Masochism and sexual education

In Desperate Housewives – the famous American series – season one. Bree, the red head desperate housewife, was shocked to discover that her husband Rex, whom she has been happily married to for 18 years, used to betray her with another woman in the neighborhood.

As the story folds out, we discover that Rex wasn’t really having an affair, he only had some *special needs*, as they put it, that he was afraid of sharing with his wife, and thus he turned to a secret prostitute where he paid her to fulfill those needs.

Rex was sexually masochist, which means that he gets sexual gratification in the infliction of pain or suffering by another person. And while Psychiatrists are bend on considering sexual masochism as a kind of a sexual profile rather than a disorder in itself (if not accompanied with other personal disorders), Rex knew that society and including his own wife wouldn’t tolerate such needs, and so he looked out for someone else to fulfill them.

While Desperate Housewives is considered to be a comedian show, I consider this issue of Bree and Rex very important. This is no porno. It is a demonstration of someone’s personal profile that is shared with many other men around the around. For an Arabic audience who is obsessed with masculinity and the domination of men over women, introducing such a character of a man enjoying sexual humiliation and infliction of pain from a woman is quiet shocking.

In our part of the world, we still have people who are still get married without even going out and talking with the potential life partner. Sexual preferences of our potential life partners is never discussed before marriage even among the most liberal Arabs. With a huge ignorance of human sexuality in the Arab world these problems are just bound to happen. I really wonder how many men are betraying their wives for such reasons, and how many women are betraying their husbands for this?

Recently people around the world are more open about their sexual preferences, the internet helped to facilitate dating when anyone can search for a compatible sexual partner from his/her sexual profile on the dating site page. That is still not the case in our Arab world and even in the majority of people around the world. It draws questions about human sexuality and the institution of marriage, and how much a person can really go to accept his/her partner’s special needs.

Bree never forgave her husband for his betrayal, but she was willing to adapt and provide him with his special needs. She was appalled of what he asked her to do, and most probably never expect herself to be in such situation. Maybe if she had better sexual education and openness, she would have discussed this matter with Rex before they got married.

We here ask for sexual education for our children at school to get to know what sex is all about, but no one suggested to include special needs in the syllabus of sexual education, not just for the sake of potential partners, but also for the sake of children who grow up with such special needs and don’t know how to deal with them.


  1. aiayay …. let us get basic auspicious sexual education first and then expand it accordingly is my first impression second impression, you need to read < HREF="" REL="nofollow"/>, i think you will gain personal insight and better understanding of masochism, and even sex work for fetishes 😛 ok back to the issue, fetishism is still stigmatized when talking in psychological terms (ICD-10 F65) so it is describe as a disorder and hence it will would be unethical to explore it in sexual education with anything other than a passing reference perhaps. plus i think that it usually gets explored at a later age when you spent some time introspecting and had some experience. and when it comes to discussing it with your partner it will be based on how comfortable you are in your own skin and how do u think the other side will perceive it which makes it a personal concern rather than a public one.


  2. Well, practically speaking, even if sex education was taught in schools, you can’t incorporate those kinds of “special needs”, its just a bottomless pit, I mean, there are so many different and varied “themes”, maybe a brief mention would do, but to elaborate on each and every one would not do, imagine having a chapter about foot fetish, or bondage and discipline! I doubt (although i don’t really know) that such topics are taught in schools even in the U.S. it gets even more complex for conservative societies such as the middle eastern ones.


  3. Well this was back when I was a faithful fan of desperate housewives. I don’t actually think rex was a masochist, he enjoyed role play and fantasy and at most wanted to be spanked which is different from being a masochist, I don’t think he get gratification from pain.So this is probably besides the point of your post dealing with sex. preference and sex ed, but I wanted to say that with respect to rex and bre I think the deeper issue with the pair was that they were having alot of communication problem and were drifting apart as people, in my opinion rex’s fantasies were a manifestion of that and not something that was an issue for him 20 years ago or it wouldn’t have all of a sudden became an issue when the 2 of them started having marriage problems.


