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Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality Paperback – 25 Feb 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press (25 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822351595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822351597
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,086,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

""Techniques of Pleasure" is an impressive book that does much to humanize BDSM to those who wish to get involved in the community or simply wish to be better educated about the topic. . . . Weiss exposes a world that is typically viewed as dank and dark by the casual outsider; through her insightful analysis, she brings this subculture into the light and shows us the 'softer side of kink.'" - C. J. Bishop, "Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality"

"Weiss offers a nuanced reading of sex, power, consumption, and subjectivity that makes "Techniques of Pleasure" a major contribution to new theoretical work on neoliberal economic processes and the anthropology of sexuality and gender."
--Michael Connors Jackman ""American Ethnologist" "

""Techniques of Pleasure" is an important theoretical and empirical contribution that moves beyond the existing analyses in feminist and queer theory that depict SM as either inherently sexist or inherently transgressive. Building on both these theories without discarding their core assumptions, Weiss demonstrates how SM can be both sexist and transgressive, often at the same time. Beyond the empirical focus of this book, Weiss contributes to the broader literature on late capitalism's impact on bodies, sexualities, and subjectivities."--Amy L. Stone ""American Journal of Sociology" "

"Researchers and teachers of popular culture may use this book to counterbalance the recent upsurge in media depictions of BDSM, particularly the strain of erotic fiction known as 'mommy porn, ' which uses BDSM imagery to reinforce heteronormative ideals... It is a complex subject, worthy of the meticulous treatment Weiss offers."--Misty Luminais ""International Social Science Review" "

""Techniques of Pleasure"...is a landmark study of the BDSM 'scene' in San Francisco...Weiss succeeds admirably in producing a work that is conceptually rich and ethnographically engaging."--Richard Joseph Martin ""Current Anthropology" "

"In its analytic candor, both generous and unflinching, Weiss's book is an appropriate entrEe for anyone wishing to engage with contemporary BDSM communities -- nestled within the larger queer academic trend of critiquing neoliberalist ideological formations of liberated selves and others." --Andy Campbell ""GLQ" "

"I cannot emphasize enough how vital the analysis in "Techniques of Pleasure" is. Margot Weiss reveals the half-lie of 'safe space' in the BDSM world and, in doing so, artfully unveils the half-lies that propel ideas of 'agency' and 'choice' in neoliberal culture."--Annalee Newitz, author of"Pretend We re Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture""

"[A] useful scholarly monograph on how once perversions of the select have become indulgences of the many. . . . "Techniques of Pleasure" is at its best when Weiss describes what goes on at gatherings of consenting adults engaged in semi-public and non-commercial fetishistic S-and-M role-play. To her credit, she includes extensive quotes from practitioners she meets along the way. Ethnographers have the eyes and ears of an explorer."--David Rosen ""The Brooklyn Rail" "

"Margot Weiss' sociological approach to the formation of sexual desire is breathtakingly smart and powerful, and should be required reading for any serious scholar of sexuality henceforth." --Adam Isaiah Green ""Contemporary Sociology" "

"[A] vital, if controversial, contribution to the body of writing and theory on BDSM."--Nina Lary ""Bitch Magazine" "

"The analysis of these circuits is quite fascinating and could be expanded outside the BDSM scene to explore sexual fantasy and performance in any affluent, educated, tech-savvy culture. Recommended to readers interested in human sexuality."--Scott Vieira ""Library Journal" "

""Techniques of Pleasure."..is a landmark study of the BDSM 'scene' in San Francisco...Weiss succeeds admirably in producing a work that is conceptually rich and ethnographically engaging."--Richard Joseph Martin ""Current Anthropology" "

""Techniques of Pleasure" is a wonderful, theoretically significant, and ethnographically rich book. Margot Weiss contextualizes the development of the Bay Area's BDSM scene, analyzing contemporary BDSM as biopolitical practice. Examining the complex connections between discipline and freedom, subject formation and subjugation, power and play, Weiss extends feminist and queer theoretical debates about identity, community, sexuality, gender, race, and the nature of power. This book breaks new theoretical ground in relation not only to BDSM but also to questions of personhood, political economy, and embodiment in late capitalism."--David Valentine, author of"Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category"

"Techniques of Pleasure" is an impressive book that does much to humanize BDSM to those who wish to get involved in the community or simply wish to be better educated about the topic. . . . Weiss exposes a world that is typically viewed as dank and dark by the casual outsider; through her insightful analysis, she brings this subculture into the light and shows us the softer side of kink. - C. J. Bishop, "Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality""

