“WOMEN’S PERSPECTIVES OF BDSM POWER EXCHANGE” by Emily E. Prior, MA – this study’s title was written in ALL CAPS by the publisher… and I kinda like it!!
I heard about this recently-published bit of scholarly research last week via the magic of twitter…
[btw: are you on twitter? if yes, are you my friend? you should be!! --> @drchauntelle
if no, why not? you're seriously missing out!!]
…and I felt compelled to check it out. Some things:
I’m pretty sure Emily Prior got her MA in Sociology from Cal State Northridge (CSUN)… and I got my MA in Sociology from Cal State Northridge in 2003. Emily also currently teaches at College of the Canyons (COC)… and I used to teach at College of the Canyons (from 2001 – 2004). Gah!! Clearly Emily and I are destiny twins of some sort, and I now love her.
(pictured: Emily Prior, image from twitter at @BSexPositive)
“Women’s Perspectives of BDSM Power Exchange” was published in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality (V. 16) on February 28, 2013. The EJHS is an interesting space that reflects a new wave of relatively open-source, independent online scholarly publications.
On one hand, these sorts of journals get academic work out there, accessible to the real world, relatively quickly. They’re peer-reviewed within the context of their specific communities (read: by relevant experts) and their mission statements are generally on-par with those of traditional scholarly publications in terms of scope. (ie see EJHS‘s mission statement, etc here)
But, on the other hand, academia is full of haters. And doing good scholarly work is really really difficult. Consequently, journals like EJHS (not EJHS specifically, but online independent journals of which EJHS is an example) are often dismissed by the “real” academic world. And occasionally, some of these journals (not EJHS necessarily, but online independent journals of which it is an example) have standards that do not reflect the rigor required by traditional scholarly publications.
I admire Emily’s decision to publish in EJHS because 1) her work is now out there for everyone to see and benefit from and 2) it’s pretty damn good – she could have definitely gotten this work published in a more traditional venue had she wanted to.
Emily’s work is framed around a series of clearly-stated, compelling, timely research questions. She grounds her study in a body of relevant, interesting literature. And she describes her research methods in great detail.
Let’s say that again: she describes her research methods in great detail.
One thing that’s grossly lacking in a lot of “research” about sex and sexualities and sex/ualities-related things is a clear statement of methods – what you actually did in order to gather the data on which your findings are based. It’s actually one of the most aggravating things in the world. (I’m talking to you, anti-porn “scholars”) Now, discussing your methods doesn’t mean that they have to be “perfect,” and it doesn’t mean that people can’t weigh in about what you maybe coulda/shoulda done. Discussing your methods simply means that you inform readers of what you did, insuring everyone that you didn’t just pull your findings out of your ass.
Emily tells us exactly what she did, and she also discusses the limitations of her study. Couldn’t. Be. Awesomer.
You can read the entire thing —> here.
I was very impressed with “Women’s Perspectives of BDSM Power Exchange;” however, though I found this piece to be solid and well-done, I definitely have some insights and feedback that could be used to inform the next go around. And that’s OK!! That sort of exchange, when done in a constructive manner (which doesn’t always happen), is one of the best parts of real scholarship – scholarship that’s actually committed to doing something good and insightful for the world.
But here’s the (another) thing, something that actually contradicts what I just said above: now that I think about it, I don’t know if Emily could’ve gotten this work published in a more conventional academic journal. Because of the people she worked with (read: “the population she studied” – detestable but commonly used phrasing) and her methodological choices, because of the rampant discomfort with sex found in our culture and the insidious haterade that fuels much of academia, I can imagine hackles coming up as soon as this work was submitted… somewhere.
So yay for the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, and yay Emily!! I’m really happy I got to learn from this work. #props
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