My Views On BDSM

In my experienced opinion, bdsm is fun, liberating, and definitely worth trying if you never have. Here’s why…

What does bdsm stand for? Numerous things, actually…it’s a pretty complex acronym.

The s&m portion is in reference to “sadomasochism”, the d&s is for “dominance and submission”, and the b&d stands for “bondage and discipline”. All of these can be parts of a scenario, or only some of them. It’s entirely up to the partners themselves.

What is the point of being the Sub?
The Sub (aka the submissive partner) is the one who, ironically, retains most of the control in a scenario. They are the ones whose boundaries are to be tested and respected, as well as the partner who is capable of calling a stop to the activities. To an outsiders view it may seem that the Sub is being “used and abused” by the Dom. However, this is very far from the truth since limits have been set and boundaries/expectations have been discussed beforehand. I can say from experience it is an incredibly powerful experience being the Sub in a game of bdsm. This role is great for men/women who enjoy testing their boundaries and want to hold the reigns of control while enjoying the ride.

What is the point of being the Dom?
The Dom (aka the dominant partner) is the one in charge of painting the scenario. It’s up to them to bring the Sub’s fantasies to life…kind of a sexual director. They may look like they have complete control over what happens, but if their “actor/actress” says that a certain “line” just isn’t working for them, the Dom’s responsibility is to alter it to better fit the scenario and keep both partners happy. This role is excellent for women/men who are creative and enjoy the idea of being a facilitator of a unique sexual experience.

What are hard limits? Soft limits?
Limits are exactly what they sound like: boundaries to the amount of play you want to do. Both the Dom and the Sub usually have limits…it’s part of being human and recognizing there’s just always going to be activities you’re not into. That being said, there are 2 different kinds of limits: hard and soft.

A hard limit is one you will (in the foreseeable future) never want to do. Maybe your Sub is a man who got trapped in a dark basement during a game of hide and seek as a child, and he doesn’t want to use blindfolds. This is a hard limit for him since it triggers a bad memory, and must be respected by his partner.

A soft limit is one you wouldn’t usually do under any other circumstances, but are willing to consider in the context of a bdsm scenario. Perhaps your Dom is a woman who is strictly against the idea of physical punishment…so much that she doesn’t even spank her kids. However, she knows you enjoy being whipped so she makes an exception for your bdsm play.

The important thing to remember about limits is that people can change. They may find a new partner that they trust utterly and completely, they might eventually want to try something new, they may learn to crave more sensual or forceful types of sensation…the list goes on. This is why the concepts of honesty, communication, and trust are foundational pieces of bdsm.

What are safewords? How does the Sub use them?
Safewords are predetermined phrases or words that help the Sub retain control in a scenario. It should be something that doesn’t ever come up in your experiences, or even in everyday conversation that often. It could be something simple like “acorn”, or something slightly longer such as “I like cake”. Whatever you choose, it means that the Dom immediately ceases what they’re doing and gets back into a normal frame of mind to help remedy the problem. Safewords are like the pause buttons of sex, and take the place of typical negative signifiers like “no” or “stop” since various role-plays might involve these as part of the game. Men and women alike need to remember that No, Stop, and Don’t are still real negative signifiers in non-bdsm sex. This is regardless if the partner is a different person or not.

Another type of verbal safety mechanism that can be used is the “increase” method. This is where numerous words are used to help the Dom know exactly what the Sub needs. For example, a Sub might say “yellow” if they want the Dom to keep spanking them, but not as hard…whereas saying “red” means the Dom needs to actually stop. The word “green” could then be used to begin the scene again now that the issue is taken care of. These types of safewords are good for partners who have been doing bdsm together for a long time and feel comfortable with making impromptu changes without fully interrupting the flow of the scenario.

Isn’t bdsm disrespectful to your partner, or only something that overly controlling jerks are into?
Actually, no. In bdsm you find that the Doms who are best at what they do are truly very caring, loving people. They want to create a scene for themselves and their Sub to fully enjoy…like any good lover, they know that the most fun is had when both partners can end a scenario on a positive and satisfied note. My lover is an exceptional Dom in my eyes precisely for this reason. If a man or woman wants to try bdsm because they think it means being able to force themselves on the Sub, or gives them a “right” to actually hurt someone DO NOT PLAY WITH THEM! Bdsm is not an excuse to commit abuse or exert control over another person, and should never be mistaken for such.

