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Making Sense of SM. a Discourse Analytic Account

Making Sense of SM. a Discourse Analytic Account

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http://sexualities.sagepub.com Making Sense of S&M: A Discourse Analytic Account
Gary W. Taylor and Jane M. Ussher Sexualities 2001; 4; 293 DOI: 10.1177/136346001004003002 The online version of this article can be found at: http://sexualities.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/4/3/293

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Abstract Sado-masochism (SM) is described as a pathology in current psychological and psychiatric textbooks, and is often discussed alongside behaviours such as child sexual abuse and rape. Individuals who engage in SM are invariably positioned as experiencing intra-psychic conflict ameliorated through the displacement of the sexual drive. This is a limited and onedimensional analysis of a complex phenomenon. This article presents the results of an in-depth qualitative study designed to further our understanding of the psychology of SM consistent with a social constructionist approach. Twenty-four self-identified sadomasochists, recruited through SM clubs and agencies and informal social networks, were interviewed. Thematic discourse analysis was used to generate a four-factor definition of SM: consensuality, an unequable balance of power, sexual arousal and compatibility of definition. Participants positioned SM variously as dissidence, as pleasure, as escapism, as transcendence, as learned behaviour, as intra-psychic, as pathological and as ‘inexplicable’. The research findings, their relevance to our understanding of SM sexualities and the limitations of the methodology and subsequent formulation, are discussed. Keywords desire, discourse, interviews, sado-masochism, sexual practice

Gary W. Taylor
University of Sussex

Jane M. Ussher
University of Western Sydney

Making Sense of S&M: A Discourse Analytic Account
The terms sadism and masochism, which are taken from the names of the authors de Sade (1740–1814) and Sacher-Masoch (1836–1895), emerged within psychiatric and medical discourse towards the end of the 19th century (Krafft-Ebing, 1886). Since that time, the term sado-masochism Sexualities Copyright © 2001 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi)
Vol 4(3): 293–314[1363-4607(200108)4:3; 293–314; 018327]

Downloaded from http://sexualities.sagepub.com at Staffordshire University on May 16, 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

Williams and Moser. It seems that the patient’s ‘symptoms’ and ‘clinical histories’ have been employed to substantiate pre-existing theory and appear to represent little more than a reflection of the observers’ personal prejudices and beliefs. 1980. where it is defined as ‘a preference for sexual activity that involves bondage or the infliction of pain or humiliation’ (World Health Organization. Moser and Levitt. lent support to recent legislation. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. sexologists and psychoanalysts have all struggled to make sense of the phenomenon and to explain why some individuals find pleasure in subjugation and in the giving and receiving of pain (Taylor. Over the past 100 years or so. Taylor. . Psychological theories of SM have also tended to be reductionist and essentialist in their formulation. Subsequent theories have. Lee. They have attempted to establish a single and universal aetiology as somehow residing within. Current psychological and psychiatric conceptualizations of SM have also. 1979. which was first used by Freud (Freud. 1980. reaffirming its status as a criminal offence. That is to say.. 1994) and in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD 10). 1905). (R v Brown 1993). numerous theories have been put forward in an attempt to explain the apparent attraction of SM. 1990) and continues to be discussed alongside behaviours such as child sexual abuse and rape (Ussher. psychologists. Currently.Sexualities 4(3) (SM). Kamel. tended to concentrate on the pathology of SM. Psychiatrists. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. Of those few empirical studies which have attempted to investigate SM among non-clinical cohorts (Breslow et al. the individual. 1992: 220). They have tended to assume a priori that those who engage in SM are psychologically unwell. therefore. 1997a). Spengler. indeed. they have generally sought to isolate SM as a quantifiable and objectively measurable behaviour. despite many empirical studies testifying to the relative psychological health of most of those who engage in SM (Gosselin and Wilson. has become firmly rooted in the emergent clinical taxonomy of psychopathology and diffused throughout psychological and psychoanalytic theory and. These theories have generally arisen from studies of small clinic populations. or belonging to. Weinberg and Falk. 1977. 1980. consistent and explicit in its presentation and rooted in the individual’s psychological make-up. 1986. of SM practitioners who have consulted a ‘mental health expert’ because of conflict or unhappiness relating to their sexuality. in the UK. Gosselin and Wilson.com at Staffordshire University on May 16. 1980.sagepub. forthcoming). the language of everyday life. 1997). 294 Downloaded from http://sexualities. and Weinberg. no doubt. generally arguing that it represents some kind of intra-psychic conflict ameliorated through the displacement of the sexual drive. ‘sado-masochism’ remains a psychiatric disorder reified within the Diagnostical and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) (American Psychiatric Association. SM continues to be described as a pathology in current psychological and psychiatric textbooks (Davison and Neale. 1987. All rights reserved.

2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. 1995). and physical experience available to be developed by social forces of definition. argues that we actively and purposefully construct and interpret our own realities from the meanings that are available to us. The constructionist paradigm assumes that there is no insistent or essential human drive or desire which pre-exists its cultural conscription (Foucault. 1999). 1981. providing minimal data with which to corroborate or develop psychological understandings of SM. It is a study of sexual stories (Plummer. 295 Downloaded from http://sexualities. empirically valid. researchers and clinicians have ignored the individual experiences of those who engage in SM. dismissed as fixed and unitary. subjective and often oppositional understandings. Instead. but rather that ‘there is a human potential for consciousness. Weeks. Realities are viewed as constructions (Berger and Luckmann. an attempt to construct a psychological understanding of SM grounded in the actual lived experiences of those who engage in it. 1987: 72 and 73). truth as multiple and subjective. The current study The study reported here represents an attempt to explore SM using a more phenomenologically based methodology. Almost without exception. . whilst its subjective meaning has been relegated. Ortner and Whitehead. Biology may be seen as providing only the preconditions for our sexualities. Its underlying epistemology eschews the reductionism and essentialism of much psychological theorizing. a set of potentialities that take on meaning only in terms of their social and cultural activation. each with their own inherent validity (Ussher. All rights reserved. or irrelevant. they have tended to privilege superficiality over complexity. there is a rejection of the assumption that there must be a unitary.com at Staffordshire University on May 16. universal truth. Such an understanding. 1976. the way in which we use them to construct our sense of self and our sense of the world around us. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. there is an emphasis upon the multiplicity of interrelated. relying upon postal questionnaire surveys of sexual behaviour. organisation and categorisation’ (Tiefer. 1995. 1999). 1982). Equally. 1982. existing out there in the world’ waiting to be uncovered through the application of ‘the scientific method’. regulation. There is a rejection of the notion that complex phenomena may be explained by referring to some supposed inner truth or essence. 1967). As such. Plummer. objective. consistent with a social constructionist approach (Gergen. the way in which the world of language and symbols come to dwell within us. It is a paradigm concerned with the way in which individuals are constituted by the social world.Taylor and Ussher Making Sense of S&M 1984) most have chosen to use quantitative methodologies.sagepub. There is no attempt at meta-theorization. fundamental and rational underlying pattern of exposition ‘ordained by nature itself’. There is no search for a ‘singular. behaviour.

