Sexuality and Culture

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 62–76

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered ... I’m Yours”: Calibrating Body Ownership through the Consensual Mastery/slavery Dynamic


DOI: 10.1007/s12119-007-9003-9

Cite this article as:
Butts, A.M. Sex Cult (2007) 11: 62. doi:10.1007/s12119-007-9003-9


I argue that our bodies are “owned” bodies—that proprietary rights over our bodies are shared with others whose bodies are, in turn, shared by us. Drawing from literature on the self, I develop a theory of body ownership centered on the notions of multiple selves and “controlling interests.” Proprietary sentiments are evidenced in linguistic constructions, cultural artifacts, traditions, and social and sexual behaviors. Using a single case study, I explore dimensions of body ownership within a social/sexual community based on consensual Mastery and slavery in the US. The case study illustrates a variety of ownership patterns and centralizes ownership as a point of contention among inhabitants of sexual worlds.


Consensual Mastery/slaveryBody ownershipSadomasochismSexual worlds

Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyRutgers—The State University of New JerseyNew BrunswickUSA