This is an old ad that just happened to find me the other day. (The postcard fell out of a book donated to Jersey City Free Books.) At the time of the marketing campaign, there was some stir about the image being misogynistic. Clearly though, the target is not men shopping for women, but women shopping for themselves. With the graphic and the scent patch, the postcard is intended to provide Pavlovian conditioning between the odor and the idea of bondage. The perfume then works magic, releasing emotional inhibitions by conjuring up physical captivity.
Louis Cheskin’s concept of the importance of packaging in marketing (that through transference of sensation the design is experienced as part of the product) certainly applies here. The bottle appears ready to serve as a shackle.
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For over a century, people who engaged in bondage, beatings and humiliation for sexual pleasure were considered mentally ill. But in the 1980s, the American Psychiatric Association removed S & M as a category in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This decision–like the decision to remove homosexuality as a category in 1973–was a big step toward the societal acceptance of people whose sexual desires aren’t traditional, or vanilla, as it’s called in S & M circles.
What’s new is that such desires are increasingly being considered normal, even healthy, as experts begin to recognize their potential psychological value. S & M, they are beginning to understand, offers a release of sexual and emotional energy that some people cannot get from traditional sex. “The satisfaction gained from S & M is something far more than sex,” explains Roy Baumeister, Ph.D., a social psychologist at Case Western Reserve University. “It can be a total emotional release.”
Although people report that they have better-than-usual sex immediately after a scene, the goal of S & M itself is not intercourse: “A good scene doesn’t end in orgasm, it ends in catharsis.”
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The Pleasure of Pain
Find out why one in 10of us is into S&M.
By Marianne Apostolides, published on September 01, 1999