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Whips, leather, pain, bondage, rope, and suffocation are all forms of sadomasochism in one form or another. Their very reference has various affects on different people; some people cringe, others raise brows, and some have to go as far as to hide their sexual arousal at the mere mention of these things. The evolution of pain in association with sexual excitement and eroticism has been a constant theme in art from antiquity to the present, each period deriving new and unique experiences and views on the topic; nevertheless, the trend continues and arguments that dictate behavior manifest themselves. In the third century AD the Karmasutra was comprised somewhere in the north of India and its recommendations for the use of scratching, biting, and slapping were the first of their kind documented in writing (Hall). This presented questions of consent as the women’s cries, and protests were mere ritualized response of pleasure or genuine cries of pain or discomfort at the hand of her lover. This varies as time passes and witnessed in modern times with the glorification of sadomasochism in pornography. More forms of “fetishes” arose as time passed into the Restoration Period, with the rise of pedagogical punishment and the position of power this placed in the schoolmaster over the pupil created a “deviance” in the minds of youth that may or may not have developed into a more sexual desire in adult hood. This also placed the schoolmasters themselves in a sexual position at the time as the bare buttocks of the child was often the target of lashing. In the same period there is depiction of a Venetian senator engaged in what would be modernly referred to as ‘puppyplay’ or ‘kennel-training’ with his mistress (Hall). In subsequent centuries whipping, as punishment became a widely accepted and beating of wives, children, and servants was a commonplace and accepted practice, so scholars question as to why powerful members of society sought this apparently humiliating punishment.
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Chastisement was also a topic addressed at this time about its possibility of sexual arousal, with the German doctor Johan Meiborn, AKA Meibormus. As time progressed and the view of the people changed slightly it was the philosopher Rousseau, in his frank, yet published Confessions in 1782 he addressed the issue of lasting affects of youthful experiences of corporal punishment. Marquis de Sade also wrote in this period of sadism and masochism alongside other themes of sexual transgression and their philosophical underpinnings. These themes are also found in the later nineteenth-century writings of Austrian, Leopold Sacher-Masoch. Numerous attempts by early sexologist to analyze the subject tend to find that there are similarities with the types of punishment used in societies and the forms and levels to which the eroticism of these enjoyments was found. Early studies were also compounded with genderbiased assumptions that seeing sadism excessive forms of male aggression and masochism the exaggerated role placed upon women of the cultural times. After Freud’s theories were common knowledge, psychoanalysts’ explanations of this behavior both conscious and subconscious were looked into with more detail. As the century drew on and attitudes towards sexuality in the Western world became more liberalized, various surveys of sexual attitudes and behavior manifested that communicative segments of individuals affirmed to discovering pleasure in unrestricted sadomasochistic endeavors, both in subsistence or as conception. In this adapting communal context, along with the broadening doctrine that erotic ecstasy was in itself a praiseworthy thing, subcultures of individuals inquisitive in consensual sadomasochistic practices developed, moderately and with great heedfulness. They constructed codes of conduct to ensure the safety of participants, embodied in the rubric 'Safe, Sane, and Consensual', prior negotiation of the parameters of a 'scene', and an
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arrangement of 'safe words' to stop or slow down the action. Far from the masochist, or 'bottom', being at the mercy of the sadist, or 'top', it was widely claimed that the bottom controlled the scene by defining its limits; while the top was not indulging in a frenzy of violence, but willfully and cautiously delivering decisive actions, some of them demanding notable facility and adeptness. Definitions were further perplexed by the revelation that very few indicated themselves as exclusively either sadistic or masochistic. Sociologists analyzing these communities identified the individuals integrated very comparable to the 'standard' citizen, and in many cases they were pillars of society, although joylessly astute of the social tarnish their endeavors amassed. They vigorously deviated their behaviors in 'play', desired and experienced as pleasure by both