Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2015




The alternative sexual practices of bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism (BDSM) are practiced by people all over the world. In this paper, I will examine the experiences of five submissive-role women in the Netherlands and five in south-central Pennsylvania, focusing specifically on how their involvement with the BDSM community and BDSM culture influences their self-perspective.I will begin my analysis by exploring anthropological perspectives of BDSM and their usefulness in studying sexual counterculture, followed by a consideration of feminist critiques of BDSM and societal barriers faced by women in the community. I will then address the norms and values of the BDSM community and their positive effects in the lives of submissive women, concluding with a comparative analysis of my two fieldsites and a discussion about improvements that can be made within the communities.


Anthropology Honors Thesis