four as bisexual and three as predominantly or exclusively heterosexual. .Sexualities 4(3) Our study did not set out to prove or disprove hypotheses or to test theory. with the corresponding implication that meanings are multiple and shifting rather than unitary and fixed’ (Burman & Parker. were British. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. 1990). Openended semi-structured format questions were used flexibly. Potter and Wetherell (1987) and Burman 296 Downloaded from http://sexualities. 1993: 54). Discourse analysis. 14 were male (with a mean age of 35.sagepub. Spengler. Of the ten female participants. contrast and make sense of themes within a text is described in Holloway (1989). 1977) participants also tended to be ‘middle class’. took part. The 24 participants were aged between 22 and 65 (mean age 34. Of these. being omitted. Twenty-four self-identified sadomasochists living in London. The aim of our study then was to ascertain how a group of self-identified sado-masochists defined and made sense of their own and others sexualities. Of the 14 male participants. to engage in consensual SM practices on a regular basis and to have done so for at least six months. It ‘involves an attention to the ways in which language does more than reflect what it represents. and therefore consistent with the social constructionist paradigm. Participants were required to define their sexualities or sexual practices as ‘SM’. The way in which discourse analysis may be used to identify. five defined themselves as predominantly or exclusively lesbian.6) and 10 were female (with a mean age of 33. 1993: 3). ‘a research orientation based on a post-modernist commitment to the socially constructive nature of reality’ (Macnaghten. Brighton and Amsterdam. compare. who were recruited through SM clubs.g. the aim of its analysis being to unravel the processes through which this discourse and the ‘subject’s internal world’ is constructed. having read and signed an information-consent form were interviewed and audiotaped for between 60 and 90 minutes. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. rather it sought to generate phenomenological data from which an understanding might be developed. questions were used to promote a two-way dialogue with which to explore key themes. three as bisexual and two as predominantly or exclusively heterosexual. Consistent with previous findings (e. but one. It was to be their preferred means of sexual arousal and needed to include behaviours able to satisfy legal criteria for Actual or Grievous Bodily Harm. Whilst trying to avoid directive or closed questions or interpretations the interviewer did adopt a stance of ‘talking back’ to the interviewee (Griffin. seven positioned themselves as predominantly or exclusively gay.6). In this way. adapted or elaborated according to the demands of individual context. All participants were white and all. was used to analyse the resulting interview data. organizations and social networks. All rights reserved. It assumes that our experience and internal constructions of reality are constituted in and through discourse.com at Staffordshire University on May 16.3). All participants. educated and belonged to professional occupational groups.

but closest to the work of Potter and Wetherell (1987). is presented subsequently. . (ii) an unequable balance of power. . In this way. for variability and consistency. it sickens me . that is underlying systems of meaning.Taylor and Ussher Making Sense of S&M and Parker (1993). From listening to the audiotaped interviews. Its application here. discourses. . identified according to participant letter and its temporal position within the text and categorized under one (or sometimes more) of the codes. it’s as simple as that. . . Defining SM: an analysis of the definitional. to the study of consensual SM. . could be made apparent. several of which included two or more ‘secondary discourses’ or ‘subcodes’. from those that are done against a person’s will. Once coding was complete the data were examined for differences and commonalities both within and across code categories. . and then checked for emerging patterns. .com at Staffordshire University on May 16. . . These themes or codes were then checked and rechecked against the taped interviews and combined to form four ‘definitional codes’ and eight primary interpretive or ‘explanatory codes’. it’s sexual violence . . We will examine these below.sagepub. (E) 297 Downloaded from http://sexualities. Themes were grouped together. The audio tapes were then analysed. SM is about consent . All rights reserved. The interpretation of these themes was conducted by a process of reading and re-reading. These were: (i) consensuality. four prerequisites that reflected the way in which participants defined SM. what happened to him . . 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. especially those involving the infliction of pain. it made me think a lot about SM and about how it’s totally totally different. During this process attention was also paid to the identification of new codes. before arriving at a definition of SM that is compatible with the majority view. (R) As part of my work I’m currently seeing this guy who was raped . descriptive and contextual factors in the discourse From the interviews four main ‘definitional discourses’ became evident. if there’s no consent it’s not SM . Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. initial discursive themes or codes were identified. (i) Consensuality All participants clearly differentiated their own sexual activities. any piece of text which in any way exemplified one of these themes was transcribed. . as well as reference to relevant literature and consultation with colleagues. and for the function and effects of specific discourses. (iii) sexual arousal and (iv) compatibility of definition.

. . Word gets out . one devotee (not a participant) acknowledged. . it’s easier for me to have the kind of sex I want on the SM scene than to find it through rape’. . . . . For example. She left in about ten minutes . you know . . . . . For some. . . whereby one was always exclusively 298 Downloaded from http://sexualities.sagepub. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. However. . (E) These boundaries of consent were negotiable and often shifted during a session although this had to be done covertly to avoid distracting the scene. . that consent was ‘the price you have to pay . . this does highlight the more difficult relationship that some devotees appear to have with the notion of consent.. .Sexualities 4(3) For many participants the use of careful ‘limit negotiation’ and the use of safe words conspired to create a ‘scene’ that was carefully contrived and from which extraction was easily requested and never denied. the word was put around and she came into the club one night and everyone just stayed away . There was this one guy . it was considered a quality of a ‘good top’ to ‘push the limits’ but not to cross them. . . you start taking things you never thought you could. . who had violated the established rules. . the ‘SM community’ serves to regulate such people by labelling them as ‘dangerous’ and marginalizing them from the scene. somewhat worryingly. it’s pragmatic . an unequable distribution of power was central to all participants’ definitions and descriptions of SM. . . I’ve never had to tell anyone to stop . . everything is pretty well planned out not in chapter and verse but so that we’ll have a rough idea of what’s likely to happen and where the respective limits are. All rights reserved. . I kind of got carried along with it at first but . a person gets known . and it doesn’t work for them anymore. (B) It often surprises me how far I can go . when I could see I was really hurting him . (U) However. . . (T) A number of participants (11) had at some time had a scene with a dominant who had gone too far. (Q) One woman I remember she put cigarettes out on this other woman’s back. .. he started wanting to get really heavy . like it’s not OK for someone to call me fat . (ii) Power Although the precise means of its expression was varied. we never saw her again. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. this could also be true of the bottom. (G) I guess I kinda like it pretty heavy . . We’ll write to one another at some length and then we’ll probably sketch out some kind of sequence of events . you know like a lot of blood and stuff so I had to stop . . but there are ‘no go areas’ .com at Staffordshire University on May 16. . . . . . Indeed. . . it was fixed. having established its importance within SM.

