The Mastery of Submission: Inventions of Masochism

The Mastery of Submission: Inventions of Masochism

The Mastery of Submission: Inventions of Masochism

The Mastery of Submission: Inventions of Masochism

Synopsis

Just over a hundred years ago, the Viennese physician Richard von Krafft-Ebing coined the term "masochism", after Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who depicted pleasurable submission to cruelty in his novels. Noyes analyzes the social and political problems that inspired the concept, suggesting, for example, that the triumphant expansion of European colonialism was animated in part by an ambivalence in masculine sexuality. In a society of accelerating technological change and rampant social violence, the individual was believed to be rational and self-determined. Male masochistic behavior defied such a system of belief, placing women in dominance and using disciplinary technologies as instruments of sexual pleasure. The evolution of the concepts is documented by masochistic scenes in literature from John Cleland's Fanny Hill through Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs and Pauline Reage's Story of O. Analysis of Freud's vastly influential rereading of masochism precedes an exploration of the work of his successors, including Wilhem Reich, Theodor Reik, Helene Deutsch, and Karen Horney. According to Noyes, the thematics of feminine masochism emerged only gradually from an exclusively male concept.

Excerpt


Inventions of Masochism

In January 1994, as South Africa was preparing for its first democratic elections after almost fifty years of racist, white minority rule, a graduate student gave me a clipping from the German weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel. In the "Personalities" column, a stern-faced, uniformed woman in her late thirties gazed menacingly from the page.' Behind her, a young woman, scantily clothed in a studded leather loin-piece, was chained spread‐ eagled to the ceiling and floor. The uniformed lady, The Countess, proprietress of a club called Domizil in Düsseldorf, had just scored a coup. Scouring the flea markets of East Berlin, which were by now flooded with the unwanted trivia of a defunct era, she had managed to purchase all the necessary requisites for an authentic KGB interrogation room. Now she could offer her customers something more novel than the Hollywood-style dungeons and doctors' surgeries usual in her line of business. The uniforms, wooden cups, desk lamps, riding crop, Soviet flag, even the photograph of the former East German leader Erich Honecker, were all taken straight out of real life. Anyone prepared to pay 450 German marks per hour could play out tanta-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.