Can men/women who have been abused enjoy bdsm?
Yes, I can honestly say they can. In my personal experience, I’ve only had to use our safeword once and that was because of the leg restraint becoming too tight, not because of any memories coming up. It’s incredibly important for practitioners and outsiders to understand that bdsm is a game. It certainly can have therapeutic properties for one or both partners, but it should never take the place of real therapy. Of course, there’s always the “threat” of flashbacks if the scene inadvertently contains a trigger that unlocks a bad memory…Again, this is why it’s so very important for the Dom to pay close attention to their Sub, and likewise for the Sub to understand that using safewords is not a sign of weakness. Keeping yourself and your partner emotionally, mentally, and physically safe takes priority over anything else.

Doesn’t it give men an excuse to harm women, or recreate hurtful extremes of gender roles?
No, not at all. In fact, what you see in “bdsm” porn is usually not indicative of what private practitioners do. For one thing, the professional bdsm community has a significantly higher number of male Subs than female ones, and involves homosexuals as well as heterosexuals. The fact that the vast majority of porn shows a female Sub and male Dom says more about the industry of erotic films than anything about what people do in their own homes (or pay people to do to them).

Recall that pornography is acting…it’s not reality any more than Thorin Oakenshield or Gwen Stacey are real people. The men and women are paid to act a certain way by the company, there’s a director and camera crew, and shots may be stopped, refilmed, altered, or slowed down to accommodate the people involved. Laws are adhered to, contracts are signed, and no company wants to be sued due to someone’s stupidity. The majority of bdsm porn I’ve viewed lately even has the Sub give an interview before and/or after the scene to discuss what they got out of it and why they agreed to what happened.
As for the role-playing aspect, I do not feel that being a Sub is at all degrading or somehow “the way it should be” just because I’m physically a woman. If this was so, then my lover wouldn’t request to switch roles now and then. He may normally be my Dom, and I may normally be his Sub…but these aren’t etched in stone, nor are they indicative of any roles we have in real life. Bdsm is a sexually charged game of psychology and experimentation, not a throwback to oppressive gender restraints for either sex.

I don’t know…it seems too rough and painful for me.
Bdsm may not be for everyone, but it should be noted that there’s no rules saying it necessarily has to involve pain or rough behavior. If you enjoy being handcuffed and blindfolded while your partner runs a silk scarf or ice cube over your body…that is an aspect of bdsm. If you like to be lightly spanked or choked, that’s bdsm. If you crave the part pain/part pleasure of having your back flogged with softened leather straps while lying across the bed…you guessed it, that’s a type of bdsm (actually, this feels really good, kind of like the sensation of a deep massage). Remember what I said at the beginning about bdsm scenarios having many different parts? Yeah, it’s not always about chains, hot wax, or ball gags (which I’ve never used)…it’s about testing your boundaries and seeking out new physical and mental feelings.

Bdsm is only as “extreme” as you and your partner wish it to be. Sex in all it’s forms is meant to be enjoyed consensually and bdsm is no exception. Hopefully I’ve covered enough of the above topics to clear up some of the disapproval and misconceptions that are so often directed toward this diverse and worthy type of sex play.

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, adhere to my Comments Policy please. Especially for a potentially volatile topic like this one.

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23 thoughts on “My Views On BDSM

