• Private Ivy

What is BDSM?

BDSM is an umbrella term which covers a wide variety of erotic practices. The acronym BDSM is a combination of the abbreviations B/D (Bondage, Discipline), D/S (Dominance, Submission), and S/M (Sadism & Masochism).


Sexual subcultures such as cross-dressing, body modification and rubber fetishes, to name a few, are also associated with BDSM, as these communities are usually inclusive of anyone with a non-normative streak who identifies with them.



Terminology:

  • Safeword - a word used during a scenario to withdraw your consent or signal for your partner to stop.

  • Safesignal - when a safeword can not be used a sound or symbol is used instead.

  • Bondage - the practice of physical restraint.

  • Discipline - the practice of psychological restraint.

  • Dominance and Submission - is a set of behaviours, customs and rituals relating to the giving and accepting of control of one individual over another in an erotic or lifestyle context.

  • Switches - individuals who take on both Dom/Top and Sub/Bottom roles.

  • Edgeplay - high risk BDSM play which may involve consequences such as harm or death, exemplified by activities such as erotic asphyxiation, fire play, knife play and gun play, as well as the potential increased risk of disease through the likes of cutting or barebacking.

  • Erotic asphyxiation - also known as breath play is the intentional restriction of oxygen to the brain for the purposes of sexual arousal or to heighten orgasm. The term autoerotic asphyxiation is used when the act is done by a person to themselves.

  • Barebacking - sexual penetration, without the use of a condom. Often refers to anal sex, particularly between men.

  • Sadist - someone who feels sexual pleasure from inflicting pain, degradation &/or humiliation on a consenting partner.

  • Masochist - someone who enjoys being hurt, humiliated, or suffering within the consensual scenario.

The SSC code (safe, sane & consensual) means that all activities must be safe, that all participants be of sane mind to consent and that all parties do consent. The RACK code 'risk-aware consensual kink' suggests all participants are responsible for their own well-being and must evaluate the risks vs rewards. Many BDSM practitioners believe higher risk practices should be treated like extreme sports, participants must know the risks and be allowed to give consent accordingly. Mutual consent makes the clear legal and ethical distinction between BDSM and crimes such as domestic violence and sexual assault.


It is recommended that before entering any BDSM scenario participating parties agree upon a 'safeword'. A safeword is a word which you would not normally use in a sexual situation, which can be said at any time to inform your partner to stop. In BDSM play the words 'stop' and 'no' are not suitable as safewords. If you are going to be in a position where you can not speak (for example gagged) you should have a safesignal, like a bell to ring.


Bondage

Physically restraining someone by either binding their body parts together or to an object. This includes the use of rope, tape, chains, handcuffs, anklecuffs, hogties and spreader bars.



Discipline

The term discipline describes psychological restraining, with the use of rules and punishment to control certain behaviour. Punishment can be pain caused physically (such as flogging), humiliation caused psychologically or loss of freedom caused physically (for example, bondage). Another aspect is the structured training of the Submissive by the Dom.


Dominance and Submission

Practised between two or more consenting adults the dominant partner ('Dom') takes psychological control over the submissive ('Sub'). Sometimes the female-specific terms 'Mistress', 'Domme' or 'Dominatrix' are used to describe a dominant woman, instead of the gender-neutral term Dom.


The terms 'Top' and 'Bottom' are also used: the Top is the instigator of an action while the Bottom is the receiver of the action. This is subtly different to the Dom/Sub relationship. Essentially a Dom/Sub relationship is about power & control whilst being a Top vs a Bottom is more personal preference of giving or receiving. Although unusual, it is possible for the Bottom to take on the dominant role.

Individuals who can change between Top/Dominant and Bottom/Submissive roles, whether from relationship to relationship or within a given relationship, are known as switches.


D/S activities do not necessarily involve any kind of pain or humiliation and are not always psychologically associated with physical pain. The focus is the exchange of power and control. During the scenario, the practitioners may feel endorphins comparable to 'runner's high' or that post-orgasm glow.


Sadism and Masochism (Sadomasochism)

Whereas the terms Sadism and Masochism in psychology require significant distress and involve non-consenting partners, in BDSM it is practiced between consenting adults.

Sadomasochism refers to the aspects of BDSM surrounding the exchange of physical or emotional pain. Sadism describes sexual pleasure derived by inflicting pain, degradation &/or humiliation on another person. On the other hand, the masochist enjoys being hurt, humiliated, or suffering within the consensual scenario. Sadomasochistic scenes sometimes reach a level that appear more extreme or cruel than other forms of BDSM.


Sadomasochism does not imply enjoyment through causing or receiving pain in other situations (accidental injury, medical procedures, etc).


It is a common misconception that BDSM is all about inflicting/receiving physical pain. However, most BDSM practitioners are primarily concerned with power and pleasure. Of the three categories of BDSM, only sadomasochism specifically requires pain, but this is merely a tool, to allow feelings of humiliation, dominance, subordination or control. D/S and B/D may not include physical suffering at all, but include the sensations experienced by different emotions of the mind.



Many people only practice certain aspects of BDSM. Being into one type of play does not mean that you will enjoy all BDSM scenarios.



Types of play

BDSM play may include, but is not limited to:

  • Spanking

  • Flogging / Whipping

  • Roleplay (medical play, animal roleplay, etc)

  • Wax play

  • Japanese bondage

  • Edgeplay

  • Breast torture

  • Cock and ball torture (CBT)

  • Pussy torture

  • Tickle torture

  • Erotic electrostimulation (aka e-stim or electrosex)

  • Needle / Piercing play

  • Predicament bondage