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Dominatrix: Gender, Eroticism, and Control in the Dungeonby Danielle J Lindemann
Synopses & Reviews
From its beginnings in Twilight fan-fiction to its record-breaking sales as an e-book and paperback, the story of the erotic romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey and its two sequels is both unusual and fascinating. Having sold over seventy million copies worldwide since 2011, E. L. Jamess lurid series about a sexual ingénue and the powerful young entrepreneur who introduces her to BDSM sex has ingrained itself in our collective consciousness. But why have these particular novels—poorly written and formulaic as they are—become so popular, especially among women over thirty?
In this concise, engaging book, Eva Illouz subjects the Fifty Shades cultural phenomenon to the serious scrutiny it has been begging for. After placing the trilogy in the context of best-seller publishing, she delves into its remarkable appeal, seeking to understand the intense reading pleasure it provides and how that resonates with the structure of relationships between men and women today. Fifty Shades, Illouz argues, is a gothic romance adapted to modern times in which sexuality is both a source of division between men and women and a site to orchestrate their reconciliation. As for the novels notorious depictions of bondage, discipline, and sadomasochism, Illouz shows that these are as much a cultural fantasy as a sexual one, serving as a guide to a happier romantic life. The Fifty Shades trilogy merges romantic fantasy with self-help guide—two of the most popular genres for female readers.
The Fifty Shades trilogy of erotic romance novels has been a publishing sensation, with over seventy million copies sold worldwide since the first volume appeared in 2011. Clearly, Fifty Shades is a cultural phenomenon worth serious scrutiny, and sociologist Eva Illouz provides it in this short, engaging book. Illouz first places the trilogy in the context of best-seller publishing, then delves into the nature of its appeal. She argues that the Fifty Shades trilogy is neither “mommy porn” nor anti-feminist hackwork. Rather, she shows that it affords intense reading pleasure to many women readers because it resonates with the sociological structure of mens and womens relationships today. Fifty Shades, she argues, is a gothic romance adapted to modern times in which sexuality is a source both of division between men and women and a site to orchestrate their reconciliation. But Illouz also wants to show that BDSM is as much a cultural as a sexual fantasy, for it functions here as a self-help category, a guide to a happier romantic life. In other words, Fifty Shades is genre fiction that weaves together a commentary on the deprived condition of love and sexuality, a romantic fantasy, and self-help instructions on how to improve the readers life.
Our lives are full of small tensions, our closest relationships full of struggle: between woman and man, artist and customer, purist and commercialist, professional and clientandmdash;and between the dominant and the submissive.
In Dominatrix, Danielle Lindemann draws on extensive fieldwork and interviews with professional dominatrices in New York City and San Francisco to offer a sophisticated portrait of these unusual professionals, their work, and their clients. Prior research on sex work has focused primarily on prostitutes and most studies of BDSM absorb pro-domme/client relationships without exploring what makes them unique. Lindemann satisfies our curiosity about these paid encounters, shining a light on one of the most secretive and least understood of personal relationships and unthreading a heretofore unexamined patch of our social tapestry. Upending the idea that these erotic laborers engage in simple exchanges and revealing the therapeutic and analytic nature of their work, Lindemann makes a major contribution to cultural studies, anthropology, and queer studies with her analysis of how gender, power, sexuality, and hierarchy shape all of our social experiences.
About the Author
Danielle J. Lindemann is a postdoctoral research scholar at Vanderbilt University.and#160;She lives with her husband in New Yorkandmdash;a city she loves masochistically.
Table of Contents
1and#160;Scripting Pain: Power Exchange and the Theatrical Frame
2and#160;All I Really Need to Know I Learned in BDSM Kindergarten: Dominatrix Careersand#160;
3and#160;Will the Real Pro-Domme Please Stand Up: Art, Authenticity, and Pierre Bourdieu
4and#160;Playing Make-Believe: Fantasy and the Boundaries of Commercial Intimacy
6and#160;and#8220;Is That Any Way to Treat a Lady?and#8221;: (Re)production of Gender on the Dungeon Floor
Conclusion: The Emperorand#8217;s New Leather Thong
Appendix Band#160;Getting Collared: Pro-Dommes and the Law
Appendix Cand#160;Historical Context
Appendix Eand#160;Initial Contact E-mail
Appendix Fand#160;Original Interview Schedule
Appendix Gand#160;Final Interview Schedule
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