the man's penis. She receives its blows and often, even, loves their violence'.(16) Indeed, female masochism, according to Bonaparte is even present at the moment of conception: `The foundation of the female cell is initiated by a kind of wound; in its way, the female cell is primordially masochistic'.(17) Similarly, Deutsch reasoned that women must like pain in order to consent both to the rigours of heterosexual intercourse and of child-bearing. The message, again, is that heterosex is imbued with a necessary violence, violence that men are willing to inflict (as the beater) and women are willing to accept (as the beaten).
These fallacies are obvious and certainly dated. Given this, it is almost a critical commonplace to waive the entire issue as one of the most identifiable and deconstructable of mythologies. Yet despite the apparent obviousness of the myth, it had significant impact in framing second-wave feminist debate and ongoing repercussions in feminist discourse. Susan Brownmiller's rendition of the problem in Against Our Will is one of the clearest examples of this:
Given the pervasive male ideology of rape (the mass psychology of the conqueror) a mirror-image female victim psychology (the mass psychology of the conquered) could not help but arise. Near its extreme, this female psycho-sexuality indulges in the fantasy of rape. Stated another way, when women do fantasize about sex, the fantasies are usually the product of male conditioning and cannot be otherwise.(18)
`In Bad Faith': Lesbian S/M
The apparent heterosexism of sadism and masochism reached a rather dramatic climax in a now famous conference entitled `Feminism, Sexuality and Power' that took place in the United States in 1980. This conference is recounted by Margaret Hunt in the lesbian S/M manual Coming To Power, and is fictionalised in a lesbian detective novel called The Dog Collar Murders by Barbara Wilson.(19) According to Hunt, the `Feminism, Sexuality and Power' conference was dominated by a group calling themselves `radical feminists' who advocated a censorship of pornography and considered lesbian S/M a politically suspect practice that mimicked the dominant and submissive roles of what they called `hetero-patriarchy'. Hunt deconstructs this attitude toward heterosex, revealing the practice of the early 20th century mythology still well at work. According to Hunt:
The new radical feminist cosmology not only equates all or almost all heterosexuality...with rape...but tends to see heterosexuality (i.e. rape) pervading the whole of reality...There is a never ending dialectic between heterosexuality and all other oppressive acts in society.(20)
Coming To Power, for the most part, opens an interesting dialogue between lesbians who practice S/M and straight women, and it does so for a strategic reason. Both heterosexual women and lesbian S/Mers had been accused of a similar state of bad faith: the belief was simply that both buy into a system that perpetuates sadism and masochism in its gendered alignment. As many of the contributors argue, this view is based on the assumption that male and female are necessarily equivalent to sadistic and masochistic positions, and that women are frozen in the role of victims of men. To counter this, practitioners of lesbian S/M are in a unique position to free up the terms and collapse and/or re-interpret the binary by staging a theatrical and usually interchangeable play of roles which inverts the cultural pairing of sadomasochism with a static (and mythic) heterosexuality. The fact that the practice is known more widely as S/M rather than sadomasochism is due to the fact that the practice has little in common with the original cultural framing of the term.
Barbara Wilson's The Dog Collar Murders(21) takes up and interrogates the problematic of woman-as-victim, largely through a fictionalised version of the `Feminism, Sexuality and Power' conference discussed at length in Coming To Power. The drama hinges on the `Porn Wars' within American feminism and the investigative narrative opens when a prominent anti-porn activist is found strangled by a dog collar at the conference. The murder weapon is, of course, highly symbolic, suggesting involvement of a disgruntled S/Mer, the practices and politics of which were harshly criticised by the dead activist, Loie Marsh. However, the plot is further complicated when a lesbian S/M advocate is also found murdered in a similar fashion. Throughout the investigation, lesbian-feminist activist Pam Nielsen weaves her way through various feminist positions and gradually comes to accept and understand the practice of S/M. In the end she does not `solve the mystery', but rather precipitates events which disclose the identity of the murderer (who turns out to be a straight, anti-feminist Christian). The fact that the villain in this case is a woman is significant because it is part of an attempt to problematise the dominant image of `woman-as-victim' and, more specifically, women as victims of men.
