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BDSM: What Is It, Really?!

Updated: Jan 14, 2021


Ever since the notorious book and movie “50 Shades of Grey” made an overwhelming impression in 2011, there have been many ideas that have circulated what women (and men) think about what a BDSM relationship is or should be, although many of them tend to be misconstrued ideas. There is no doubt that this novel turned heads and sparked the imaginations of many who had not previously been exposed to (or in very small doses) of what BDSM actually is and how to partake in a healthy manner.


Of course, over the years and especially more recently we have been seeing an increase in the openness of acceptance of sexual exploration of all kinds. In fact, many kinks and fetishes have been named as “taboo” by traditional society for years, leaving the ideas of what is actually happening solely up to the imagination of many, without ever having any actual personal experience. This can lead to misunderstandings, misconceptions, and incorrect or faulty preconceived notions of what truly happens in these relationships, especially if it is performed safely.


So... What Is BDSM?


For starters, BDSM stands Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism. BDSM however, does not strictly adhere to any one of these four (or all four at once), and it can include any of these among other fetishes, kinks, and preferences when performing play. Although oftentimes many people relate BDSM with a kinky activity directly related to sexual intercourse and other sexual activities, sometimes sex is in fact, not involved at all. This article does a great job at illustrating the different facets and uses of BDSM.


Much of the turn on is created more so by a mental stimulation which may (or may not) ultimately lead up to sexual activities. Those who are familiar with the concepts only on a superficial level tend to be under the impression that BDSM is totally about domination (hence, “50 Shades of Grey”) when in fact at the core, BDSM is about communication, consent, and understanding one another.


You might be asking why are these three things paramount when so much of the culture is defined by domination and oftentimes physical pain… But understanding your partner is key, especially in a situation where both parties are in an extremely vulnerable situation. Open communication about boundaries (mentally and physically), what each party likes/dislikes and is willing to try (at least once), and how to indicate (verbally or physically) that maybe a certain situation is a “no-go” any longer are all key aspects to having a safe, and ultimately enjoyable BDSM experience and/or relationship.


Spanking and hitting, tying your partner up, humiliating them, or dressing up as a dog (think bone-shaped gag and a collar) and being walked on all fours are only a small window into the world of BDSM. Ultimately, where your BDSM journey takes you is up to you and your partner and what has been communicated and agreed upon before starting any of this hanky-panky.





Dominant vs. Submissive... Which One Are You?


Now, there are two significant roles in BDSM: dominant and submissive.


When beginning, you’ll have to decide who is going to play each role. In some cases you’ll know right away whether you like dominating or being dominated, and in other cases you might want to play each role before deciding who does what. Personally? I make a lot of decisions on a daily basis, my mind is busy, and therefore I love someone who can take control of the reins and tell me what to do so I don’t have to think… being dominated turns me on because I am so dominant in most of the other areas of my life!


Although dominant individuals are in control of the situation and the outcome, it is truly the submissive party who has the most power in the relationship. This is because the submissive sets the rules of what can happen and what they aren’t comfortable with, what they want to explore, and what they are absolutely not interested in pursuing. The submissive is in a position of relinquishing control and often enjoys having the freedom of body and mind to be told what to do.


The dominant individual on the other hand does have control over the situation at hand, is responsible for teasing, taunting, and oftentimes inflicting much-enjoyed pain. This is an opportunity for the dominant individual to have power in a controlled environment, in which both parties can enjoy the situation at hand.


Consent & Care


First and foremost, it's imperative that all individuals involved in play understand and trust one another. Your safety and sanity could be on the line, afterall. Now declaring a safe word and/or a safe motion should be discussed before getting down to business. In the event that the submissive individual (the one who is giving up their power) to the dominant individual is no longer comfortable, is having trouble, or wants to be released safe words and motions are imperative to know beforehand. The word doesn’t have to be sexual, as long as it is mutually agreed upon before getting down to business. And the motion (if unable to speak) can be something such as nodding your head three consecutive times (the equivalent of tapping-out) to indicate “get me the f&*k outta here!”


Discussing any pre-existing conditions with one another is absolutely necessary before beginning. This includes both mental and physical conditions that could inhibit either party from truly enjoying the experience or potentially cause problems if not addressed beforehand.


If this sounds intense, that’s because it certainly can be. One aspect of BDSM that seems to be ignored by many mainstream ideas is the importance of aftercare. A relationship in many other situations which may be considered borderline abusive, brings pleasure to so many for different reasons. Understanding the potential repercussions of BDSM and how to prevent negativity from creeping in order to ultimately enjoy the experience, and to continue to enjoy it over time is paramount to a successful flourishing kinky relationship.


Of course, the world of BDSM is quite large with many facets to be discovered… and waiting for you to find your kink! If you’re just now beginning to explore BDSM, we encourage you to become a part of our community and explore with us, start out by checking our forum here. Join discussions, ask questions, and speak with others who have extensive experience. Our store is focused on BDSM gear and furniture from beginners to the seasoned individual. Of course, we recommend starting off with something that is easier to use and understand while working your way up to more complicated gear.


And of course, keep in mind that BDSM isn’t necessarily for everyone. There is a chance you may try it and not like it; make sure you listen to yourself. Until then, we challenge you to explore different facets of yourself that maybe you’ve previously thought taboo or have been apprehensive about trying. But as the saying goes: Don’t knock it ‘til you try it!



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