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13 Things You Wont Learn About BDSM from Fifty Shades

13bdsmYou may or may not have read my article, Fifty Shades of Misconception, if you have you’ll know that I wasn’t a massive fan of the book, or the movie for that matter, for a number of different reasons. My main source of frustration has to be the massive wasted opportunity for the mainstream to finally show BDSM as it is, but alas, that wasn’t to be the case. Here’s a few things that I believe should have been in the book and weren’t, enjoy 13 Things You Won’t Learn About BDSM from 50 Shades…

 

1. What BDSM actually stands for

BDSM includes bondage and discipline (B&D), Dominance and submission (D&S), and sadism & masochism (S&M). The terms are lumped together that way because BDSM can be a lot of different things to different people with different preferences.

2. It doesn’t always involve sex, but it can.

A lot of people assume BDSM is always tied to sex, and while it can be for some people, others draw a hard line between the two. “Both are bodily experiences that are very intense and sensual and cause a lot of very strong feelings in people who practice them, but they’re not the same thing,” says BDSM writer and educator Clarisse Thorn, author of The S&M Feminist . The metaphor she uses for it: a massage. Sometimes a massage, however sensual it feels, is just a massage. For others, a rubdown pretty much always leads to sex. It’s very similar with BDSM; it’s a matter of personal/sexual preference.

3. You don’t have to have ‘issues’ to be into it.

A massive pet hate of mine. This is one of the most common and frustrating misconceptions about BDSM, says Thorn. BDSM isn’t something that emerges from abuse or domestic violence, and engaging in it does not mean that you enjoy abuse or abusing.

Instead, enjoying BDSM is just one facet of someone’s sexuality and lifestyle.

“It’s just regular people who happen to get off that way,” sex expert Gloria Brame, Ph.D., author of Different Loving, tells BuzzFeed Life. “It’s your neighbors and your teachers and the people bagging your groceries. The biggest myth is that you need this special set of circumstances. It’s regular people who have a need for that to be their intimate dynamic.”

“In my experience, it’s easier for people to get into BDSM if they don’t have a history of abuse, people who are in a more stable place in their lives,” says Thorn. A 2008 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that people who had engaged in BDSM in the past year were no more likely to have been coerced into sexual activity and were no more likely to be unhappy or anxious than those who didn’t do BDSM.

And actually, men who engaged in BDSM had lower scores of psychological distress than other men. That said, BDSMers do not judge people who aren’t into it, explains Thorn. The term “vanilla” isn’t meant to be derogatory, just to refer to non-BDSM sexual acts or people who aren’t interested in kink.
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4. Know that you can always say no.

“A lot of people starting out think it’s ‘all or nothing,’ especially if you’ve only been with one partner,” says Thorn. For instance, you might think that because you enjoyed being submissive under certain circumstances, that means you must agree to a whole host of submissive or masochistic behaviors that you’re not necessarily into.

But that’s absolutely wrong. You can – and should – pick and choose which BDSM activities you are and are not interested in, says Thorn. And that can vary depending on the situation, the partner, or even the day. Just remember that consent is a requirement in BDSM, and it’s possible to consent to one thing while still objecting to another. See The Importance of Safe, Sane and Consensual.

5. It’s not all about whips and chains.

Sure, some S&M enthusiasts might have these in their arsenal, but it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of kink. “Some people go for what’s called ‘sensual dominance’, which is where there might be some toys or play but no pain involved at all,” says Brame. “It’s more like one partner agrees to do everything the other person asks. BDSM doesn’t have to follow any pattern, and there is no one model for what a BDSM relationship can be.”

6. BDSM encounters are called ‘scenes’.

Again, since it isn’t always about intercourse, you wouldn’t necessarily say that you “had sex” or “hooked up” with someone after a BDSM experience. Instead, these are called scenes (like, you scened with someone or you had a scene).

“It’s an evolution from a time where, if you did S&M, you might only do it with a professional for an hour, or you might just see it performed at a BDSM club,” says Brame. “Now people have much more organic relationships, but they still call it a scene — the time when we bring out the toys or get into that headspace.”

7. There are Dominants, submissives, Tops, and bottoms.

So you’ve probably heard about Dominants and submissives (if not, the Dominant enjoys being in charge, while the submissive enjoys receiving orders). Kinksters may also use the terms ‘Tops’ and ‘bottoms’ to describe themselves.

A Top could refer to a Dominant or a sadist (someone who enjoys inflicting pain), while a bottom could refer to a submissive or a masochist (someone who enjoys receiving pain). This allows you to have a blanket term for those who generally like being on either the giving or receiving end in a BDSM encounter. And there’s no rule that says you can’t be both Dominant and submissive in different circumstances or with different partners, this is what’s often known as a ‘Switch’.shutterstock_126627485

8. It can be as simple or as technical as you want.

Maybe the thought of being tied up excites you, or you enjoy spanking or being spanked. Or maybe you’re more interested in leather masks and nipple clamps and hot wax. All of that (and obviously a lot more) is within the realm of BDSM. Basically, you can still be into kink without actually ever going to a dungeon.

9. Before you even go past the VERY basics, do your research.

Blindfolds, ice cubes or fuzzy handcuffs are all relatively harmless beginner behaviors if you’re into them. But before you play around with some of the trickier tools, you need to learn how to do so safely. Even a rope or a whip can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Knowledge is power.

BDSM involves A LOT of reading and learning.

If you’re one of those people who throws away the directions and tries to build the bookshelf on intuition alone, BDSM is probably not for you. “I would say the vast majority of what we call BDSM education is how to maximize ecstasy and minimize risk,” says Brame. “How to do all the things you fantasized about doing and to do them safely.”

10. Safe words are definitely a thing.

It might sound cheesy, but it’s a well-established norm in BDSM. “Safe words are probably one of the most important norms that have spread across the community, even if people use them in different ways,” says Thorn. For instance, not everyone uses safe words all the time after a while, but it’s important to start out with them. They can essentially be anything you want, as long as it’s something that you wouldn’t normally say during sex.

11. There’s often a pre-negotiation period, where partners discuss hard and soft limits.

Think of this as the primer before the scene.

“It’s a way of discussing the experience ahead of time that can increase emotional security,”

says Thorn. This can involve anything from scripts and checklists to a more informal discussion of what each person’s expectations are for the scene, what they want and don’t want, and any words or actions that are completely off-limits.

12. Aftercare, the debriefing period that happens once the scene ends.

BDSM can be an incredibly intense and emotional experience for some, so much so that most experts strongly suggest this ‘wrap-up step’, where the partners can discuss the scene and any reactions they had to it. “People are extremely vulnerable during aftercare,” says Thorn. “It can be really weird to have a scene without it.” This can also be a strong bonding experience between the partners. See The Importance of Aftercare.

13. Basically, it’s different than most people expect.

Between stereotypes, porn, and Fifty Shades of Grey, there’s a lot of misconceptions about BDSM. Short of attending a workshop or visiting a Dominatrix, the best way to learn more about it is to do some research. “Just like with regular sex, if you want to be good at it, you really have to learn about what’s going on when this stuff is happening,” says Brame.shutterstock_121598233

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