Wilson's narrative seems to push for a careful deconstruction of what I have termed the heterosexualisation of sadism and masochism, or the beater and the beaten. It argues that to concentrate on the potentiality of men to rape and commit other acts of violence, and of women to be victimised -- and to forge an identity around this victimisation -- is to resurrect a specific cultural mythology even while trying to turn against it. But Wilson goes further than this, exploring the politics of masochistic fantasy and, in particular, the fantasy of rape. At one point in the (fictionalised) feminist conference, a speaker asks a group of women to answer truthfully if they've ever fantasised about rape. A group of guilty women slowly raise their hands; but instead of outing these women as patriarchally inscribed, the acknowledgment helps to deconstruct alignments of fantasy and reality.
In The Myth of Women's Masochism, Paula Caplan argues the necessity of separating the female rape fantasy from a real wish to be raped. The fantasy may involve a number of scenarios, Caplan argues: the desire to be `swept away', to be taken forcefully, to be so desirable that another cannot control a desire for you, or to be so completely trusting of another that you can entirely put yourself in that person's control. But understanding that this fantasy is itself a pleasurable scenario in which the individual is in complete and total control and that actual rape is the very opposite separates the two events entirely; on the basis of this, Caplan argues, such a fantasy cannot be construed as masochistic. Indeed, she suggests that masochism has been wrongly defined as the love of pain when it is really the search for pleasure through pain, and she thereby dismisses any association of women with masochism because such `masochism' does not exist.(22) Barbara Wilson's texts, amongst others,(23) together with Coming To Power, could be said to conform to Caplan's interpretation -- but only up to a point. These texts seem to suggest that, rather than throw masochism (or its counterpart, sadism) out of feminist discourse, the terms must be reinterpreted and reinscribed, thereby becoming new modes of pleasure and fantasy, differentiated from their original heterosexed entrenchment. Fantasy is not always politically correct; and a rape fantasy, particularly a heterosexual rape fantasy, does indeed mirror the heterosexual binary. Insofar as it involves subjugation, however pleasurable, the fantasy certainly can, I believe, be construed as masochistic.
Reading for Pleasure: Textual Masochism
On one level, then, these lesbian detective texts work to deconstruct the gendered, heterosexual binary of sadism and masochism and the cultural by-product of woman-as-victim. As feminist detective fiction, moreover, these texts participate in the genre's broader appropriation of the traditional masculine position of the subject who employs a signature, a gaze, a world-view, and a plan of action. The female investigator, or heroine, often occupies this space ironically, a type of gumshoe in drag or, conversely, the feminine antithesis of the hardboiled `dick' with an emphasis on community and interdependence. Either way, feminist detective fiction strategically appropriates or redefines the textual space of the `I', interrogating and reworking the cultural designation of masculine subjectivity: the heroine's job, after all is to watch and to gain knowledge: her scopophilia and epistemophilia are important, perhaps even central, aspects of her feminism. However, a paradox arises when this heroinely appropriation of subjectivity is coupled with a narrative that is often littered with dead female bodies -- the ultimate specular image and the extreme end of female victimisation.
The cultural significance of the female corpse has been discussed at length in Elisabeth Bronfen's study Over Her Dead Body. Bronfen draws a parallel between the linguistic practice of signifying the ever absent signified and the social construction of the female corpse as cultural signpost. Linguistically, we have become preoccupied with the fact that language must attempt to end impossible plenitude of meaning, to kill off all other possibilities by placing a signifier that points to a deadened meaning. Put another way, in language's perpetually frustrating endeavour to reach an end point (call it `truth', the signified, what have you), it has often been said that it must kill endless possibilities to signify. Bronfen argues that the cultural liminality or ambiguity of `woman', that evanescent state between subjectivity/objectivity, operates in a similar way.