symbolic not real. (J) . . . Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. . . . several participants also claimed that a good top should be able to inflict intense pain without doing any real physical damage thus emphasizing the subjective experience of pain rather than the infliction of bodily damage. .Taylor and Ussher Making Sense of S&M dominant or submissive (within a single relationship if not in terms of an ‘identity’). it’s like a sex toy . hitting. as important. . often to the point of bruising or scarification. . . . (E) I get off on the pain . I call him master but it’s my needs that are being met. there’s nothing like it. . . . ‘hurt me nice’. . It’s the . . whipping and cutting. (X) It’s a power exchange . . . for others. . This tended to involve the use of ‘humiliation’ practices usually conceived as part of a role-play involving a variation on the 299 Downloaded from http://sexualities. by virtue of the study’s inclusion criteria. . having all the fun. . I actually get pretty pissed off if I get badly bruised or if I’m made to bleed but a nice sharp pain [smiling] . kinda makes your senses stand on end . it was more fluid and the power could be given or withdrawn or shared within a certain relationship or a specific scene.sagepub. how it will happen . . . . those involving primarily physical stimulation and those involving primarily psychological stimulation. fundamentally both parties should be in control . it’s about feeling pain. . all participants engaged in physical stimulation. (D) I get called a bossy bottom . . . I was always envious of the bottom getting all the attention . . hair pulling and nipple and anal ‘manipulation’ to electric shocks. . how far it will go. for many. We play with the power thing . . . . . . (V) It’s all a power game. however. (F) I know for some there’s a lot more to it but for me it’s about CP1 . . . kicking. . . However. . I’m very demanding on my tops .com at Staffordshire University on May 16. Physical stimulation generally involved the giving or receiving of ‘pain’. psychological stimulation was. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. I’m the one who decides what will happen . biting. . . it’s like the phrase . . I’ll have it for a while then she’ll have it. (E) I used to be a top but now I’m mainly bottom . . All rights reserved. . . two broad categories seemed to be apparent. .. to talk about who is ultimately in charge is to avoid the mechanics of what’s actually going on. . Practices ranged from fairly gentle slapping. (H) Several participants who argued that it was the bottom that was in control disputed the association of dominance with power suggested by others. (H) Participants appeared to find an almost infinite number of ways by which to express this power. . mental sensation that gives me the buzz . . . (T) Although.

expressed by all participants. . it’s fucking painful. gags. swoon about the kitchen . . . Sometimes these ‘plays’ were vague. . that they could . . . . (R) Humiliation practices included licking boots. or parent–child. I mean I never really think they will but I guess that’s the fantasy . . other times intensely detailed and contrived. the usual stuff . that sort of thing . (G) (iii) Sexual arousal The third definitional component. for it to be ‘SM’. . . . (B) . . masks and specialist restrictive equipment and clothing. teacher–pupil.sagepub. . . well I’m not having that . . wearing debasing clothing. . he likes me to make him wear it . . . . . and a dog bowl I make him eat out of. . (V) If he calls me a cunt during sex that’s one thing but if he calls me a cunt for forgetting the milk . . . . . . . blindfolds. I get turned on by the feeling of total helplessness . the fear . . handcuffs. All rights reserved. any behaviour must occur within a sexual context or in such a way as to be sexually arousing. . . . . . It’s like people think that ‘cause I’m a masochist I must enjoy going to the dentist . One involves us dressing up as school children and we’ll have a teacher who dresses up in full 19th-century costume. would not engage in overtly sexual behaviour. especially while engaging in public scenes. other times he rolls over and I tickle his stomach . . . I kick him if he’s bad . spat on . (D) A couple of participants. (D) The use of ‘bondage’ as part of this psychological (and physical) stimulation was also very common and included the use of ropes. . . spitting. chains. Participants described their feelings of helplessness and dependency or of power as vital to the ‘illusion’ of domination or submission. was that. .Sexualities 4(3) dynamic of submission and domination. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. . . He has a dog collar . .com at Staffordshire University on May 16. sometimes I take him out on his lead. I call him master . being pissed on. urination and defecation as well as the giving and receiving of verbal commands and abuse. he calls me cunt . . bizarre. . . I make him cock his leg and piss like a dog and I get him to sniff and lick my arse and bark . . they could kill you if they wanted. (U) It’s putting your trust into someone so completely. . . . . (F) If I burn myself on the kettle or something I’m hardly going to go into rapture . she’ll take down our shorts or skirts and bend us over our desks and slap us or cane us when we’re naughty. such as master–slave. . it’s that feeling of vulnerability . nevertheless the practices 300 Downloaded from http://sexualities. it makes it so exciting . you’re at their mercy. . Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. . .

The remainder appeared to position their SM somewhere between these two points on the continuum. For some (3). half of the people there are S&M-ers.’ although SM was their preferred means of sexual arousal. you’re approaching hurting them and dominating them . . together with fieldwork including actual observation and the authors’ review of the literature. point out ‘mutual definitions produce different interpretations of the same activities through the process of group identification’ (Weinberg et al. There was also considerable variation in the frequencies with which participants engaged in SM and in the choice of context. so you get this crossover where people are into SM without seeing it . . in clearly sexual terms. only interest. from their point of view of course they wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole . . . It often involves acts which would generally be considered as ‘painful’ and/or humiliating or subjugating. . For others. The ‘importance’ of SM to participants was found to vary. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications.com at Staffordshire University on May 16. . Contextual variation One final note. and the context surrounding. and they’re doing the same to you . (iv) Compatibility of definition One final definitional prerequisite concerns the importance of mutual definition. led to the following definition: SM is best understood as comprising those behaviours which are characterized by a contrived. public scenes were their preferred or. and are understood by the participant to be SM. .sagepub. . noticeably female participants (7 out of 11) SM was practised primarily or exclusively within established. unequable distribution of power involving the giving and/or receiving of physical and/or psychological stimulation. one participant spoke of the parallels for him between SM and Jujitsu: Jujitsu gives me almost as much pleasure as SM . . but the interesting thing about it from my point of view as an S&M-er. expressing no interest in nonSM or vanilla sex while others (3) said or implied that they could ‘take it or leave it . this behaviour. Some (6) claimed to be exclusively interested in SM. and described. in one case. This again raises the importance of the way in which a behaviour or stimulus is subjectively interpreted. concerns the importance attached to. As Weinberg et al. . before considering our analysis of participants’ explanations of their SM. . Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. . 1984: 388). This highlights the importance of subjectivity in the interpretation of behaviour. . All rights reserved. . For example. often symbolic. (I) This analysis of participants’ definitions of SM and their descriptions of their sexual practices. but which are consensual and for the purpose of sexual arousal.Taylor and Ussher Making Sense of S&M were conceived of. often 301 Downloaded from http://sexualities. .

