Book Review: Different Loving: the World of Sexual Dominance and Submission (1993), by Gloria G. Brame, William D. Brame, and Jon Jacobs.

Gloria Brame is an American board-certified sexologist, writer and sex therapist. Her sex therapy practice specializes in consensual BDSM, sexual fetishism and sexual dysfunction. (I was unable to find out anything about co-authors William D. Brame and Jon Jacobs.)

This is not a how-to book, but a primer of principal issues and concepts of BDSM. With a focus on describing the psychological experience of the stimuli, it includes in-depth interviews with over 100 participants and experts. At 560 pages, it’s fairly comprehensive, well-written and researched, and not a quick read.

The introductory section provides a description of what SM is, who does it, and a history of ‘abnormal’ sexual practices. The rest of the book is laid out with each chapter explaining a specific kink, why people do it or like that kink, and how it’s done, whether by presenting a list of implements or safety considerations. At the end of each chapter is excerpts from interviews with people who engage in that kink.

Chapters:

  • Power
  • Head Trips (humiliation, embarrassment, orgasm denial and control) and Roleplaying
  • Ageplay
  • Depersonalization (human furniture, animal play, degradation)
  • Lifestyle D/s
  • Pain as Pleasure
  • Bondage
  • Spanking
  • Whipping
  • Intense Stimulation (wax, ash, clamps, clips, CBT, TT, fisting, electrical)
  • Body Modification (corseting, tattooing, piercing, scarification)
  • Fetishism
  • Erotic Extremities (foot worship)
  • Dressing for Pleasure
  • Transgenderism
  • Gender Play
  • Erotic Combat (wrestling)
  • Water sports (golden showers, enemas)


Overall, I find the tone too clinical and analytical for my tastes, and I feel it could have had more focus on consent. But what I find missing is that aside from personal insights from the interviews there is a lack of discussion on the emotional component of kink, issues such as trust and empathy. Considering the word ‘loving’ is in the title, I feel the authors missed the mark on this.

Based on the approach, it comes off as being written by someone who does not actively engage in kink, which makes me feel that the target audience is not those who participate in non-normative sexual relationships. It does, however, de-demonize ‘unusual’ sexual practices with the message that even though, overall, society may not accept kink as normal behaviour, people who do participate in kink are not abnormal.

Good:
-in-depth interviews with over 100 participants and experts
-interesting historical and analytical information

Not so good:
-tends to lean towards a hetero and monogamous bias
-no index
-nothing on fire play, service

Conclusion: interesting read from an analytical perspective but it didn’t get my juices flowing

Recommended for: those who may be interested in the history of BDSM practices or the psychological explanation for why people like BDSM

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