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Vicarious Kinks

Vicarious Kinks: S/M in the Socio-Legal Imaginary

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Vicarious Kinks
    Book Description:

    InVicarious Kinks, Ummni Khan looks at the mass of claims that film, feminism, the human sciences, and law make about sadomasochism and its practitioners, and the way those claims become the basis for the legal regulation of sadomasochist pornography and practice.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6809-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Law, Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Prelude
    (pp. 3-9)

    INT. MCGILL UNIVERSITY WOMEN’S CENTRE – MIDDAY – 1992 Two young women, Marie and Ummni, are sitting on mismatched lumpy furniture, engaged in heated, but not angry, discussion. A third woman – self-chosen name Dragyn – is boiling water. The walls are covered with political posters advocating women’s rights.

    Dragyn,scrutinizing one box of tea. Who bought this spiced chai? The centre is officially boycotting products from India until the government does something about dowry killings.

    Ummni (voice-over). Although I began my undergraduate studies towards the end of the sex wars, I was completely unaware at the time of any...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. 10-25)

    I begin this book with an origin story to hint at my stakes in the topic at hand. Hoping that my confessional will have a seductive effect on the reader, I wrote a dramatization of a micro-battle in which I engaged (both internally and externally) during the so-called feminist sex wars. Both personal and biographical, the impact of the narrative relies on memory to project the past onto a screen of truth. Yet such a documentation of past experiences, as Hayden White has pointed out, “arises out of a desire to have real events display the coherence, integrity, fullness, and...

  6. 1 Who’s Your Daddy? S/M’s Founding Fathers
    (pp. 26-53)

    The pathologies of sadism and masochism trace their genealogical origins to the nineteenth century, where medico-psychiatric discourse sought to taxonomize sexual practices and identities, and differentiate normal and pathological behaviour. This is not to say that before the classification of these “perversions,” activity that one might term today as sadomasochistic did not exist, but rather to emphasize that the act of consolidating such behaviour with a clinical diagnosis was a creative endeavour. As Deleuze has pointed out in his treatise on Sacher-Masoch, “Symptomatology is always a question of art” (1991, 14).

    This chapter analyses the “art” of medicine in its...

  7. 2 Feminists Divided: The Battle over S/M in the Sex Wars
    (pp. 54-116)

    In the last chapter on medico-scientific accounts of sadism and masochism, s/m theorists adopted a clinical gaze to separate the medical expert from his object of study. By contrast, when sadomasochism (s/m) began to emerge as a point of contention for Western feminists, there was no claim of impartiality: this was personal.

    This chapter situates the treatment of s/m during a turbulent period in feminist history known as “the sex wars” and deconstructs the truth-claims generated amidst these acrimonious decades. While there is no precise timeline of when the wars started or ended (or indeed, whether there was ever truly...

  8. 3 S/M in Showbiz
    (pp. 117-183)

    There is an obvious but significant difference between cinematic stories and the psychiatric and feminist representations that have been examined: while the latter two make overt truth-claims about the nature of s/m sexuality, mainstream movies are ostensibly aboutmake-believe. Indeed, the credits of many fictional films contain some version of a disclaimer: “Characters, places, and incidents in this film are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.” While these disclaimers locate films in the imaginative realm, they also signal the emotive and convincing impact of cinematic narrative and the corresponding need for...

  9. 4 The Legal Fondling of S/M Pornography
    (pp. 184-224)

    This chapter examines the law’s adjudication of obscenity where s/m desire is at issue, either explicitly or implicitly. It begins with the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund’s (LEAF) factum (1991) for the Supreme Court of Canada’s precedent-setting obscenity caseR. v. Butler(1992), and then turns to the decision itself to find that, while the descriptorsadomasochismis not used in either text, the pleasures of this sexuality are clearly indicted using an anti-s/m feminist lens. I then turn to case law, where the judicial gaze constructs gay and lesbian s/m pornography as violent, degrading, or dehumanizing. The next...

  10. 5 The Legal Fondling of S/M Practice
    (pp. 225-303)

    This chapter continues focusing on the law to analyse the legal discourse of s/m practice in a variety of contexts. S/m practice on its own, of course, is not illegal in Canada, but it is criminalized or stigmatized in a variety of legal forums. It tends to come in front of the court when something goes wrong, when there is a complaint, or when it is attached to other stigmatized or unlawful behaviour, such as prostitution, or other legal matters, such as child custody. While the case law often condemns s/m as violent, pathological, and/or harmful, there is also a...

  11. Conclusion: Epistemic Violence, Epistemic Pleasures
    (pp. 304-314)

    Now do you want me or don’t you because

    we’ve got walls to press up against,

    restraints to buckle, harnesses to strap,

    and skin to cut – I wanna know you like that.

    I wanna see you in a black latex mini dress,

    long black gloves,

    a leather garter belt,

    your calves in combat boots and black seamed stockings,

    sitting with your thighs spread,

    hat on your head,

    elbows on your knees,

    smoking a cigarette, waiting for me to take you.

    I wanna shave you bald,

    yank your head back,

    tie your arms above you,

    clamp your nipples,

    spread your...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 315-328)
  13. References
    (pp. 329-346)
  14. Index
    (pp. 347-364)