Photo of Rachel Jobson

Rachel Jobson

Class of 2020 Master's Graduate

Degrees:Bachelor of Arts, Honours in International Political Economy, Trent University (2009), Postgraduate Certificate in Event Management, Algonquin College (2013)

MA thesis: “Giving In: Chronic Pain, BDSM, and Crip/Queer Utopia

Abstract: “This thesis considers whether people living with chronic pain can reimagine their relationship with pain and challenge structural narratives that frame lives lived in pain as less worth living through participation in BDSM (bondage, discipline/Domination, submission/sadism, masochism). Using feminist ethnography shaped by cripistemology, I use crip theory to consider how chronic pain might be experienced differently in a context where interdependence is valued. I argue that by connecting work around queer temporality and José Esteban Muñoz’s theory of utopia to BDSM practices it is possible to think pain otherwise. Radical BDSM practices challenge the hermeneutical injustice of chronic pain by allowing people in pain to express it, share it with others, and be fully seen, while also encouraging interdependence. It is through this process that BDSM is one example of queer utopia: a space of potentiality where different futures and perspectives on pain can be imagined outside of straight/capitalist time.”

Supervisor(s): Kelly Fritsch and Patrizia Gentile

Description: “My thesis looks at the ways some people with chronic pain use BDSM to reclaim pain and control over their bodies and uses crip theory to challenge the idea that lives lived in pain are less worth living. I am especially interested in how compulsory able-bodiedness can be subverted and how the normally private and unknowable experience of pain can become externalized and shared through the collective experience of participating in BDSM. More broadly, I am also interested in sexual citizenship, non-normative sexuality and relationships, law, and feminist theory.”

Something you liked about the program: “I love that the department is small and friendly. As an MA student, you get to know the faculty quite quickly, and I have received invaluable mentorship, support, and career guidance from those connections.”

Areas of research interest: crip theory; queer theory; crip/queer futurity; marriage and the family; conjugality and conjugal law; polyamory/ethical non-monogamy; mononormativity; kink studies; gender and sexuality; critical disability studies; chronic pain; disability and sexuality; social constructions of deviance; ethics of care; anticapitalism; parenting; mutual aid; anarchism; care networks and non-normative families; ethnography; law and social regulation.