According to Laura Kipnis, “pornography begins at the edge of a culture’s decorum.” If this holds true, then the world of online kink might be imagined as a funhouse mirror in which we see our cultural fears and sexual desires splayed out before us in multiple dimensions.

This is especially true of medical fetish porn, a genre that features authoritative medical practitioners—usually physicians—who restrain, probe, and penetrate the bodies of their powerless patients. The physician is often a stereotypical doctor, a cold alpha male who forces a young female patient to spread her legs and open her body to the male gaze. She is typically penetrated and / or brought to orgasm against her will as part of the examination. This type of medical porn reflects the gender hierarchy inherent in western medicine—male-coded doctors dominating female-coded patients. With injunctions such as “doctor knows best” and “follow doctor’s orders,” western medical culture is patriarchal to the core—even when its practitioners are female.

Left: Georges Chicotot attempts to treat breast cancer with an x-ray 1907. Right: Naughty patient! Vintage medical fetish porn, unattributed.

The delightfully subversive world of medical kink has much to teach us. It illuminates both the horrors of patriarchal medicine and cultural concerns about the intimate relationship between doctor and patient. The character of the kinky female physician who has total control over her male patients speaks to misogynist fears of submitting to “irrational” female authority—an attitude reflected in medical horror films such as American Mary (2012). Beyond these cultural constructs, kinky female practitioners who run very real brick and mortar medical fetish clinics offer meaningful correctives to both patriarchal medicine and the traditional patient-provider relationship.

The Kinky Female Gynecologist

Gyno-porn is diverse in its offerings, with male, female, and queer doctors treating patients across the gender spectrum. Its ability to question patriarchal medicine and misogynist attitudes is particularly clear in scenarios with female gynecologists treating male patients. The typical narrative goes something like this:

A female physician, fully dressed and wearing an authoritative white coat, tells a male patient to strip, “hop up on the table,” and put his feet in the stirrups. With his legs spread and genitals exposed, he is now in a vulnerable supine position, one associated with the female role in missionary sex and/or rape. After some “medically necessary” fondling, the female gynecologist penetrates him anally—either consensually or forcibly—with a duck-billed speculum, a device with its own troubling history. Cranking open the speculum, she is now able to see her male patient’s most secret parts—inner workings invisible even to him. The doctor might go on to use restraints, oxygen masks, electrical devices, surgical probes, and needles to inflict pain and pleasure on her patient, to understand the workings of his body. Penetrated and pinned to the table by her phallic speculum, he can do nothing but comply.

In these tales, the gynecologist’s office becomes a scene of kinky potential. This transformation of a professional medical space into a place of sexual desire highlights the intimate nature of the patient-physician relationship—one partner naked and compliant, the other clothed and in control. The helpless male’s experience at the hands of the female physician-cum-dominatrix highlights male fears (and fantasies) about transgressing the feminine on the one hand and about submitting to female authority on the other. What makes this such a deliciously terrifying proposition for so many men?

Left: Kinky female surgeon in latex surgical scrubs (squeak squeak). Right: The surgeon will see (inside) you now.

Very real misogynist assumptions about women as irrational, consumed by penis envy, and unqualified to be medical professionals.

The Wicked Female Surgeon: American Mary

Male fears are writ large in American Mary (2012), a horror film directed by the wondrous Soska sisters. Mary is a first-generation medical student hoping to specialize in amputations. She is brilliant, dedicated to her studies, highly skilled with scalpel and needle, and restrained in her emotions—characteristics valued in male medical students. But because she is a woman who wears black dresses and red lipstick, she is seen as a mere sexual object by her colleagues, all of whom are male.

Left: American Mary wearing all black. Right: American Mary in red scrubs and black rubber. American Mary (2012).

At a surgeons-only sex party, she is verbally abused, drugged, and raped by her professor, Dr. Grant. Dehumanized by the patriarchy, she leaves medical school and becomes an underground body-modification surgeon known as “Bloody Mary.” She provides compassionate and competent care for her patients, all save for one—Dr. Grant. After having him kidnapped, Mary keeps him in a storage area in the basement. She practices new surgical techniques on him—a quadruple amputation, tooth sharpening, implants. She stitches his mouth shut, leaving him to hang on meat hooks, his screams silenced just as hers were when he raped her. Wielding her phallic blade, she removes his penis and testicles—in effect stealing his male power. Mary has become an embodiment of male fear—an “irrational woman” with the power to penetrate his prone and helpless body.

Dr. Grant doesn’t feel himself anymore. American Mary (2012).

Both the kinky female gynecologist and American Mary reflect the horrors of patriarchal medicine; they are likewise both phallocentric. Each woman wields a phallic implement, be it speculum or blade, as a sign of power over her patient’s body. With these phalloi they penetrate their victims, pinning them beneath their gaze and possessing them.

The Fetish Clinic

Brick and mortar fetish clinics (NSFW) offer some interesting correctives to the phallocentric medical model. First and foremost, kinky female-identified doctors and nurses are respected for their specialized knowledge. They are professionals who do not need to “steal” power from men. They already have it!

Patients, meanwhile, have full autonomy. They describe their physical and emotional needs and desires to the kink doctor, who makes recommendations. In the performance of medical BDSM, the dominant female fetish doctor and the submissive male patient are engaged in a process of continual negotiation, one in which power moves along a gradient between them. The female fetish doctor not only plans future therapy in consultation with the patient, but makes full disclosure of the risks associated with chosen therapies (Risk Aware Consensual Kink). Interactions at the fetish clinic, as in BDSM culture more broadly construed, are based on “negotiating consensuality, communicating, respecting” (Bauer)—all of which should be the hallmarks of medical practice and patient-centered care, but are in reality often lacking.

Left: Patient in a latex vacsuit. Credit: Miss Miranda UK Right: Domina Linda Dorn awaits her next appointment.

We have much to learn from medical kink, dear Dirgelings!

Sources

Bauer, R. (2008). Transgressive and Transformative Gendered Sexual Practices and White Privileges: The Case of the Dyke / Trans BDSM Communities. Women’s Studies Quarterly 26:3 , 233-53.

Kipnis, L. (2006) How to Look at Pornography. Pornography: Film and Culture. P. Lehman (Ed.) Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 118-132.

 

Brenda S G Walter

Brenda S G Walter

By day, Brenda poisons young minds as a college professor.  When she is not teaching classes such as Science and the Supernatural, she is writing about monsters, witchcraft, horror films, heavy metal, and gothic culture.  She might also be drawing apocalyptic landscapes or haunted houses while watching Creature Double Feature.  You can find her on Facebook and Instagram as Elderdark Nightmoth.
Brenda S G Walter