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Who is more sadistic: the pornographer or the painter?

Erica Harris

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This article attempts to unpack Lacan’s esoteric description of the sadist as the one who seeks something that “is in some respect the subject’s nether side” in his tenth seminar (Lacan 2014, p. 165). Lacan’s analysis of sadism undermines the popular equation of sadism with gratuitous violence and suggests, instead, that unsuspecting objects, like post-impressionist paintings, can be sadistic. Lacan’s discussion of sadism is especially relevant for the question of whether or not pornography is inherently sadistic – a concern that became popular in the 1970s with Andrea Dworkin and is now regaining momentum in feminist circles.

Keywords: pornography, sadism, Dworkin, Lacan, Merleau-Ponty, painting, objet a


Bibliography: Harris, Erica: Who is more sadistic: the pornographer or the painter?, INSEP, Vol. 4, Issue 1-2016, pp. 76-86.