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.
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 and the other the dominated. The loss of control fantasy seems to be one that is the most prevalent of all. Baumeister claims that these fantasies can range from wanting to be blindfolded during intercourse to wanting to be bound and gagged or handcuffed.
Pain, being something that most humans would try to get away from at all costs is something that is sought out and even craved by the masochist. The pain fantasy seems to be the one that has the widest range of practices. According to Baumeister, some people enjoy "an old fashioned, bare bottomed, over the knee spanking," (Psychology Today 47) where others would prefer having hot candle wax dripped on them. Still others enjoy needles and being whipped.
The third masochistic practice that Baumeister addresses is humiliation. Some of the practices include being forced to walk on all fours, and bark like a dog or being paraded around naked in front of others who are wearing clothes. There is one memorable image that Baumeister depicts of humiliation, in which a man for his wife's birthday party had her displayed naked on the hors d'oeuvre table, "so that every party goer who reached for a cracker or the vegetable dip had to reach across her bare self." (Psychology Today 47)
In this essay I believe that Baumeister did a very good job with informing the audience in a descriptive way what exactly masochism is, but I do also feel that there is at least one point that he did not address as well as a few that he could have elaborated on better.
One of the issues that he doesn't address is the fact that the privileged classes are not the only ones who are into sadomasochism. There seems to be a younger generation of kids following such music groups like...