What It Means
Sadomasochism is a controversial subject. The psychological humiliation or physical punishment of a sexual partner through practices such as bondage and flagellation are commonly identified as characteristic of sadomasochism. As a concept that links sexual arousal to violence, the origins of sadomasochism as a term in modern Western culture are rooted in discussions of sadism and masochism that date back to late-nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century medical discourse in its exploration of "perversion" as a deviation from normal sexual instinct.
ITS AGE OLD
The use of emotional or physical punishment to attain sexual pleasure can be found across a number of artistic, legal, sociopolitical, and technological arenas in contemporary life. While inarguably ubiquitous, many of these contemporary articulations of sexual pleasure aligned with acts of violence do not necessarily reference the term sadomasochism, even if they can be recognized as drawing upon established iconic codes and conventions of representation associated with the phenomenon.
Some individuals find sexual pleasure in the active role of dominating and hurting others. Its complementary opposite of "masochism," This newly created term describes a subject who achieves sexual arousal through taking the passive role and submitting to abuse and humiliation at the hands of a punishing partner.
HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN AROUND
Sadomasochistic practices are very diverse. One study identified four separate clusters: hypermasculinity, infliction and reception of pain, physical restriction, and psychological humiliation. Interestingly, the study found that homosexual males tended more to hypermasculinity, while heterosexual males tended more to humiliation.
Sadomasochism is hard to understand, perhaps, one of those great mysteries of the human condition according to many phycologists but it dates back to very early days.
The physician Johann Heinrich Meibom introduced the first theory of masochism in his Treatise on the Use of Flogging in Medicine and Venery [De usu flagorum, 1639]. According to Meibom, flogging a man’s back warms the semen in the kidneys, which leads to sexual arousal when the warmed-up semen flows down into the testicles. Other theories of masochism centered around the warming of the blood, or the use of sexual arousal to mitigate physical pain.
Freud on the other hand remarked that the tendency to inflict and receive pain during intercourse is ‘the most common and important of all perversions’ and ascribed it (as so much else) to arrested or disordered psychosexual development. He paid scant attention to sadomasochism in women, either because sadism was thought to occur mostly in men, or because masochism was thought to be the normal and natural inclination of women.
Primarily, the sadist will derive pleasure from feelings of power, authority, and control, and from the ‘suffering’ of the masochist.
The sadist may also harbour a conscious or unconscious desire to punish the object of sexual attraction (or a stand-in for the object of sexual attraction, or for an original object of sexual attraction) for having aroused their desire and thereby subjugated them, or, conversely, for having frustrated their desire or aroused their jealousy.
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SAFETY & CONSENT
It is vital you know the person with which you intend to engage any sexual situations with especially if they are a sadist! Consensual sadomasochism should not be confused with acts of sexual aggression. While sadomasochists seek out pain etc. in the context of love and sex, they do not do so in other situations, and abhor uninvited aggression or abuse as much as the next person. Generally speaking, sadomasochists are not psychopaths, and often all the opposite.
Sexual sadists tend to relate to people in terms of power versus affection. In general, they commit more violent crimes than other offenders and are more aggressive. This corresponds with the psychopathy they display. Psychopaths are predatory; they lack the ability to feel empathy or remorse. They plan and they rehearse. Psychopaths are also traditionally charming and charismatic. The psychopathic sexual sadist usually has no problem finding a partner or several accomplices to his crimes if he so desires.
The Role of Consent in the Context of BDSM
Consent represents a central focus in the controversial realm of BDSM-an overlapping acronym referring to the practices of Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sadism and Masochism. Many authors have argued that the hallmark feature that distinguishes BDSM activity from abuse and psychopathology is the presence of mutual informed consent of all those involved. Below some reviews examine the relevant literature on consent in BDSM, including discussions on safety precautions, consent violations, North American laws pertaining to BDSM practice, and the role of the BDSM community with respect to education and etiquette surrounding consent. Practical information relevant to professionals who work toward the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse is provided. The explicit approach to consent practiced by those in the BDSM community is proposed as a model for discussions around consent in clinical and educational contexts. Criteria for distinguishing abuse from BDSM and identifying abuse within BDSM relationships are outlined. It is our hope to demystify the consent process and add to the growing body of literature that destigmatizes consensual BDSM practices.