Marquis De Sade



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1 Marquis de Sade By Michael White 2 The Marquis de Sade was a French soldier, aristocrat, and writer who lived from June 2, 1740 to December 2, 1814 The Marquis lived under three regimes in his time: monarchy, the French Revolution, and NapoleonHis ‘libertine’ lifestyle and philosophy were considered unacceptable to all three regimes 3 The word ‘libertine’, especially in the 17 thand 18 thcenturies, would come to be understood as a philosophy in which one rejects established social or religious norms and morals The Marquis de Sade believed that maximizing personal pleasure was of the ultimate importance and, as such, he is considered one of the most famous libertines of his eraHe would become involved in numerous scandals which attest to this 4 The Marquis de Sade used his castle in Lacoste, in southern France, to abuse women, especially prostitutes, as well as menHowever, this was not the only setting for his abuse His first reported scandal involved a young woman widely believed to be a prostitute, whom he imprisoned and sexually abused in his chateau in ArcueilIn 1763, he was placed under surveillance by local police in Paris after complaints from prostitutes of abuseThese actions led to a few short prison stints The Lacoste castle, as it looks todayIt is now owned by fashion designer Pierre Cardin, who holds theater festivals there 5 In 1772, the Marquis de Sade and his man-servant, Latour, abused and sodomized prostitutes after drugging them with the aphrodisiac ‘Spanish Fly’They were forced to flee to Italy after being sentenced to death for this incident Of course even fleeing death was not without scandal; the Marquis brought his wife’s sister to Italy and went on to have an affair with herHis mother-in-law would go on to get him arrested for this latest offense, and imprisoned in the Fortress of Miolans 6 He would not be imprisoned for long, as he and Latour would escape to his castle at Lacoste where he would reunite with his wifeThough the Marquis de Sade would live there in hiding, his sexual endeavors would continue, this time with his wife as an accompliceThe Marquis was notorious for abusing his domestic employees; he would consistently hire young servant girls to exploitIn 1777 this almost lead to his premature death, as a father of one of his servants attempted to shoot him, but misfiredHowever, the Marquis would soon find himself once again in prison 7 The Marquis de Sade’s numerous imprisonments allowed for what would become his lasting legacy: his writingsThree of his more controversial works included: Les 120 Journees de Sodome (The 120 Days of Sodom) This book tells the story of four wealthy men who enslaved 24 people, mostly teenage boys and girls, whom they sexually torture over a five-month periodThe actions of these men become more violent as the months go on, eventually escalating into some of the most depraved acts imaginable Justine A twelve year old girl is corrupted by abuse and sexual indiscretions in her quest for a virtuous life Juliette This story follows a girl, from the age of 13 to 30, who engages in depraved sexual actsAs a libertine, her philosophy is to enjoy herself at the expense of others His erotic works were considered obscenity and he would later be imprisoned forJustineandJulietteat the behest of Napoleon 8 Illustration from a version ofJuliette 9 The term ‘sadism’ stems from the Marquis de SadeLoosely speaking, sadism refers to sexual pleasure derived from causing pain to othersSimilarly the word masochism, deriving pleasure from being abused emotionally or physically, was coined after Austrian writer Leopold Ritter von Sacher-MasochThese terms were established in 1886 by psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebins to identify the concepts Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch 10 Sadism and masochism were combined as sadomasochism to cover both ideasToday, the term BDSM (bondage-discipline, domination-submission, sadism-masochism) covers all related aspects of deriving pleasure from pain 11 BDSM behaviors cannot be narrowed down as specific to any group, male or female, young or old, rich or poor, gay or straightBecause sadomasochism covers both dominant and submissive behaviors, it allows for a wide variety of enthusiasts Some feminists believe that sadomasochism exists inherently in the relationships of Western culturesThis is due in part to the fact that many Western relationships revolve around an inequality in power, with men taking on a dominant role 12 There are many theories as to why some people find SM enjoyable Masochism Being submissive is often an escape Being under the control of another person brings gratifying feelings of protection Positive feelings may be associated with pleasing a dominant individual Sadism Pleasure is derived from being in complete control over another individual Vicarious satisfaction through the pain experienced by the submissive individual 13 It is not known when people began using pain for sexual gratification, but there is a biological ability for humans to achieve a pleasurable response to pain Chemical reactions within the body are responsible for feelings of both pleasure and painThese reactions can come about by simply imagining a pleasurable or painful experienceSometimes the chemical reactions caused by pain, such as a release of endorphins, can be perceived as satisfying 14 Sadomasochism is often seen as strange, destructive, and deviantHowever, the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) does not consider sadomasochism a disorder unless it causes “clinically significant distress or impairment…in function” 15 BDSM is still practiced today despite its taboo statusJust as in the 17 thand 18 thcenturies, such acts are considered lewd and lascivious by manyTherefore it is commonly practiced behind closed doors, in private establishments, or between trusting partnersHowever, there is a burgeoning movement to de-stigmatize SMThe popularity of sex-shops, adult movies, and interconnectedness of the internet have allowed SM to become somewhat more mainstream South Park’s Mr Garrison beats his SM loving boyfriend, Mr Slave 16 SM Betty Boop 1950’s pin-up and fetish model, Bettie Page 17 Many have argued that SM is inherently anti-establishment, and challenges societies ideals, much like the gay rights movement While sadomasochistic behavior may be ‘deviant’ to society at large, it is not so to its participantsIf the parties involved are willing, and receive pleasure from the act, it theoretically should be acceptable sexual behavior 18 The Marquis de Sade remains infamous for his extreme compulsion towards sadomasochistic behaviorPerhaps his society should have focused on his penchant for younger girls and unwilling participants rather than his desire to amass pleasure from causing painThe Marquis de Sade was a man driven by his nature and as such should not have been judged by his desires, but rather his crimes “ Either kill me or take me as I am, because I’ll be damned if I ever change…” Marquis de Sade, 1783 19 The Marquis de Sade remains relevant in pop culture today The 2000 period drama, Quills, starring Geoffrey Rush, Joaquin Phoenix, and Kate Winslet was a fictional portrayal of the Marquis de Sade’s final days imprisoned in Charenton insane asylum The 1988 horror film Waxwork portrayed the Marquis de Sade as an insatiable vampire alongside other classic horror-movie creatures The 1975 film Salo o le 120 giornate di Sodoma was based on the Marquis’ book, The 120 Days of Sodom, and is considered one of the most disturbing films ever madeThe film is banned in many countries to this day 20 Sources “ Marquis de Sade” Wikipedia 27 April 2008 <http://wwwwikipediaorg/wiki/marquis_de_sade> Miesen, D, 1981 SM: A View on Sadomasochism (online) Available from: http://wwwsojorg/miesenlhtml Parkins, K, 1999 The Marquis de Sade (online) 1999 Available from: http://wwwhomeclaranet/heureka/art/sadehtm Schaeffer, N, The Marquis de Sade: A Life (online) Available from: http://wwwneilschaeffercom/sade/indexhtm







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