Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2015

Department 1



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