What is BDSM?

BDSM, or Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sadism and Masochism is a sexual practice that includes a variety of sexual personalities and activities. BDSM is often regarded as this dark, freaky, “non-normal” kind of sexual preference (and by this we mean the norm society has placed upon all of us), often forcing (What?) its players to retreat into the shadows and stick to carefully curated communities separated from the majority of society. 

BDSM participants identify themselves in one of three main ways: dominant, submissive, and switch (as changing between the first two). It’s important to remember that all of these personalities are shifting and continuous, and can change depending on the participants’ mood or partner. (Click here to view different BDSM Dynamics).

What is BDSM? 

Bondage: A form of restricting a player’s movement, for example, by ropes or handcuffs. This kind of restrainment can increase sexual enjoyment for some, and induce somatosensory (of warmth, coolness, pressure, pain) feelings in different areas of the body. 

Discipline: A series of rules and punishments — all agreed upon before a physical encounter begins — for a (usually) dominant partner to exert control over and direct the actions of their (usually) submissive partner. The above-mentioned bondage can be a form of, and a medium for, discipline. 

Dominance: The act of dominating a partner, both in and out of sex. Sometimes, dominants have arrangements with their partner in which they dictate (with the others’ consent) not only their partners’ behaviour in bed but also behaviour out of it — from food habits to sleep patterns.

Submission: The act of a submissive following their dominant’s actions. They have as much control over deciding what happens to them as their dominant does, even more so, perhaps. Communication between the dominant and submissive is of utmost importance, as that’s where boundaries are set, desires are shared, and permission is given. 

Sadism and Masochism, or Sadomasochism: The pleasure that a BDSM participant derives from either inflicting pain (sadism) or receiving pain (masochism); this could also manifest as emotional pain in the form of humiliation. Yes, BDSM can be violent — if the word ‘violent’ is stripped of all negative associations. Called intense sensation play, BDSM can involve hitting, pinching or causing any other physical harm to a partner — but this is all consensual. Consent is the key to a healthy expression of sado-masochism, with an understanding between both partners that the activity could stop at any moment should anybody be uncomfortable with the intensity of play. (Read more on BDSM Safety here)

How do people engaging in BDSM deal with consent? 

Consent — when given in an uncoerced, enthusiastic, clear manner with boundaries outlined — makes a BDSM encounter a safe and inclusive experience for all partners. Consent and boundaries can be outlined in a formal contract, a verbal agreement or a casual conversation. Consent is also not absolute — the desires and comfort of players in BDSM are of the utmost value; if a player is uncomfortable anytime before or during the experience, they can easily revoke the consent, and other players must respect the change of heart. This can be done through previously agreed upon safe words, which when said, signal others to stop. 

Limits, or boundaries, also take many forms: soft limits are activities with which a BDSM player is uncomfortable but might be willing to try. Safewords are especially important here. Hard limits, on the other hand, are a complete no-no under all circumstances. 

Can BDSM be incorporated into vanilla sex? 

BDSM, or Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sadism and Masochism is a sexual practice that includes a variety of sexual personalities and activities. BDSM is often regarded as this dark, freaky, “non-normal” kind of sexual preference (and by this we mean the norm society has placed upon all of us), often forcing (What?) its players to retreat into the shadows and stick to carefully curated communities separated from the majority of society. 

BDSM participants identify themselves in one of three main ways: dominant, submissive, and switch (as changing between the first two). It’s important to remember that all of these personalities are shifting and continuous, and can change depending on the participants’ mood or partner.

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