while some practised their SM within closed or partially closed SM ‘friendships or sex groups’. These discursive themes often overlapped.com at Staffordshire University on May 16. Thus. All rights reserved. while the aforementioned definition is applicable to all behaviours which are positioned as SM. by all but two participants. expressed 302 Downloaded from http://sexualities. others had one or several casual SM partners. SM is multifaceted. as learned behaviour. However. it is of some interest that many participants began with a discourse around SM as fun then as inexplicable and then. These discourses are presented here in no particular order other than one seems to flow fairly logically into the next. . its expression takes a variety of forms along a number of continuums. Its mode of expression differed slightly in accordance with the political and personal orientation of the individual. to varying degrees. but involved an understanding of SM as deliberately. it may also indicate an increase in the ‘depth’ of the interpretative discourse. it is credited with differing degrees of importance and it is expressed within widely different interpersonal contexts. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. Some practised their SM alone. SM as dissidence This discourse was expressed. as transcendence. recreate and move in and out of different ‘sexual contexts’. finally. consciously antithetical to a sexual hegemonic. this analysis would suggest that. moved on to one or more of the others – usually dissidence. nor is it something I pretend to 100 percent understand. eight ways in which participants made sense of their SM. They involved SM being understood and positioned as dissidence. . However. as intra-psychic. these categories were certainly not mutually exclusive and many participants seemed to create. (N) Understanding SM: an analysis of the discursive constructions of SM sexualities An analysis of discourse revealed eight common interpretive repertoires. Its most common form. namely patriarchal heterosexuality. this was partly a reflection of the structure of the interview. were occasionally contradictory. . as pleasure. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. when questioned further. no doubt. escapist and transcendent – before finishing with more ‘psychological discourses’ involving relating their SM to their childhood and life experience. Although.Sexualities 4(3) monogamous sexual relationships. and were employed to varying degrees by different participants. as pathological and. as escapism. as ‘inexplicable’. while others clearly differentiated between ‘vanilla relationships’ and their ‘SM lifestyle’.sagepub. As one participant responded when asked for a definition: It’s not something I would care to define in less than several thousand words .

. (K) It’s in yer face perversion . uninteresting. which was consistent with many of the ideas embraced within ‘queer politics’. it’s not strongly identifying with one or the other . . not so much to patriarchy but to what many devotees referred to as ‘vanilla sex’. . 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. . I mean why should he be on top . . Within this discourse there was a celebration of perversity. (H) I think SM is as much about politics as anything else. . . ‘do you know of any situation where someone signs a contract giving up their rights .. (Q) SM is about freedom . ridiculing it. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. . It’s more to do with the confusion of the two [male and female gender] .com at Staffordshire University on May 16. I said yes. with the ultimate intention of destroying it. experimenting with things that were oppressive . . . . . . conventional non-SM sexual relations. like I’ll talk about my cock and stuff when it’s quite apparent that I’m female and I will refer to myself as he . . but that is the situation that in SM relationships you are playing in what I think is a very corrupting way with what. therefore. . but with an understanding of this power dynamic as reflexive and as not necessarily weighted in favour of men. long term?’ . . . (Q) I’ll never let myself be fucked by anything that looks like a cock. totally . I guess that’s a ‘feminist thing’. . undermining it. . . I don’t know . (U) I was giving a talk on SM and was asked. exploiting it and exposing it.sagepub. it’s about playing with the whole notion of gender . . There was recognition of sexual relationships as inherently involving an unequable balance of power. . was a . unthinking . we’re actually now playing. that’s why I’m usually a top with men and a bottom with women . . SM was seen primarily in political terms consistent with a feminist analysis of sexuality and its role within patriarchal control and domination. . . but we’re doing it in a totally different way . . . . . Instead. . . why should the man hold the power . . it’s sex for the masses . . in SM you get to choose . . which were positioned as conformist. . . . . turning ‘normal sex’ on its head. undiscerning . was within a feminist discourse in which SM was regarded as parodying sexual relations considered as traditionally subjugating. All rights reserved. like at gay pride walking around in full bondage 303 Downloaded from http://sexualities. . . . . traditional heterosexual marriage . .. .Taylor and Ussher Making Sense of S&M primarily by female participants. . once upon a time. Vanilla [non-SM] sex has never really turned me on . . they’ve never even bothered to think what else there is to do apart from screw. . legal right for a husband to beat his wife with a stick . unadventurous and unerotic. why have PG when you can have Earl Grey? . she . Another related discourse positioned SM as oppositional. (V) Within this discourse. . . divisive sexual relations. oppressive and exploitative of women. SM was positioned as a parody of abusive. . whatever feels right . of difference. it’s more gender fuck really. . . .

without fail. a new way of life really . you know girls are supposed to be like this. I suppose I like outraging people . . . upsetting the balance. the role playing is a bit silly really. I’ve got some friends who have a scene where they play bunny rabbits . . . . . (A) I work in an office all week . drudgery or boredom. (Q) Much of the language used by participants and devotees generally reflected this fairly obvious association between SM and ‘having fun’ . . or a vanity thing but I love the looks you get. Why do I do it? . and was. When I discovered SM I was pretty bored with the gay scene . . . . . . new clubs .sagepub. and with the sex I was having . . or sex is supposed to be like that. by all participants involved positioning SM and ‘SM identity’ as ‘fun’. . maybe I’m a bit immature . new people . sex play. It’s just game playing . SM games. . of the ordinariness or alienation of everyday life. playroom. sex games. in many ways. about giving and receiving pleasure. (L) 304 Downloaded from http://sexualities. . I mean that’s funny [laughing]. were all commonly used phrases.com at Staffordshire University on May 16.Sexualities 4(3) . . nine to five . . . . . positioned SM as transcendence or escapism of the mundane. This is not to say that the suspension of disbelief and the ‘seriousness of sex play’ was not crucial to many participants. . as ‘mucking about’. . Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. . such as in countering feelings of aloneness. as play. invigorates me . . . . (P) SM as pleasure Another discourse voiced. as ‘having a laugh’.. Keeping a straight face is often the hardest part. such as when fantasy or role play collapses. keeps me going. . only that the ‘objective of the play’ was. playmates. . . . . this becomes more obvious. it’s like an antidote . . . . . . first and foremost. especially off some other dykes . . when the weekend comes and I can do SM . . I also discovered a whole new scene . . . Mr Straightsville . (T) SM as escapism Another discourse used by all but two participants. probably a bit corny . . but it’s fun. There was an emphasis upon SM as in some way compensating for a perceived lack in their life. . I guess I do it ’cause it’s fun . . it . referring to his role as an SM sex worker) Sometimes you get the giggles ’cause some things are really silly . related to the two previous discourses. . . like in lesbian SM if one’s wearing a strap on and it just looks ridiculous and you have to stop and giggle and then get on with it again . . I enjoy it (Y). . . . discovering SM was a bit like rediscovering sex . . . sex toys. . (B. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. with the men I was meeting . At times. . . All rights reserved.

