But femsub is broken too!: On the normalisation of BDSM and the problem of pleasure

Dymock, Alex. 2012. But femsub is broken too!: On the normalisation of BDSM and the problem of pleasure. Psychology and Sexuality, 3(1), pp. 54-68. ISSN 1941-9899 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article constitutes a theoretical critique of the limits by which BDSM is policed by law and psychiatry from a feminist jurisprudential perspective. In particular, it discusses types of female masochism that disavow narratives of ‘safe, sane and consensual’ and BDSM's transformative potential and instead makes an argument for a feminist ethics of female masochism. Through an engagement with psychoanalysis and Jacques Lacan's notion of jouissance, the essay makes a claim that criminal law in this context functions as a kind of ‘pleasure principle’ and that the notion of ‘harmful’ consensual sexual experiences relies upon a normative tendency to relate feminine masochism with compliance, not only to the will of another, but with the social order of ‘reproductive futurity’.

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feminine sexuality; criminal law; psychiatry; feminist theory; Jacques Lacan; queer theory; sexual ethics

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27 July 2011Accepted
4 November 2011Published Online

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19 Feb 2020 10:47

Last Modified:

19 Feb 2020 10:47

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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