Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Gerald Markle

Second Advisor

Dr. Ronald Kramer

Third Advisor

Dr. Subash Sonnad

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This study examines an issue debated within the U.S. lesbian community since the mid-1970s, lesbian sadomasochism. The issue has been whether sadomasochism is consistent with lesbian feminism, a political ideology which has much shaped lesbian identity and community. The claims and counter-claims made about lesbian sadomasochism are analyzed, as are the underlying ideologies and their relationship to general lesbian political and cultural history. It is argued that the debate is the result of a limited subject position offered by lesbian feminism. The perspective of lesbian sadomasochists is seen as a call for a renewed lesbian feminist discourse. It is proposed that lesbian feminism adopt the notion of consciousness suggested by this perspective.