Masochism is the practice of getting sexual pleasure by consensually receiving pain and/or being degraded. It is the “M” in BDSM, and the “M” in “S&M” which is also written “SM” and “S/M”. In S&M, SM and S/M the “S” refers to “sadism”. Also, sadism and masochism together are sometimes referred to as “sadomasochism”. Someone who enjoys practicing masochism is called “masochistic” and “a masochist“.
The word masochism comes from the name of Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch, who before the word masochist was invented was what we would call a masochist now, and wrote fiction about masochism. The word masochism was invented by the Austrian psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing, and Leopold did not approve of this use of his name.
Common Ways To Practice Masochism
Common ways to practice sadism include receiving whipping, caning, verbal insults, and torture bondage.
A table in Larry Townsend’s The Leatherman’s Handbook II (the 1983 second edition; the 1972 first edition did not include this list) which is generally considered authoritative states that a black handkerchief is a symbol for S&M (meaning sadism and masochism) in the handkerchief code. As well, placing a hanky in the left pocket indicates the wearer’s alignment with a top/dominant role, while a hanky in the right pocket indicates the wearer’s alignment with a bottom/submissive role. Townsend noted that discussion with a prospective partner is still important because people may wear a given color “only because the idea of the hankie turns them on” or “may not even know what it means”.