Overthinking Pleasure and Pain

A former Domme once confessed she felt both guilty and aroused when she hurt me. It was early in our relationship, and her sadistic desires left her deeply conflicted. Before, during, and after sex, she’d shift between pangs of guilt and jolts of lust. Lucky for me, lust won out.

About six months later, I’d notice how she flexed her fingers while pacing a bit to hold some of her more destructive urges in check. Where she was once torn, those feelings of guilt were  ‘mostly’ gone. Hell, at that point, the mere idea of using me hard made her wet to the knees.

It will hardly come as a surprise that individuals who feel conflicted and guilty about becoming aroused from acts of physical sadism are more common than those who don’t. Many readers are likely to surmise this is only common sense. After all, if there wasn’t some basic conflict over hurting those you love, this world would be an ugly place.

Scanning the day’s headlines, I chuckled at how stupid that statement might seem to cynics in the audience. But my readers are smart so I’ll not belabor an obviously facile point.

That said, sadism is as tricky to negotiate as masochism, and I often marvel at the fine line we walk.

Much like erotic humiliation, the topic of S&M invites one to tumble down a rabbit hole where the words right, wrong, healthy, and twisted become tangled and difficult to delineate.

Not that I lose any sleep on the topic.

But I must confess my inability to articulate a coherent and consistent philosophical position on these topics to be frustrating.  That is: I crave both sadism and erotic humiliation, but so what?

Junkies crave heroin – that doesn’t meant they should indulge.

Furthermore, I find myself wondering if enabling someone else’s sadistic tendencies makes me a terrible person…no, that’s not right. The truth is I’m HAPPY to enable both sadism and erotic humiliation in a Domme. I do not feel a lick of guilt. Sure, I’m obsessed with intellectualizing some of our more base instincts, but that’s about it.

However, there are larger points at stake. Larger points I lack the both patience and intellect to address. One example is the argument posited by George Orwell in the novel 1984. To dumb down a complex argument is never a good idea, but I’m going to do so anyway. Essentially, Orwell is a moralist who understands the drive to hurt and dominate as coming from de Sade.

Make no mistake, Orwell drew a direct line between the philosophy of de Sade, the authoritarian instincts of the state, and where Western culture is headed. (Personally, I think Aldous Huxley, is the one to get it right when it comes to dystopian futures, but I’ve digressed enough already.)

Of course, those who’ve read books by actual philosophers alongside the fevered essays of de Sade are likely to ask, “what philosophy?” Because de Sade can be boiled down to a single maxim, “If it feels good, do it.”

You cannot distill “real philosophy” in this manner.

Suffice to say, Orwell thinks there’s more to be discovered in the subtext of de Sade. One of Orwell’s more famous statements reads: “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” And in correspondence, Orwell finds this image haunting for two reasons: there is pleasure to be found on either side of the boot.

At this point, readers might accuse me of conflating the hegemonic urges of dictators with harmless kinky fun, but I’m not so sure…

Hay muchas preguntas y pocas respuestas

At some point I might dive bit deeper into the death drive, the writings of Sacher-Masoch and other such topics, but the truth is my interest is as ephemeral as it is purely intellectual. That is to say, I know what feels right and where crossing lines would feel wrong. I know this on a deeply personal level, and my inability to articulate a more concrete position is merely a minor irritant.

That said, if anyone can suggest some heavy-caliber intellectual writing on these subjects, I’d welcome suggestions for authors and titles!



4 thoughts on “Overthinking Pleasure and Pain

  1. Your title fooled me. I was expecting something succinct and direct. The philosophical discussion was appreciated. This is a subject that fascinates me. I try to keep my discussion short and simple because it is black and white for me. To take delight and joy from physically and emotionally hurting another person is wrong. To justify this behavior by using the worn out idea of consent is ludicrous. At the moment the sadist is asked to hurt and inflict pain, there is a moral choice to be made. Hurt or not hurt. When that sadist chooses to hurt so that he or she can achieve sexual gratification, there is more going on that just “getting my kink on” It matters little that there was this great “communication”. It matters little that there was so much “trust”. It matters little that the sadist “checks in on” the other person. It matters little that the other has asked for this. it matters little that the sadist may occasionally feel some fleeting guilt. What matters is that there was a moment when the choice was simple and black and white. What natters is there was a moment when the person had a choice between hurting some one to “get off” and not hurting the other person and that sadist choose to “get off”. There is little in such a choice to find commendable.


    1. I do not have a “binary worldview”. I do have a binary opinion about sadists who try to justify their harmful behavior behind the “consent” curtain and other flawed logic.


  2. Unfortunately there is limited discussion upon this. I’ve often been curious as to why this happens but by the time people are comfortable engaging upon this topic they have generally found their view and it really isn’t a discussion topic at that point. The lucky few simply accept themselves and their desires. The rest frequently reach a conclusion through months of suffering and conflict, eventually finding a working philosophy that they can live with, often finding their answer to be etched in stone because of the trials they went through to find it. In these cases it becomes unshakeable and permanent. The times that I have found that this can be discussed are with people who are newer or veterans that managed to have one or more intense experiences that were powerful enough to cause them to question.

    Another great limiting factor is that the vast majority of BDSM and D/s theoretical writing is targeted at M/f. M/f and F/m work on completely different sets of principles, but only a fraction of those involved acknowledge this. As such you reach an unbridgeable gap in philosophies between those who adhere to BDSM-idealism vs. the results of logical and rational analysis of F/m as a system. I tend to delve into the latter, as reciting a number of ideals created to keep a naive 20-year old newbie femsub from getting raped and abused by a stranger on craigslist falls more under common sense.

    What I find the most interesting is that digging deep into F/m as a system begins to unleash the darkness. This is rather prominent when tracing evolutionary timelines, especially when looking at the long-run end-game outcomes.

    That being said, people find their way in maneuvering through the moral dilemma at hand.

    If you are able to find writing that goes more deeply into this, I would be interested as well 🙂

    It gets even more complicated when you look at the differences between individuals who experience a full integration of their D or s into their base persona vs. those who keep them compartmentalized as separate personas.

    Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

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