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BDSM is a general term for Femdom

BDSM is a term which describes a number of related patterns of human sexual behavior. The major subgroupings are described in the abbreviation “BDSM” itself: Bondage (BD) Bondage & Discipline (B&D) Domination & Submission (D&S, DS, D/S) Sadism & Masochism (or Sadomasochism) (S&M, SM) Many of the specific practices in BDSM are those which, if performed in neutral or nonsexual contexts, are widely considered unpleasant, undesirable, or disadvantageous. For example, pain,physical restraint and servitude are traditionally inflicted on persons against their will and to their detriment. In BDSM,however, these activities are engaged in with the mutual consent of the participants, and typically for mutual enjoyment.

This emphasis on informed consent and safety is also known as SSC (safe, sane and consensual), though others prefer the term RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink), which places more emphasis on acknowledging the fact that all activities are potentially risky.

Psychological

In the past, sadomasochistic activities and fantasies were regarded by most psychiatrists as pathological, but have been regarded as increasingly acceptable since at least the 1990s. Indeed, the DSM-IV asserts that “The fantasies, sexual urges,or behaviors” must “cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning” in order for sexual sadism or masochism to be considered a disorder. Psychiatrists are now moving towards regarding sadism and masochism not as disorders in and of themselves, but only as disorders when associated with other problems such as a personality disorder. People who practice BDSM, as well as most psychiatrists, do not view these practices as disordered.

Power exchange

On a psychological level, much BDSM play involves power and dominance, in particular power exchange of various forms. One person may willingly and consciously hand over personal autonomy or the power dynamic may arise between the parties in the relationship as a spontaneous result of their interpersonal chemistry, in which case no conscious decision is made. This power can manifest in an endless variety of relationship dynamics. Some of the variations include: Addressing another person as “Master” or “Mistress” for a ten-minute scene. A witnessed, formal collaring with a lifelong agreement between the parties for the dominant to provide an ongoing presence in the submissive's life. See Total Power Exchange. Collared slaves have responsibilities and duties that vary from the moderate to extreme micro-management.

An agreement of service that covers the duties and responsibilities of the submissive that may or may not include a long-term commitment. Some service relationships are understood to last only as long as the submissive maintains performance standards. According to most practitioners, the power exchange should always be negotiated. Before play, the participants discuss their physical and psychological limitations, establish safewords (words that will signal the cessation of the scene), and work out what activities they will engage in. However, many reject extensive negotiation and eschew the use of safewords, preferring instead to accept heightened risk and facilitate a more “natural” interaction. The conflict between the need for risk and the need for limitations and safety is at the heart of the SSC and RACK controversies.

Roles Dominant behavior

  • A dominant person enjoys controlling a submissive person. Reasons for this are said to include demonstrating skill and power, having ownership of another person, and being the object of affection and devotion. Domination may be the fashion in which the dominant feels most comfortable expressing and/or receiving affection. Service-oriented dominants would add that it is obviously useful to have the resources and abilities of another human at their disposal.Of course, other known possible motives remain to be considered, including pleasure taken not only in sheer power, but in the suffering of others, thrill seeking in risk taking, and outright self destructiveness. That is why many in the BDSM community are concerned with establishing the motivations of those involved in an encounter and advise caution in making BDSM connections.

Submissive behavior

  • A submissive person is one who submits of their own free will and seeks to submit to another. Submissives vary in how seriously they take their position, training, and situation. Motivations for engaging in submissive behavior may include relief from responsibility, being the object of attention and affection, gaining a sense of security, showing off endurance,and working through issues of shame. Others simply enjoy a “natural” feeling when they are in the presence of their partner. What are known as service-oriented submissive may also have a deep seated desire to be “of use”. Submissives BDSM - also vary in the extent to which they engage in play, in how often they play, and even in whether they consider their role “play” at all.

