Delving into the World of BDSM

Published on Author GG RayLeave a comment

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Algolagnia is the psychiatric term for the love of pain. But the world of Bondage and Discipline/Dominant Submissive/Sadism and Masochism (known as BDSM in the community) involves play that is much more complex than just inflicting and receiving pain. The S&M scenes that you encounter in mainstream pornography have little to do with the real play that goes on inside the BDSM community. While dominance and submission is a key element of BDSM play, the key words in the community are “safe, sane and consensual.”

The BDSM community has struggled for many years to deflect a reputation of wholesale violence in which anyone is a victim. In fact, the true players see their play as an exchange of power in which it is the Submissive who is controlling the scene. The Dominant is a facilitator who develops scenarios in which it is the Submissive who gets what they want (not to say that the Dom doesn’t get anything out of it).

If you talk to anyone who has been involved in the community, they will tell you that in order for a BDSM relationship to work, there needs to be a great amount of trust and respect between the two players. Because true BDSM play is not about abuse (which is a non-consensual, one way flow of power over another person), you need to trust the person you are playing with to respect your boundaries, but also to be able to read you and pay attention to your needs and limits.

The BDSM world is about fantasy and role playing. There are some people who choose to be the Dominant partner (men are called Doms, women are Dommes, Dominatrixes, Domma or Dominant), and some who always choose to be the Submissive partner (Subs or slaves). Many in the community will “switch,” which means switching from Dom to Sub, depending how they are feeling that day. Some see BDSM as a part of their intimate lives with their partners (including vanilla folk who toy with bondage, blindfolding, or spanking in their private sex lives), while others see BDSM as a way of life (they are called 24/7s). These couples keep the play going at all times in their relationship and generally do not switch, but stick to their roles as Dom and Sub.

While many outsiders see BDSM play as having more to do with violence than intimacy, those in the community see BDSM as an intense exploration not only of their sexual selves, but also of their psychological selves. Being a Sub can be very liberating for individuals who are not comfortable exploring their sexual boundaries, because in a sense, you are not in control of what is going to be asked of you. Having a Dom instruct your role takes away the insecurity of asking for something you may be too bashful to ask for otherwise.

It is important here to reinforce that the lack of control that Sub has is part of the game. The other important part of the game is that, in reality, the Sub is controlling the limits of the scene. Most BDSM couples have “safety” words that they establish before the play begins. Because many of the scenes have the illusion of non-consensual activity (with a Dom controlling the role-playing, and the Sub obeying, and often being bound or restrained), a non-related safety word is established to tell the Dom when to stop. An example would be the use of the “stop light” safety, in which “green” stands for “go further,” “yellow” means “keep doing what you’re doing, but no further” and “red” means “stop.”

There are so many activities that fall into the BDSM play that is it difficult to build a comprehensive list. In terms of role-playing, the roles are as varied as the people playing. There are some “classic” roles, like Guard/Prisoner, Child/Nanny, and many medical variations of Doctor or Nurse/Patient. For many of these, professional Doms (who you pay) are very popular, as they have the roles down. Especially if you are entering a “medical” scene where there might be some experimentation with medical instruments, you are going to want to play with someone who is, if not a pro, very experienced.

The types of vanilla bondage like silk scarves and handcuffs are quickly surpassed in the Bondage scene with elaborate types of bondage. This can range from ropes (those Boy Scout knots will finally come in handy!) and leather restraints to bondage suits and various types of racks. Bondage suits can range from full body leather or latex to your regular old Saran Wrap or duct tape (often used for mummification, where the entire body is wrapped and bound (with a keen eye on air flow to the nose and /or mouth, sometimes through a tube—safety first!). Racks can include the old fashioned medieval rack, a St. Andrews Cross or a Catherine’s wheel, which the person is bound to and can be suspended and spun.

While bound, a player might like to try a good lashing with anything from a riding crop, to a paddle or a cat o’ nine tails. Other pain sensations are explored, using various implements from hot wax (always use paraffin candles), to electricity, to clamps attached to various parts of the body. While many believe BDSM play to be largely about pain and sex, it is more about building intensity, experiencing a range of stimulation (for instance, temperature extremes using ice and hot wax), and letting yourself feel intensely, both physically and emotionally. It is intensely intimate in that you are placing trust in the hands of another and they are deeply in tune with you in order to gage your levels of excitement and comfort.

Starting out

While you can easily practice the more vanilla forms of BDSM in the privacy of your own home, when you get into the more intense and dangerous games, you might want to do some research into safety. Even at the more vanilla end of things, you need to know that if a bound person feels tingling numbness or coldness, you need to loosen the restraint. You need to know that when lashing a person, you must avoid hitting them on the face, neck, lower back or kidneys.

Professional Doms can help you with your skills, as can attending various BDSM clubs or groups. Most clubs are intensely confidential: due to the misconceptions about the community and its purpose, many people desire privacy when bringing their play out of the bedroom. For this reason, you will need to become a member, be signed in by a member or contact the board of the club to request an invite. They are generally not difficult to get if you are serious. The weeding out process is simply a way to keep members safe and to keep out those who are not truly interested in the community.

If the club has any rules, they will let you know before you come. Some require fetish gear, but most don’t. You must be legal, and there is often alcohol served, but people are discouraged from imbibing too much, as safety is paramount. Many clubs have their own equipment, but you are allowed to bring your own. Be very, very careful sharing equipment, as there may be body fluids such as blood, urine, and scat exchanged in various scenes. At all times, be careful of any blood sports (in which blood is present due to piercing needles or scarification), and safe sex, if and when there is sex, is strictly adhered to.

The community, as with any, has its weirdos and those who are abusive or there for the wrong reasons. This is a good reason to be involved in a local community if you are not in a relationship, but are looking for one. Not only will you meet people with similar interests, you have a group of people around you to share information, safety tips, and to weed out the wackos. Safety and respect are the most important aspects of the BDSM community, and anyone in the community will understand your security needs. And if they don’t, just don’t consider them a potential partner for play.

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