An Introduction To BDSM

Posted by: Center for Growth Therapists

The popularity of 50 Shades of Grey has sparked curiosity of the BDSM world for many. Although the blockbuster brought attention to the BDSM world, 50 Shades Of Grey does not do a particularly good job representing the kink community nor give its fans safe and informational guidelines. You may feel curious about exploring within BDSM, such as spanking or bondage but do not know where to start. First here are some basic definitions to get to know.

 

BDSM stands for Bondage/ Discipline Dominance/ Submission and Sadism/Masochism. Before we delve into the specifics of BDSM, let’s start with some need to know definitions. The term kink can also be used to describe behaviors within the BDSM scope.

Bondage: Acts that involve physical restraint of a partner. There are different types of bondage, including lite or heavy. Some types of bondage include handcuffs, tape or rope.

Dominant (Dom): A person who exercises control, contrast to submissive. Dominant control can be exercised by giving the submissive orders or spankings.

Submissive (Sub): A person who gives up their control either all the time or for a specific period of time. A submissive can give up control by being whipped or completing tasks for the dominant. These tasks can be sexual or non-sexual. For example, a submissive may be ordered to massage their dominant counterpart or do their laundry.

Switch: A switch is someone who switches from dominant to submissive roles and vice versa either from relationship to relationship or within relationships.

Sadism (kink specific): The act of inflicting pain for pleasure.

Masochism (kink specific): Act of receiving pain for pleasure.

            Pleasure in BDSM does not necessarily need to be sexual. Some people who participate in BDSM do not have sex with their partners at all. A person who gets pleasure from inflicting pain on their partner, gets pleasure from seeing their partner enjoy it. It can be just from the rush of being dominated or dominating.

Flogger: A whip that has many tails that can be used on most parts of the body, but particularly the back, bottom, or thighs.

Paddle: A tool used for spanking that comes in different shapes, sizes, weight, and material

Limits: A place or activity where a participant does not wish to go. Limits are constantly changing or expanding or being pushed (consensually). For example, a person’s limit might be knife play, meaning they do not wish to incorporate knives into the scene.

Scene: The act of participating in BDSM roles and practice. For example, the dom started out scene by spanking his submissive.

Subspace: A place the mind goes when the endorphins kick in from a scene of submission or when they feel a very strong connection to the dom. Can be described as floating on a cloud. In subspace, it may be difficult for the sub to talk or respond so it is encouraged that the dom constantly checks in with their sub to reduce injury.

One of the most important aspects of BDSM to keep in mind is RACK or Risk-aware consensual kink. This term acknowledges that there is some risk involved with kink behaviors, but is completely consensual. The BDSM community utilizes RACK as a way to differentiate kink from physical and sexual abuse. BDSM is entirely about consent and communication around the wants and desires of all people involved. Risk aware means that both/ all partners involved are well- informed of the risks involved with the proposed activity. Basically, risk-aware allows partners to acknowledge that nothing is ever 100% inherently safe. Therefore, the purpose of RACK is to make BDSM “safer” and not “safe.”

The consensual part of RACK states that all parties are giving their full consent to partake in mutually agreed upon “risky” activities and acknowledge the risk. An important component of RACK is that each individual is responsible for all parties involved. Every person has their own definition and threshold of different BDSM activities, therefore each participant is responsible for their own well-being within RACK.

A conversation between partners may include feelings about alcohol, drugs, relationship expectations and limits. For example, one person may not feel comfortable participating in a scene if there are drugs and alcohol involved whereas others may be okay with that.

 

It is important to have a conversation with your partner about your expectations and limits if you are interested in experimenting with BDSM. This tip is just the basic information about certain BDSM terminology. If you are interested in more information please contact the Center for Growth to speak with a therapist.