What comes to mind when you hear the acronym BDSM? Quite often the answer I hear is pain and degradation, dark sex dungeons or red rooms of pain (thanks, Fifty Shades!). But in actual fact, this isn’t always the case. While those things can absolutely be a part of it, there’s so much more to the world of BDSM that we don’t see on the surface.

So for those of you who are brand new to the world of kink*, let’s start by breaking down the acronym to discover what each letter actually means. 

*A kink is defined as a non-conventional sexual interest and the terms BDSM and Kink are often used together or interchangeably.

What’s the difference between kink and fetish?

 

B is for Bondage

Bondage is a kink that involves tying up or restraining a partner, or enjoying being restrained for pleasure. For some, bondage is a part of their sexual practice, and that heightens their sexual arousal, whereas for others, it can also be a non-sexual practice. In particular, the art of Japanese rope bondage (also known as Shibari), is seen to be a beautiful, mindful practice for both those being tied, and the ones doing the tying. 

However, bondage can also include the use of restraints such as handcuffs, bondage tap, or anything you can find lying around the house that could lend itself to restraining someone – think scarfs, ties, belts etc. 

Most of us have likely played around with, or at least considered the thought of some kind of light bondage, and the best part is, it can be as light or as hard as you want it to be. 

 

D is for Discipline 

Discipline by definition is the process of training someone to obey rules, with consequences of punishment if those rules are disobeyed. Now, it’s key to remember here that when we talk about discipline, this is usually being played out in some kind of role play or fantasy. Discipline is often explored in power exchange dynamics, whereby one person is taking on a Dominant role, and the other more submissive – think about the classic teacher spanking a naughty schoolgirl fantasy – this is all about discipline. 

While some people enjoy following the rules, others like to break them, and this is all part of the fun! When someone intentionally breaks rules to receive a punishment, such as a spanking, this can also be referred to as a “funishment” – it’s very light-hearted and playful, rather than one person simply doing whatever they want to their partner. 

 

D/S – Dominance & Submission

The D & S in BDSM both have double meanings. While the D stands for Discipline, it also refers to the D in Dominance. The S stands for submission. Many BDSM fantasies include some form of power play, where one person is leading (the Dominant) and the other following. (submissive). These roles can also be labelled as ‘giver’ and ‘receiver’ or ‘top’ and ‘bottom’. 

These roles are about power exchange –one person does not have total control over the other, this is a myth! Rather, it’s a co-creation between consenting adults to play around with power and control in a safe space. 

 

S & M is for Sadism and Masochism 

The term S&M is where we get the idea of whips and chains from, because sadomasochism is the part that really is about pain and humiliation.

A Sadist, by definition, is someone who gets sexual pleasure from inflicting pain and humiliation on another, whereas a masochist is someone who gets sexual pleasure from their own pain and humiliation. This sounds pretty scary, but again remember we are talking about fantasy here! Within BDSM, everything is done with consent and intention, and so exploring the taboo realms of pain and humiliation are to be done with someone you deeply trust, and of course, with someone who is receptive to this type of play. 

Plus, everything you explore within the world of BDSM is tailored to your limits and boundaries, so whether it’s a little light hand spanking, or something a little rougher and harder, it still falls within the sadomasochism bracket. Sadomasochism also isn’t just about the physical, it can be psychological too. Perhaps you like your partner calling you names in the bedroom, or you enjoy the thrill of potentially getting caught having sex somewhere semi-public? Again, all forms of sadomasochism. 

The key message here is that BDSM goes way beyond Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism & Masochism – the acronym is an umbrella term for all things kinky, and within these little sub categories are so many other kinks (too many to name), and variations of those kinks. The way in which we explore BDSM looks so different to everyone, and you can choose the way in which you wish to explore it. You can be a Dominant but not be a Sadist, you can be a submissive and not be a masochist, or you can be into bondage and have no interest in Dom/sub role play. 

If you’d like to learn more about the world of BDSM & Kink, and figure out what kinky things interest you, then head over to the Sub in the City website to read more, sign up to some of Sarah’s educational workshops, or book a 1-1 for personalised guidance. 

 

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Submissive
Sarah (Sub in the City)

Sarah (Sub in the City)

Author

Sarah is a BDSM Coach, Kink Educator, Therapist and proudly collared submissive. Her goal is to bring BDSM into the 21st Century, and empower you to consciously explore what BDSM means to you.


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