Playtime Explored: What and Why BDSM

Paul Brown is Indiana Leatherboy 2013. He writes about explorations in leather and fetish and lives in southwestern Indiana. His column runs monthly.

Paul Brown is Indiana Leatherboy 2013. He writes about explorations in leather and fetish and lives in southwestern Indiana. His column runs monthly.

“BDSM” is an acronym of “B&D” (Bondage & Discipline), “D&S” (Dominance & Submission), and “S&M” (sadomasochism). “BDSM” refers to any or all of these things, and a lot of stuff besides.

Tying up your lover is BDSM; so is flogging that person, or bossing that person around, or any of a thousand other things. BDSM is highly erotic, usually (though not always) involves sex or sexual tension; and is highly psychologically charged. One person (the “submissive”) agrees to submit to another person (the “dominant”); or, alternately, one person agrees to receive some sort of sensation, such as spanking, from another.

Some people like to be submissive all the time, some people like to be dominant all the time; some people like to switch, being submissive one day and dominant the next.

Many people practice some element of BDSM in their sexual lives without even necessarily being aware of it. They may think of “S&M” as “That sick stuff that people do with whips and cattle prods and stuff,” yet still blindfold one another from time to time, or tie one another down and break out the whipped cream…

All of these things are “BDSM.” BDSM is not necessarily hardcore sadomasochism; it can be remarkably subtle and sensual and soft. Pinning your partner to the bed and running silk or ice cubes or rabbit fur over your lover’s body qualifies as “BDSM” (specifically, of a variety called “sensation play”).

There are many people involved in BDSM who enjoy tying others up, or being tied up themselves, but who do not enjoy S&M–that is, they aren’t interested in inflicting or receiving pain. Sometimes, one partner just ties up the other, as a form of foreplay. Similarly, there are many people who may like the psychological control they get from ordering their lovers to do things, but do not care for being physically restrained or tied, or for tying up their lovers.

The image of BDSM that is portrayed in many materials of this sort has about as much to do with BDSM as the child’s tale “Jack and the Magic Beanstalk” has to do with agriculture. These materials show little more than men being used in various unoriginal ways for men’s enjoyment, usually by force. BDSM is a mutual activity that is driven more by the needs of the submissive than by the needs of the dominant.

People who are practicing BDSM in any of its trillions of forms are doing it voluntarily, for fun. It’s a way to explore. Everything that happens in a BDSM relationship is consensual; and believe it or not, it’s not just about the dominant getting what he or she wants–it’s more about the submissive getting what he wants.

An abuser has no regard for the feelings, needs, or limits of the victim. A BDSM dominant is concerned above all else with the needs and desires of the submissive. Pretty straightforward, really.

I leave you with this thought; “People don’t ask for facts in making up their minds. They would rather have one good, soul-satisfying emotion than a dozen facts.” If you have any questions or commits, please feel free to email me.

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