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Unpublished Paper
A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO BE SPANKED: TESTING THE LIMITS OF TOLERANCE OF S/M IN THE SOCIO-LEGAL IMAGINARY
ExpressO (2008)
  • Ummni Khan
Abstract
What conditions must be in place for s/m sexuality to be tolerated in law and culture? In this article, I consider the film Secretary as a lens to explore the imaginative limits of our socio-legal culture regarding sadomasochism. In Part One, I compare Secretary to the film 9 ½ weeks. I deconstruct the narrative and aesthetic components of the two films that uphold their contrasting normative visions, arguing that Secretary did indeed chart new ground for the sadomasochist sexual subject. Yet, a close discursive analysis reveals that the narrative relied upon other hegemonies to make the s/m couple acceptable and intelligible: their whiteness, their attractiveness, their male-top/female-bottom gender dynamic, the mildness of their kinks, and their interpolation into the law of marriage. In Part Two, I consider Secretary in relation to a trilogy of British cases on s/m, R. v. Brown, R. v. Wilson, and R. v. Emmett, and one American divorce case on s/m, Twyman v. Twyman. Reading these cases in relation to Secretary reveals the extent to which tolerance of s/m in the socio-legal imaginary is contingent upon marital privacy and spousal fidelity. By doing a comparative analysis of Secretary's normative vision to other socio-legal narratives, I hope to reveal the complexity involved in assessing the (counter)hegemonic impact of the film.
Keywords
  • Law and Film,
  • Sadomasochism,
  • Marriage,
  • Consent
Disciplines
Publication Date
March 4, 2008
Citation Information
Ummni Khan. "A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO BE SPANKED: TESTING THE LIMITS OF TOLERANCE OF S/M IN THE SOCIO-LEGAL IMAGINARY" ExpressO (2008)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ummni_khan/1/