A Vanilla Introduction to BDSM: What You Need to Know

Date
Sep, 01, 2021

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BDSM. Leather. Getting Tied Up. Christian Grey. 50 Shades of Grey.

BDSM has surrounded us for decades. Whether it is a dominatrix with a flog or having your friend tell you that they like to be choked during sex, BDSM is all around us, but not all messages surrounding kink are created equally.

Unfortunately, thanks to conservative America and the politicians who most definitely engage in this behavior behind closed doors, BDSM gets a bad rap.

It has been labeled as something for sexual deviants who have experienced assault and abuse in their past, and the only way they can deal with that is by inflicting pain on others.

Well, the lies and misinformation stop here.

BDSM is not about punishing people (unless they consensually ask for it).

It is physical and mental mind-fuck in the best way.

It takes emotional security to a level that vanilla sex rarely does.

If anything, it is a psychological thrill that everyone should be open to experience.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert in BDSM (the kinkiest thing I have ever done was be choked, and I’m pretty sure the guy did it wrong) but instead, someone who has done a little bit of research and thinks it would be fun to try it. So think of this article as an introduction to the world of BDSM.

There is more for you to learn, but this is a good place to start.

What Is BDSM?

BDSM stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism, and masochism.

In its simplest terms, it is a “consensual sexual exchange of power between consenting participants.”

Did you read that?

Consensual. Exchange. Of. Power.

And it’s not just for the “sexual deviants” who like to wear leather masks.

In fact, it is a common fantasy among people, and anyone can participate. 

It can be your teacher, your dentist, or even the librarian down the street.

BDSM is open to everyone, but not everyone is open to it.

Why Do People Engage in BDSM?

BDSM (despite the messages media has portrayed) is healthy for people to engage in.

According to research, there are tons of benefits to BDSM, such as:

  1. Reduced stress
  2. Better relationships
  3. Decreased anxiety
  4. Less sensitive to others’ perceptions
  5. Felt more secure in their relationships
  6. It just looks like fun.
    • I know 50 Shades of Grey is an embarrassment to the BDSM community, but the scene where Christian ties up Anastasia and blindfolds her and then uses ice is just…..wow.

If you are still not convinced of how beneficial BDSM can be, I encourage you to look up some more benefits and leave them in the comment section of this article.

Basic BDSM Vocab

Before we get too deep into this article, I think it is essential that you learn some of the basic vocabulary used in BDSM.

  1. BDSM Acronym
    • We went over this initially but just for a refresher: bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism.
  2. Bottom
    • Submissive or a masochist (someone who likes receiving pain).
  3. Consent
    • Permission for something to happen. Consent is a core pillar of the kink community, and nothing happens without explicit consent.
  4. Dominant
    • The partner that holds power over the submissive and consensual inflicts pleasure and/or pain. 
  5. Safe Word
    • Words that are used to stop the current act immediately if it gets too intense
  6. Scene
    • Also known as a BDSM encounter. This is the time when you get into the act, possibly have sex, bring out the toys, or get into the right headspace.
    • Not called a hookup because sex is not always involved.
    • Remember, BDSM is more of a consensual mind-fuck more than anything else.
  7. Submissive
  8. Switch
    • Someone who likes to be both the dominant and the submissive role (if new to BDSM, try both roles before settling into one).
  9. Top
    • The dominant (person in control) or sadist (someone who likes to inflict pain).

Are There Different Types of BDSM?

BDSM BArbie-CTM

Yes! Under the umbrella term of BDSM, there are different types of practices.

Not everyone who engages in BDSM practices all of these types, but they are available.

Keep in mind that you should not engage in any of these practices without educating yourself first!

  1. Dominance/submission
  2. Roleplaying
  3. Bondage
  4. Impact Play/Spanking
  5. Sensation Play
  6. Edgeplay

And so much more…

The Myths of BDSM

As I said initially, the media has portrayed a rather nasty and unrealistic picture of what BDSM is and how it works.

They label the people who engage in it as people who need therapy and cannot function in regular society.

