Caroline O'Grady BFA Thesis Spring 2013
My thesis paper details the reconciliation of my identities as a feminist and a sadomasochist and my understanding of the radical feminist critique of sadomasochism. I determine that personal fulfillment from an activity or lifestyle does not preclude a serious examination and critique of the matter. I conclude whether or not I can consider myself a feminist and still enjoy an activity referred to by some feminist theorists as “an institutionalized celebration of dominant/subordinate relationships” which necessarily affirms “that the abuse of persons is acceptable.” Here I consider the arguments of radical versus libertarian feminists, essentialist assumptions presented in both, and the differences between replication versus selective simulation of patriarchal oppression.
Dom & Sub is a body of illustrative work in digital media that attempts to humanize practitioners of BDSM (an acronym that covers bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) and offer a representation of kinky sex that not only refutes negative stereotypes but informs the audience that sadomasochistic play is done best between happy, healthy, consenting adults. The couple portrayed in the work is shown not only engaging in S&M play but also building a “scene” together and nurturing one another after the play has concluded; these are moments often left unconsidered or completely ignored in visual representations of S&M. It is my hope that my audience will learn from the illustrations that sadomasochistic play is not always dark or scary, and that fellow ‘kinksters’ can enjoy tender representations of S&M that do not ridicule or pathologize them.