What do you think of when you hear the phrase BDSM? How about kink? Maybe you think about handcuffs, feathers, role-play and Fifty Shades of Grey-type sex. Or maybe you think of Rihanna’s song “S&M,” and maybe now I’ve gotten that song stuck in your head. But I’m here to tell you the BDSM community is actually a large, diverse group of people — and BDSM and kink practices include a lot more than just handcuffs and blindfolds. The complex acronym itself holds a lot within it: Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and submission, Sadism and masochism.
So let’s start with the basics. A kink means anything related to sex or intimacy that is outside of intercourse between two monogamous partners. You can think of kinky sex as creative sex, or something that includes fantasies or nontraditional desires. BDSM represents a group of nontraditional (typically sex-based) behaviors that involve some sort of power dynamic. The most important things to know about BDSM are its four main principles of participation: caring, communication, consent and caution.
A lot of the time, when we think of power and sex, we think of negative things, including violence. The BDSM community has reworked and reclaimed power in sexual contexts to promote playfulness, pleasure and — most importantly — communication. In the BDSM community and during kink play, deep, planned, specific and ongoing conversations about consent are critical. Part of the pleasure and excitement for some comes from all of the planning and talking and imagining beforehand about what might happen next. And as I always say: consent IS SEXY.
Why am I talking about this? It's getting warmer, Covid vaccinations are on the rise, and pretty soon we’re going to see a lot of spring flings. Let’s say you meet up for a hookup (maybe you even downloaded Tinder after my last article ;) ) and find out your partner wants to engage in some kinky activities…what do you do?
I always try to check in with my gut feelings. When my partner asked to tie me down to the bed, does my stomach drop because I was excited to try something new, repulsed by the idea or really turned on? Sometimes it's hard to distinguish our feelings and that's OK, as long as you continue to check in with yourself AND your partner(s). Try asking yourself if you’re ready to talk about the logistics of your BDSM practice and safewords, or if you’re interested in exploring some of your kinks — and check out some online videos about safe knots and materials for restraints. Trying something new with someone you trust can be fun and it can also help you understand what just isn’t your thing. So have FUN, kiddos — communicate, be creative and be informed! I did a little bit of digging and got some resources for y’all. Read up!
- The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM Role Play and the Erotic Edge by Tristan Taormino
- “Health Care Without Shame: a Handbook for the Sexually Diverse and Their Caregivers” by Charles Moser
- “SM 101: A Realistic Introduction” by Jay Wiseman
- “Playing Well With Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Navigating and Exploring the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities” by Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams
- “Sexual Outsiders: Understanding BDSM Sexualities and Communities” by David M. Ortmann and Richard A. Sprott