But that is false.

A 2008 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that people who engaged in BDSM (compared to those who didn’t) were…

  1. No more likely to be coerced into sexual activity
  2. No more likely to be unhappy or anxious
  3. Men had lower scores of psychological distress than other men who did not engage in it.

Other Misconceptions

Other myths include but are not limited too:

  1. BDSM is unsafe
    • Safety and consent take the driver’s seat when it comes to kink. Before starting a scene, there is a negotiation period where partners talk about their expectations, wants and dislikes, and establish that open line of communication that vanilla sex forgoes.
  2. It stems from childhood trauma and sexual/domestic abuse.
    • A lie that has been used to give BDSM a bad name
    • Anyone can participate in BDSM, and it’s always the one you least expect it.
  3. The dominant partner is always in control.
    • This is what it looks like from the outside, but it is, in fact, untrue. The submissive can be in control by telling the dom want they want to be done, how they want it, and when to start and stop. This can be seen in the use of safewords which “provide the submissive with control and agency.”
  4. BDSM is all about power
    • BDSM is about consensual power exchange. It is not about taking advantage of the person they are doing a scene with.
    • It is more of an “I’m trusting you with my mind, body, and soul, so please take care of it and show it respect” type of way. Not a “do as you please and don’t listen to me (unless they ask for the scene to be that way)” type of way.
    • A healthy BDSM relationship is about partners aiming to please each other while respecting and listening to each other’s boundaries.
  5. BDSM is about rough sex and assault
    • I am ashamed to say that I thought this was true before I did my research. I now know that BDSM is more of a psychological thrill, and sometimes the scenes that are done don’t even include sex because the mental and emotional components can be more than enough.
  6. It’s spontaneous
    • For the most part, it is not. As I said, there is a negotiation period where partners learn what each other wants, their hard no’s, and what they expect from that particular scene. If you have sex with the same partner and the more you explore BDSM together, the better you will know each other wants, but it’s not as spontaneous as the movies depict it.

Related Article: 12 Common Sex Myths you Have Definitely Heard

Is BDSM Safe?

Something that is conveniently forgotten when people talk about BDSM is how much a priority safety is in these practices.

I did not know that safety was this paramount or that people who practice BDSM take it seriously.

So, in short, yes. BDSM is safe, and I think that it may be safer than plain old vanilla sex.

Why may you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

Consent

Consent has recently become a big thing in the past few years in mainstream society, but in the BDSM sphere, it has always been a big thing.

Defined as getting permission from your partner, but BDSM practitioners don’t see it as just “getting permission.”

They see consent as an opportunity to connect with their partner on a deeper level.

This is something that a lot of sexual relationships usually skip over but not in a BDSM scene.

Guidelines & Consent

Consent is such a core pillar in BDSM that there are two different acronymous/guidelines that people follow:

  1. SSC (Safe, Sane, & Consensual)
  2. RACK (Risk-Aware Consensual Kink)

To understand consent correctly, you and your partner must establish an open line of communication.

You must state y’alls expectations, your hard limits, and any experience you have.

It is not only essential to understand what your partner wants but why. The motivation behind the way is what makes the experience.

For example, I want to be tied up. Why? Because giving up control sounds exciting, and I trust you.

Moreover, don’t rely on implied consent.

Just because you think your partner may be into something doesn’t mean they will be.

Ask them and get confirmation.

This will improve the sexual experience because you and your partner will build more trust, thus creating space for a deeper connection to happen.   

Related Article: 5 Big Don’ts To Avoid During Anal Sex

Safe Words

We have all heard of safe words by now.

Like consent, it has hit mainstream society in the last few years, but it has always been important in the BDSM community.

I’m pretty sure it was the BDSM community that developed it.

Anyways, safewords are chosen by partners together.

It is a word not related to sex and is used to tell your partner when you need to stop.

This is also a way to give subs control during the scene if they are no longer enjoy themselves.

The Traffic Light System is a common safe word system that anyone can utilize:

Red means stop.

Yellow means slow down.

