BDSM

BDSM:

BDSM is an erotic preference and a form of sexual expression involving the consensual use of restraint, intense sensory stimulation, and fantasy power role play. The compound initialism BDSM is derived from the terms bondage and discipline (B&D or B/D), dominance and submission (D&S or D/s), and sadism and masochism (S&M or S/M). BDSM includes a wide spectrum of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships, and distinct subcultures.Activities and relationships within a BDSM context are characterized by the participants usually taking on complementary, but unequal roles, thus the idea of consent of both the partners becomes essential. Typically participants who are active – applying the activity or exercising control over others – are known as tops or dominants. Those participants who are recipients of the activities, or who are controlled by their partners are typically known as bottoms or submissives. Individuals who alternate between top/dominant and bottom/submissive roles — whether from relationship to relationship or within a given relationship — are known as switches.

Fundamentals:

The term BDSM has become a broad term for eroticized behavior between consenting adults. There is little that unites all the disparate subcultures which are grouped under the umbrella term BDSM. Interpersonal relationships which are based on the social conventions of one of the BDSM subcultures, exist in marked contrast with the current Western ideology.

While the terminology for roles varies widely within the various BDSM subcultures, Top and Dominant are widely recognized terms for those partner(s) in the relationship or activity which are respectively the physically active or controlling participants, and Bottom and Submissive are widely recognized terms for those partner(s) in the relationship or activity which are respectively the physically receptive or controlled participants. The interaction between Tops and Bottoms, where physical and/or mental control of the Bottom is surrendered to the Top – whether in the context of a short term encounter typically referred to as a scene, or in the context of a longer-term relationship – is sometime known as power exchange.

BDSM actions can often take place during a specific period of time agreed to by both parties, referred to as “play”, “a scene” or “a session”. Parties involved usually derive pleasure from this, even though many of the practices that are performed, such as inflicting pain, humiliation or being restrained would be considered unpleasant under normal circumstances. Sexual intercourse, be it oral, anal or vaginal, may occur within a session, but is not essential. Such explicit sexual interaction is seen only extremely rarely in public play spaces, and is often a violation of the standing rules in most spaces.

The fundamental principles for the exercise of BDSM require that it should be performed by responsible partners, of their own volition, and in a safe way. Since the 1980s these basic principles have been condensed into the motto “Safe, sane and consensual”, abbreviated as SSC, which means that everything is based on safe, sane and consenting behavior of all involved parties. This mutual consent makes a clear legal and ethical distinction between BDSM and crimes such as sexual assault or domestic violence.

Some BDSM practitioners prefer a code of behavior that differs from “SSC” and described as “Risk Aware Consensual Kink” (RACK), indicating a preference of a style in which the individual responsibility of the involved parties is emphasized more strongly, with each participant being responsible for his or her own well-being. RACK focuses primarily upon awareness and informed consent, rather than accepted safe practices. Consent is the most important criterion here. The consent and compliance for a sadomasochistic situation can be granted only by people who are able to judge the potential results. For their consent, they must have relevant information (extent to which the scene will go, potential risks, if a safeword will be used, what that is, and so on.) at hand and the necessary mental capacity to judge. The resulting consent and understanding can often be summarized in a written “contract”; an agreement of what can and cannot take place.

In general, it must be possible for the consenting partner to withdraw his or her consent; for example, by using a safeword that was agreed on in advance. Failure to honor a safeword is considered serious misconduct and could even change the sexual consent situation into a crime, depending on the relevant law, since the bottom has explicitly revoked his or her consent to any actions which follow the use of the safeword (see Legal status).

Bondage & Discipline:

Bondage & Discipline are two aspects of BDSM that do not seem to relate to one another because of the type of the activities involved, but they have conceptual similarities, and that is why they appear jointly. Contrary to the other two types, B/D does not define the Tops and Bottoms itself, and is used to describe the general activities with either partner being the receiver and the giver.

The term “Bondage” describes the practice of Physical restraining. Bondage is usually, but not always, a sexual practice. While bondage is a very popular variation within the larger field of BDSM, it is nevertheless sometimes differentiated from the rest of this field. Studies among BDSM practitioners in the US have shown that about half of all men find the idea of bondage to be erotic; many women do as well. Strictly speaking, bondage means binding the partner by tying their appendages together; for example, by the use of handcuffs or by lashing their arms to an object. Bondage can also be achieved by spreading the appendages and fastening them with chains to a St. Andrews cross or spreader bars.

The term “Discipline” describes the Psychological restraining, with the use of rules and punishment to control overt behavior. Punishment can be pain caused physically (such as caning), humiliation caused psychologically (such as a public flagellation) or loss of freedom caused physically (for example, chaining the Bottom to the foot of a bed). Another aspect is the structured training of the Bottom.

