The term ‘sadism’ originates with the writings of eighteenth-century French noble the Marquis de Sade, whose 120 Days of Sodom remains a key text. The term ‘masochism’ comes from a nineteenthcentury exponent of the practice, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch; his Venus in Furs was made famous by the rock band Velvet Underground, who named a song after it. The two terms coined together have come to represent a side to British culture exposed in titillating commentaries such as the film Personal Services (Terry Jones, 1987), an account of London madam Cynthia Payne’s ‘house of sin’. Indeed, the popular conception of sadomasochism has become inseparable from the notion of political or social satire, conjuring up images of judges in suspenders straddled by a whipcracking dominatrix. In 1992, the issue of consensual sadomasochism — of whether an individual might willingly consent to being harmed by another person in the pursuit of sensual gratification—was put in full public view by the case of a group of men involved in a consensual sadomasochism ring. Consent, in such a case, was argued to be unlawful and the men were found guilty of, variously, assault, malicious wounding and the publication of obscene material. Operation Spanner spawned much sensationalist media debate and untenably long prison sentences for those convicted. Though appeals against the case were lost, a campaign was instigated which continues to work to change the law around consensual activity.
   In Britain in the mid-1980s, the practice of consensual sadomasochism between women rocked the feminist press as it became clear that it was not confined to judges and Tory MPs. The publication in the early 1980s of US West Coast consensual sadomasochist group, Samois’s Coming to Power precipitated a vigorous, some would say vicious, debate within the London Lesbian and Gay Centre and in provincial centres around the country. Many independent bookshops still refuse to stock the work of feminists and consensual sadomasochist proponents such as Pat Califia, a censoriousness which is reflected in the situation in Canada and the USA where feminist and other sadomasochist publications are often seized at state and national borders.
   Further reading
    Samois (1981) Coming to Power: Writings and Graphics on Lesbian S/M, Boston: Alyson.

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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  • sadomasochism — ► NOUN ▪ psychological tendency or sexual practice characterized by a combination of sadism and masochism. DERIVATIVES sadomasochist noun sadomasochistic adjective …   English terms dictionary

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  • Sadomasochism — This article is about aspects of BDSM. For other uses, see Sadism (disambiguation). Sadomasochism broadly refers to the receiving of pleasure often sexual from acts involving the infliction or reception of pain or humiliation. The name originates …   Wikipedia

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  • sadomasochism — sadomasochist, n., adj. sadomasochistic, adj. /say doh mas euh kiz euhm, maz , sad oh /, n. 1. interaction, esp. sexual activity, in which one person enjoys inflicting physical or mental suffering on another person, who derives pleasure from… …   Universalium

  • sadomasochism — noun a) The practices of sadism and masochism collectively, usually in reference to consensual practices within the BDSM community. b) Sadism and masochism in one person; the enjoyment by a person of both inflicting and receiving pain. Syn:… …   Wiktionary

  • sadomasochism — A form of perversion marked by enjoyment of cruelty and/or humiliation in its received or active and/or dispensed and passive form. [sadism + masochism] * * * sa·do·mas·och·ism .sād (.)ō mas ə .kiz əm, .sad , maz n the derivation of pleasure from …   Medical dictionary

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  • sadomasochism — sa|do|mas|o|chis|m [ˌseıdəuˈmæsəkızəm US dou ] n [U] [Date: 1900 2000; Origin: sadism + masochism] S & M when someone gets sexual pleasure from hurting someone or being hurt >sadomasochist n >sadomasochistic [ˌseıdəumæsəˈkıstık US dou ] adj …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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