BDSM

Understanding BDSM

What is BDSM?

BDSM is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of sexual activities. At its heart, it is an erotic practice whereby individuals, couples and groups can enjoy their sexuality with some added spice. For example, some people who engage in it are into bondage – the practice of being bound during sexual activity – and some are turned on by sadomasochism – the practice of inflicting or receiving pain and humiliation. These, and many other, practices are all covered by the term BDSM. Many people who practice BDSM do so for many years as a part of a loving relationship. For others, it is about sexual activity solely without any other aspect of their personal life being involved.

What does BDSM stand for?

The BD of BDSM stands for bondage and discipline. The SM stands for sadism and masochism. However, most people who are into this sort of sexual activity will also commonly identify the middle two letters of BDSM, namely DS, as domination and submission, too. Of course, domination and submission can easily play a part in bondage or disciplinary sex-play. It also forms a part of much sadomasochistic activity. Therefore, BDSM is not an acronym in the usual sense since two of its letters have multiple – or overlapping – meanings.

How is safety maintained in BDSM?

Well-being is a big part of BDSM since it will often involve placing yourself in a vulnerable situation. Trust is, therefore, one of the key aspects of this sort of sexual activity. Generally speaking, consent for what kind of activity is being proposed will be discussed in advance with limits set as to what is allowed and what is not. Many people who take on a submissive role in a sexual act will have a safe word they can use, which should mean that the activity is brought to an end immediately. In short, it is a way of saying, “no” without saying, “no”. Where this is is not possible - perhaps because a gag is being worn, for example – an alternative method of communication will be established beforehand.

What is the psychology of BDSM?

Various psychological theories exist around BDSM. Some suggest that it is a form of escapism, especially when people indulge in sex-play that is submissive or infantile. The same can be said of dominant sexual activity, of course, but it is more likely that the assertive psychology involved is linked to a need to feel in control rather than to relinquish it. Some people, commonly known as switchers, can get turned on by sex-play that involves both roles although it appears to be more usual for people to prefer one or the other. Some psychological studies suggest that males tend to become interested in BDSM at a younger age than females.

How do people self-identify in BDSM?

Doms and subs tend to be the terms used for dominant and submissive roles in BDSM. Other ways people choose to identify as includes animals, in so-called animal role-play, or as human furniture in a practice known as forniphilia. However, most people express themselves uniquely, and their sexual identity may be much more complex than the commonly used terms allow for.

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Tantra is a complex subject which, broadly speaking, covers many of the spiritual traditions that have been associated with both Hinduism and Buddhism for over a thousand years. Essentially, Tantra can be boiled down to a body of thought that concerns certain rituals, conceptions, and religious devotion. It takes many forms, including things like temple architecture and philosophy. Tantra is a term that can be roughly translated as 'weave'. As such, it can be seen as a system of connecting things so that they make more sense as a whole.
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