Written by

Lay Sion Ng @ Issues Under Tissues

Chinese Malaysian, American Literature at Osaka University, Japan.


Embracing Sodomy: A Transcendental Act


Today, sodomy has come to occupy a primary place in the erotic literature of heterosexual as well as homosexual masochism (Fantina 73). It has gradually become a common practice not only among gay men but also lesbians and heterosexual men/women. Although submitting to sodomy can be “both painful and accompanied by an aura of humiliation,” some can barely resist themselves from partaking in the pleasure and pain that sodomy engenders (Fantina 71).

Regarding the physical pleasure, it is stated that “the anus can be stimulated with fingers, tongue, penis or any slender object. For many of us, it is a highly sexually sensitive area” (The New Our Bodies, Our Selves 218). Thus, it is possible to achieve a state of bliss or jouissance through the stimulation of the anus in a gentle and proper way. As to the psychological aspect, it is far more complicated as it relates to humiliation and the sense of guilt produced by the superego. According to Freud, a man who holds the desire to “be copulated with” characterizes masochism (XIX 277). Drawing on Freudian theory, Leo Bersani reveals that there is a strong link between masochism and sodomy: “self-shattering jouissance” (qtd. in Fantina 74). To be able to understand what “self-shattering jouissance” means, first, we have to see Freud’s comments on human sexuality:

“Human sexuality is constituted as a kind of psychic shattering, as a threat to the stability and integrity of self—a threat which perhaps only the masochistic nature of sexual pleasure allows us to survive.” (Bersani 60)

“We desire what nearly shatters us, and the shattering experience is, it would seem, without any specific content—which may be our only way of saying that the experience cannot be said, that is belongs to the nonlinguistic biology of human life.” (Bersani 40)

On the basis of the descriptions above, we are being led to believe that human sexuality is a threat to the self as it destabilizes our ego. However, as humans, we seek to experience what nearly destroys our ego, the shattering stimuli, in order to become more “human.” This paradoxical condition is then alleviated by masochism, which functions as a vehicle to fill the “gap between the period of shattering stimuli and the development of resistant or defensive ego structures” (Bersani 39). Thus, we come to the point that “masochism lies at the very core of all sexuality” and sodomy, an essential component of masochism, also represents an important issue when we talk about human sexuality (Fantina 74).

Whether it is male-on-female, female-on-male, female-on-female, or male-on-male sodomy, we recognize the fact that male and female both have anuses and therefore, they can desire “the same” (Goldberg 1). In this sense, sodomy can be used as a method to promote gender and sexual equality; it “remains a polymorphous practice that transcends categories of sexual preference” (Fantina 73). This transcendental act further calls into question the current system of gender and sexuality that is insufficient to cover the diverse desires of human beings. In other words, the ideological identification that encourages compulsory heterosexuality needs to be questioned in order to embrace more fluid notions of sexuality.



Bersani, Leo.  The Freudian Body: Psychoanalysis and Art. NY: Columbia UP, 1986. Print.


Fantina, Richard. Ernest Hemingway: Machismo and Masochism. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Print.


Freud, Sigmund. “The Economic Problem of Masochism.” The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. XIX. Trans. James Strachey. London: The Hogarth Press, 1961. Print.


Goldberg, Jonathan. Reclaiming Sodom. NY and London: Routledge, 1994. Print.


The Boston Women’s Health Collective, The New Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book By and For Women. NY: Simon and Shuster, 1984, 1992.



Text © Lay Sion Ng




Lay’s Previous Contributions To Edge Of Humanity Magazine