In the Lacanian scenario, `woman' as signifier is split in her relation to both the phallus (the social, cultural law/language) and to a radical otherness which evades signification; the ambivalence -- even uncanniness -- of this splitting is, according to Bronfen, culturally resolved in the death of woman. Like the ambivalence of language, the ambivalence of woman requires her to be killed in order to signify or symbolise whatever culture requires of her. This again recalls the Lacanian notion that `the symbol is the murder of the thing': a dead woman becomes an object of symbolic representation -- and, as Bronfen notes, Western culture resonates with representations of dead women by male artists. The symbolic appropriateness is summed up by Bronfen who quotes Edgar Allen Poe (1846) to the effect that `the death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world'.(24)
As a genre, feminist detective fiction may have a tendency to litter its texts with female corpses, but the message is one of social injustice rather than poetic representation. Nevertheless, the sense of symbolism is retained in the killing of a woman to make her signify, or in the turning of a dead female body into a sign which becomes the last word or the moment of `truth' in the text. By and large, a woman's death signifies patriarchal injustice and violence; perhaps, in addition, she is strategically placed to signpost a heroine's passage through the patriarchal web of intrigue into resolution/solution. Nevertheless, it is the dead female body that carries the ultimate message of the narrative, its ultimate decipherment. From my reading, I would argue that a majority of feminist detective fiction `carries' a corpse and these victims are usually women or other figures in a socially marginal position. It is an uncomfortable paradox: a genre that explicitly carries a narrative of female emancipation does so by recourse to a regressive (second-wave?) investment in female victimisation.
So why do women like to read a genre which often involves the brutal rape or death of a fictional woman? A common answer might be that women readers identify themselves with the heroine who always survives (and usually thrives), but who can empathise -- like the reader -- with the female victims. Or it might be said that violence against women should be portrayed in all its ugliness to wake people out of a certain complacency; that the woman-as-victim motif is cancelled out by the avenging heroine who always gets even; or that readers like to see the problem of violence `solved', as it generally is with the capture of the villain and the reaffirmation of a feminist-friendly community (the commonplace ending of many feminist detective narratives). The problem as I see it is that feminist detective fiction -- like any form of generic fiction -- recycles its texts: they are read and re-read, women are killed and re-killed and the problems of systemic violence are perpetually solved and resolved, and it is this repetition, with its important elements of female heroine-ism, victimisation, murder and mystery, that yield the real pleasure.
From here, difficult questions arise. Is the feminist detective genre then, `textually' masochistic in that it repetitively employs fictional `pain' (victimising women) in the service of pleasure (solving the problem of victimisation)? What can be made of the structural similarity to the Gothic beating drama where both reader and protagonist watch someone being hurt (or killed) by a dominant other? And, if this is another beating fantasy, does the genre remain within the mythology that genders and heterosexualises sadism and masochism? If indeed there is a masochistic element in reading and re-reading narratives which often hinge on the killing of a figurative woman, the next question to ask is, simply, should this be of any concern? Perhaps the problem is not so much the fact that reading the genre entails elements of masochism, but the fact that our culture has paired women with masochism as the intrinsic and destructive secret of femininity and femaleness. Contrived as an everyday pathology, a product of patriarchy and heterosexual hegemony, we reach the limits of discourse -- as in the taboo of the rape fantasy -- in speaking about women, pleasure and masochism. Perhaps this project of reinventing the term is the cultural equivalent of saying `Sade means love' -- but, for my part, I hope this is saying something entirely different.
(1) Michelle Massé, In The Name of Love: Women, Masochism and the Gothic, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1992. While I find Massé's use of the beating scenario compelling, I think her thesis is limited by its psychoanalytic frame of reference in that, along with Freud, it only considers masochism within and as a product of heterosexual coupling. The basic Freudian premises that: (1) masochism is a feminine (if not female) condition; (2) masochism is a sickness; and (3) the `motive' of masochism cannot be understood as pleasure and can only be theorised with recourse to the death drive, go wholly unchallenged.
(2) Michelle Massé: 7.
(3) Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1, trans. Robert Hurley, London, Penguin, 1990: 43.
(4) Michel Foucault: 38.
