Imagine a book about homosexuality based entirely on people's behavior in a very limited number of sex clubs. If that sounds like a useful way to understand the sexualities of others, then this is the book for you. If not, not. The book fails to give an accurate portrayal of SM in San Francisco past or present because the groups studied are not representative (leaving out gay men almost entirely is a big problem, as is assuming that all people with this orientation are affiliated with clubs, and that most belong to one particular one) and because the author ignores the majority of published accounts of SM activity in San Francisco. Also disturbing is that, although the author's informants repeatedly tell her that SM is their sexual orientation, she treats SM almost exclusively as an activity they engage in (with groups) rather than in terms of their desires. The latter she spends considerable time arguing are determined by external influences such as social and political contexts. That seems to me fairly obvious. Of course, if there had never been slavery in the world the term "slave" would not have erotic charge for anyone -- there wouldn't even be such a term. And if none of us grew up in families within a culture where babies are normally cherished the term "baby" wouldn't have erotic charge for anyone. But we do and so these terms do arouse feelings in many of us, whether our sexuality is conventional or SM. (The author might have achieved a bit of sensible balance by examining how often slavery is evoked to describe perfectly "normal," but intense feelings of romantic attachment in popular songs, for instance.) The book harkens back to the prescriptive writing about sexuality by some second wave feminists, like Andrea Dworkin in its insistence that the only moral way to express one's sexuality is to enact politically correct scripts. All attempts to enjoy sexual experiences without concentrating on making them into performances that express the correct types of political critique are denigrated as neoliberal and racist. Sorry, but many of us don't want to incorporate critique of Republican politicos into our sexual practices. I would prefer to avoid thinking about unpleasant people or awful historical facts while I am having sex, and I see no reason to criticize SM practioners or call them names if they feel this way. I hate racism and sexism so I don't want to see an African American woman being beaten and demeaned by a white man as a performance at an organized slave auction SM club event. I don't even want to see a fraternity or sorority raise money with a slave auction, either, as I find it disrespectful to African Americans and just disgusting. So I understand how nasty this was for the author to see. However this instance of shameful carrying on has no bearing on what people whose sexual orientation is SM should or should not do or feel. Nor does the existence of such icky spectacles prove that SM is not transgressive, as they author seems to think. Public acknowledgment that some people have an SM sexual orientation IS transgressive because any acknowledgment of a sexuality outside heteronormativity transgresses the mainstream discourse about what sex is and how humans experience it. The visibility of sexualities that depart from norms is politically valuable, even when those sexualities are repulsive to some of us, perhaps especially when they are. I agree with the author that not all sadomasochists act in ways that undermine institutionalized and mainstream racism and sexism, but so what? That could (and has) been argued about people with all sexual orientations. To insist that sadomasochists must always be models of political correctness simply shows a biased view that they must adhere to a higher standard than anyone else because they are inherently offensively deviant from the norm -- and how transgressive is THAT?