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Deconstructing myths: the social construction of “Sadomasochism” versus “subjugated knowledges” of practitioners of consensual “SM”

By Andrea Beckmann


The following paper is based on a critical criminological,\ud methodologically mainly qualitative, social research\ud project that I conducted during 1996 and 1997 in\ud London's "Scene" of consensual "SM." During this time I\ud conducted unstructured, focused interviews as well as\ud participant observations within Scene-clubs that aimed at\ud exploring the "lived realities" of consensual "SM" and its\ud "subjugated knowledges." The paper contrasts the major\ud elements of the social construction of "Sadomasochism"\ud that medicalize and pathologize practitioners of this\ud consensual "bodily practice" with some of the findings of\ud my empirical research within the "Scene" that developed\ud around consensual "SM" in London. More specifically,\ud the paper explores images, representations, and accounts\ud of "kinky sex" within popular culture as well as the\ud various motivations for engaging in consensual "SM"\ud that were mentioned by my informants and suggests that\ud the motivations are not pathological or peculiar but\ud rather part of contemporary society’s "subterranean\ud values." The paper thus deconstructs the social\ud construction of "Sadomasochism" and opposes the\ud selective criminalization of consensual "SM" practice

Topics: L610 Social and Cultural Anthropology
Year: 2001
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