One of Freud’s theories intrigued me on the topic of dominance and it made me question a few things. Were women truly submissive? What leads an individual to be submissive or dominant, is it based on personality or does that lifestyle contribute to their personality? Is that how they’d rather live their life or at least a certain part of their life or is it based on how they grew up. Is there a legit psychological reason? Are the majority of dominants male or female? Is it acceptable all around the world or is there more leeway in some parts? I found some interesting articles that kind of answered my questions but most of them were in the sexual aspect of it but that just raised even more questions.
What originated my interest was the third stage of Freud’s Theory, the Phallic Stage. According to Wikipedia, the Phallic Stage has two complexes: Electra and Oedipus. Wiki stated that Oedipus is when the son and father compete for the sexual possession of the mother and is considered superior whereas Electra is when the girl can’t sexually possess the mom which redirects her to desire the father. Girls developed what Freud called “penis envy” which made women inferior, submissive and less confident. Freud came up with this theory around the 1890s and it still seen today even though we have evolved from that time period. I believe this plays in the BDSM lifestyle because of the roles played by both males and females.
From an article called An examination of personality characteristics associated with BDSM orientations, Ali Hebert and Angela Weaver states that “BDSM refers to a range of sexual preferences that generally relate to enjoyment of physical control, psychological control, and/or pain. It can be broken down into six overarching components: bondage and discipline, domination and submission and sadism and masochism. Bondage and disciple consist of using physical or psychological restraints, domination and submission involve an exchange of power and control, and sadism and masochism refer to taking pleasure in others’ or one’s own pain or humiliation.” The whole idea of BDSM is stigmatized by society just because it’s not ‘normal’ or ‘plain’. But in reality back in the day in the eyes of men, women were supposed to be submissive and follow the husband or the male leader in her family.
Many individuals who are into the BDSM lifestyle have to live with the stigma that goes with this lifestyle. An article by Ronald Lynn Hopper Jr. called Socialization, Role Attainment and Stigma Management in BDSM tells us that “The misconception includes beliefs that participants were less educated, had lower incomes, and had a history of childhood sexual abuse. Studies actually found that SM participants did, in fact, have a higher level of education, were in higher income brackets, and were generally well-adjusted members of society when compared to general population.” It also emphasizes on how they identify how some have been introduced to this lifestyle, but also how individuals in the BDSM lifestyle handle the stigma related to this lifestyle on a day-to-day basis. You would think your sexual practices wouldn’t be anyone’s business but this article states that “In the U.S., normative sex is often something assumed to be confined to the bedroom and to encompass a single accepted position-missionary…Participation in BDSM is seen as non-normative by the larger society.”
Since BDSM isn’t socially accepted, members of that lifestyle must be cautious about how they perceive themselves as well as being cautious with personal information they give. Which connects with an article by Beverly L. Stiles and Robert E. Clark called BDSM: a subcultural analysis of sacrifice and delights which emphasizes how privacy is very important for a participating BDSM member and how they have to sacrifice something’s in order to be seen a ‘normal member of society’. “First, individuals may perceive what would happen if a secret was revealed and they believe the reaction or evaluation would be disapproval. Second, some conceal secrets as a form of defense. That is, they often worry that the recipient would violate their trust. Third, some individuals worry that they will not be able to discuss the secret in satisfactory manner. Fourth, some may simply feel that the secret is not relevant to others.”
The article by Ronald Lynn Hopper Jr. identifies a study that was conducted to see how many individuals get introduced to the BDSM lifestyle “In fact, 61.8% reported their first introduction to SM was through another person…women are more likely to become members of the subculture while participating in an emotion relationship. Clearly, then, new members often are introduced through close intimate personal contacts.” It also mentioned that others would encounter this lifestyle by internet chats and pornography.
An examination of personality characterisitcs associated with BDSM orientations
Socialization, Role Attainment and Stigma Management in BDSM
BDSM: a subcultural analysis of sacrifices and delights