Resources: History


This page is updated regularly, so be sure to check back often! Everything listed here is something we’ve read, vetted, and/or used. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made via some of the links below (at no additional cost to you). We may also make money off some of the other links here (at no additional cost to you).

  • A Curious History of Sex: Although not about BDSM, this book by Kate Lister (author of the Whores of Yore website) contains a treasure trove of fascinating and amusing information about sex through the ages, including sex and food, sex and hygiene, sex work, and more.
  • An Essay About “the Old Days”: Jay Wiseman recalls what the BDSM scene was like in the 1970s.
  • The History & Myths of Japanese Bondage: Midori dismantles the traditional Western story about the history of shibari, noting that “investing in a romantic but false narrative of a culture and its people is another form of “othering.”
  • History of the Dominatrix: A blog about historical aspects of BDSM and women’s sexuality by sexuality educator, historian, and author Anne O. Nomis.
  • The History of DS and Its Kin: This essay by Dusk Peterson explains how the terms “dominant” and “submissive” entered the BDSM lexicon.
  • “Old Gods Die Hard”: In his 2014 speech, Guy Baldwin dives into the fascinating history of the leather world’s Old Guard and dispels some of the more prevalent myths about leather culture.
  • Original Pride: The Satyrs Motorcycle Club: This documentary tells the story of the Satyrs Motorcycle Club, an early and pivotal influence on the gay leather scene, through interviews with many longtime members.
  • Sadomasochism and the BDSM Community in the United States: This much-needed book by Stephen K. Stein chronicles the history of the American BDSM community, from its fractured beginnings in the 1940s, through its heyday in the 80s and 90s, and its subsequent diffusion in the 21st century.
  • Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin: A lavishly illustrated book by Mel Gordon about sex in Berlin—including BDSM—after World War I when the city’s nightlife was at its peak before the Nazis came to power.
  • Where Angels Fear to Tread: Feminism, Sex and the Problem of SM, 1969–1993: A fascinating dissertation by Alex Ellis Warner on the history of the lesbian BDSM community and its impact on the rift among feminists during this timeframe.
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