  1. As much as I enjoyed this post it would appear to me to be reflective of modern attitudes rather than the scene as I knew it and was introduced to it over 20 years ago. To me, a submissive who retains control above and beyond the power of the safe word (to stop a scene but not direct it) could be more rightly called a “bottom”, and a Dominant whose responsibility is to create a scene that fulfills the bottom’s fantasy would be called “a submissive top”. Of course, negotiation is paramount but if there is no psychological power exchange, then how is it a Dominant/submissive relationship? Of course, when a young submissive woman is enjoying her peak sexual fertility and attractiveness, she might feel entitled to require all sorts of concessions in exchange for the “gift” of her “submission”, but that attitude doesn’t age well nor does it play well in lesbian circles. It would seem to me that D/s courtship is exemplified by the tango in that there’s a bit of a struggle and reinforcement of the Dominance/submissive dynamic. That “testing” is part of the flirtation of deciding whether to commit to the dynamic. Of course there is going to be risk in the degree of trust required to fully submit to someone (or for a Dominant to trust that the submissive is not going to overreact or cry foul and then go on a character assassination spree).
    It would also seem to me that the “public” scene is rapidly turning into a “safe” kindergarten when bottoms–particularly female ones–expect to be catered to at every step of the way. Whereas, at some point, men (and women) who feel that they’re sexuality is purely Dominant may well feel the need to go underground, where there actions aren’t scrutinized by the busybody hens and white knights who insist on being self-appointed police officers ensuring that everyone is “safe”.
    I would love to see the day when the slogan of choice is “Personal Responsibility Intentional Consensual Kink” where people negotiate and define what works for them within the particular relationship rather than expecting that every scene is like a girl’s “debutant ball” where she can be expected to be the center of attention–regardless of whether she is in the top of bottom role.

  2. @caprizchka

    Thanks for commenting. I myself have only played with bdsm sex for the last 5 years, and spoken to people online about it for 2, so I’ll admit I’m not really a part of the community at large…It may have indeed changed drastically if 20 have passed since you were in it.

    However, I’m concerned that you think my post is about more than just sex, as you used terms like “courtship”, “relationship”, “flirtation”, and speak of dominance/submission like they are personality traits. My post is not about actual non-egalitarian relationships…it’s just about a fun type of sex that a couple may enjoy in the comfort of their home. It has nothing to do with what they’re like outside of the bedroom. The bdsm I refer to is a game, not a dynamic of a relationship. Once the sex is over, the roles of Dom and Sub are packed away till next time…they don’t necessarily bleed over into the relationship.

  3. This is such a great post. So many people have incorrect or Hollywood-influenced ideas of BDSM, that clarification is always welcome.
    Two things I would always mention upfront in any discussion of this topic:
    1) BDSM is consensual. Abuse isn’t. It’s astonishing how many people don’t get this.
    2) Being a dominant does not equal being a bully, and being a submissive does not equal being a doormat. Roles in the context of a BDSM scene don’t necessarily correspond to roles in real life.
    People usually have their preferences for one role or another, but being a “switch” is fun too. 😉

  4. I honestly wish we lived in a world where the abuse and suffering of another person was not eroticized. And it isn’t in all cultures. You tend to get the tie between abuse and eroticism in patriarchal cultures. And the pattern tends to be that men are dominant and women are submissive. And, when we live in a society where male dominance is eroticized, we can come to be more accepting of it — after all, it’s sexy.
    That said, this is where we live and most of us have internalized it. So then I feel you must protect yourself by doing things like making sure you aren’t actually harming yourself — pain is an indication that harm is being caused and that you need to stop it. People who lack pain receptors die young. Also I think it shouldn’t always be men dominating women. Turn it around. If you want into the whole dominatrix thing, the couple could at least have times when the woman is being actually served however she wants, in a kind and gentle way. At the very least, I feel the couple should compartmentalize the BDSM play so that they are treated as equals in every other aspect of life.

  5. @UV

    Oh? You mean the ideas behind it, or just that you want to try some of it eventually? If it’s something you’re interested in, I definitely recommend giving it a shot someday. Like you pointed out…the lighter types of bdsm are fun, too.

  6. Oh no, I definitely want to try some of it eventually. Of course, I’m still trying to find someone to have regular sex with, so I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it… 😀

  7. @BroadBlogs

    Well, remember that bdsm is *not* abuse. As Eddie pointed out, victims of abuse do not ask for or want what is done to them. In bdsm you have to be honest and communicate what you’re feeling as well as have a partner who isn’t actually wanting to harm you. Recall that it’s a game, and for 99% of people any roles you take on for the sake of the game end in the bedroom. In abusive relationships, the “dominant” person *wants* to hurt their victim…they want to make them fearful, make them suffer, force them into submission.

