In Please Scream Quietly, professor and self-identified kinkster Julie Fennell offers an intimate, nuanced, and engaging portrayal of the lives and loves of a BDSM community. In this first-of-its-kind collective autobiography of the frequently misunderstood and often maligned BDSM subculture, Fennell’s insider perspective shows that while most people are a little bit kinky, the BDSM community teaches its members to emphasize and cherish their kinky differences. Drawing from interviews, survey data, and years of observations, Fennell showcases kinksters’ lives and loves in a captivating, vibrant, and authoritative story. She addresses questions such as: How do kinksters define their identities? How do BDSM community members construct socially meaningful identities for themselves? Are BDSM identities always experienced as sexual? How are kinky relationships and consensual nonmonogamy/polyamory experienced in the community? Fennell provides an unprecedented exploration of kinksters’ community group norms and rules, analyzing the demographics along with the behavioral and attitudinal norms in—and out—of BDSM dungeons. Fennell analyzes the multiple ways kinksters construct positive and negative social status, illustrating how the social world of kinksters is frequently quite different from outsiders’ perceptions of it.
Julie Fennell is an associate professor of sociology at Gallaudet University with specializations in gender and sexuality. Her research has been published in Sexualities, Sociological Forum, Contraception, Gender & Society, and more. Having lived for many years as a self-identified kinky polyamorous pansexual “slut,” Dr. Fennell brings an insider’s intimate understanding to her writings about the Scene. She remains a well-established figure as a kinky performer, blogger, and presenter, and she continues to educate about BDSM in many parts of the US and Canada.
Introduction: “Your Fantasy Is My Reality”
1 Becoming “Kinky”
2 “Does This Look Sexual to You?”: Why Kinksters Do BDSM
3 “Why Would We Still Follow Their Bullshit Rules?” Practicing Polyamory in the Scene
4 The Love Language of Kink: BDSM Roles and Relationships
5 Learning the Ropes: Values and Rules in the Scene
6 Welcome to the Dungeon: Performing Kink
7 The Deviant Elite: Reputation and Social Status in the Scene
Conclusion: What Is It That We Do?
Julie Fennell’s engaging semi-autoethnography, Please Scream Quietly: A Story of Kink, explores the mid-Atlantic kink community with nuance and depth, challenging the ways that outsiders and academics have been biased in their treatment of kink culture and calling us forward into new transferable models of research, consent, and responsibility.
The author takes you step-by-step into the Scene, offering an intimate portrayal of why, when, and how self-proclaimed "kinksters" engage in the Scene, as well as interrogating what is "normal" and "kinky" when the lines between them are blurring rapidly.
Fennell provides an up-close view of kinky culture, but does so using a sociological lens. Her description of how a sociologist looks at the world (like Sherlock) is spot-on. We are trained to make the familiar strange and I believe Fennell does a wonderful job at doing that.
This book gets high marks for originality and authenticity. The author fills a gap in the BDSM academic literature by conducting fieldwork from an insider’s perspective. Please Scream Quietly is methodologically sound and a great book for students in human sexuality, gender, and intimate relationships courses, BDSM researchers, or anyone who wants to gain insight into this interesting community.
I really loved the writing style of this book. It was engaging, accessible, and easy to read, without being simplistic. It was like having a really smart friend explain the BDSM scene. The author said that she was aiming this book at a more popular audience, and I think she succeeded at writing a book that can appeal to lay people without sacrificing intellectual rigor.
While other texts de-sexualize and make "stuffy" or boring the topic, this book is a frank and honest look at the community in which the author is situated.
Fennell’s work is invaluable—too often, as researchers, we leave out the fact that sex and pleasure are fun and enjoyable. Fennell expertly captures the emotionality and sensuality of BDSM. Fennell’s position as an insider is an asset and she directly engages in discussions of positionality and how this can inform scholarly work if one maintains a critical subjectivity. Her recognition of the inherent value of subjective experience in the study of sexuality is novel and, quite frankly, necessary. The work is bold and engaging and grounds her subjective experience within the scientific and empirical literature, while maintaining a writing style that is engaging and inclusive. This book can easily appeal to a wide audience. Fennell addresses some of the most important issues in BDSM and kink: safety, consent, and the shame and stigma that has plagued the community due to the pathologizing of these behaviors. Her raw and honest analysis of perceptions and experiences adds considerably to the knowledge on BDSM, kink, and sexuality.
Entertaining and informative, Julie Fennell’s Please Scream Quietly: A Story of Kink is an exemplary work of carnal sociology. Deeply researched and chock-full of social scientific wisdom, the book offers a rich and illuminating introduction to kinkster subculture in the United States. Read it for Fennell’s insights on sexuality, gender, and culture. Teach it if you dare!
9/13/22, Giddy: Julie Fennell talked about the BDSM community in this interview.