Whips. Chains. Restraint. Control. Just a few of the several words that lead us to think of BDSM. BDSM is not new by any means, but it is something that is becoming increasingly more socially acceptable to talk about, in part due to the release of 50 Shades of Grey. So in hopes to open up more discussion about this type of intimate play, we are going to take an intimate look at BDSM.
The easiest place to begin is to define what BDSM encompasses. BDSM is a combination of role-play, restraint, and interpersonal dynamics that vary from person to person within the subculture. BDSM itself stands for Bondage and Discipline (BD), Domination and Submission (DS), as well as Sadism and Masochism (SM). It also has to be taken into account that there are those who refer to themselves as Hedonists (maximizes pleasure instead of pain) or just plain Kinksters (those into practicing a combination of BDSM activities). A couple of other important terms to know are people who refer to themselves as vanilla (not necessarily interested in engaging in BDSM/kink play) and Lifestylers (those who live the BDSM lifestyle 24/7. Usually means they are a Dom/Sub/Switch with BDSM deeply engrained into their everyday activities.) Within each of these subcategories, the degree to which someone is a participant varies greatly. People have their hard limits, things that they will by no means participate in (or try if they haven’t already). There are just some fetishes that most people are just not into.
Let’s take a look at some of the fetishes that are fairly popular in the BDSM community. Rope play is something that is extremely popular. It encompasses using ropes to harness, restraint, and suspend during play. It is a series of intricate knots and tying techniques that allows the rigger (person tying the rope) to control their subject and put them on display. Bondage in general is a very popular among those interested in BDSM. Bondage allows the rigger to restrict their partner’s movement, making them vulnerable to the rigger’s every whim. It is an interesting take on power exchange, and something that is a large part of 50 Shades of Grey.
With the release of 50 Shades of Grey, there has been a growth of interest in what BDSM is all about. It went from being a fringe subculture, to something everyone was talking about nearly overnight. Without revealing too much, 50 Shades of Grey is the account of Christian Grey (successful businessman) seducing a young female student and showing her the ropes of light BDSM. It brought to light a type of intimacy that not many people were comfortable talking about, and it encouraged many more people to explore the more “wild side” of sex. The BDSM scene is seeing more and more beginners joining in and getting their feet wet, thanks to Mr.Grey. Lifestylers and vanillas alike are flocking to new events, opening up the scene to the public. On the other hand, there are also those that say 50 Shades of Grey is insulting to BDSM subculture, prettying up how things play out. The truth of the matter is that BDSM dynamics are much more complicated and in depth than any book could ever possibly cover.
BDSM, despite being more socially accepted, is still something that is often kept in the closet. There are many Lifestylers who are extremely proud of the fact that they participate, but they still receive a lot of criticism for their choices. Because BDSM is not accepted as a “norm”, many are shamed into thinking that what they enjoy is wrong and immoral. BDSM can be an extremely healthy way for some to explore their sexuality and come to terms with themselves. It can increase the amount of self-awareness, boost self-esteem, and create a sense of wholeness that may not be experienced otherwise. Keeping an open mind, and an open heart towards those in the BDSM community may just lead you on some adventures that you may not have had otherwise.