    None of this is present in bdsm, and as I mentioned above, if you have a partner who gives bad reasons for wanting to try anything like this, do not play with them.

    Also, I said above that in the actual bdsm community there are more male Subs (both straight and gay) than there are female ones. The male Dom theme that is used again and again in the media is nowhere close to an accurate representation of what people actually do.

    The pain thing is a strange topic. I will fully admit to liking it when my lover spanks or whips me, and have asked him if he would lightly use his belt on me in the future. I do not lack pain receptors…if I touch a hot pan I jerk my hand away, and if I cut myself opening boxes at work I drop the razor and clutch my arm. If I drop a cinderblock on my foot or slip and fall on a patch of ice, I will definitely feel it. However, these are all different than the “pain” I feel when playing with my lover. I’m extremely sensitive, and orgasm very easily…too easily sometimes. I like it when I can concentrate on the heat and light discomfort that warms my skin after a “punishment” (again, only in-game and I can use the safewords if it actually begins to hurt). Doing so allows me to keep from climaxing when I don’t want to be overly sensitive during my refractory period. Sometimes it’s just nice to spend some time on the edge of orgasm rather than rushing headlong into one after another after another. It can tire one out.

    I agree that the woman should be “served” the way she wants…but you seem to assume that the bdsm is not what the woman wants anyway. I do enjoy softer, more sensual sex or even “love-making” from time to time. But as the woman in this FwB arrangement I am part of, I *want* the bdsm part more. Kind and gentle is good in some cases, but it gets boring. Spicing things up is better, at least for me. However, if my lover asked for kind and gentle (which he does) then I change my mindset to ensure he gets what he needs too.

    And yeah, I am not a submissive. I just play one in the bedroom. Equality is a necessary component of every aspect of life, imo. Anyone who has drastically different views should probably not try bdsm, or should be extremely cautious with it.

  8. @UV

    That’s true. I haven’t been commenting as much due to time constraints, but I’ve seen your recent posts. I was so hoping that crush-girl was going to come around to you, be your girlfriend. I’m sorry it didn’t work out.

    This is not meant to be insulting, so please don’t take it as such if at all possible, but have you ever thought about using an escort service or saving up and visiting the Bunny Ranch? I don’t have a problem with sex workers so long as they are STD free and treat their clients nicely (of course clients should do likewise). I think prostitution is a valid enterprise when everyone is treated respectfully and the workers are in control of what they will/won’t do. I don’t look down on them or anyone who uses their services.

    Oh, and I just realized I never answered your emailed question from a while ago. Here’s the post I wrote about it:

    https://tarnishedsophia.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/gender-dysphoria-and-sex/

  9. lol don’t worry – I rarely if ever get offended so you can say just about anything to me. But no, I couldn’t do that. Aside from the ick factor (i.e. how would I *really* know if they’re disease free?), to me that’s just cheating and taking the easy way out. I want a girl to want to have sex with me – and not because I’m paying for it.. I want to accomplish this on my own merits. Not to mention I still would like it to be special and have some meaning. Going the sex worker route would rob me of all of that.
    Of course, if I’m still in this fix in another ten years (which I doubt) then I might consider it. But for now, definitely no.
    Ooh – thanks for the link to the post! I’d read your entire blog at once but I obviously missed some stuff. I’m most curious to read this now…

  10. @UV

    Fair enough. I couldn’t recall if you thought of sex the way I do, or if we’d discussed it previously. I too would want to wait…and so I did. There were numerous guys who wanted to date me/have sex with me in high school and college, I probably could have easily lost my virginity when I was 16.

    But I didn’t want to lose it. I wanted to share it, and do so with someone who cared about me without shunning my brokenness. So I waited til I was 22, and such a friend was found.

    I realize that this is less time than you’ve waited yourself, but I’ll tell you now: it’s so very worth it.

  11. There are different types of pain though…I’ve yet to read anywhere about a Sub who allows themselves to get burnt on a hot stove or not yank their hand away from a scalding pot. The minor pain you receive as a Sub or Switch is, in my personal experience, closer to getting “hurt” from a long workout or a deep tissue massage. Yes, it “hurts” but not in the way it sounds like you’re thinking.

