Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

Sadomasochistic Erotica and the Sexual Response Cycle: Insights from the Eunuch Archives

Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

Sadomasochistic Erotica and the Sexual Response Cycle: Insights from the Eunuch Archives

Article excerpt

The Eunuch Archive (EA) is a website where registered members can post for others to read and rate sexual fantasies that involve genital mutilation and ablation. The EA includes over 8,000 stories. We have previously explored common features of 100 top-rated EA stories. We reasoned that understanding such fantasies may be a step toward recognizing who is at risk of irreversible injury should they act out their fantasies. Here we explore the top-rated EA stories in the context of well-established models for human sexual response. We argue the archetypal storyline from these fantasies, which are characterized by extreme sadomasochism (SM), can be interpreted and understood within the context of these established sexual response models, but we note several ways the fantasies diverge from such models. The stories closely fit the classic Masters and Johnson model, but with a protracted plateau phase resolved with pleasure and pain heightened. Even though the central character in all the stories is a male, the stories align well with the Basson intimacy-based model more characteristic of female motivations to be sexually active. In the fantasies, the central character is willing to sacrifice everything short of his life to develop or strengthen a dyadic relationship. In all the stories, castration is depicted with a sensory intensity equivalent to orgasm. The stories reveal what is both natural and pathological in extreme SM fantasies. They also reveal similarities between female sexual desire and the desire for genital ablation which has not, to the best of our knowledge, been previously elucidated.

KEYWORDS: Basson intimacy-based circular model, castration, erotica, fantasy, Levin Cusp Catastrophe model, Masters and Johnson linear EPOR model, sadomasochism, sexual response cycle


The Eunuch Archive (EA, see is a website and discussion forum for individuals with strong interests in male genital ablation. In addition to discussion and sharing of information, the EA provides a place for their ~7,500 registered members to write and post fantasies about genital mutilation and ablation for others to read and to rate. Over 8,000 stories are now online and, as such, constitute a massive data set on extreme sadomasochistic (SM) literary erotica.

Handy, Wassersug, Ketter, and Johnson (2015) reviewed 120 randomly sampled EA stories. Their goal was to discern patterns in the stories that could elucidate factors contributing to extreme interests in male genital mutilation and ablation. The goal for the current research is to better understand what motivates some men to elect voluntary castration, recognizing that fantasies can be a window into what people really want to experience in their lives (Ziegler & Conley, 2016). Indeed, ~10-12% of the EA community has self-reported undergoing voluntary genital ablations and an additional ~45-50% has expressed an interest in eventually being castrated (i.e., "eunuch wannabes" Brett, Roberts, Johnson, & Wassersug, 2007; Johnson, Brett, Roberts, & Wassersug, 2007; Wassersug & Johnson, 2007; Roberts, Brett, Johnson, & Wassersug, 2008).

Surveys of the voluntary eunuch community by Johnson and Irwig (2014) showed that less than half of the genital ablations were performed in a medically appropriate setting by qualified physicians. Therefore, many individuals seeking voluntary castration are at risk of serious adverse complications. Understanding the nature of castration fantasies may be a step toward recognizing who is at greatest risk of irreversible injury, that might come from acting out fantasies involving genital abuse and ablation.

Our previous review of the most popular EA stories (Piccolo, Johnson, & Wassersug, 2019a, 2019b) revealed some common and consistent plotlines and structural elements. Here we extend this review, exploring the thesis that the stories follow recognized stages of normal human sexual response. …

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