Beyond 50 Shades: The Reality Of BDSM

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The popularity of 50 Shades of Grey has inspired couples to experiment within their relationship. This article gives more information about BDSM.

woman dressed in vintage bondage outfit with whip

Photo: Kinsey Institue Archives

Learn to bring out your "inner goddess" just like Anastasia Steele

It’s no secret that the book 50 Shades of Grey has become wildly popular within the United States. People all over the country are captivated by the steamy scenes of bondage, light beatings and sex, and are even purchasing a variety of props to act out some of the scenes from the books. However, the book may leave the reader with a few questions, such as: What exactly is BDSM? Do I need to have a “Red Room of Pain” to participate in acts of BDSM?

What Is BDSM?

BDSM stands for Bondage, Discipline (or Dominance), Sadism (or Submission), Masochism and covers a wide range of different erotic acts that may or may not end with sex. The acronym “BDSM” includes too many things to cover in this article, but I will talk about some basics that 50 Shades of Grey introduced to its readers. In each relationship there is a dominant, who carries out the particular activity, and a submissive, the receiver of the activity. Activities that are considered to be within BDSM can range from blindfolding and lightly spanking someone to using hot wax and riding crops.

An important distinction to note is that BDSM is not a form of abuse. Outside of the BDSM activities, both people are considered to be equals and are consenting adults. Before any sort of activity occurs, the couples discuss their limits in a non-sexual setting. Safety is considered to be of the utmost importance, and a great deal of precautions are taken when engaging in BDSM activities. Two important acronyms to remember are SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual) and RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink), which stress that while some BDSM activities can be a little risky, both of the individuals entering into the relationship are aware of the risks and strive to be safe.

What Are Some Things I Can Try?

An important idea to remember is to start slowly. Tell your partner what you would like to try, and most importantly, where your specific boundaries are. Don’t do anything you feel uncomfortable with– instances of BDSM are referred to as “playing” because it’s supposed to be fun! Another thing to remember is that you shouldn’t feel that you must immediately dive into the kinkiest aspects of BDSM– it is perfectly fine to start small.

So what are some specific activities to try? A very common form of BDSM that many couples engage in is the use of blindfolds. Blindfolding takes away one of the senses, which automatically heightens the others and increases arousal because the submissive never knows what their lover is going to do to them next. Not only is each touch a surprise, but each touch is also heightened and pleasure is greatly increased.

Another very common form of BDSM to try is bondage. The hands can be tied behind the back, above the head, or attached to a headboard or bed post with anything from ties to pantyhose to furry handcuffs. If you decide that you enjoy this and want to go a little further, you can restrain all four limbs, and even purchase different types of restraints either in stores or through the Internet. Bondage is considered to be erotic because the person that is tied up is “powerless” to stop his or her partner from performing pleasurable acts on them.

While you or your partner is blindfolded, tied up, or both, a wide variety of props that will increase pleasure during your experience are available to you without needing to purchase anything. You can use your lips, tongue and teeth to kiss, lick, and nip at your partner in a variety of areas. You can also put ice in your mouth or rub it on your partner’s body to create a chilling sensation. A soft or silky strip of cloth can also be rubbed/run along the skin to create a pleasurable, tickling sensation. If you decide that you really like using props and want to explore BDSM further, you can purchase warming lube, paddles, whips and a wide variety of other items either online or in a store.

Some ‘play’ might involve language, so it’s always good practice to agree upon ‘safe words’ before you start, so both of you know that “stop” does indeed mean stop.  The bottom lines are safe, consensual and pleasurable!

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