Jan 152008

EA Hanks’ column in the Huffington post sees masochism as the basis of the “surrendered wives” movement.

A lot of this hogwash so fantastically hogwashy (“Every girl inherits the princess gene which dictates her desire for a strong male role model to cosset and comfort her,”)…

Ms. Epstein needs to come to terms with her S&M kink.

“Wha Whaaaaa?” you say. That’s right, I said it. Ms. Epstein is the “M” in the S&M. She doesn’t have a “princess gene” that dictates her “desire for a strong male role model to cosset and comfort her” – what she has is a “kink” that makes her “want” to have her “boo boo’s kissed.”


But rather than act out her own fantasies of waiting upon her bed of pink taffeta, her ball gag attached to her bonnet, her Bo Peep shepherd’s staff looming threateningly over cherubic skin, she feels the need to attribute her fetish for weakness, submission, and “innocent” coyness to all women.

One of the books I read recently (wish I could remember which one) said that we tend to take male masochism as rhetorical but female masochism as confessional. That is, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs is just his elaborate fantasy or symbolic of something else, with no relation to his real life, while Pauline Reage’s Histoire de O is her deepest, darkest secret, to be taken literally. Actually, it was just the opposite, that Sacher-Masoch acted out his fantasies throughout his life, while Reage apparently kept it all in the mind.

This is why I don’t get terribly worked up about the idea that romance novels are propaganda inculcating female submissiveness. If a man can finish his corporate executive job for the day, visit a pro-domme in the evening and get “forced” into a French maid’s outfit, and then go back to work the next day, why can’t a woman take a break from her job and family by imagining getting “kidnapped and raped” by a Gothic barbarian warrior and just go back to business when she’s finished? Pro-domme sessions cost a lot more than paperbacks, but both provide a temporary relief from social norms and an opportunity to expression forbidden ideas that need not have any expression outside the “magic circle”.

(BTW, the book mentioned in the link above goes to great lengths to make clear that the sexual encounters between the lead characters are 100% consensual, according to the reviews.)

I’m a bit troubled when I hear people in BDSM speaking about maledom or femdom as philosophy or politics instead of fantasy. Somebody like the above-mentioned Ms. Epstein makes the same mistake, projecting her desires onto all other women.

Once again, I’m reminded that masochism was originally defined as a male malady, though Krafft-Ebing did include four cases of female masochists. It was about men who didn’t follow the presumed drive for power and resources, in all aspects of life, even internal thoughts. There’s a similar concern being applied to women with masochistic imaginings, that discrepancies between their actual lives and their imaginings cannot be allowed.

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