BDSM (also Bondage & Discipline, Domination & Submission, Sadism & Masochism, Sadomasochism)

The pleasure of the right kind of pain.

Useful Accoutrements

  • leather
  • chains
  • whips
  • gags
  • clamps
  • bindings
  • cuffs
  • What else you got?

The Fantasy

You find the ad in the back pages:

“ SWM seeks SWF for meaningful relationship. Should appreciate art, literature, and classical music, enjoy cooking together, traveling, discussing politics, beating with canes, stepping on faces, cutting, biting, bleeding, binding, berating, humiliating, smacking, slapping,spanking, choking, suffocating, punching, pushing, kicking, burning, electrocuting, waterboarding, and locking partners in the closet for hours on end because they’re such naughty, naughty boys. Having your own butt plug is a plus. No smokers please.”

And you live happily ever after.

What Is It?

It’s practically impossible to talk about most sexual fetishes without first touching upon BDSM (Bondage & Discipline, Sadism & Masochism). And that’s all you really can do: touch upon it. To attempt to fully explain its various incarnations and nuances would require several volumes, a sturdy oak shelf, a whip, some handcuffs, and two (possibly three) leather-clad volunteers. It truly is the Sgt. Pepper of sexual fetishes: It may not have come first, but its roots go way back to the beginning, and it has influenced everything since. BDSM is also a comforting fetish to return to after getting tired of all the fancy newer stuff. It’s probably the most important thing to happen to sex since the invention of the clitoris in 1965. And, whether you know (or want to believe) it or not, you almost certainly already engage in it to some degree. Unless you don’t have sex. And, even then, you probably still do.

You’ve likely seen BDSM on television or in movies (when the writers are trying to make a character seem weird without having to do any actual creative work). It often involves leather, bindings, cuffs, whips, or chains, but it doesn’t need to. In fact, it doesn’t need to involve props or special clothing at all. BDSM play can be as simple as one naked person seemingly treating another naked person very poorly, physically and/or psychologically. Or it can get much more complicated, as you’ll see elsewhere in this book. But the one person is not actually being treated poorly. In a sense. BDSM is complicated.

At its heart, BDSM is the pleasure received by two people playing with status. One dominant and one submissive. A top and a bottom. Master and slave. Dithers and Bumstead. These are intentional roles, usually decided in advance, and they don’t have to have anything to do with real-life status. In fact, they’re often based on the inverse.

Psychological Origins

There are so many reasons a person might get into BDSM, and it’s an interest held by so many different types of people across so many walks of life, that it hardly makes sense to go into it in depth here. See all the other pages of The Deviant’s Pocket Guide to the Outlandish Sexual Desires Barely Contained in Your Subconscious for more specific explanations.

Considerations

The most important thing to remember in any type of BDSM play is that the safety and comfort of you and your partner are paramount. BDSM might look dark and dangerous, but it’s actually (or should be) consensual play between two people who respect one another. BDSM is not you unilaterally deciding to torture your partner, which is illegal. Both of you need to be completely on board. And don’t ever do anything that could accidentally cause longterm bodily harm. Or death. Death is even worse.

Many BDSM fetishists establish a “safe word,” an agreed-upon term that signals all play must stop immediately. For example, if you’re Egyptologists, you might choose “Neferneferuré.” Then, if one of you is feeling unpleasantly uncomfortable or genuinely frightened by what’s going on, you can just shout “Neferneferuré!” and your partner will know to stop. (You might choose something a little easier to pronounce.)

Of Note . . .

Leather and latex clothing was very closely associated with the BDSM subculture through decades in which fetishists were forced to keep their lifestyles secret. Now, parents buy it for their kids to wear to school.

The Deviant’s Pocket Guide to the Outlandish Sexual Desires Barely Contained in Your Subconscious, by Dennis DiClaudio, is available for you to rub all over your eyeballs.

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Oddly shaped collection of eukaryotic cells. Author of a small guide book series on diseases, disorders, and deviances. Curates and edits (parenthetical note).

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Dennis DiClaudio

Dennis DiClaudio

Oddly shaped collection of eukaryotic cells. Author of a small guide book series on diseases, disorders, and deviances. Curates and edits (parenthetical note).

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