The theme of this article is androgyny and gender blurring within the Gothic subculture. The study of subcultures, their activities, power relations, hierarchies and constitute identities has a long tradition of intense conceptual and empirical analysis within the discipline of sociology (Hall and Jefferson 1977; Hebdige 1979; McRobbie 1995). However, despite the materiality that underpins, supports and defines the very existence of many subcultures limited attention has been paid to the consumption experiences of those involved (see, for example, Goulding, Shankar and Elliott 2002; Kates 2002 ; Kozinets 2001, 2002; Miklas and Arnold 1999; Schouten and McAlexander 1995).
Sexual Bondage Deviances, Domination and Submission
Bondage, domination, and sadomasochism, also commonly known as the leather scene. When the average person hears these terms, visions of women bound and writhing in chains, or of fierce men in studded leather towering over cowering weaker ones are often the first images that come to mind. Visions of severe injury and blood, of crying and apparently non-consenting submissives being abused by sadistic and unfeeling dominants are images provided over and over again in films, fiction and even in the news. However, such images are not the norm within the BDSM and leather communities; in fact, they are the unwanted exception.
An Overview of the Current BDSM Subcultures
Apart from a few studies, relatively little sociological attention has been accorded the BDSM subculture. Past literature on this subculture has been limited in focus and previous studies have implemented less than well-rounded sampling. Drawing on data collected through an ethnographic approach across eleven states, this article briefly examines the lived experiences of BDSM participants. Specifically, attention is focused on how BDSM participants experience stigma in four distinct manners, including negative public portrayal, value diminishment, mockery and shunning and discrimination or prejudice. Attention then turns to the stigma management strategies BDSM participants employ, including concealment, disclosure or collective action, reappropriation of negative labelling and disengagement from mainstream society. Consistent with previous research surrounding stigma management, this article and further studies reveals that BDSM participants, like other deviant groups, take an active role in defining their identity and controlling their social interactions.
Middle-class City Mysteries and Porn-Gothic Fiction
Sensational novels, fiction for an audience of artisans and labourers, came into existence in the late 1830s and early 1840s in the wake of the sensational press. The publishers of such stories competed fiercely for the audience and experimented with various types of fiction. The first genre that attracted a wide following and mass success was the “city mysteries.” These novels, mostly serialized, revealed the mysteries of the city by telling the tales of criminal underworlds and decadence of elites and other dark, unsettling aspects of urban life. They were inspired by Marie-Joseph Sue’s ‘Les Mysteres de Paris,’ published in 1845, which became pirated and imitated in Germany, United Kingdom and the United States of America. In the United States of America, the city mysteries gained extreme popularity, and a whole school of popular fiction concerning the mysteries evolved. Between 1844 and 1860, more than fifty novels concerning the city life appeared. The most popular settings were Boston, New York and Philadelphia, but the sensational novelists exploited a wide array of other American cities — New Orleans, St. Louis, San Francisco, Lowell or Rochester.
Homosexual Vampires, Lesbians, and the Dark Ladies
Vampires currently rule the western world. Ubiquitous Twi-hards — a popular culture term for the teenaged supplicants of Stephenie Meyer’s ludacrious ‘Twilight’ novels and films — obsess over Robert Douglas Thomas Pattinson, and when he is between filming sequels of the series, they tune into television’s ‘Twilight’-equivalent young adult saga, ‘The Vampire Diaries.’
Neo-Victorian Deviants And The Logics Of Perversion
Women incarcerated by malevolent patriarchs, locked up as lunatics by malicious doctors, hidden away as mad women in attics or at least suffering from hysteria in upstairs rooms — these are the clichés of sensationalist neo-Victorian femininity. Through sensation fiction, Gothic villains have made their way into countless neo-Victorian narratives, and rebellious women, repressed in their political as well as in their sexual expression, seem to be locked in a perennial battle with the Victorian patriarchy.
The Origins of the Torturous Pleasures in Gothic Masochism
What is the essence of masochism, and how it is applicable to literature? In the book ‘Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty’ (originally published in 1967), french philosopher and author Gilles Deleuze investigates this exact question as he explores the body of work that has made its author the eponym of masochism, namely Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch’s authorship.