. . showing myself that I can be in charge. um . The ‘high’ participants described as resulting from SM without. alternative reality. it’s like going on to a stage . it’s almost like an urban life thing to me that everything’s so kind of everyday and you drive your car to work and you do this that and the other and you don’t do anything very wild and exciting . . All rights reserved. nothing’s real . fantastical. . . . . it’s all contrived. exciting . . . someone’s teacher. . . (M) Some of these discourses. you’re like in a really different place . it’s living on the edge like climbing water towers in the dark. . imply that such narrative might be related to a more intra-psychic discourse. SM is just another aspect of living on the edge. . that I can . their prisoner . it’s a role just as I played other roles in my life as a university lecturer. it’s pure escapism I guess. . . in positioning SM as a possible avoidance. . . (W) It’s a natural high . prior to or with orgasm was also credited with near mystical significance. . you’re not going to work or to Tescos . . I tend to get pretty stressed out . I think it helps me to be calmer . . with its own conventions and its own inherent benefits for the participant. . . so I rather suspect that one of the reasons SM appeals to me is that it’s a very economical and efficient way of getting extra excitement . .sagepub. . everything is constantly changing . . their baby.Taylor and Ussher Making Sense of S&M I love the ritual of SM . . . going out of yourself . (I) It’s play acting . it’s like another world . SM helps me feel calmer and happier . 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. . (W) It’s [SM] a way of telling myself .com at Staffordshire University on May 16. . . in a way I can’t in the real world. a denial or an escape from oneself. . . a woman. I wear the leather to fit with the role just as I wear this to fit the role of lecturer. However. 305 Downloaded from http://sexualities. . . . . I can be a man. . their father. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. . I guess it comes from being a bit wild and exciting. . I find it quite difficult to be peaceful in everyday life. it also raises another potential discursive theme: SM as therapy. . more enlightened or more alive. and caving . you can step out of yourself and pretend to be something you’re not . as a research student . (T) Most of my life I’ve been doing things which are dangerous . or at least certain aspects of oneself. . . . . . . It’s a performance . . . (T) SM as transcendence One transcendence discourse (voiced by six participants) involved positioning SM within a spiritual or mystical framework. . anything. take control of a situation . It was spoken of as a heightened state of consciousness or as in some way making them more astute. . . not necessarily as an avoidance of reality but as another. . (R) The language of SM and phrases such as ‘scene’ and ‘role play’ also indicate the role of SM as escapist fantasy. . .

. . ’cause you do get high . it can last for hours . . I’m sure the suffering of pain has a very spiritual component . (J) 306 Downloaded from http://sexualities. They made references to ‘new age primitivism’ and likened it to religious flagellation and to non-western spiritual practices involving the endurance and infliction of pain and suffering. . . . (P) A second related but more secular discourse used to varying degrees by a dozen participants involved an interpretation of SM as causing an adrenaline rush or an endorphin high. . . SM was credited almost with the status of religion. . I sometimes joke with friends that my move from Catholicism to SM was a religious conversion. . . . Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. . . . . . acutely aware of everything that’s going on . but it’s certainly a buzz. er . (X) Participants adhered to its rituals and conventions and devoted themselves to its practice.. it’s . . it carries you away . . like any pleasurable drug. . . (D) One consequence of this ‘physiological discourse’ was an understanding of SM as potentially addictive. . the euphoria is very addictive and you can’t get it from anything else. I’m not sure if it’s more real or less real . . . three times a week and they’re now into situations where they’re into really heavy stuff and they come out of sessions looking a real mess and I think it’s almost like some kind of addiction where you tolerate the effects and so need more and more to get the same buzz out of it. . you can kind of float away on this cloud of numbness. you’ll find suffering is a crucial part of all the major religions . it transports you . . . . . . the pain . (E) I think I’m actually quite addicted to SM . . The process and content of this ‘high’ was similar to the previous discourse but was attributed to a more physiological cause. (U) Some participants credited SM as possessing ceremonial significance. I would compare it to being on pethidine . 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. I think it’s got something to do with endorphins. . . discovered a me that was more real . . . The first time I had SM sex it was like a revelation . I don’t know . All rights reserved. . . . . and inside you. . (E) I think it’s a neurochemical thing . it’s hard to explain but was a bit like a spiritual conversion . the sexual excitement . For example one referred to his SM induction as a ‘rite of passage’. I know guys who have SM sessions two. . .Sexualities 4(3) The high you get with SM is like no other . I’d suddenly awoken something inside me . but it’s not like the loss of control you have with an orgasm. . um .com at Staffordshire University on May 16. . you’re . another as ‘an awakening’. . . I think the use of ritual in SM is quite . . . . . paganistic .sagepub. . . it’s like you’re magically sensitized to everything around you . . . I’d probably find it difficult to go without . .