  4. No_Angel, interesting read.I guess that is a public concern in terms of public awarnace of the matter and how much people are tolerant towards it. If it is accepted by the public eye, a person would find it easier to talk it out to his parnter, right?I believe that this should be part of sexual education, it can be no 101, but 102 must have it 🙂bakkouz, but man, this is part of sexual education. These special needs exist. I dont have statistics, but people should be aware of them. If not possible to list all the variations, we can only mention that variations exist. And I am aware of how difficult to incorporate this in school sexual education, but if they dont do that in the US, it doesnt mean we should do that.Asoom, didn’t you see her high heels and the way she used to inflict pain on the back of Rex when she walked on him? EwwwHe was definatly a masochism. I think that it is the other way around, I mean that his special needs is what added to the crack in their relationship because he couldnt open up to Bree about it.


  5. As an adult you are probably able to grasp the concept, and trust me some adults don’t. So you can’t just dump in a 6th grader syllabus a Spike-Club-Me-to-Orgasm chapter.People are having trouble telling kids about sex you can’t just then dump all the psychological issues on them as well.You might as well teach them Abnormal psychology so that they learn about schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorders before they hit puberty and start committing suicide because they have no idea what they have


  6. Arab Observer. As no_angel said. In psychiatry it is a disorder, along with many things like voyeurism, exhibitionism, fetishism and the list is both LONG and weird… They are grouped under the name of “paraphilias”, or sexula perversions… I do not know if this is your literally or debate method, if it is, i congratulate you, if it is not only a debate method you need to really review your perspective man! By that I mean that you chose to talk about really “end of a spectrum” cases to support your usually legitimate claim. In this case you chose to talk about paraphilias in the subject of sexual education… Point well taken and i agree we need sexual education, but if u mean what you said literally then i would really start having some concerns about the way you look at things! Your perspective is almost delusional… try to accept that with an open mind and heart, and look up what delusional means exactly in psychiatry… WE have ZERO sexual education at schools. I was particulary interested in the issue and after studying it and researching it for a while i decided to volunteer in some priovate schhols giving sex education. and i was faced by problems on 2 levels! First the teachers: they welcomed the idea a lot, but thought sex education was about making guys afraid of having sex!!! which totally misses the point of education and pro-choice policies to the intimidation and fear religion uses. I strongly opposed that and stated blankly that I am not giving religion classes and that they have people who can do that and that i am not gonna preach abstinance…. the second group were the students: they had no idea baout anything! and the bad part is that they thought they were educated through watching porn! this is a scary scary issue, they can watch porn all they want for all i care, but not for educational purposes. They had no idea about how to use contraception, pros and cons of various methods, respecting your partner and his/her choices, sexual orientation, masturbation, importance of screening for STDs.. in short they were defective in all and every aspect. and worst of all they thouhgt they knew! No parent contacted me, and i am very happy, that was my worst nightmare!! As for paraphilias. Man, these things need self exploration more than anything, they do not form clearly early in life and come after considerable experience… School age and junior college is no place to discuss that. PERIOD! hahaha! And as for desperate house wives, he was a masochist! but he was also to blame for not telling bree man! she cannot print out a list of the internet and start asking him about each and everyone! but anyways, communication problems are always bidirectional! cheerz ppl!


  7. kj, actually it isnt a bad idea to teach kids about psychological disorders as well. Maybe not 6 graders as you sarcastically said but 10th grader would absorb the concept pretty well. How many of them do really suffer from such disorders? and how many would find comfort in knowing what are dealing with?Whatever, cheers back to you. No hard feelings from my side about you calling me delusional, maybe I am, you also made it up by being sincere with your reply, which i respect.Actually my info is based merely on the article i read on wickiperdia. They said sexual masochism is not a disorder by itself, but it is if accompanied with other psychological disorders.Now I do respect your experience of teaching sex at schools, and I have a good picture of how bad it is in our schools. I know that there is a room for a big improvements and that these stuff may need to take a backseat for now before thinking of incorporate it is the syllabus. Let me ask you this. How many kids did actually watch DHW? and how many of them watched masochism through porn? They do form various misconception ideas because they are not learning the right way, because we fear to come up and teach them in a respectful way. Our kids are not immune the way we love to believe. They need our help and support in giving them information in the right way. dont you think?


