As I mentioned in a previous post, I want to start talking about one of the things that is such a large, important part of my life. And after talking to a great friend who is also in the lifestyle, I got the kick in the pants to get started (thanks, love!). I’ll be talking about various aspects of BDSM, so if you’re uncomfortable reading about it, feel free to take a skip. I’ll be posting all kink related content under the “BDSM” category, to help make it easier to skip. I’ll catch you again soon with another mead update!
Still here? Great! Let’s get started with a basic primer of what I’m talking about for those who are unfamiliar with BDSM – or who came into it only from the book/movie trilogy that shall not be named. No hate, we all start somewhere. Please keep in mind, I’m being very general with these descriptions and explanations. Some topics I will go into more depth in later posts because of my enjoyment and experience in those subsets. Others I might explore more if there are questions or interest in them. With all things, your mileage may vary. The only wrong way to kink is the way that harms someone. If you’re going to look these up later, be aware that you’ll likely find a lot of porn and, as with regular vanilla sex and relationships, porn is not your best avenue to learning the truth about these topics.
What is kink? Kink is non-conventional sexual practices, concepts, or fantasies (thank you, Wikipedia), but can also apply purely to relationship styles, leaving the sex side of things more conventional or “vanilla”.
What is BDSM? Most simply, the acronym stands for the variety of kinks under the headings of Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/submission, and Sadism/Masochism. Not everyone involved in our community is interested in all of the aspects under the BDSM banner – and not all kinks fit neatly in one or more of those groupings.
What is Bondage/Discipline? These series of kinks involve being tied up – using leather restraints, handcuffs (though these can be dangerous for longer play, they cut into nerves and blood vessel and can cause damage), or rope – and scenes of punishments that can either be a part of play, an actual attempt to modify behavior as part of D/s, or a little bit of both. This also tends to cover kinks based around restrictive clothing and chastity, though the latter often also falls under D/s play.
I’m going to skip Dominance/submission for the moment, but we’ll come back to it.
What is Sadism/Masochism? Sadism is the enjoyment of giving pain or discomfort and masochism is the enjoyment of receiving pain. This can be physical – spanking, flogging, clamps on various body parts, hot wax, or any number of painful or uncomfortable sensations. Or it can be mental – humiliation and praise kink both fall under this, along with dehumanizing play – dollification, being turned into furniture, and – for some – pet play. These can be done, like the bondage and discipline, as simply a part of kinky sex, or they can be part of D/s, as well.
So what is Dominance and submission? And why do you capitalize it like that? Dominance and submission is a power exchange involving a dominant partner and a submissive partner. This can be play that happens in the bedroom only, or can be inacted in one’s every day life and relationship(s) to varying degrees. And it is usually written with a capital D and lower case s to reflect that power exchange. This is a topic that I can – and likely will – spend many posts and many thousands of words on, and still never give you the full scope and understanding of what it is. Quite simply, though, it is the choice for one partner – the submissive – to give control of themselves and their life to their other partner, and the promise of the other partner – the Dominant – to tend and protect and lead. Some practice D/s purely in the roles each take in their home and family, while their sex life looks little different than your average couple. Some practice it only in the bedroom, taking the Dominant or submissive role only during sexual play. While others find their preference in a melding of both worlds.
Let me take a moment here to say that while I speak of D/s in relation to couples, D/s is not strictly monogamous, though I do, personally, believe that even in polyamorous families that each individual relationship must be addressed first in terms of one partner to another partner before it can be addressed in terms of the dynamic in relation to other dynamics and relationships around it. So a Dominant may have multiple submissives, but must spend time and energy on each submissive as individuals and then on them as a family/harem/word-of choice-here. And I also think it is the job of the submissives to spend time and energy on building their own dynamic between themselves – whether it is friendship, romance, love, sexual attraction, or tolerance – outside of their Dominant for true peace and happiness to be found. But again, that’s my opinion of the matter.
What are tops, bottoms, Dominants, submissives, and switches? Tops and bottoms – outside of LGBTQ+ settings – refers to those who enjoy being the actor/giver (tops) and receiver (bottoms). These are titles that can be used in relations to Dominants and submissives, or completely separately from. For example, in a bondage scene, the top would be the rigger, the one responsible for binding their partner and then monitoring their well-being through the scene and then removing them from the bindings. The bottom would be the one bound. Some times this follows lines of Dominance and submission, and sometimes it exists completely outside of D/s play. And sometimes a Dominant wants to be bound and their submissive serves by doing just that. Dominants and submissives are pretty self-explanatory, but there are also switches, those who may be Dominant in one relationship and submissive in another. Some are always one or the other, some are Dominants except for a special person, some are only submissive except for that special person. And some say, why not both?
Again, there is no right or wrong way, so long as no one is harmed. Which brings us to:
What is SSC, RACK, and PRICK? SSC stands for Safe, Sane, Consensual, the ideal that anything goes, so long as it falls within these confines. Of course, there’s a lot that falls into our kinks that plenty would argue is not sane. And I’m not arguing truth or false on that. At best I’m biased. Which leads us to the next evolution. RACK stands for Risk Aware Consensual Kink. This says both partners should be aware of the risks of whatever is involved and both consent to what is to come. PRICK is the newest acronym full of bad humor and clarifying further from RISK. It stands for Personal Responsibility, Informed, Consensual Kink. That is, that each participant takes personal responsibility to be informed and use that to consent to kink. All of it boils down to the idea that each partner must understand what they are getting into and consent to that, with the intent that whatever occurs, it doesn’t cross the line into true harm.
So what is harm? How can we possibly define harm in a lifestyle that includes choosing to share pain amongst consenting adults? Harm is causing permanent damage – physically or mentally/emotionally – whether intentionally or on accident. For some harm might me permanently changing the physical appearance of a partner, while others might see some body modification as simply an act of devotion between long devoted partners. One of the biggest determining factors to what qualifies as harm is consent and the long term well-being of the participants. Please notice here that I don’t specify that it means the long term well-being of the submissive or bottom partner, because the actions of the submissive/bottom partner can cause harm to the Dominant/top partner. Power exchange doesn’t preclude the partner in control being harmed.
What does is all boil down to? Consent. Every part of these interactions and relationships rely on the consent of those involved – open, informed, enthusiastic consent. Because anything less isn’t consent.
I hope you found this coherent and helpful. If you have questions, please feel free to drop them in the comments. If I can, I’ll be happy to answer. If I can’t, I’ll do my best to point you to some good information. There will be more coming, so if you’re interested, please keep your eyes out for next time.