(5) Richard von Krafft-Ebbing quoted in Bill Thompson, Sadomasochism, Painful Perversion or Pleasurable Play, London, Cassell, 1994: 22. Similarly, Havelock Ellis' Studies in the Psychology of Sex (published between 1896 and 1928) defined sadism and masochism in terms of heterosexual sex:
At first sight the connection between love and pain -- the tendency of men to delight in inflicting it and women in suffering it -- seems strange and inexplicable.... In understanding such cases we have to remember that it is only within limits that a woman really enjoys the pain, discomfort or subjection to which she submits. A little pain which the woman gladly accepts as the sign and forerunner of pleasure -- this degree of pain comes within the normal limits of love and is rooted, as we have seen, in the experience of the race. (Ellis quoted in Thompson: 29).
(6) Carolyn J. Dean, The Self and Its Pleasures, Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press, 1992: 134.
(7) Carolyn J. Dean: 154.
(8) Carolyn J. Dean: 155.
(9) Gilles Deleuze's study Masochism, Coldness and Cruelty, prefacing an edition of Venus in Furs (New York, Zone Books, 1989), laments the literary and critical neglect of Sacher-Masoch, compared to the intense and ongoing interest in Sade. Deleuze blames part of this neglect on the assumption of Sacher-Masoch's `complementarity and dialectical unity with Sade' as if `symptoms only have to be transposed and the instincts reversed for Masoch to be turned into Sade' (Deleuze: 13). Interestingly for my purposes, Deleuze fails to consider, even in his treatment of Freud, the real resonance behind the terms' cultural pairing: the fact that they spring out from and reinforce a heterosexual binary.
(10) Sigmund Freud, `Infantile Sexuality', in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, trans. James Strachey, New York, Basic Books, 1962: 62.
(11) Hélne Cixous, with Catherine Clément, La Jeune Née, Paris, UGE, 1975.
(12) Sigmund Freud, Collected Papers, vol. 4, trans. Joan Riviere, New York, Basic Books, 1959: 77.
(13) Sigmund Freud, `Infantile Sexuality': 25-26.
(14) Michelle Massé: 78.
(15) Freud quoted in Massé: 78.
(16) Bonaparte quoted in Paula J. Caplan, The Myth of Women's Masochism, New York, E.P. Dutton, 1985: 19.
(17) Bonaparte quoted in Paula J. Caplan: 19.
(18) Brownmiller quoted in Tania Modleski, Loving With a Vengeance, New York, Routledge, 1982: 38.
(19) Coming To Power is a collection of essays, short fiction, poetry and pictures collected by a group called SAMOIS, who, incidentally, have named themselves after a chateau which appears in The Story of O. SAMOIS itself was conceived as a group promoting lesbian S/M and organising in reaction to their opponents -- particularly a group called Women Against Violence Against Women who mobilised largely in reaction to the appearance of S/M in the lesbian community.
(20) Margaret Hunt, `Report of a Conference on Feminism, Sexuality and Power: The Elect Clash with the Perverse', in SAMOIS (eds), Coming To Power, Boston, Alyson Publications Inc., 1987: 85. Hunt goes on to canvass and critique the views of radical feminist academic Sheila Jeffreys who argues that heterosexual women eroticise their own oppression and collaborate with the patriarchal system whenever they reach an orgasm with men.
(21) Barbara Wilson, The Dog Collar Murders, London, Virago Press, 1989.
(22) In contrast, Natalie Shainess' study Sweet Suffering: Woman As Victim argues that masochism is a real problem not because it is innate, but because she views it as the inevitable by-product of a gendered socialisation. However, as Caplan points out, Shainess has the tendency to read women's masochism as an all pervading part of female life.
(23) The Dog Collar Murders is part of a subgenre of `leather-dyke' mysteries. Of particular note is Kate Allen's, Tell Me What You Like (Vermont, New Victoria Publishers Inc, 1993) that also laces its narrative with the s/m debate.
(24) Elisabeth Bronfen, Over Her Dead Body, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1996: 59.…
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Publication information: Article title: The 'Heterosexualisation' of Sadism and Masochism. Contributors: Lynch, Karen - Author. Journal title: Hecate. Volume: 29. Issue: 1 Publication date: January 1, 2003. Page number: 34. © 1999 Hecate Press. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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