A woman is being beaten and maybe she likes it? Approaching Song of Songs 5:2-7

Julie-Anne Kelso

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


In the Song of Songs, the beating of the woman by the watchmen in 5:7 is generally understood to be either part of a dream or waking fantasy by the woman. Briefly, having risen to open the door to her beloved, she is stunned to find that he has left. She goes out searching for him, but the watchmen instead find, beat, bruise and strip her (Song 5:2-7). This is a problematic moment in the text, especially for those who wish the Song to be understood as an egalitarian model of love between the sexes. However, according to Virginia Burrus and Stephen Moore's (2003) recent work on the Song, developed especially in light of Roland Boer's own pornographic x-egesis, the "beating" scene might just subvert the oppressive reduction of woman to passive sexual partner, even victim, expressing instead woman's desire for masochistic enjoyment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe one who reads may run
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in honour of Edgar W. Conrad
EditorsR. Boer, M. Carden, J. Kelso
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherT&T Clark (International)
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9780567602176
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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