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Connie Shortes

S/M pornography (1998) - Connie Shortes

Sadomasochism is a complex concept that may be understood in several different ways: an unavoidable social phenomenon inherent in hierarchically organized political, institutional, and familial structures; an unacknowledged, and therefore unhealthy, dynamic between two individuals; or a personal pathology resulting in sexual and social deviance. The term S/M, however, most often invokes a fantastic, erotically charged tableau in which the dynamics of dominance and submission are performed, often including the leather- or latex-clad dominatrix, whips, chains, medieval torture devices, and dark, Gothic-style dungeons - that is, a specific kind of pornography or erotica.

S/M pornography has been one of the primary objects of attention and concern in substantially all political, legal, scientific, and social discourses on the subject of pornography, particularly since theatrical exhibition of "hard-core" films began to flourish in the early 1970s. Given that representations of S/M in pornography fall, for indexical purposes, within a territory that is difficult to defend (or even rationally discuss), it is not surprising that very little scholarship exists on the subject. Besides Joseph Slade's content analysis of the Kinsey Institute's collection, in which he concluded that violence has always been present in pornography but only in a very small percentage of the overall output, Linda Williams has probably done more than any other scholar to distinguish and bring understanding to this particular category of commercially produced pornography. She devoted a chapter to the subject in her book Hard Core, which attempted to re-examine some of the most controversial films - those which depict women in positions of submission - positing that the sexual desires they depict are not necessarily organized around the phallus, the Oedipal complex, and the pleasures of the sadistic male voyeur. In subsequent articles Williams speculated as to what a different, less ideologically rigid understanding of S/M pornography might contribute to theories of sexuality that would more effectively acknowledge the complex workings of power and the role of fantasy than do those forwarded in feminist analyses. --"Cleaning up a sewer": the containment of S/M pornography - sadomasochism - The Shows of Violence, Journal of Popular Film and Television, Summer, 1998 by Connie Shortes via http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0412/is_n2_v26/ai_21221636/pg_1 [Mar 2005]

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