I have often wondered about the nature of BDSM and the mindset of people who like to give or receive pain for sexual gratification. Biting, spanking, mild submission, and even whipping is relatively enjoyable, but when I see people having the need to draw blood or be emotionally squashed I begin to wonder where it stems from. I am not an authority on what is ‘normal’ or not, in fact I despise the word ‘normal’. Consenting adults have a right to peruse pleasure anywhere they can find it I think. But my desire to understand and study human nature, love, and desire is what initiates my curiosity.
The word Sadism is derived from the name of the notorious Marquis de Sade. The Marquis spent most of his adult life escaping capture from authorities or incarcerated in mental asylums. He would constantly sexually abuse and torture prostitutes and his male and female house staff. There have been numerous books written about the Marquis de Sade and a biopic film ‘Quills’ was released a few years ago staring Geoffrey Rush in the lead role. The story does not cover his early life but rather his incarceration and demise in a mental asylum where he composed some of his most popular novels. A variety of de Sade’s work has been translated to English and he is very well known in literary circles. I have personally read some of his work soon after I saw the film ‘Quills’ and I did find it quite enjoyable from an analytic and artistic perspective.
The word Masochism stems from the name of the lesser known author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Where as sadists and the Marquis de Sade received pleasure from delivering pain and suffering, masochists and Sacher-Masoch himself found contentment in suffering. Of course that does raise the question is one truly suffering if that person finds pleasure in it? But that is a different can of worms. One of the very few works of Masoch’s to be translated to English was ‘Venus in Furs’ (1870). It tells the story of a man by the name of Severin who seeks the company of a woman who degrades him and tortures him. Severin is literally the poster child Masochist. I have not read this book yet or any of his works but it is now on my list. Leopold von Sacher-Masoch also died while incarcerated in a mental asylum. It is amazing how these 2 men living centuries apart, by exploring and writing about their deepest sexual desires and thoughts have defined a whole subculture of human behavior. It is also ironic that they both ended up clinically insane and locked up in mad houses. Is that what will happen to all of us if we gave in totally to our sexual desires? I do not believe so; they were simply victims of censorship.
Sadists and Masochists are actually made for each other. But what is it that gives either pleasure from giving and receiving pain. The scientific explanation is that the brain releases endorphins and other ‘happy’ chemicals when a person is in pain or under mental stress and vice versa. Personally I am not one for scientific explanations. I mean, if that was the case then a masochist would also receive pleasure if they were in a car accident or drowning. The articles, books, and blogs I have read that are written by sadists and masochists are far too poetic and artistic to be driven by simple chemical dependence. The mind itself is complex and I believe that these desires are rooted in emotions and thoughts. There is probably some truth in the chemical explanation but none of that would be relevant if not for the mind set of the person in question. The stuff I have read accurately articulates the sensations the people go through and some people even attempt to explain what drives the desire. But nothing has resonated in my mind as yet. I have read about couples in their early 50’s who are exploring and enjoying the master/slave relationship on a daily basis as well as young couples who feel the need to share each other with strangers and feel humiliated in order to feel worthy of one another. There are men and women who need to be physically abused to receive any sexual gratification. Why?
Music has proven in my life to be the greatest communicator. And it is in fact music that has seeded my current train of thought. There is a song by Velvet Underground called ‘Venus in Furs’ that was inspired by the book of the same name. To me the lyrics and music of that recording are what raised questions regarding the mind set of a masochist. Lou Reed has always been able to capture raw emotion in his lyrics and his voice touches me in an eerie way. Classics like ‘Heroin’, ‘Wild Side’, and Perfect Day’ are classic expels of his raw realistic style. It amazes me to think that while most bands in 1967 were releasing songs about peace and love in a pure and innocent form, VU was bold enough to write and perform on such a dark subject. But for that matter the album ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico’ is absolutely groundbreaking, from the cover art designed by Andy Warhol to the songs themselves. The song ‘Venus in Furs’ has been featured in numerous movies including The Doors by Oliver Stone and The Last Days by Gus van Sant. It has also been rerecorded by some pretty awesome bands including, Nirvana, The Melvins, Dave Navaro, and DeVothKa’s, to name a few. The book has also inspired a few movies which I am eager to get my hands on.
Venus in Furs – Velvet Underground
Shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather
Whiplash girlchild in the dark
Clubs and bells, your servant, dont forsake him
Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart
I do not see myself taking a whip on the backside any time soon nor will I be delivering any hard lashings. The thought of blood and pain in general do not appeal to me, but I will admit that the image of shiny, shiny leather is a turn on. Most of us can admit to administering or even receiving a bit of a spanking when going at it doggy style or in other positions. Others might even have toyed around with bondage, be it fur cuffs or a silk scarf. It is undeniable that there is some pleasure in S&M but the boundaries of pain and suffering are relative. As with drugs and alcohol the effects could be diminishing due to tolerance. I do not have any answers here but only a head full of questions. I ask myself how far I would allow my curiosity to take me and some days the answers scare me. I am very liable to try anything once, especially when I can not see anything wrong with it. My attraction to voluptuous women, leather, or even pouty lips could be considered fetishes, but S&M is not an avenue I will be actively and consciously perusing anytime soon. However, I do hope to learn a lot more about it as life goes on. And please do not look at this as my call for a sadistic mistress to give me schooling, although that does sound like fun...