Giving In: Chronic Pain, BDSM, and Crip/Queer Utopia

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Jobson, Rachel Elizabeth




This thesis considers whether people living with chronic pain can reimagine their relationship with pain and challenge structural narratives that frame lives lived in pain as less worth living through participation in BDSM (bondage, discipline/Domination, submission/sadism, masochism). Using feminist ethnography shaped by cripistemology, I use crip theory to consider how chronic pain might be experienced differently in a context where interdependence is valued. I argue that by connecting work around queer temporality and José Esteban Muñoz's theory of utopia to BDSM practices it is possible to think pain otherwise. Radical BDSM practices challenge the hermeneutical injustice of chronic pain by allowing people in pain to express it, share it with others, and be fully seen, while also encouraging interdependence. It is through this process that BDSM is one example of queer utopia: a space of potentiality where different futures and perspectives on pain can be imagined outside of straight/capitalist time.


Women's Studies
Gender Studies




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Women's and Gender Studies

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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