Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2015

Department 1



In American culture, violence is typically understood as inherently negative; no one would want to be personally subjected to violence because violence by its very nature is undesirable. Thus, the idea of seeking out violence seems paradoxical. In cases where a person actively pursues violent treatment, the question arises: can violence be consensual? This question is included in discourse on sadomasochism (SM), or an attraction to giving or receiving pain in a sensual or sexual context, which many argue is a form of violence. Through a critical discourse analysis of legal statutes regarding interpersonal violence and interviews with women involved in SM, I will address the question of whether or not sadomasochism can be considered physical and sexual violence.


This paper was written for Professor Amy Evrard's course, ANTH 304: Anthropology of Violence and Conflict, Spring 2015.