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Getting BDSM off on the right track

BDSM in wake of 50 shades of Grey • • • Photos by Donna Milligan
BDSM in wake of 50 shades of Grey • • • Photos by Donna Milligan

With the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, BDSM is once again in the mainstream. That’s great in that it’s allowing people to realize that they’re kinky, but there are also some serious BDSM fallacies in Fifty Shades of Grey. The movie lacks basic consent, respect, and trust – components that are absolutely necessary for good BDSM.

So, you’ve read the book or seen the movie.

You got off to it, and now you’re wondering how to incorporate that feeling in your own life. That is definitely ok, and without further ado, I present here a beginners guide to BDSM.

First, let’s talk terminology. BDSM stands for, Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism.

Bondage is the act of tying up your partner or being tied up by your partner. It can include ropes, bondage tape, blindfolds and gagging. Discipline is the concept of punishment and includes flogging, spanking, orgasm denial, or humiliation and degradation.

Dominance and submission is the concept of power play. This can be within a roleplaying scene (like teacher-student), or simply be used to describe the dynamic in the sexual experience. That is to say, a “dom” is usually the one acting upon the “sub.”

Sadism is taking pleasure in someone else’s pain, and masochism is taking pleasure in having pain inflicted upon you. This could be derived through biting, clamping of body parts (like nipples or genitals), or whipping.

So how do you make the jump from reading about BDSM to actually engaging in it? With a sexual partner you trust, broach the topic. To entrust someone so deeply, or to have that trust given to you, can strengthen your bond. If they’re on board, or at least intrigued, it’s time to start a dialogue. Talk about your levels of experience, what roles you’d like to try (do you want to be a dom? A sub? Do you want to try both?), what you’d like to feel (fear, safety, power, loss of control – these are all possibilities in BDSM), and why you want to try BDSM.

Next it’s time to think about the activities themselves. A great way to do this is to make a want – will – won’t list. List as many activities you and your partner can think of (or a list you’ve found on the internet), and then start sorting them into columns of what you really want to try, what you’re willing to try if your partner is interested, and what your hard-limits are. For instance, your wants might be: blindfolding, ice and role-play. Your wills might be: gags, urine and biting. Your won’ts might be: collars, degradation and handcuffs.

Before you start, agree on two safe words – one for slow down and one for stop. Many people use yellow and red for these respectively. These words should be taken seriously and never ignored. At this point you’re ready to play. Try starting with some of the lighter things on your list to ease into it and gain each other’s trust and then eventually work up to some of the items that might be more intimidating.

When you’re done, the most important thing will be aftercare. Both the dom and the sub should take time to care for each other. This can mean cuddling, a drink of water, verbally discussing the scene, or just a moment to breathe. Remember that the pillars of good BDSM are consent, trust, and respect. Make sure all parties are consenting, make sure you’re being honest and you trust your partner, and always be sure to respect the desires and boundaries of everyone involved.


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