Roy F. Baumeister explores the taboo lifestyles of sadomasochism. The main theme and purpose of the piece is to find out who are masochists, and what do they put themselves through in the name of pleasure. "Across the country, from sophisticated cities to subdued suburbs, men and women are acting out fantasies of sexual domination and submission." (Psychology Today 47) I believe that Baumeister describes a very accurate portrait of who one specific group of masochists is and what they do for pleasure, however, I feel that he fails to recognize the younger generation of masochists. I also feel that on the issue symbolic of sex change, Baumeister does not elaborate enough.
Baumeister's findings show that the majority of those participating in sadomasochistic behavior come from the upper class. He claims they come from high-powered jobs. They are people who make decisions everyday that effect the lives of many of their workers.
Baumeister believes that the characters' occupations are the reasons for their submissive behavior. He says, "Masochists seem to be drawn largely from the privileged classes; They are above average in education and income; Society's real victims do not seek out masochistic sex. Rather it is often the rich, powerful, and successful, the people with the heaviest burdens of selfhood, who need the escape of masochism." (Psychology Today 47)
What Baumeister means by ".burdens of selfhood." is he believes that "the self" is a very demanding entity. "It requires constant upkeep and maintenance." (Psychology Today 47) It requires that one be in constant control of one's self and surroundings. Those individuals that are so consumed with shouldering all the pressure or being the one that everyone counts on, that they sometimes need an escape. And for many of these people, their escape is masochism. It is a situation that requires their submission; it is a total role reversal. These people need this activity to be reminded that they are just normal humans, it is almost a grounding process for them. The masochist wants to contradict his or her own identity with these fantasies.
There are a wide variety of practices a masochist would enjoy such as loss of control, pain, and humiliation. But whichever activity they are participating in, it will always be consistent with the fact that one person is the dominator a...
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...ychology Today 47) WHY??? Why does he say this and not explain why this happens? I feel that he could have gone much more in depth with this subject. He could have brought up the character of Buffalo Bill, from the Tom Harris novel "Silence of the Lambs." In the book, Bill is a man who dresses up in women's clothing and posses for himself in front of a mirror. Or Baumeister could have showed some statistics on actual sex changes, to show that maybe more men change into women than vice' versa. But, he shows no such support for his claim.
He also claims that women fantasize about being submissive more than men, but men are more likely to act out those fantasies, but he never states why. He could have said that men act out on their urges more than women do because they are the more adventurous of the species, or shown some statistics or examples to better back up his claims.
All in all, I found "An Inside Look at S&M," very informative from a subjective point of view. However, there were those point had Baumeister elaborated on more, the essay would have been much stronger. It did however, stick to its theme of finding out who sadomasochists are and what they do for pleasure.
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