Friday, December 7, 2012

What is BDSM?


BDSM is a significant element, a central pillar (to use a construction metaphor) of the world of kink.  All of the many and varied practices, procedures, protocol, and play associated with BDSM are part of the world of kink.

I consider BDSM to be a sub-category of kink because all things BDSM fit inside the kink umbrella, while some kink activities aren't necessarily considered to be part of BDSM.  Wikipedia defines BDSM as:
"A continuum of erotic practice and expression involving the consensual use of restraint, intense sensory stimulation, and fantasy power role-play."  
Photo property of Serafina Samadhi
That continuum might be considered to cover activities ranging from playful restraint and light sensation play (like tickling) - to spanking and role-playing - and from there on to more intense activities like suspension, mummification, flogging, and whipping.

Some fantasies go even further still into the extreme, for instance there are communities devoted to people with rape fantasies, and if you join FetLife, you may very well encounter men who dream of being castrated, or of being subjected to some kind of real medieval torture.  I tend to view those sorts of fantasies as being a sub-set of the BDSM world.  But it could be argued that they would be better categorized instead simply as part of the world of kink, as they may not perfectly fit into any of the three different subcategories that have been melded together as BDSM.

BDSM is an acronym that is actually an amalgamation of three other acronyms.  Wikipedia calls it a compound acronym.
  1. B/D or B&D stands for bondage and discipline.  Individuals who take part in B/D derive erotic pleasure from activities like being restrained (bondage) and/or being spanked (discipline.)
  2. D/s or D&S stands for dominance and submission.  Individuals who practice D/s derive erotic pleasure from activities where one individual relinquishes authority or control to another.
  3. S/M or S&M stands for sadism and masochism or sadomasochism.  Individuals who practice S/M derive erotic pleasure from the giving and receiving of strong stimuli, sensations most of us might otherwise consider to be painful or intense.
These days, I personally prefer to identify with, and place myself under the larger umbrella of "kink", but when I was in my 20's and 30's, I would certainly have told you I was into B&D (not to be confused with D&D, which I was geeky enough to play too) as well as S&M.

Language is a transient thing, and because of that, the way we identify ourselves changes and evolves over time.  I've also found that as a kinky individual, my identity and interests are evolving right along with language, at the very same time, seemingly together, and I have no way of really knowing how one effectes the development of the other.

When it is all said and done, the term BDSM encompasses a very wide range of activities and subcultures under a single banner.  The term kink encompasses and even wider range of cultures and activities under an even larger umbrella.  Because these artificial groupings are a relatively recent phenomenon, only time will tell whether such encompassing terms remains useful or meaningful a decade or two in the future.

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