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Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality Paperback – December 20, 2011
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"I cannot emphasize enough how vital the analysis in Techniques of Pleasure is. Margot Weiss reveals the half-lie of 'safe space' in the BDSM world and, in doing so, artfully unveils the half-lies that propel ideas of 'agency' and 'choice' in neoliberal culture." Annalee Newitz, author of Pretend We're Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Popular Culture
"Techniques of Pleasure is a wonderful, theoretically significant, and ethnographically rich book. Margot Weiss contextualizes the development of the Bay Area's BDSM scene, analyzing contemporary BDSM as bio-political practice. Examining the complex connections between discipline and freedom, subject formation and subjugation, power and play, Weiss extends feminist and queer theoretical debates about identity, community, sexuality, gender, race, and the nature of power. This book breaks new theoretical ground in relation not only to BDSM but also to questions of personhood, political economy, and embodiment in late capitalism." David Valentine, author of Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category
"Margot Weiss, author of the ethnographic study, Techniques of Pleasure, visits Mr. S and many other venues of S-and-M play, unknowingly recalling the quest for pleasure offered at Mrs. Berkley's salon... her book is a useful scholarly monograph on how once perversions of the select have become indulgences of the many... Weiss's book needs to be read as a case study of this new sexual culture, an anthropologist's exploration of a distinct sub-set - the San Francisco S-and-M scene - of this revolution." David Rosen, The Brooklyn Rail
“Techniques of Pleasure is an impressive book that does much to humanize BDSM to those who wish to get involved in the community or simply wish to be better educated about the topic. . . . Weiss exposes a world that is typically viewed as dank and dark by the casual outsider; through her insightful analysis, she brings this subculture into the light and shows us the ‘softer side of kink.’”--C. J. Bishop, Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality
“... Weiss’s book offers a fascinating extension of debates about the sexual politics of neoliberalism, and a consideration of how local economic changes in the San Francisco Bay Area have reconfigured sexual communities there...”—Gavin Brown, Society and Space
- Item Weight : 1.01 pounds
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0822351595
- ISBN-13 : 978-0822351597
- Product Dimensions : 6.13 x 0.7 x 9.25 inches
- Publisher : Duke University Press Books (December 20, 2011)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,223,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I emphasize that for all of Weiss' criticisms, she fundamentally _gets_ BDSM, even as a non-participant. She understands that BDSM makes possible pleasures and intimacies that are not possible any other way.
In answer to some of the other reviews, Weiss comes from anthropology, not psychology. She studied a particular section of the greater BDSM culture, the semi-public, heterosexual, SF Bay-area subculture of play parties, workshops, munches and other events.
Top reviews from other countries
Weiss shows how BDSM in the San Francisco Bay area has been totally transformed since the 1980s. The 'old guard' underground scene of Folsom leathermen has gone, wiped out by AIDS and urban redevelopment. Instead BDSM in the Bay Area is now dominated by prosperous middle-class heterosexuals living in the suburbs as much as the city and more organised, more regulated, more sexually diverse, and more 'normalized'.
Weiss critiques the ideas of figures like Foucault, MacKendrick or Carrette, that BDSM has something inherently transgressive and oppositional about it. She insists (and at times labours the point) that BDSM cannot be separated from the real social world it inhabits. The resulting irony is that the new BDSM 'communities' have embraced the emancipatory rhetoric that speaks of how BDSM escapes the clutches of conventional morality and gender and social inequalities, while their actual practices are far more ambiguous than they care to admit, sometimes disrupting old models and freeing desire, sometimes just miming and reproducing old oppressions in new guises.
Weiss studie the Society of Janus, the largest and longest established BDSM 'community' in the Bay Area. She argues that they represent the 'rich' side of the polarised rich/poor society of the Valley and the Bay Area suburbs. They inhabit a casual and non-hierarchical world of work with a strong culture of consumerism, leisure and play. They have no personal experience of the old closeted world of word-of-mouth groups and underground cultures. Instead, the new culture fits comfortably into certain middle class values such as privacy, free choice and autonomy. These middle classes are not risk averse and are ready to escape from their safe lives into high-risk leisures (BDSM for some, but rock-climbing or surfing for others). As she summarises it: "BDSM may be the perfect consumerist sexuality.......[involving] the commodification of sexuality, the marketing of sexual identities and the promotion of sexuality as a consumption-based practice". It appeals to "agile and flexible bodies, coding in the South Bay by day and practising elaborate suspension bondage by night"....... if you have sufficient leisure and money! One result is that BDSM may lose its intimacy and authenticity. It becomes less edgy, less intense: "kumbaya kink and Barney BDSM" or "less like a secret passion, more like a hobby".
By putting BDSM practices firmly in their social and economic contexts, Weiss raises fascinating issues about the meaning of BDSM and how it varies from one social space to another and over time.