  8. No_angel Fetishism is different from Masochism, as fetishism is the sexual attraction for a certain object, and while masochism may include fetishism, but still you can be a masochist without having any kind of fetishes. And masochism can be for the physical pain and or for the physiological pain.Masochism can start at an early age, and even before exploring straight sexuality, considering BDSM as a mental disorder is currently a controversial issue. And not being considered as a mental disorder in some countries, I think its just a matter of time for the maturity of societies.I like your idea Arab Observer, im sure it could have helped many if it is been applied, but based on our current status in sexual education, the path is still long away, sure this doesn’t mean not to think ahead.


  9. Abed Hamdan, hehehe, yes I read 11 minutes. It is a very good book 🙂Husam, where have you been man? 🙂you are totally right in what you said. Unfortunatly we are still not ready! Too bad because with time problems will just come up to the surface.


  10. husams, i beg to differ there i perfectly understand what you are saying (thats your personal belief) but since we are discussing education and science i would have to refer to psychology in this case and it falls under paraphilia like whatever mentioned which is also known as sexual fetishism, check it out. i would like to read something about the development at an early age and why you separated hetros in that reference, so if you can link or provide us with any i’ll appreciate it.if thats the case then the attachment of that fetish to sexual pleasure would be supporting the disorder since it would have to be linked at a latter age and dealt with that way. and i don’t think its about the maturity of society, to each his own i say and personally i don’t have the slightest problem but when it turns into the mainly gratifying sexual experience rather than spicing up things i would think it qualifies to be called pathological in anyones book.


  11., check out this wicki page. It seems that both fetichism and masochism are considered to be under Paraphilia. This paragrpah may sum it all:The definition of various sexual practices as paraphilias has been met with opposition. Advocates for changing these definitions stress that there is nothing inherently pathological about non-criminal paraphilic practices, and they are stigmatized by being lumped together with crimes. Those who profess such a view hope that, much as with the removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (see homosexuality and psychology), future psychiatric definitions will not include most of these practices, or that consensual paraphilias will be clearly separated from nonconsensual paraphilias.I think, this is fair and square. Consenual practices cannot be listed with non consenual ones.


  12. No_angel, actually reading the list under paraphilia made me think of what a weird world we are living in! Do some people really get turn of by food?!! To answer your question, I don’t think that I can give a definitive answer. Maybe if things are done with precaution measurments to prevent any harm inflicted on either party, then it might be ok.But it also maybe not ok, if it would inflict serious harm on the person parcticing it. I don’t know, I have to give it more thought.


  13. As almost always I totally agree with Fadi 🙂 bambam yes they are all part of paraphilia i didnt say else than that, but also almost any sexual attraction. so the process of sexual arousal it self doesn’t mean to me anything, i take as a black box. the results is what counts and it is what concerns us, if it is causing harm to anyone or done in nonconsensual uncontrollable way then it’s a sort of mental disorder. I know there are some risky sexual plays, and to answer no_angel I don’t think I would consider erotic asphyxia reasonable as well as I don’t consider many extreme sports and stunts challenges reasonable, but its their own choice and their own lives, and I don’t think its right to label people with mental disorder just because they enjoy different things than “normal” people usually do, that what they used to say about homosexuality and still in Arabic countries considered as a mental disorder. And that what I meant about maturity of societies.bambam if you want to know why it may be developed at an early age, there is still no single clear answer, such as homosexuality you simply may feel you are homosexual before you know that homosexuality even existing, and for no specific reason you can refer to, and you may enjoy masochism and wonder why you are enjoying it. Its just complex mix of emotions.


  14. I love how you can bring up such a subject, and without Haya’s help 🙂Yes a man who doesn’t have his sexual needs fulfilled by his partner will go out to get the goodies elsewhere.Really this brings to mind 2 profiles:P1: The woman I want to have sex with.P2: The women I want to marry.Those profiles don’t usually match, and while it would be nice to have a woman who can be P1 behind closed bedroom doors, and turn back into P2 in public. It’s not very realistic.Oh and about discussing sexual preferences before marriage ! Hah in Amman, I can see the woman’s family bringing out the shotguns for much less !On the fetish front, I think both sadism (giving pain) and massochism (getting) can be fun as long as it is done between consenting adults.I agree with no-angel though, none of this can be discussed as part of sexual education with youth.


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