Sadomasochism:

The term sadomasochism is derived from the words sadism and masochism (see Etymology). In the context of consensual sexual activities, sadism and masochism are not strictly accurate terms; there is a significant difference from the medical or psychological usage of both terms. Sadomasochism refers to the physical aspects of BDSM. Sadism describes sexual pleasure derived by inflicting pain, degradation, or humiliation on another person. On the other hand, the masochist enjoys being bound, spanked or suffering within the consensual scenario. Sadomasochism does not imply enjoyment through causing or receiving pain in other situations (for example, accidental injury, medical procedures). Discipline often incorporates sadomasochistic aspects. Sadomasochism is practiced in isolation relatively rarely, although certain practices BDSM can be performed solo, such as self-bondage and autoerotic asphyxia, but such practices can be dangerous, at times resulting in injury or death.

In D/S the Dominant is the Top and the submissive is the Bottom. In S/M the Sadist is usually the Top and the Masochist the Bottom, but not always so (as in the case of Dominant Masochists who may arrange for their submissive to carry out s/m activities on them). Sadomasochists may also play without any Power Exchange at all, with both partners equally in control of the play. Likewise in B/D the declaration of the Top/Bottom is also required.

Physical aspects:

On a physical level BDSM is commonly misconceived to be “all about pain”. Most often though BDSM practitioners are primarily concerned with power, humiliation, and pleasure. Of the three categories of BDSM only sadomasochism specifically requires pain, but this is typically a vehicle for feelings of humiliation, dominance, etc. The aspects of D/S and B/D may not include physical suffering at all, but include the sensations inherited by different emotions of the mind. Dominance & Submission of power is an entirely different experience, and is not always psychologically associated with physical pain. Many BDSM activities might not involve any kind of pain or humiliation, but just the exchange of Powers (Power Exchange). During the activities, the practitioners may feel endorphins comparable to the so-called “runner’s high” or to the afterglow of orgasm. The corresponding trance-like mental state is also known as “subspace” for the submissive, or “topspace” for the dominant. Some use the term “body stress” to describe this physiological sensation. This experience of algolagnia is important, but is not the only motivation for many BDSM practitioners. The philosopher Edmund Burke defines this sensation of pleasure derived from pain by the word sublime. There is a wide array of BDSM practitioners who take part in sessions for which they do not receive any personal gratification. They enter such situations solely with the intention to allow their partners to fulfill their own needs and/or fetishes. They do this in exchange of money for the session activities.

In some BDSM sessions, the Top exposes the Bottom to a wide range of sensual impressions, for example: pinching, biting, scratching with fingernails, spanking or the use of various objects such as crops, whips, liquid wax, icecubes, Wartenberg wheels, erotic electrostimulation or others. Fixation by handcuffs, ropes or chains may be used as well. The repertoire of possible “toys” is limited only by the imagination of both partners. To some extent, everyday items like clothes-pins, wooden spoons or plastic wrap are used as pervertibles. It is commonly considered that a pleasurable BDSM experience during a session is very strongly dependent upon the top’s competence and experience and the bottom’s physical and mental state at the time of the session. Trust and sexual arousal help the partners enter a shared mindset. Some BDSM practitioners compare related sensations with musical compositions and representation, in which single sensual impressions are the musical notes of the situation. From this point of view, different sensuous impressions are combined to create a total experience leaving a lasting impression.

Some types of play

Bondage

Whipping

CBT (Cock and Ball Torture)

Wax play

Golden showers (urinating)

Strap on play

Sexual roleplay

Medical play

Suspension

Erotic electrostimulation

Spanking

Flogging

Internet:

In the late-eighties, the Internet provided a way of finding people with specialized interests around the world as well as on a local level, and communicating with them anonymously. This brought about an explosion of interest and knowledge of BDSM, particularly on the usenet group alt.sex.bondage. When that group became too cluttered with spam, the focus moved to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm.

In addition to traditional sex shops, which sell sex paraphernalia, there has also been an explosive growth of online adult toy companies that specialize in leather/latex gear and BDSM toys. Once a very niche market, there are now very few sex toy companies that do not offer some sort of BDSM or fetish gear in their catalog. Kinky elements seem to have worked their way into “vanilla” markets. The former niche expanded to an important pillar of the business with adult accessories. Today practically all suppliers of sex toys do offer items which originally found usage in the BDSM subculture. Padded handcuffs, latex and leather garments, as well as more exotic items like soft whips for fondling and TENS for erotic electro stimulation can be found in catalog aiming on classical vanilla target groups, indicating that former boundaries increasingly seem to shift.

During the last years the Internet also provides a central platform for networking among individuals who are interested in the subject. Besides countless private and commercial choices there is an increasing number of local networks and support groups emerging. These groups often offer comprehensive background and health related information for people who have been unwillingly outed as well as contact lists with information on psychologists, physicians and lawyers who are familiar with BDSM related topics.

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