The Fundamentals Of BDSM

Now that we’re clear on the difference between vanilla and kinky, you might be ready to explore the world of BDSM further. Before you dive right into spanking, bondage, or roleplay there’s a bit of groundwork we need to cover first. Although you may have already had amazing experiences unknowingly dabbling in kink like we talked about in my last article, purposeful BDSM should involve a bit more knowledge, understanding, and planning.

Is BDSM abusive?

From the outside looking in, a typical BDSM scene may appear to be a one-sided affair in which the dominant gets to do whatever they want to the submissive. To the unknowing eye, things like spanking, objectification, or erotic humiliation seem abusive. If these actions are done properly within the framework of BDSM, however, they are anything but.
 
Let’s look at some of the key differences between BDSM and abuse:
 
  • BDSM is calmly planned and carefully controlled while abuse is an out of control situation. A dominant should always have a handle on their emotions and never act out of anger. Their role is to be caring, thoughtful, and always act in the best interest of the submissive.
  • In abusive situations one person lashes out physically and/or emotionally at the other without permission. In a BDSM scenario everything that happens is negotiated in detail ahead of time and approved by the submissive. The submissive also has the power to stop the action at any time for any reason by using a safeword.
  • Abusive episodes leave participants with negative feelings like sadness, anger, or remorse. The goal of a BDSM scene is for both partners to feel happy and satisfied when it’s over. It is the dominant’s job to check in and make sure the submissive feels safe and secure throughout the kinky scene. Afterwards, both partners engage in aftercare, which includes comforting the submissive and tending to them in a way that leaves them in an upbeat frame of mind.
To sum it up, abuse is based on force and intimidation while BDSM is thoughtfully negotiated play that is safe, sane, and consensual.

What Exactly Does Safe, Sane, And Consensual Mean?

It isn’t uncommon for those into BDSM to describe their play style as SSC, which stands for safe, sane, and consensual. SSC is otherwise known as the “golden rule of BDSM,” and for good reason. Let’s break it down:
  • Safe means you are knowledgeable about the tools you’re using and the techniques employed. It also means you have taken every precaution to minimize potential physical and emotional risks.
  • Sane means your decision making ability is not impaired (which includes being under the influence of drugs or alcohol), that you can separate reality from fantasy, and you are not imposing excessively unrealistic expectations on your play partner.
  • Consent means all parties give their informed, enthusiastic consent both before and continually during play. 
SSC is a pretty good rule to live by, right? Even outside of a kinky scene it’s not a bad idea to apply this concept to other things you do with partners whether it be vanilla sex, rock climbing, or shopping at Target.

A Little More About Consent

Consent truly is the cornerstone of BDSM. It’s not something that’s granted with flirts and smiles or only discussed once before play and never checked in on again. Kinksters routinely engage in detailed pre-negotiation before play to establish consent. They use safewords during play as a way to ensure that consent is on-going.
 
In Fifty Shades of Grey they used a lengthy contract written in legalese to determine exactly what the submissive allowed. That’s not necessary, well, unless legal play is one of your kinks! Some people choose to negotiate verbally while others may use a simple form or written guide like a BDSM yes/no/maybe list. Pre-negotiation should be done outside the bedroom and may consist of a series of conversations over a period of time. We’ll get more into the nitty-gritty of BDSM negotiation when I address how to talk to your partner about BDSM in a future article.

Safewords

After both partners determine their boundaries and desires during pre-negotiation, the dominant uses those details as guideline to construct a kinky scenario. Perhaps the dominant thinks up a naughty student/stern teacher roleplay including bondage and spanking that fits in perfectly with the submissive’s desired activities and fantasies. Once the scene begins, the submissive can use safewords to further control what does and does not happen during play.
 
Generally a safeword should be a distinct word that you’d never normally say during a sexy scene. Words like no or stop aren’t ideal because they may be confusing to the dominant. They may wonder if the sub is saying no only because they’re role playing the part of someone being punished or if the sub truly wants the scene to stop.
 
Some people use random words like pineapple, rutabaga, or Florida as safe words. Others use unusual short phrases like their full name. When was the last time you shouted out “Bartholomew Rutherford McDonald Jr.!” during sex? Your name is a phrase you won’t likely forget and it’s distinctive enough for the dominant to pick up on and stop the scene immediately.
 
I like to use a stop light system because it allows not only for negative feedback, but can let the dominant know what the submissive wants more of as well. In this case red means stop just like a traditional safeword. Green means the submissive likes what’s happening and wants it to continue, perhaps with more intensity. Yellow means the submissive doesn’t want to stop, however, they are close to reaching their limit and need the dominant to slow down or check in.

Who Has The Power In BDSM?

From the outside looking in, it appears that in BDSM the dominant makes all the decisions and calls the shots. Knowing what you know now, however, you may realize it’s actually the submissive that holds the power. Through pre-negotiation and the use of safewords, the submissive specifies exactly what they don’t want, what they do want, and how they want it. The dominant simply constructs an erotic scenario using those parameters. So when it all boils down, in some ways it’s the dominant’s job to serve the submissive. That’s a plot twist, isn’t it?
 
In my next article we’ll dive deeper into the role of the dominant and examine exactly what it is about BDSM that’s so appealing to so many people.
XO, Sunny Megatron
SHARE
Previous articleSex Toy Companies Use Sexperts To Sell Sex Toys
Next articlePremature Ejaculator? Make Love Longer

Sunny Megatron is a sexuality educator, sex and relationship writer, media personality, and pleasure products expert. She’s also the host and executive producer of the groundbreaking, sex-positive Showtime original television series, SEX with Sunny Megatron.

Her approachable demeanor and infectious humor puts audiences at ease in her sell-out sexuality workshops and university guest lectures. Named one of the 6 most savvy sexologists in North America, her work has been featured in Cosmo, Playboy, Jezebel, Buzzfeed, and CNN. Sunny’s popular sex ed youtube channel features sex tips, tours of interesting sexy places, and plenty of reviews of the latest pleasure toys.

Recently nominated for XBIZ 2016 Sexpert of the Year, Sunny’s passion is helping people become their authentic, sexual selves by learning to overcome shame and shed inhibitions. As a lifestyle BDSM enthusiast, much of her work centers around normalizing alternative sexual practices and ending sexual stigma.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I sometimes compare D/S to a chef and a gourmet diner. The chef proposes a menu with suggested servings and courses. The diner has the choice of saying “yes” or “no” to the proposed items. And if the sub doesn’t want any of the menu he or she (or they) are free and recommended to find a chef/Dom who can better suit to taste; or the chef/Dom can come up with a new menu and try again.

LEAVE A REPLY