The sex researcher Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing coined the terms sadism and masochism for his book Psychopathia Sexualis, published in 1886. Sadism takes its name from the infamous Marquis de Sade, but people hurt each other for fun long before his birth in 1740. Somewhat less well-known than de Sade is Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, for whom masochism was named. Von Sacher-Masoch, a utopian journalist, is best-known for Venus in Furs, the story of a man who falls in love with a woman he persuades to whip and dominate him.
Five to 10 percent of the United States engages in SM, at least occasionally, according to one survey. Eleven percent of women and 14 percent of men report some SM experience, says another. Elsewhere, 22 percent of males and 12 percent of females responded erotically to an SM tale. But the numbers jump in another context — 50 percent of males and 55 percent of females think being bitten is hot. Maybe it’s what you call it.
Enough with the numbers. Sexual pain. Do you want it? Do you like giving it? Do you want to explore it? It’s a little scary; it’s a little dark. But — isn’t that the fun part?