The Ethics of Kink

Masterson, Jessica ORCID: 0009-0000-9380-1832 (2023). The Ethics of Kink. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis argues that the consent narrative that is used to justify sadomasochistic violence is flawed. Liberals and liberal feminists often use valid consent as a justification for the violence and humiliation inflicted during many sadomasochistic sexual encounters, appealing to ideas of sexual autonomy and sexual freedom to defend those who inflict violence on willing partners. This thesis rejects the consent defence making two arguments: First, that the conditions which need be met for consent to be valid are frequently not met in instances of sadomasochistic violence. Second, that even when consent meets the conditions for validity this does not justify sexually motivated violence as consent does not have the normative power required to justify the infliction of harm. In a final chapter I illustrate the position through a comparison of sadomasochistic violence and domestic violence. Arguing that just as the consent narrative has no place in domestic violence, regardless of how the victim of domestic abuse feels about their circumstances, it should not be regarded as central to the debate about whether sadomasochistic violence is ethical.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: Philosophy
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics


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