"Techniques of Pleasure" is an important theoretical and empiricalcontribution that moves beyond the existing analyses in feminist and queertheory that depict SM as either inherently sexist or inherently transgressive.Building on both these theories without discarding their core assumptions, Weiss demonstrates how SM can be both sexist and transgressive, often atthe same time. Beyond the empirical focus of this book, Weiss contributes tothe broader literature on late capitalism s impact on bodies, sexualities, andsubjectivities. --Amy L. Stone ""American Journal of Sociology" ""

"Techniques of Pleasure."..is a landmark study of the BDSM 'scene' in San Francisco...Weiss succeeds admirably in producing a work that is conceptually rich and ethnographically engaging. --Richard Joseph Martin ""Current Anthropology" ""

"Techniques of Pleasure" is a wonderful, theoretically significant, and ethnographically rich book. Margot Weiss contextualizes the development of the Bay Area s BDSM scene, analyzing contemporary BDSM as biopolitical practice. Examining the complex connections between discipline and freedom, subject formation and subjugation, power and play, Weiss extends feminist and queer theoretical debates about identity, community, sexuality, gender, race, and the nature of power. This book breaks new theoretical ground in relation not only to BDSM but also to questions of personhood, political economy, and embodiment in late capitalism. --David Valentine, author of "Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category""

Techniques of Pleasure is an impressive book that does much to humanize BDSM to those who wish to get involved in the community or simply wish to be better educated about the topic. . . . Weiss exposes a world that is typically viewed as dank and dark by the casual outsider; through her insightful analysis, she brings this subculture into the light and shows us the softer side of kink. - C. J. Bishop, Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality"

Weiss offers a nuanced reading of sex, power, consumption, and subjectivity that makes Techniques of Pleasure a major contribution to new theoretical work on neoliberal economic processes and the anthropology of sexuality and gender.
--Michael Connors Jackman "American Ethnologist ""

Techniques of Pleasure is an important theoretical and empiricalcontribution that moves beyond the existing analyses in feminist and queertheory that depict SM as either inherently sexist or inherently transgressive.Building on both these theories without discarding their core assumptions, Weiss demonstrates how SM can be both sexist and transgressive, often atthe same time. Beyond the empirical focus of this book, Weiss contributes tothe broader literature on late capitalism s impact on bodies, sexualities, andsubjectivities. --Amy L. Stone "American Journal of Sociology ""

In its analytic candor, both generous and unflinching, Weiss s book is an appropriate entree for anyone wishing to engage with contemporary BDSM communities nestled within the larger queer academic trend of critiquing neoliberalist ideological formations of liberated selves and others. --Andy Campbell "GLQ ""

I cannot emphasize enough how vital the analysis in Techniques of Pleasure is. Margot Weiss reveals the half-lie of safe space in the BDSM world and, in doing so, artfully unveils the half-lies that propel ideas of agency and choice in neoliberal culture. --Annalee Newitz, author of "Pretend We re Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture ""

[A] useful scholarly monograph on how once perversions of the select have become indulgences of the many. . . . Techniques of Pleasure is at its best when Weiss describes what goes on at gatherings of consenting adults engaged in semi-public and non-commercial fetishistic S-and-M role-play. To her credit, she includes extensive quotes from practitioners she meets along the way. Ethnographers have the eyes and ears of an explorer. --David Rosen "The Brooklyn Rail ""

Margot Weiss sociological approach to the formation of sexual desire is breathtakingly smart and powerful, and should be required reading for any serious scholar of sexuality henceforth. --Adam Isaiah Green "Contemporary Sociology ""

[A] vital, if controversial, contribution to the body of writing and theory on BDSM. --Nina Lary "Bitch Magazine ""

The analysis of these circuits is quite fascinating and could be expanded outside the BDSM scene to explore sexual fantasy and performance in any affluent, educated, tech-savvy culture. Recommended to readers interested in human sexuality. --Scott Vieira "Library Journal ""

Researchers and teachers of popular culture may use this book to counterbalance the recent upsurge in media depictions of BDSM, particularly the strain of erotic fiction known as mommy porn, which uses BDSM imagery to reinforce heteronormative ideals It is a complex subject, worthy of the meticulous treatment Weiss offers. --Misty Luminais "International Social Science Review ""

Techniques of Pleasure...is a landmark study of the BDSM 'scene' in San Francisco...Weiss succeeds admirably in producing a work that is conceptually rich and ethnographically engaging. --Richard Joseph Martin "Current Anthropology ""