Tops and bottoms

  • In BDSM, a top is a partner who takes the role of giver in such acts as bondage, flogging, humiliation, or servitude. The top performs acts such as these upon the bottom, who is the person receiving for the duration of a scene. Although it is easy to assume that a top is dominant and a bottom is submissive, it is not necessarily so.The top is sometimes the partner who is following instructions, i.e., he tops when, and in the manner, requested by the bottom. A person who applies sensation or control to a bottom, but does so to the bottom's explicit instruction is a service top. Contrast the service top with the pure dominant, who might give orders to a submissive, or otherwise employ physical or psychological techniques of control, but might instruct the submissive to perform the act on him or her. The same goes for bottoms and submissives. At one end of the continuum is a submissive who enjoys taking orders from a dominant but does not receive any physical stimulation. At the other is a bottom who enjoys the intense physical and psychological stimulation but does not submit to the person delivering them. It should be noted that the bottom is most often the partner who is giving instructions-the top typically tops when, and in the manner, requested by the bottom. Within a sadomasochisic context, submissive is often considered synonymous with bottom. Others opine that a “submissive” is specifically pursuing a dominant/submissive power-exchange as a key element, whereas a “bottom” may or may not be interested (or even willing) to engage in that exchange. For the latter, some have proposed the “pitcher” and “catcher” (borrowed from baseball terminology) as more neutral terminology, with the “pitcher” delivering the sensation,the instruction, etc; and the “catcher” receiving what is “pitched.”

Switching

  • Some practitioners of BDSM enjoy switching-that is, playing both dominant and submissive roles, either during a single scene or taking on different roles at different occasions with different partners. A switch will be the top on some occasions and the bottom on other occasions. A “switch” may be in a relationship with someone of the same primary orientation (two dominants, say), so switching provides each partner with an opportunity to realize his or her unsatisfied BDSM needs with others. Some individuals may switch, but may not identify as a switch because they do so infrequently or only under certain circumstances.

Safety

Some BDSM activities may be potentially dangerous if appropriate precautions are neglected. In particular, it is sometimes the practice that the submissive will complain of suffering or beg the dominant to stop, and that this will be ignored by the dominant. Therefore, one aspect to ensure safety is to agree upon a safeword. If the dominant and submissive are in a scene that causes unacceptable discomfort for one or both of them, a safe word can be uttered to warn the other of trouble and immediately call for a stop to the scene. Adequate care is prudent in bondage to ensure safety from injury. It is wise to invest in first aid training for all involved parties. For activities involving bodily fluids, hygienic precautions should be duly considered for avoiding the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Various practices

BDSM may encompass practices such as erotic spanking, flagellation, such as flogging, paddling or whipping, or medical submission (i.e. a submissive partner submits to humiliating and/or painful medical procedures). BDSM activities are practiced by male and female individuals of all sexualities: gay or straight, or bisexual, as well as the transgendered. Many practice their BDSM activities exclusively in private, and do not share their predilections with others. Others socialize with other BDSM practitioners. The BDSM community can be regarded as a subculture within mainstream society. Being involved in BDSM or dominant/submissive relationships on a regular basis is often referred to as being “in the lifestyle”.

Some sources estimate the prevalence of BDSM behavior in countries such as the United States at around 5 to 10% of the adult population. While the stereotype of heterosexual BDSM is a male dominant and female submissive, the reality is almost evenly split between “maledom” and “femdom” couples.

Physiological

On a physical level, BDSM “sensation play” often involves inflicting pain, even if without actual injury. This releases endorphins, creating a sensation somewhat like runner's high or the afterglow of orgasm, sometimes called “flying”, which some find enjoyable. Some writers use the term “body stress”. This experience is the motivation for many in the BDSM community but is not the only motivating factor. Indeed, a strong minority of BDSM participants (especially “bottoms”) may well participate in a scene they do not derive any physical pleasure from in order to provide their “top” with an opportunity to indulge their desires or fetishes.

In some kinds of BDSM play, the “top” (usually a dominant partner) applies sensation to the “bottom” (usually a submissive partner) by spanking, slapping, pinching, stroking or scratching with fingernails, or using implements like straps, whips, paddles, canes, knives, hot wax, ice, clothespins, bamboo skewers, etc. The sensation of being bound with rope, chains, straps, cling wrap, handcuffs or other materials can also be part of the experience. The tools of BDSM play encompass a wide variety of items from specifically designed implements to ordinary household items, known as “pervertibles.”

A pleasurable BDSM experience is thought to depend greatly upon a competent top and the bottom attaining the correct state of mind. Trust and sexual arousal help a person prepare for the intense sensation. Some have even gone so far as to compare adept BDSM play to musical composition and performance, each sensation like a musical note. Likewise, different sensations are combined in different ways to produce the total experience. Other points

  • BDSM may or may not involve sex of any kind.
  • BDSM may or may not involve sexual roleplaying.

