This article explores the relationship between the law and desire by focussing on the problematic notion of ‘sadomasochism.’ The reciprocity implied by this term suggested to Frankfurt School critical theorists a closed social contract by which a mass willingly subjected themselves to sadistic control. However, this article follows Jacques Lacan’s critique of sadomasochism which distinguishes the two terms, demonstrates their structural differences, and re-interprets perversion as père-version – not deviant sexual behaviour, but a turning towards the father. It is argued this properly Lacanian understanding of perversion enables us to identify a body of jouissance or enjoyment that is always in excess of the body of procedural law, yet underpins a potential ethics of justice in law’s rulings over what bodies can and cannot do.

Additional Information

Print ISSN
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.