parties, from violence and cruelty and extremes such as 'lust murder' with which sadomasochism had frequently been affiliated. Early writers such as Meibomius pointed out the anatomical reasons why stimulation, even distressful stimulation, in the gluteal region might elicit fervor in the contiguous genital organs, as well as alluding to the customary pleasure affect on the system. Modern science similarly suggests that affects such as increasing the blood flow to the area would have this result. Havelock Ellis, in Love and Pain, pointed out that sadomasochistic practices were points along an erotic uninterrupted sequence, usually consisting of the intensification of endeavors broadly regarded as 'normal' concomitants of sexual activity. He also theorized that psychological elements presented a part, since informants described being aroused simply by the thought of whipping. This concept was inferred in Rousseau's chronicle of his own penchants, which he never seems to have obliged as an adult. In the later twentieth century physiologists symbolized the effect of pain in generating natural endorphins and a resultant 'high', an sensation which is also found in certain sports and
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other non-sexual conducts, comparable as fluctuating fiery saunas with frigid plunges. It has also been determined that, throughout sexual arousal, sensations that might be thought agonizing in the non-aroused state may be endured as harsh but enjoyable. Certain kinds of pain can also become eroticized through their affiliation with erotic bliss, or in precession of it. A recent popular fantasy trilogy by Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel's Dart, Kushiel's Chosen and Kushiel's Avatar, takes as protagonist Phèdre, a courtesan who is blessed, or cursed, by the god Kushiel to be an anguisette, bearing all pain as sexually exhilarating. although, in real life, even the most hallowed masochist seldom eroticizes or acclaims all and any pain, looking forward to a visit to the dentist, for instance, with no more acquisitive suspense than anyone else does. Researchers have alluded that intellectual and symbolic components are considerable in sadomasochistic pleasure and for many, though not all, an authentic context of superiority and adherence are of actual criticalness. Furthermore sadomasochistic assumptions are rife within social culture, there is still much anxiety and even felonious about these activities. Media propaganda of fetish events, or of implications of celebrities indulging in 'kinky sex', absolutely aspires for a jokey, alienating note. At a further extreme the intense rulings handed down in the 'Spanner' case of 1990, for what can well be argued were victimless crimes of engaging in harmonious (albeit extreme) masochism, display the enduring unease that numerous embrace at the mislaying of the confines of merriment and anguish. To recess to Freud for a time: if one connotation of degeneration is ephemeral, a degree of delaying at the conduit toward masculine orgasm, another description is spatial and invokes the prosthesis the evildoings amplify, in an anatomical experience, removed the realms of the body that are conceived for sexual union (France, 1984). In other words, deviants convey genital experiences outside their customary areas and use other parts of the body (fingers, anuses, fists, nipples) as alternatives for genital ecstasy. Many Sadomasochistic players prolong the sensual
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territories in this way by using parts such as arms, fingers, and hands, and even the entire body itself in ritualized endeavours of distension and suspending. These are, again, corporatizations of the sensations of delay or duration. Other sadomasochists extend sex beyond the ethnological itself with props such as dildos, piercing needles, and whips. These spatial augmentations of the body, in turn, have a transient conceptualization of their own (France, 1984). For a butch lesbian top, for example, the dildo can serve as a prop for the prosthetic reminiscence of masculinity she embraces as a control but has not lived genetically. The dildo or even the hand itself can make well an “amputated” masculinity, which is often felt as an incomplete history that has been briefly suspended by the butch top’s female body although is now renewed in the juncture of erotic meeting (France, 1984). In other words, the dildo prolongs the butch or daddy top into her “own” masculine past, the conceived time of another life. Just as sadomasochism exceeds the spatial perimeters of a player’s “own” council, it can inundate the chronological confines of her “own” age.
France, Marie. "Sadomasochism and Feminism." Feminist Review, No. 16 (1984): 35-42. Hall, Lesley. Pain. 14 apr 2010. 14 apr 2010 <http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/en/pain/microsite/culture1.html#>.
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