How dominant or submissive a person may be in their regular life does not always determine their preferred role in BDSM play though many people do manifest these tendencies. Often people who express one role in their regular life, such as at work, strongly desire to express the opposite role within their sexual life, as a kind of release. BDSM play often includes the psychological pleasure of fetishes. Some BDSM players are polyamorous or are sexually monogamous but engage in non-sexual play with others.A couple may engage in BDSM sexuality within an otherwise non-D/S relationship dynamic. When there is abuse in the relationship, the submissive is as likely to be abusive as the dominant.

Terminology See our Femdom Dictionary

Etymology

Originally S&M (Sadism & Masochism) was a clinical term. The leather community of the day attempted to distance themselves from what was then classified as a mental illness and began to use the term “B&D” (Bondage & Discipline).This term was later linked back to “S&M” by the clinical community giving birth to the now common acronym BDSM. This term was then later broadened by some to include Dominance & submission. Although, D/s is more properly cultural dynamic than sexual practice, its common co-occurrence with BDSM has resulted in it being commonly viewed as linked behavior pattern.

History

The historical origins of BDSM are obscure. There are anecdotal reports of people willingly being bound or whipped as a prelude to, or substitute for, sex going back to the fourteenth century. The medieval phenomenon of courtly love in all of its slavish devotion and ambivalence has been suggested by some writers to be a precursor of BDSM. Some sources claim that BDSM as a distinct form of sexual behaviour originated at the beginning of the eighteenth century when Western civilization began medically and legally categorizing sexual behaviour. There are reports of brothels specializing in flagellation as early as 1769, and John Cleland's novel Fanny Hill, published in 1749, mentions a flagellation scene. Other sources give a broader definition citing BDSM-like behaviour in earlier times and other cultures, such as the medieval flagellants and the physical ordeal rituals of some Native American societies.

Although the names of the Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch are attached to the terms sadism and masochism respectively, the question remains as to whether their ways of life would meet with modern BDSM standards of informed consent.

BDSM ideas and imagery have existed on the fringes of Western culture throughout the twentieth century. Robert Bienvenu attributes the origins of modern BDSM to three sources, which he names as “European Fetish” (from 1928),“American Fetish” (from 1934), and “Gay Leather” (from 1950). Another source is the sexual games played in brothels,which go back into the nineteenth century if not earlier. Irving Klaw, during the 1950s and 1960s, produced some of the first commercial film and photography with a BDSM theme and published comics by the now-iconic bondage artists John Willie and Eric Stanton.

Much of the BDSM ethos can be traced back to gay male leather culture,which grew out of post-WWII biker culture. This subculture is epitomized by the Leatherman's Handbook by Larry Townsend, published in 1972,which essentially defined the “Old Guard leather” culture. This code emphasized strict formality and fixed roles (i.e. no switching), and did not really include lesbian women or heterosexuals. In 1981, however, the publication of Coming to Power by Samois led to a greater knowledge and acceptance of BDSM in the lesbian community.

In the mid-nineties, the Internet provided a way of finding people with specialized interests around the world and communicating with them anonymously. This brought about an explosion of interest and knowledge of BDSM, particularly on the usenet group alt.sex.bondage. When that group became too choked with spam, the focus moved to soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm New Guard leather subculture appeared around this time, which rejected the rigid roles and exclusion of women and heterosexuals of the Old Guard.

BDSM and fetish imagery has spread out into the mainstream of Western culture through avant-garde fashion, the gothic subculture, rap, hip-hop and heavy metal video clips, and science fiction television and movies.The modern BDSM subculture is widespread. Most major cities in North America and western Europe have clubs and play parties, as well as informal, low-pressure gatherings called munches. There are also conventions like Living in Leather, TESfest and Black Rose, as well as the annual Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco.The Leather Pride Flag is a symbol used by the leather community or subculture, as well as the BDSM triskelion.

International

The legal situation of sadomasochistic activities varies greatly between countries. In Japan, Germany, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, consensual BDSM is legal.In the UK, BDSM activities which cause injuries which are more than 'transient or trifling' may be illegal. But the few cases since the original R v Brown 1990 ruling have been contradictory in their judgments. In other countries it is an example of a consensual crime. At least in the western, industrialized countries and Japan, since the 1980s sadomasochists have begun to form information exchange and support groups to counter the discriminatory image held by orthodox science and parts of the public. This has happened independently in the USA and in several European countries. With the advent of the web,international cooperation has started to develop - for example Datenschlag is a joint effort of sadomasochists in the three major German-speaking countries, and the mailing list Schlagworte uses the model of a news agency to connect six countries.

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bdsm.txt · Last modified: 2015/01/31 03:10 (external edit)