    If experimenting with bdsm causes a woman to legitimately *crave abuse*, I’m willing to bet my next paycheck that she has other, unresolved issues related to self-esteem and ideas of worth. Nobody wants to be punched, kicked, or maimed…that’s not what bdsm is about. Plus, reread what I said above: In order to be a good Dom you must have empathy and care about your Sub’s mental/physical/emotional state. An abuser doesn’t give a damn about their victim.

    As for making sexism sexy…did you not see where I stated that the majority of non-pornographic bdsm couples involve a female Dom and a male Sub? It seems you are overly concerned about the minority of women who enjoy being Subs, but aren’t talking about the majority of men who “submit” to their Doms. Aren’t you worried that male Subs will also begin to crave abuse/sexism?

  12. it makes sexism sexy and can cause women to crave their own abuse.
    I’d be very interested if you have any proof of this beyond theories.
    I am always amused when I want to do something, and my partner wants to do the same something, but a third party insists we not do it because it makes them feel icky.
    I’ll repeat it, since it bears repeating: BDSM IS CONSENSUAL. ABUSE IS NOT.
    If a dom does something to a sub that has not been agreed to, and does not stop when the safe word is spoken, that is assault and the police should be called.

  13. I have mixed feelings of BDSM. While the Dom can set boundaries and rules, some very extreme variants BDSM can become dark and abuse, such as degradation, humiliation, biting, choking, cock and ball torture like UV said in his latest post. So I get that in BDSM that both the Dom and the Sub can set and agree to the rules? What would be an example of a lighter form of BDSM?

  14. I agree that some forms can be very dark, but so long as no true physical/mental pain occurs and it’s consensual, it should still be fine. If someone literally likes being hurt…like things that can leave scars or burns…then they might want to just take a while to determine why they feel they need that. It’s entirely possible they have a psychological issue that needs addressing, or are addicted to endorphins.

    My lover and I aren’t into that. For us, it’s more about the roles we take on…it’s a sexual game, not anything to be taken seriously either in or out of the bedroom. For me, a small amount of “pain” can help me control my orgasms a lot easier. It’s incredibly easy for me to cum, but after 3-4 times or so I’m usually hypersensitive, which puts a crimp in my personal enjoyment. If I have another sensation to focus on, then I don’t have to worry about orgasming as much.

    Some bdsm could just incorporate pieces of it. You could role play as whatever you want, then engage in mutual masturbation…no actual sex. Or you could get tied to your bed with silk scarves and blindfolded while being lightly tickled or teased to the edge of orgasm numerous times. Maybe you just like the feel of having a very soft leather flogger or belt on your back. Bdsm doesn’t necessarily have to be painful or degrading…I certainly wouldn’t do it if that’s how it made me feel! However, pushing your boundaries with someone you trust can be an incredibly satisfying experience.

  15. What’s happening is that the “light” view of BDSM is staging a hostile takeover of this kink and waging some sort of strange media campaign to mainstream it.

    It’s common today that people *crave* being part of a subculture, but this kink has been around a loooooong time and has been analyzed for a loooooong time and *often* the psychological root that causes a sadist to *literally get sexual aroused from causing pain” and a masochist to *literally get sexual arousal from being harmed* is something that should be *treated* and not encouraged.

    Yes being tied with a silk tie, rubbed with an ice cube, and lightly wacked on the fanny until you say “ooooooh… Yellow!” *today* us being defined as BDSM by main streamers, but let’s please not be so disingenuous (or naive) as to pretend that this redefining of something ANCIENT suddenly disqualifies all of the much harder, often much darker and less easily rationalized, behavior that has been practiced under the banner for *centuries*

  16. Hi Janon. Thanks for commenting.

    I agree that someone who’s ability to become aroused depending solely on the causation or receiving of literal pain should seek treatment. While there’s no problem with enjoying “kinky” sex, one should have other avenues of arousal.

    I’m not sure who you know that is attempting to pretend that BDSM has always been the more consensual and safeworded type. It certainly does have it’s darker, less ethical side even today. It’d be foolish to deny this, but it would be just as disingenuous to state that this darker type is all encompassing.

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