Green means go for it.

Incorporating a safe word in your sexual relationship is a great idea because even if it’s not used or things don’t usually get too intense, it is still nice to know that there is an out if you need one.

What Does A “Normal” BDSM Scene Look Like?

Remember, there is no “normal” BDSM scene. It looks different for everyone who engages in the practices because everyone’s wants and needs are different.

But from what I have gathered, there are few things that always happen.

  1. Negotiation/consent
    • This is where partners take the time to get to know each other’s wants, needs, desires, and expectations for the scene.
    • This can also include scripts and checklists that each other should follow.
    • Safe words are also established at this time.
  2. The Scene
    • This is where the magic happens. The toys are brought out, the role-playing hats are put on, and things take off.
  3. After Care
    • Another BDSM pillar that has recently been introduced into mainstream society (seems like BDSM was ahead of its time, right?). This is what happens after the scene. Partners help each other clean up and talk about what just went down and what they like and didn’t like—cuddling may be included. This is the time and space for partners to feel safe, cared for, and heard.

How To Get Started in BDSM?

BDSM Couple-CTM

After all of this research and writing, I started to wonder how one can get into BDSM?

Because, shit, I want an emotional connection that has a psychological thrill to it.

If executed properly, this shit sounds life-changing.

The great thing about the BDSM community is that they are open-minded and more than willing to educate people on the practice.

There are so many different books, podcasts, videos, classes, and workshops that you can take to learn more about BDSM.

And if you want to introduce it into your current relationship, ask your partner if they have done anything BDSM-related.

Have the conversation, and don’t be shy.

Moreover, there are multiple classes, conferences, and meet-ups that help learn specific techniques.

You can check out FetLife.com, a facebook-like social network for people part of the kink community.

And if you like to read, here are some books for beginners:

  • SM 101 by Jay Wiseman
  • Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns, by Phillip Miller and Molly Devon
  • The New Topping Book and The New Bottoming Book by Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton.

Engage in ‘Light’ BDSM

And lastly, after you have done some basic research and educated yourself on the principles of consent and safety, you can start by practicing “Light” BDSM. This is like stepping a foot into the water to make sure you like the temperature.

This includes but is not limited too:

  • Hair pulling
  • Light Spanking
  • Scarf or Tie Bondage
  • Sensory Deprivation
  • Buying a Beginner Bondage Kit (ankle and wrist ties along with a silk blindfold).

And if things are going well, feel free to expand to other areas but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO YOUR RESEARCH!

The last thing you want is to end up on “Sex Sent Me to the ER” on TLC!

Psssst….. there is an online BDSM quiz that you can take to find out how kinky you are! Click Here!

Open Your Mind

BDSM is about exploring different avenues of pleasure and pushing your limits (not crossing them).

It is an emotional rollercoaster that has, unfortunately, a bad reputation.

But luckily, times are changing, and we are learning to be more open-minded.

So if you or your partner want to explore BDSM, do it!

Watch a few youtube videos, follow some BDSM tiktokers and influencers, and do your research.

You could be missing out on a whole world of pleasure just because of your hang-ups.

And if I missed anything or made a mistake, please leave a comment down below.

I love to learn new things and educate people correctly.

Plus, I am really curious, so it is a win-win!

Sources

  1. Elite Daily| A Sex Expert Reveals What BDSM Is & How ‘Fifty Shades’ Gets It All Wrong
  2. Cosmopolitan| What is BDSM? An expert Guide to BDSM Sex for Beginners
  3. BDSM Test
  4. Very Well Mind| What Is BDSM?
  5. BuzzFeed| 25 Facts About BDSM That You Won’t Learn In “Fifty Shades Of Grey”
  6. GQ| A Very Beginner’s Guide to BDSM Words
  7. The Journal of Sexual Medicine| Psychological Characteristics of BDSM Practitioners

Mía

Hi, I am Mia! I am Sex Education Enthusiast and I love bringing people the knowledge they need to make their sex lives better! I always preach that having a healthy sex life is a part of a healthy life overall.

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