although it fails to explain why I found pain sexually exciting at such a young age . . I didn’t wank again for months.com at Staffordshire University on May 16. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. it’s as if their relationship has become stronger over time . . This spanned a variety of interrelated discourses but generally involved SM being in some way related to certain psychological aspects of their personalities. . if there is such a thing. [Do you see any connection there with SM?] Well certainly SM play especially at clubs is very convenient for me because it means that I can get a certain amount of sexual satisfaction with people who I like without getting a too close dependence on them or them getting a too close dependence on me . . like I can no longer tell them apart . but the most dominant ‘intra-psychic’ discourse was on the importance of control and its role in SM as a compensation. . . sometimes understood as the result of experiences in childhood. I think perhaps I’m afraid of being tied down or trapped in some way which may be connected with the fact that I felt trapped with my mother. . . . I tend to steer away from close friendships. It’s just popped into my head. I don’t know if that’s significant but it just popped into my head. usually originating in childhood. . . . (F) I think it’s partly a conditioning thing . . (E) Such discourse usually involved some awareness of SM as having a neurophysiological component in which pain and arousal become inseparably paired. I’ve never really been a very social person . (I) Two other participants also referred to the detached nature of much SM contact and its relationship to their difficulties or avoidance of intimacy. . continuation. now I couldn’t imagine having sex that wasn’t SM. . . Pain and sexual arousal have become more and more indistinguishable to me . . that suggests that. re-enactment or reversed re-enactment of past or current power imbalances. I must have an SM personality. my first ever orgasm was incredibly painful. the thought of experiencing pain as part of sex has always appealed to me but . . .Taylor and Ussher Making Sense of S&M SM as learned behaviour A discourse closely related to this and drawn upon by six participants incorporated an understanding of SM as the result of a learnt association. . it’s as if over the years my brain has kind of .. (V) SM as intra-psychic A more ‘psychodynamic-systemic’ discourse was also present in all but three participants’ attempts to make sense of their SM. . . yes that could be a factor in it . 307 Downloaded from http://sexualities. .sagepub. so that now during sex I find any sensation of pain immediately excites me . combined them . . All rights reserved. er. .

. . . I find not being in control very difficult to handle perhaps because I’m afraid of being . . . I’ve discovered the best person to put my trust in is myself. (G) I think it provides me with the illusion of control . 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. . your childhood must have had terrible experiences which drove you to it . that of SM as pathology. . er . it actually got me attention which was no mean feat in our family. I got my needs met by being quiet. . . . . . becoming gay was quite hard and when I first got into SM I wondered if it was because I didn’t like myself . hard done by . . like my parents arguing . . . . . . . when I left home the first thing I did was get involved with this guy who thought he was my father. . . People talk about obvious things of . . . . . overcompensating . but then I guess it could have been both. very authoritarian . . (Y) Another albeit less common discourse was around SM as retribution or as somehow related to guilt or unhappy or abusive childhoods. that was a very difficult time for me . . . I think was all part of that . kept me down at heel . but I remember it felt pleasurable rather than punishing . . I remember thinking how everything was my fault. . . I suppose my being a bottom is kind of consistent with that. out of control . I don’t hate him but he was . . . you know . . (U) I guess I can be quite subservient in a lot of ways . er . (Y) It was this discourse that seemed most clearly related to the next discourse. . their divorcing . being hard done by rather than making demands. . . It was awful and I swore I wouldn’t become my mother so I got out . I suppose it’s kind of. I’ve sometimes wondered if SM is about a difficulty I have with myself .Sexualities 4(3) I guess I’m quite a controlling person . however. . badly . . . it was also the discourse most commonly rejected by participants as an explanation of their SM. . . . . safe in a way . . . . (P) My father was a . . . . . [How do you make sense of being that way?] . . . . . . . . Yeah.com at Staffordshire University on May 16. . [So to not be in control is to be vulnerable?] . . er .sagepub.. . . . . . . . Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. I didn’t . . . . . . . . . perhaps being a top is about . . . . . it was like . and my mother . I think I was like that as a child . I mean I’ve let people walk over me in relationships and at work and stuff so. quite . . . . . God . . unassertive . At that time things got out of hand ’cause someone else had all the power and they let me down . you know infant . well . um . er . really messed me up . your mother must have beat you when you wet yourself or 308 Downloaded from http://sexualities. . perhaps dominating men is about getting back at my father [laughing]. . finding a way to have sex that . . . . . . . .. um . . . All rights reserved. is it Freudian . . I think I was very guilt-ridden . . . (J) I was into hurting myself as a child like with hot needles and stuff . . . . . . . to see yourself as victimized . . which is how I was a few years ago . . . I don’t know. I think discovering my bisexuality and the SM thing . it’s like ‘poor me’ . in everything . . . um .

. . . .sagepub. . they really want to do someone damage . (B) Many participants clearly had difficulty understanding the practices of other devotees and sometimes dismissed their behaviour as ‘unhealthy’ because they felt it was extreme. . . . (C) I’m sure there’s a few people who are drawn to SM for really worrying reasons such as like they really want to hurt someone. NO . (D) Of course a lot of S&M-ers are messed up. . My parents were stable. like sexual guilt and stuff . . . I think she was very unwell. I think there have to be limits . . I think anyone who ignores the wishes of another in sex play is engaging in sexual violence . I don’t think he understood that the SM was about sexual pleasure. . . . or was potentially. I don’t think he cares . .. She was into cutting herself and stuff but it wasn’t . why should we have a monopoly on mental health . mental health . . I know of this one guy. it freaked me out actually . . no really . . . . . he’s mad . . going beyond SM . Just like everyone else . . . . . . . like being on your own and cutting yourself I think is really weird . . but he says his fantasy is to actually kill someone . you know . that’s . . . . . . . . (L) Or. I don’t know. . . All rights reserved. for some the SM thing’s probably incidental for others . . . . if they went beyond the context of immediate sexual arousal: He thought that just because I was submissive in bed that I would be submissive in the relationship . . . and cigarette burns . yeah I’m sure it’s tied up with. .. I don’t know . indicative of pathology. .com at Staffordshire University on May 16. and that’s not about SM. . (U) Behaviours were also seen as ‘unhealthy’ if they did not adequately incorporate an awareness of consent. . a bad childhood or something but that doesn’t mean SM is practiced by 309 Downloaded from http://sexualities. [With their consent?] I don’t know . reliable. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. it didn’t feel sexual . . . . Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. (M) SM as pathology Although participants rarely applied this discourse to themselves most knew of someone whose SM was. someone who gets a buzz from having cigarettes put out on them I think is in touch with something quite disturbed. he was a total power freak . it’s hard to explain. I don’t think he’d do it . . a good foundation for me .. . . . . . he definitely had a problem . . for some. . . I mean . . I think he’s psychotic.Taylor and Ussher Making Sense of S&M something when you were young. I think that’s about . . . it felt different like she was punishing herself . . . . being fucked up. that’s about . (H) I know some people link it to their childhoods but I don’t hold with any of that . all that stuff about . . . . I mean his whole life was based on having to dominate . . .

