Why do I write about BDSM?

BDSM stands for: Bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism.

I want to get something straight right at the outset:

This blog is not here to promote BDSM.

So if you’re looking for tips on how to get involved with BDSM and meet people who are into it, you’ve come to the wrong place. BUT, there are a number of writings here about how not to get involved (often written by people who are involved).

So, I’m not trying to promote BDSM, but I do want to promote awareness of what BDSM is and isn’t. I have three main reasons for why I want to do this. (If you want more detail on BDSM-related words and phrases. you might want to glance at my dictionary page.)

Firstly: BDSM culture has some things to say that are worth hearing.

The biggest of these (IMHO) is around what consent looks like – and that’s relevant to everyone looking for a healthy and happy sex life. For example, when people who are into BDSM talk about consent, it’s not uncommon for them to talk about:

  • active, informed and enthusiastic consent;
  • inclusive consent vs exclusive consent;
  • safety and risk awareness;
  • soft and hard limits;
  • rights and responsibilities of people in active and passive roles;
  • reacting sensibly to events you hadn’t expected;
  • keeping your ego in check.

Seriously, how many of those did you consciously think about last time you were physically vulnerable with someone else? Should we only be thinking about these things when we go bungee jumping?

Secondly: Ignorance and silence do not help people make informed and sensible choices.

There are plenty of myths out there about BDSM from people who have an agenda to push – whether it’s their own gratification (read a real life horror story here), their own money-making machine (not least of which is 50 Shades), or their well-meaning-but-mistaken belief that BDSM is right for them and therefore must be right for you too.

Yes, I have my own opinions about which choices tend to be better than others, but I’m not doing this for my own personal gain, I don’t assume everyone experiences the world the way I do, and I don’t take an all-or-nothing approach to people who share my opinions.

Thirdly: This is relevant to a lot of people.

BDSM related fantasies are more common than you might think. Seriously.

In 2002, psychotherapist Brett Kahr embarked on The British Sexual Fantasy Research Project. In this was an extensive and detailed large scale survey where over 13,500 British people responded in full. His findings were published in a book in 2007 “Sex and the psyche”, published by Allen Lane.  And according to that survey:

  • 23% of people have fantasised about tying someone up
  • 25% about being tied up
  • 29% about playing a dominant or aggressive role during sex
  • 33% about playing a submissive or passive role during sex
  • 4% about being violent towards someone else
  • 6% about having violence practised on them by someone else.

[Page 588 of Sex and the Psyche]

So even if you’re part of the 38% of people who’ve never fantasised about any of those activities (or the other activities in the survey that were categorised with those), you probably know someone who has.

And OK, fantasising about something is not the same as acting it out, but my point is this: if we can have a bit more understanding about what BDSM is, why it might appeal, why it might not appeal, and some of the hazards that go with it, we all stand a better chance of reacting calmly and compassionately towards a person when we find out they’re into it.

I’m not saying that I’m personally OK with everything that goes under the banner of BDSM, but I do think it’s a topic that has more complexities than people often give it credit for.

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