I am a masochist, and whilst I reject the label as an overall description, because it is just my sexuality and not the whole of my personality, and whilst I believe that it's an inadequate label that creates some misconceptions and confusion, masochism is a very important and intrinsic part of me, and which requires some clarification and explanation, especially in context to civil and human rights. I want masochists to have the same rights that gay people and other sexual groups have in society, but the lack of rights and protection stems from misconceptions and ignorance about masochism.
It's unfortunate that the term masochism - coined after the masochist writer Sacher Masoch, who wrote the novel Venus in Furs - is interpreted as meaning gaining sexual pleasure from pain, mistreatment, and humiliation. This interpretation is somewhat misleading and false, and does not describe the normal or loving aspects of masochism. It is therefore an outdated term, but until another term comes along, we are left with the old one and which is commonly recognised and accepted.
First of all, I would like to clear up some myths and misconceptions about male masochism. Male masochism is not about a master-slave relationship, nor about attributing masculine characteristics to women. Neither is it about imposing male fantasies and ideas upon women. Masochism is about a worship, love, and appreciation of femininity or assertive femininity in women, and about a role or power exchange. It is about a reciprocation and equality of power, and unlike a lot of radical feminism does not seek to make women more masculine and turn women into men. Neither is masochism internalised oppression or due to powerlessness and social inequality in society. Masochists come from all social and economic backgrounds and societies, and it's quite possible for a masochist to be assertive socially, emotionally, and intellectually, and empowered, whilst still being receptive and submissive towards women sexually. Neither does masochism mean that masochists are unable to assert and express their emotions, as some psychotherapists claim, as we are still quite capable of doing this.
Neither is male masochism and female sexual assertiveness about sexual inequality, as male masochism can be about suspending or delaying the male orgasm so as to be more socially equal and productive, and in order to completely and utterly please and satisfy a woman, and thus to achieve mutual pleasure and happiness and a more equal relationship. A woman being more assertive sexually and emotionally, and a man being more submissive and receptive, is actually advocated by the relationship advice and support organisation Relate who say it makes for better, happier, more intimate and more satisfactory and equal relationships.
Another myth and misconception about masochism is that it is a form of self-harm. This stems from the fact that masochists and non-masochists are often driven to acts of self destruction due to oppression, coercion, and violence, and because our needs and rights as masochists are still not recognised and implemented in present society. This needs to change.
Another myth about male masochism and female sexual assertiveness, is that these characteristics and qualities are socially conditioned by being punished or abused in childhood. Whilst the violent aspects of male masochism and female domination or sadism, are socially conditioned by abuse, the aspects involving violence within role play, are first and foremost dramatic or part of a game, and are overall achieved through a mutual agreement or contract, and practised through mutual consent, and are not inflicted or enforced against a person's will or choice. This is central to the fact that masochism is a different sexuality, like homosexuality or bisexuality, and should therefore be recognised as such, and have social and political policies protecting the rights of masochists not to be misused and abused by society and by people in authority and power.
The aspects of loving and affectionate submissiveness on behalf of men towards women, and the ability to receive, respond, or appreciate this on behalf of women, are entirely natural and normal, and are a part of most normal loving relationships.