Techniques of Pleasure is a wonderful, theoretically significant, and ethnographically rich book. Margot Weiss contextualizes the development of the Bay Area s BDSM scene, analyzing contemporary BDSM as biopolitical practice. Examining the complex connections between discipline and freedom, subject formation and subjugation, power and play, Weiss extends feminist and queer theoretical debates about identity, community, sexuality, gender, race, and the nature of power. This book breaks new theoretical ground in relation not only to BDSM but also to questions of personhood, political economy, and embodiment in late capitalism. --David Valentine, author of "Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category ""

"[A] fascinating, sophisticated, and original look at the ways in which we might begin to rethink how we view alternative iterations of expressions of sexuality. ...I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in areas of sexuality, critical race theory, gender studies, biopolitics, and even discourse analysis."--Nicholaus Baca"Peitho" (09/01/2015)

About the Author

Margot Weiss is Assistant Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Wesleyan University.


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BDSM can be nasty and abusive or it can be beautiful and loving - just like any other type of sexual relationship. Is it more prone to be abusive? Do more vulnerable and damaged people gravitate towards it? Or is it a space of transgression and free desire that more and more people are discovering as traditional moral taboos break down? Frankly, no-one knows. Recent research by sociologists and ethnographers (Newmahr Playing on the Edge: Sadomasochism, Risk, and Intimacy, Beckmann The Social Construction of Sexuality and Perversion: Deconstructing Sadomasochism, and now Weiss) is beginning to put together pieces of a more complex picture that questions both old assumptions of sleaze and abuse and new assertions of liberation and emancipation.

Weiss shows how BDSM in the San Francisco Bay area has been totally transformed since the 1980s. The 'old guard' underground scene of Folsom leathermen has gone, wiped out by AIDS and urban redevelopment. Instead BDSM in the Bay Area is now dominated by prosperous middle-class heterosexuals living in the suburbs as much as the city and more organised, more regulated, more sexually diverse, and more 'normalized'.

Weiss critiques the ideas of figures like Foucault, MacKendrick or Carrette, that BDSM has something inherently transgressive and oppositional about it. She insists (and at times labours the point) that BDSM cannot be separated from the real social world it inhabits.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and Intriguing 1 Mar. 2014
By Alyssa C. Venable - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Weiss'a objective, thorough study of the Bay Area BDSM culture reveals the way in which this subculture, influenced by neoliberal values and beliefs, is linked to capitalism, racial Othering, and focuses on self-mastery and technique. I don't believe, however, that Weiss slams BDSM or is in any way anti sex positive culture. Instead, her work can make us think about the ways we live our life and how we feel empowerment, and see more clearly when we are reproducing harmful normative discourses such as class exclusion. This wasn't an easy or a fast read, but it was well-written, detailed, and intriguing.
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars 27 Oct. 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An outsider's perspective on the BDSM culture 12 Nov. 2015
By Peter Tupper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There are a lot of books on the psychology of BDSM, but relatively few study it as a culture. Weiss studied San Francisco's BDSM subculture as a participant observer, and book is an insightful, and often critical, look at it. This is not the feminist criticism that BDSM is sexist or violent, but rather a progressive criticism of why a culture that is supposedly open to all remains so very white and middle-class, and why there are such divides between the straight and queer BDSM Scenes. Along the way she looks at the particular history of the San Francisco kink scene, how the gay leathermen used to unofficially run the SOMA neighborhood until HIV and gentrification decimated that society, and how the tech-industry-based heterosexual kink scene emerged in the aftermath in the 1990s. The Scene as it exists today, despite utopian or transgressive claims, has the same problems of sexism, racism and classism as the rest of society, just expressed in different ways.

I emphasize that for all of Weiss' criticisms, she fundamentally _gets_ BDSM, even as a non-participant. She understands that BDSM makes possible pleasures and intimacies that are not possible any other way.

In answer to some of the other reviews, Weiss comes from anthropology, not psychology. She studied a particular section of the greater BDSM culture, the semi-public, heterosexual, SF Bay-area subculture of play parties, workshops, munches and other events.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappoinment 14 July 2014
By SexReader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Aside from being riddled with academic jargon, Weiss's book is a considerable disappointment for those seeking a thorough and objective study of the BDSM/kink/fetish community. In the first place, her study focuses on a rather narrow cross-section of this subculture. On top of that, she views the community through a highly political/ideological lens, and attempts to "deconstruct" it to fit into that box. The Procrustean result is a slanted view of a complex and diverse community. I suggest people instead turn to "Sadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures" by Charles Moser and Peggy Kleinplatz.
21 of 35 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Biased and Disturbing Approach to a Minority Sexual Orientation 24 Aug. 2012
By Carol Siegel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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?
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