Query: teaching SM, post-50 Shades

I haven’t taught SM in my feminism class since 50 Shades of Grey came out. Back in the pre-Shades era, the whole idea of safe words, etc was clearly news to many (though obviously not all) of my students. I knew what misconceptions I needed to correct. Am I right in suspecting it’s a different ball-game now? What are the new misconceptions to correct? Are there interesting works of philosophy I should be adding to do so?

Since this is the kind of topic where things can get heated, I’d like to ask readers to simply go with my assumption that there is no one feminist view to take on this topic. Ta.

11 thoughts on “Query: teaching SM, post-50 Shades

  1. explain that it’s fiction and not a true reflection of the lifestyle. then move on to the real thing.

  2. Yes, I am a lazy and bad academic. I can’t bring myself to read the whole thing to find all the misconceptions.

  3. I read the Twilight series, and 50 Shades developed out of a Twilight fan fiction series. Since I had so many issues with with it’s origins (Twilight that is, I never read the fan fiction either) fantasizing deeply problematic relationships (e.g., romanticizing stalking, for one) I never read 50 shades. But, a friend pointed this out to me which might be somewhat helpful: http://afeministlooker.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/review-50-shades-of-grey-trilogy/

  4. You might want to check out some of Clarisse Thorn’s stuff, which has been collected in a couple of books (including one on 50 Shades, if I’m not mistaken, and one called “The S & M Feminist”).

  5. What are the new misconceptions to correct?
    From my (admitted limited) reading of the first book, it seemed that many people thought that reading a book about S&M needed to be an exercise in it. Surely that’s something to correct!

  6. Like Matt, I’d like to recommend Clarisse Thorn. I’m teaching one piece by her this term, from “The S&M Feminist,” but all pieces are from her blog and she has conveniently highlighted and thematically organized her “greatest hits. http://clarissethorn.com/about/

    The piece I’m using is “The Annotated Safeword,” a dialogue between her and (yes-means-yes blogger) Thomas Macaulay Miller. http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/the-annotated-safeword/

    Thanks for this discussion!

  7. Although not a new contribution to the discussion, I find Sandra Lee Bartky’s chapter “Feminine Masochism and the Politics of Personal Transformation” (in Femininity and Domination, 1990) as relevant and challenging as ever.

  8. Teaching SM? WOW!

    I suppose for the non-cognoscenti one might say “teaching about SM.” Much, much less interesting.

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