is actively involved in constructing the phenomenon under its gaze. .sagepub. . . interpretation and presentation. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. Indeed one of the most common discourses. comments and choice of questions and by their preconceptions and their personal. . in particular 310 Downloaded from http://sexualities. psychiatry and psychoanalysis have attempted to construct SM as a sexual aberration generally indicative of psychopathology and ill health. . their extraction. used to varying degrees by all participants. and you know it’s something I’ve really really thought about . perhaps if it were understandable it would be less appealing . I don’t know . . ‘Discursive themes’ do not just lay about waiting to be discovered. is clearly still tied intrinsically to the subjective positions of the researchers. I really don’t know . . . true of this study. . . that’s all. . but that’s OK . why are you into this . (M) SM as inexplicable A number of participants regarded their own behaviour as ‘weird’. . The process. More recently. . . . and its presentation of data at their most base level of interpretation. . in terms of data collection and analysis. but I don’t really feel any of those things for myself . our findings are close to those reported previously. All rights reserved. . Within the aforementioned analysis. but must be actively sought out. . it’s just more difficult to make sense of. collation. no doubt. They have also put forward a variety of reductionist and essentialist hypotheses to account for its aetiology and presentation. I think to myself this is really strange. it’s really odd . The same is. it is possible to identify these and other discourses as ‘introjected constructions’ and to see how they jostle with one another within peoples’ ‘constructions of the self’.com at Staffordshire University on May 16. they do not simply emerge. . . The analysis therefore highlights the way in which psychology. . . . I know a lot of the theories . but tended to attribute this to ‘the inexplicable’ rather than ‘the pathological’.Sexualities 4(3) . . . (P) Discussion Psychology. discourses consistent with feminist and queer politics have countered these constructions. (T) We haven’t got the language to describe what’s going on. detached and purely descriptive. why try and explain everything . is unavoidably informed by the researchers’ disclosures. I don’t need to make sense of it . (H) I just accept it as a bit odd . rather than being neutral. so maybe I still haven’t reconciled it but I don’t think I’ve talked to anyone who really has. . However. theoretical and political orientations. Despite its adherence to a phenomenological method. by mad people any more than with vanilla . I still think it’s weird. I mean what is this problem that everyone has about having to make sense of everything the whole time. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. . as with any research. . . incorporated some ideas around SM as defying comprehension.

at times. individually and collectively. This can be discounting of many people’s realities. any theorization needs to be firmly grounded in the actual experiences and psychologies of persons who practice SM. and in contrast to much of the existing literature. multicausal and phenomenological nature of the phenomena. particularly in relation to power. exonerated. The social constructionist approach tends to carry with it a denial of the existence of anything real beyond the level of narrative. This is not to deny the possibility.com at Staffordshire University on May 16.Taylor and Ussher Making Sense of S&M to the work of Weinberg et al. The study would suggest that no single existing psychological theory can adequately explain the aetiology or maintenance of SM. which are lost in a kind of ‘constructionist solipsism’. they reflect broader social trends in relation to sexuality and sexual expression. it is to be assumed that many SM practices will do so too. Theories need to be developed that attempt to account for SM without recourse to explanations that necessarily involve ‘pathology’. The ‘main-streaming’ of SM (the acceptability of leather and bondage as fashion items is just one example of this) leads hardcore SM-ers to adopt more extreme modes of dress in order to differentiate themselves from ‘straights’. This suggests that the constructions of SM used by the participants in this study are not particular or peculiar to this group of individuals. Psychological theories need to be able to incorporate variability. regulation and organization of sexuality. only that any such abstraction needs to move away from ‘essentialism’ and ‘reductionism’ and incorporate an understanding of the multi-faceted. The accounts of SM presented here cannot be seen in a vacuum. this social constructionist-discursive analysis of SM sexualities does pose a number of related difficulties. as ‘gay’ is 311 Downloaded from http://sexualities. It clarifies the way in which SM can only be understood through a ‘phenomenological analysis’ of its. interpreted and. nor too heavily influenced by the expectations of the researchers. particularly in the definition. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. as ‘lesbian’. contradiction and dissent within their abstraction and to be aware of individual freedom and autonomy and the role of society and culture. (1984). and of the body. or the potential benefits. often multiple. All rights reserved. However. As hegemonic sexual practices shift and change. The reduction of a given phenomenon to the level of discourse tends to deny its operation on a more material level. their sense of themselves as an ‘SM-er’. The phenomenological study presented here provides important insights into the way individuals’ internal worlds are constructed and how their SM identities and practices are formed. rather than making judgmental a priori assumptions. of theorizing SM.sagepub. subjective meanings and that these meanings can only be understood within their socio-cultural and historical context. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. Further to this. Within such a framework. biologically and politically. . a coherent psychological account of SM can perhaps be developed. There is a negation of the material world.

Whilst the social constructionist approach may be keen to emphasize the cultural and social relatedness of people’s stories. and Luckmann. At its extreme. Perhaps what is needed is a more integrative theoretical and epistemological framework that acknowledges the discursive–material dualism of sexuality and within which this emergence and interaction might be more fully explored (see Ussher. (1994) Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex. Bodies can be bruised and scarred. C. their own or another’s life in the pursuit of sexual pleasure. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. for the body and for society. like most sexualities it is generally acted out within the confines of the body. London: Routledge. (1967) The Social Construction of Reality. as to the role of SM in reinforcing. P. one is left feeling that there is something real. 1994. or take. 1990. J.com at Staffordshire University on May 16. It is experienced. Pittsburgh. is not merely discursive. the material world is left unexplored.Sexualities 4(3) negated. enacted and received – can easily be ignored. debated by a number of feminist and queer theorists. J. Califia. at least in part. it is dismissed as nothing more than a cultural construction. For example. while it may carry symbolic and subjective meaning it also has very real material consequences. but that its emergence in.sagepub. and Langley. perpetuating and exonerating real-life inequalities. (1986) ‘Comparisons among Heterosexual. and Neale. whilst SM may be understood as a discursive construction. Breslow. Edwards. P. M. Jeffreys. we are. Yet. their impact can also easily be reduced to the level of narrative. I. Clearly. and Parker. . The body. Davison. Washington. 1994. still faced with difficult questions concerning the rights of individuals to consensually endanger. C. Thus. T. pleasure. for if it is acknowledged at all it is dismissed as unknowable. materially. or arousal. whatever it is. E. 1997b). Note 1. DC: APA. 1982). All rights reserved. Evans. Linden et al. (1990) Abnormal Psychology. 312 Downloaded from http://sexualities. G. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. oppression and violence (Califia. Bisexual and Homosexual Male Sadomasochists’. as pain. some essence beneath these layers of constructed meaning. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. Burman. Journal of Homosexuality 13(1): 83–107. potentially. the societal structure – the materiality of power within which discourses are generated.. New York: Anchor. PA: Cleis Press. (1993) Discourse Analytic Research. and interaction with. Corporal punishment References American Psychiatric Association (1987) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-3R). Berger. This raises difficult ethical and political questions. SM. N.

