I sometimes think that words end up being a trap and a diversion. We have a vocabulary of words and phrases that relate to our interests and obsessions. We use them sometimes to track them items of interest on the Internet. Sometimes the set of words we have can never capture the thing itself.
Leopold Sacher von Masoch has been dismissed critically as a writer of any quality although he must have provided some food for thought for the alienists.
But the influential Venus in Furs doesn't end up being exactly any of the words we might use to describe it. It is sobering warning about the dangers of the male mind when it enters upon obsession. The heroine is a warm-blooded woman of the world who knows her own mind well. She gives her admirer every chance to back out of the kind of crazy relationship he is seeking. Every time he gets what he wants he cranks up the want list again. The developments at the end are all shocking and appropriate.
I believe it was Pat Califa who heralded a new age where S&M, reputedly popular in California, was to be regarded as something that we tolerable, acceptable and life positive. Pat gave us a whole new set of terms, which I reject out of hand. Pat may be right, but her sunny views don't suit my Gothic sensibilities.
For years I ave always told people that S&M is a downward spiral to Hell, even if it isn't. Incidentally I don't believe in Hell. It's just a word the Vikings made up.
Wanda in the novel is not a dominant female in the conventional sense. She is an alpha female and she knows how to be aristocratic. She embarks on her role, despite her many reservations, to oblige her admirer, out of affection for him, but also like many women to show that they can do it.
A drive to mastery is a significant part of child development. Young children will do an activity until they have mastered it, and then they will move on to something else.