In my research, I’ve observed patterns in the past that we still see today.
For instance, in the 1830s, a woman named Maria Monk turned up in New York City. She claimed that she had been held prisoner as a sex slave in a convent in Montreal, where she had been subjected to bizarre tortures and told to sexually serve the priests who entered the convent via an underground tunnel. Any offspring of these unions would be baptized, strangled and disposed of in lime pits.
Moore, Alison M. 2016 Sexual Myths of Modernity: Sadism, Masochism, and Historical Teleology.Lanham : Lexington Books
Myths take on a life of their own, even if they don’t have any particular foundation. One of them is the idea that the violence of fascism and the Holocaust was the result of sadomasochism, or that the two phenomena have anything to do with each other. We’ve touched on the bit of glib folk-anthropology that Nazis were perverts before, but Moore analyzes more thoroughly than anybody else.
The sexual myths of modernity this book aims to unravel are those which concern masochism as a from of decadent gender subversion, sadism as a fascist return of the barbaric repressed, and current sadomasochism as a legacy of Nazism. They are myths in the sense that their proliferation has been built on poetic assertion, psychoanalytic speculation, and discursive repetition, rather than investigation, reflection or evidential grounding. [Pg.1]
Although no historians have ever attempted to produce creditable evidence that Nazi leaders were any more prone to what we might call sadomasochistic pleasures than any other political elite has been as wartime, this particular sexual myth has show surprising recurrence, persistence and capacity for re-articulation. Consequently, it has also proven to be fuel for a range of taboo sexual fantasies[….] [Pg.9-10]
One way to view the Internet is as a vast sorting system, in which individuals can curate collections of material that might never be allowed to come together otherwise. I found the Fraulein Swastika Tumblr recently, a collection of erotic images of women with fascist elements. What’s interesting is that the images seem to come from at least three different discourses.
Reti, Irene, and Pat Parker. 1993. Unleashing feminism: critiquing lesbian sadomasochism in the gay nineties. Santa Cruz, CA:HerBooks Amazon link
We must not offer haven
for fascists and pigs
be it real or fantasy
the line is too unclear.
“Bar Conversation”, Pat Parker, Pg. 6
Published roughly a decade after Against Sadomasochism, Unleashing Feminism came into a different world. Lesbians were more visible than ever before, including opening their own sex clubs and making their own porn magazines and videos, but to the lesbian feminist authors in this anthology, that was not a sign of progress. Their interpretation was that lesbians and other queers had lost their revolutionary principles and were being assimilated into mainstream consumer culture. Some of the essays portray the “lesbian sex wars” as a microcosm of a larger, almost apocalyptic conflict, a last chance for justice after the Reagan-Thatcher era and the beginning of the neoliberal Clinton era.
The Seduction of Venus blog digs into a 1977 Penthouse “love set”, with a Nazi theme. This was in the years following films like Ilsa She-Wolf of the SS, Salon Kitty and The Night Porter, when there was a kind of fascist chic in the mid-70s. This was one of the first SM-themed photoshoots in Penthouse, and the first involving a man, in full black SS uniform, no less.
Brown, Carolyn E. “Erotic Religious Flagellation and Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure”, English Literary Renaissance, Vol.16, Iss. 1, Dec 1986
Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure (first performed in 1604) links religious asceticism and flagellation with deviant sexuality and political tyranny. The Duke of Vienna, the judge Angelo and the novice nun Isabella claim to be pious and chaste, while their sexuality is repressed in such a way that it emerges as indifferent voyeurism, aggressive sadism or masochism, respectively. “…by drawing parallels to historical or topical events, Shakespeare suggests that the protagonists’ very asceticism, ironically, causes this deviant desire and that they associate their austere religious practices with pleasurable feelings.”
The plot revolves around a couple, Claudio and Juliet, who have not properly observed all the rules of engagement and marriage. While the Duke travels through Vienna in disguise as a friar, he hands power over to the judge Angelo, who decides to make an example of Claudio and condemn him to death for fornication. Claudio’s friend Lucia asks Isabella, the novice nun and Claudio’s sister, for help. Angelo offers to free Claudio in exchange for sex with Isabella.
The trio of the Duke, Angelo and Isabella are all ascetics (though none are actually clergy), and are hostile to sexual desires, believing that “pain kills the libido and thus subjecting themselves and others to physical abuse.”
Arguably the best known Nazisploitation film (though Love Camp 7 (1969) is usually cited as the first), Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS was a US-Canadian production (and shot on the old exterior sets for Hogan’s Heroes, according to one source). It starred Dyanne Thorne as the titular concentration camp commandant, impeccably crisp in a black, white and red SS uniform.
The women sent to Ilsa’s camp are divided into two groups. One gets sent to “work details” of serving the men in the guard house. The other gets beaten, electrocuted, boiled, suffocated and more in “experiments” overseen by Ilsa and her female assistants. Ilsa’s ostensible reason for all of this is to demonstrate that women can withstand as much pain as men, and therefore prove that women can serve the Reich by fighting on the front line.
The male prisoners each get one night with Ilsa, after which they’re castrated.
Though it took longer than I thought, I did finally finish chapter 8, which covers the relationship between fascism/militarism and BDSM, roughly running from WWI to the second Gulf War. This chapter cuts across historical periods quite a bit.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I can’t include everything. Much as I’d like to talk about things like TE Lawrence’s kinks or the psychodynamics of fascism in literature, there just isn’t room. I’m telling a story, and that involves deciding what is and isn’t relevant.
Next is chapter 9, which starts with the post-WWII period (early gay male leather culture, the Klaws, John Willie’s Bizarre) and ends circa 1972 (professionalization of BDSM porn industry, first above-ground BDSM organizations). Structuring this chapter will be a little tricky, as there are several different movements in parallel that only slightly interact with each other.
My goal is to finish some kind of rough draft by the end of the year, which means three chapters plus the introduction and conclusion in a month and a half. That looks pretty daunting, particularly as this is the period that I know the least about.
Magillow, Daniel H., Bridges, Elizabeth, and Vander Lugt, Kristen T. Nazisploitation! the Nazi image in low-brow cinema and culture. Continuum Books, 2012 Amazon
Nazisploitation, or sadiconazista, is one of the most scorned film genres, and also one of the most complex. The films grouped under that heading may share a common aesthetic but have very different productions and meanings, which this anthology tries to map.
…the standard tropes, settings and narrative conceits of Nazisploitation cinema [include]: sexually perverted, calculating and sadistic Nazi officers, prisoner-of-war and concentration camps, medical experimentation and prisoner rebellions. [Pg.2]