(1993) ‘Discourses of Nature: Argumentation & Power’. Potter. Sadomasochism and Transvestism. (1984 [1976]) The History of Sexuality Volume One. A. G. (1982) ‘Symbolic Interactionism and Sexual Conduct: An Emergent Perspective’. (1990) Anticlimax.Taylor and Ussher Making Sense of S&M Edwards. (1982) Against Sadomasochism. trans F. London: Routledge. New York: Bell. D. Moser. Russell. S. (1990) ‘The Researcher Talks Back’. London: Sage. Richard Von (1886) Psychopathia Sexualis. Gosselin. R. G. Madness and Reproduction. H. CA. R. Gillett. (1979) ‘The Social Organisation of Sexual Risk’. J. S. Newbury Park. and Levitt. and Whitehead. G. Volume 7. J. B. Krafft-Ebing. London: Sage. Hollway. The Psychologist 8(3): 111–14. Griffin. in E. The Pelican Freud library. M. E. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. (1980) Sexual Variations: Fetishism. W. Pagano. (1987) ‘An Exploratory-Descriptive Study of a Sadomasochistically Oriented Sample’. London: Cambridge University Press. Klaf. London: Routledge. and Star. Masculinity and Feminism. (1980) ‘Leather Sex: Meaningful Aspects of Gay Sadomasochism’. S. S. W. Kamel. The Journal of Sex Research 23(3): 322–37. Ortner. London: The Women’s Press. Jeffreys. Lee. (1995) Telling Sexual Stories. Alternative Lifestyles 2: 69–100. H. Burman and I. London: Penguin Books. Ussher (ed. Linden. (1993) ‘Against Discursive Imperialism.) Human Sexual Relations: Towards a Redefinition of Sexual Politics. and Wetherell. All rights reserved. P.) Body Talk: The Material and Discursive Regulation of Sexuality. (1995) ‘The Philosophical Foundations of Qualitative Psychology’. London: Routledge. Archives of Sexual Behaviour 6: 441–56. in E. (1989) Subjectivity & Method in Psychology. Ca: Frog in the Well. Parker Discourse Analytic Research. (1994) Erotics and Politics: Gay Male Sexuality. C.com at Staffordshire University on May 16. E. Palo Alto. Parker. Taylor. (1999) An Invitation to Social Constructionism. L.sagepub. Spengler. Empricism and Constructionism: Thirty-two Problems with Discourse Analysis’. Gergen. London: Faber & Faber. and Burman. in M. T. C. (1997) ‘The Discursive Construction and Regulation of Dissident Sexualities. R. (1981) Sexual Meanings: The Cultural Construction of Gender & Sexuality. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. Change and Social Worlds.. S. The Case of SM’. Plummer. C. New York: Pantheon. Stebbins (eds) Experiencing Fieldwork. K. London: Routledge. E. I. 313 Downloaded from http://sexualities. in J. Power. G. M. K. M.. Brake (ed. D. and Wilson. K. Harmondsworth: Penguin. W. Shaffir and R. Plummer. Deviant Behaviour 1: 171–91. Parker Discourse Analytic Research. Macnaghten. in W. Burman and I. A. E. London: Routledge. L. A Feminist Perspective on the Sexual Revolution. Freud. London: Sage. . Sage. (1977) ‘Manifest Sadomasochism of Males: Results of an Empirical Study’. (1987) Discourse and Social Psychology. Foucault. (1905) Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.

and Falk. Falmer. (1999) ‘Women’s Madness: A Material–Discursive–Intra-psychic Approach’. Her books include The Psychology of the Female Body (Routledge. Address: The Health Centre. London: Penguin. (1992) 2 AII ER 75 (The Spanner case). Fee (ed. (1980) ‘The Social Organisation of Sadism and Masochism’. 1991).) Psychology and the Postmodern: Mental Illness as Discourse and Experience. Her current research interests are sexuality. Brake (ed. and Moser. World Health Organization (1992): International Classification of Diseases (ICD10). All rights reserved. NSW 1797. 1989). New York: Pantheon.ac.Sexualities 4(3) Taylor. Prior to this he spent six years as a clinical and health psychologist.. 207–30. 1997). (forthcoming) An Analysis of Psychological Profiles Derived from the Clinical Assessment Questionnaire for a Cohort of Self Identified Sadomasochists. Australia. M. and transitions in women’s lives. Women’s Madness: Misogyny or Mental Illness? (Harvester Wheatsheaf and Massachusetts Press. Hendrick Sex and Gender. Ussher.ussher@uws. (1982) ‘The Development of Sexual Theory and Sexual Politics’. Ussher. Beverly Hills.w. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. M. Madness and Reproduction.taylor@sussex. University of Western Sydney. Address: School of Psychology. R.au] 314 Downloaded from http://sexualities. J.com at Staffordshire University on May 16.sagepub. 1997) and Fantasies of Femininity: Reframing the Boundaries of Sex (Penguin and Rutgers. physical and sexual health. Weeks. Deviant Behaviour 1: 379–93. V. (1997b) Body Talk: The Material and Discursive Regulation of Sexuality. M. L.edu. G. [email: g. 2007 © 2001 SAGE Publications. in D. Madness and Reproduction (Routledge. (1997a) Fantasies of Femininity: Reframing the Boundaries of Sex. London: Routledge. working with adults with problems related to physical illness. pp. Additional legal reference Brown. Social Problems 31: 379–89. [email: j. Shaver and C. J.uk] Jane Ussher is Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Western Sydney. in M. in P. (1984) ‘The Social Constituents of Sadomasochism’. Williams. J. W. Sage: London. Weinberg. Weinberg. His particular research insterest is in constructivist approaches to issues of psychological. Penrith South DC. Body Talk: The Material and Discursive Regulation of Sexuality.) Human Sexual Relations: Towards a Redefinition of Sexual Politics. C. University of Sussex. Ussher. T. Locked Bag 1797. WHO. (1993) 2 WLR 556. G. Tiefer. CA: Sage. disability and sexuality. M. . J. premenstrual syndrome. Biographical Notes Gary Taylor is currently employed as the Assistant Director of Psychological Services at the University of Sussex and is director of the university’s MSc in Counselling Psychology. Brighton BN1 9RW. C. (1987) ‘Social Constructionism and the Study of Human Sexuality’. S. Australia.

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