What is BDSM?

It’s all fun and games till somebody gets hurt (but even then, sometimes they like it)

Sometimes, people involved in the BDSM scene say that the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey book and movies encouraged them to explore kink.

Since it was first published, though, many articles have pointed out the erotic novel doesn’t represent BDSM well.

Throughout the book, the ‘dom‘, Christian Grey, subjects Anastasia to emotional abuse. He ignores her safety and consent. This is abuse, not BDSM.

None of this has any place in BDSM relationships, which should be built on mutual trust and respect.

More knowledge is always more power. Are you or your partner wondering about experimenting with BDSM? Here’s some basic points before diving head first into sexy town.

What Does BDSM Mean?

The acronym BDSM stands for:

  • bondage and discipline (B&D),
  • dominance and submission (D&S),
  • and sadism and masochism (S&M).

These three categories together make up the umbrella term “BDSM”. This includes a variety of different sexual activities involving power plays between two or more people.

Author Janet W. Hardy describes in The New Topping Book that BDSM is:

“An activity in which the participants eroticize sensations or emotions that would be unpleasant in a non-erotic context.”

Most individuals are interested in one or two of the BDSM categories rather than all three. But, the practice can be a lot of different things to different people.

Different Roles

Most forms of BDSM have two main roles: the dominant (dom) and the submissive (sub).

The dominant is completely in control during kinky time and gives commands to the submissive. While always ensuring nothing gets out of control.

These commands can sometimes be nonsexual, such as simply telling their submissive to rub their shoulders. Or they can be sexual, such as telling their submissive to bend over for a spanking.

Some may assume men are always doms and women are always subs. Or that only heterosexual couples engage in BDSM. But these roles can be filled by anyone who wants to adopt them, regardless of gender or sexual identity.

Common terms used by queer members of the BDSM community are “Top” or “Bottom”, rather than “Dominant/Dom” or “Submissive/Sub”.

What about Consent?

Giving and receiving consent is at the core of BDSM practice. That’s what makes it fun.

The dominant enjoys being in control and inflicting pleasure or pain, AND also respecting the submissive’s boundaries.

The submissive enjoys being told what to do by the dominant, while knowing the dom puts their safety and wellbeing first.

Doms and subs must talk about what they do and don’t like BEFORE any BDSM play. They also set rules that both parties are comfortable following.

Valentines Day Omg GIF by Robyn Janine

Engaging in BDSM should be enjoyable for all involved, not just the person giving orders.

How to Keep it Consensual: Check-Ins

Even after the dom and sub agree upon boundaries and limits, dominants should still check-in with the submissive during a BDSM encounter or “scene.” The key to kinky pleasure is lots of talking to ensure everyone’s on the same page.

Circumstances and feelings can change even in the moment. So a sub may agree beforehand to being blindfolded thinking they will enjoy it, but then feel differently once it is actually happening. It’s okay if this happens.

So how do you ensure everything’s consensual? People use safewords, which are a word or signal that ends the activity immediately. No questions asked.

There’s a ton of different safewords that you and your partner(s) can decide beforehand.

Traffic Light System

Some people use the traffic light system. Each colour communicates how you’re feeling to your partner.

⚡Green for ‘Go’ : You’re enjoying yourself and you want everything to continue

⚡Yellow for ‘Slow Down’: Maybe you liked what happened before, but it’s a little too much. You want it to slow down.

⚡Red for ‘Stop’: You feel uncomfortable and you want to stop the encounter immediately. 

Image result for traffic lights

Safewords

Others prefer to choose a safeword that they agree on before getting kinky. The word should be something you wouldn’t normally say during sex.

So ‘stop’ is probably not the best choice. People use ‘stop’ playfully, which makes it difficult to know how the person actually feels. 

Something like ‘beetlejuice’ or ‘apple’ would work. But it’s totally up to you what you decide. 

With a safeword, no questions are asked. The activity ends.

Winona Ryder 80S GIF

Keep in mind these are just the basics of BDSM. It’s an entire community filled with unique individuals and different sub-genres, such as Pet Play and rope bondage.

Take the time to research to make sure your fumbling is safe, consensual, and of course, pleasurable.

And check out BuzzFeed’s cool video “Ask A Dominatrix” to learn more about the people who engage in BDSM and what they love about it:

Remember, BDSM or kink sex can be right up your street, but it’s not for everyone. And that’s okay. Make sure you talk with your partner(s) and do your research before you dive in.

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