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The term "masochist" was derived from the name of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the author of Venus in Furs, which was an early novel featuring a protagonist who thoroughly enjoyed being humiliated and controlled. As opposites, the two proclivities complemented one another, so that it was natural for sadists to associate themselves with masochists and vice versa. Hence, the term "sadomasochism" was invented to identify this complementary psychosexual dynamic.
The fact that neither sadist nor masochist enjoyed giving or receiving pain for pain's sake led researchers to the understanding that sadomasochism was more about domination and submission than it was about sex per se. Indeed, sex was not an absolutely necessary component of, or vehicle for, the expression of sadomasochistic behavior. Spankings without overt sex, for example, could suffice to satisfy the sadomasochistic impulse, although sex--and, more specifically, humiliation through sexual means--certainly enhanced such spankings, which is why many parties included masturbation, fellatio or cunnilingus, and anal intercourse with spankings per se.
The essential components of sadomasochism were dominance and submission, which were associated not with physical or sexual behavior so much as they were with emotional traits and needs. The sadist needed to control, and the masochist needed to be controlled. Those who, unlike sadists and masochists, experienced pleasure in pursuing pain for its own sake were algolagnists. Russ certainly was not an algolagnist, and he doubted very much that Gary was one. Russ was all about control; Gary was all about being controlled. The administering and receipt of pain were expressions of their respective needs to dominate and to submit, to control and to be controlled, which, technically speaking, put them into the sadomasochistic camp.
Initially, thinking of himself as a sadist had disturbed Russ; the word, after all, had, in the popular mind, a negative connotation. The unenlightened regarded it as a form of mental illness, as they did masochism. Those who understood the complex nature of such traits and needs knew better. There was a sadistic and a masochistic element in all people, even young children, just as there was, in Russ' view, the potential for bisexuality in all people. It was merely, like most emotional aspects of the personality, a matter the degree to which people were motivated to act upon these needs that made one qualify as a "sadist" or a "masochist" per se. In some, the urge to dominate and control others was much stronger than it was among the general population. In others, the need to submit and to be controlled was much more evident than among the rest of humanity.
Statistically, sadists and masochists were "abnormal" in the sense that they would not, among the general population, fit the middle of a bell curve. However, the term "abnormal" was just that--a statistical, not a psychological, term. Being normal or abnormal had nothing to do with mental illness. Once Russ had come to understand this, thinking of himself as a sadist no longer bothered him, although he did prefer to think of himself as the dominant partner who interacted, emotionally, physically, and sexually, with a submissive partner. Of course, a wide array of socially conditioned emotional responses to domination and submission, including feelings of anxiety, embarrassment, fear, guilt, humiliation, inferiority, shame, and personal worthlessness for the submissive partner and of exhilaration, power, pride, strength, superiority, personal worthiness, and virility for the dominant partner, added to the complex richness and enjoyment of dominant-submissive behavior.
In studying domination and submission, Russ had learned that there was, besides the emotional satisfaction of controlling another person or being controlled by another person, also a strong biological basis for the enjoyment of such behavior.