Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 230–240 | Cite as

Revisiting TheBody in Pain: The Rhetoric of Modern Masochism

Original Paper

Abstract

A common-sense definition of pain would state first of all that pain is bad: pain is by definition what all living creatures most fundamentally seek to avoid. And yet, anyone with an average range of experience knows that much of what is ordinarily termed pain—from stretching to massage to exercise to childbirth—is not necessarily aversive. Self-proclaimed masochists are one group who embrace and embody the complex human relationship with pain as both an undeniably material experience, but also a practice deeply embedded in culture and rhetoric. Reading through Elaine Scarry and Deleuze and Guattari, this article seeks to engage the apparent paradox that makes pain both an irresistible weapon of torture and a mechanism towards an ecstatic restructuring of subjectivity. The article posits that it is precisely the complex discourse and rhetoric of pain which allows the material experience of it to be so radically contextually determined.

Keywords

Pain Rhetoric Torture Masochism Deleuze and Guattari Body without organs Online communities 

References

  1. BBC News. (2006) BBC news: Officers discover sex slave cult. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4996410.stm.
  2. Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  3. Henderson, A. (2010). Women who like to be dominated in bed: Talking to BDSM submissives. Alternet. http://www.alternet.org/sex/148616/women_who_like_to_be_dominated_in_bed%3A_talking_to_bdsm_submissives/.
  4. Newmahr, S. (2010). Rethinking kink. Qualitative Sociology, 33, 313–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Norman, J. (1967). Tarnsman of Gor. New York: Del Rey.Google Scholar
  6. Scarry, E. (1985). The body in pain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. SICK: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist. (1997). Dir. Kirby Dick. Perf. Robert Flanagan.Google Scholar
  8. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language. 4th Edition. (2000, updated 2009). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  9. The Male Dom/Femme Sub Forum (2009). Livejournal. http://community.livejournal.com/male_dom.
  10. Veaux, F. (2010). Xeromag: BDSM? What’s with this bondage/sadomasochism stuff anyway? Xeromag. http://www.xeromag.com/fvbdsm.html.
  11. Williams, M. (2008). The perverted negress: Twisted teachings. http://www.mollena.com/bdsm-classes/.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of IdahoMoscowUSA

Personalised recommendations