How fun? Well, that’s the real question, now, isn’t it? I’ve been reading up on BDSM, and attending events, and so on for about a year now. I’ve been fantasizing about participating in BDSM activities for well over twenty years. And one of the things I’ve noticed over this past year is that there are a number of differences between the fantasies I’ve had and the reality I’m discovering.
Oh, I knew that would be the case. Partly because nothing is ever as you imagine it. Until you experience it (even just as an audience member), you simply can’t know for sure. But what I didn’t realize was that it would differ along the particular lines that have inspired me to write today’s post.
But Before We Begin: The Gender/Gender Pronoun Disclaimer
When referencing a non-specific person in an article, essay, or blog-post, I’ve found dual terms separated by a slash (like “his/hers”, “him/her”, and “he/she”) to be awkward and clumsy. And I’ve found switching the gender of these pronouns every other example to be just plain distracting.
So . . . keeping in mind that I’m a guy, and my primary interest in BDSM involves doing things with a female partner, that’s how I’m going to place my gender pronouns. So please: If the examples and references I give are all about ‘she’ being submissive and ‘her’ getting tied-up, and so on – don’t be offended. It’s just because it’s a she and a her that I see as being my BDSM counterpart. I’m not trying to imply that all females are submissive, or anything like that. If I were a woman with hetero BDSM interests writing this thing, it would all be ‘him’ and ‘his’. But I’m not, so it’s not.
My Preconceived Notions
My first exposure to the concept of BDSM activities was – like pretty much everything else in my sexual development – in the letters to Penthouse, or similar periodicals. The occasional letter-writer whose missive included tales of spanking, or tying their partner to the bed, or winning/losing a bet that made them a sexual slave for a weekend, or other scenarios that stretched the boundaries of what sex could all entail within my young mind.
(The key aspect of that being “what sex could all entail”. All of these things were presented to me as things to do during sex. Not just things to do in and of themselves.)
As time passed, I started to learn the various pieces of terminology. Bondage. Sadomasochism. Slave and Master (less frequently Dominants and Submissives). By time I eventually started hanging out at the houses of friends who had internet access, it was B&D, D&S, S&M, and BDSM.
But it was all still sex. It was dirty little stories to jack off to found on the Alt Sex Stories Text Repository (and later on at other places, like Literotica.com).
Even as I was reading things about BDSM outside of porn and erotica sites, it was still sex in my mind, because it had always been sex in my mind.
I was reading articles, and discovering that there were people who craved the pain of impact play. I read articles which left me with the impression that the Discipline and Submission in BDSM was the same desired structure that some people enlisted in the military in order to experience. I was looking at photos of bondage photography and discussing my theory with friends that a lot of the bondage seen online was an artform done more for the photography than for the actual fucking-a-tied-up-person.
Yet, my brain’s default position on BDSM was that it was sex. More to the point, sex that I wanted to be having.
At their core, all BDSM fantasies were – for me, at least – usually sex fantasies. I assumed that was true of everybody who practiced these arts. Bondage, for example. You tie her up . . . and then you fuck her. Or if not fuck her, at least finger her. (At the very least.) Grope, fondle, and finger. But to just tie her up and then let her go again? The closest comparison I can think of is catch and release fishing (not the cruelty-to-fish aspect of it, just the seeming ridiculousness of hey!-I-caught-a-fish . . . and-now-I-throw-it-back . . . so-I-can-catch-it-again.)
Outside of art-for-art’s-sake bondage, the ‘catch-and-release’ bondage made zero sense to me. Once CJ came into my life, on the occasions that I had her bound to my bed, it was always sexual. (Never any actual sexual intercourse, sadly, but still sexual.) There was finger-fucking. There was groping and fondling. There was sadomasochistic abuse of her nipples. There was stroking myself over her while she talked dirty to me . . . then there was cumming on her face. I had her bound face down once or twice, which included things like spanking. And sliding a lubed-up finger deep into her tight little asshole . . .
Sorry. I was having a little flashback moment there.
S&M activities also struck me [man, I wish I’d stop punning] as being inherently sexual. Not that ‘in order to make love a woman you must first beat her’, or anything stupid like that. But impact play is usually depicted as happening on areas of the body unprotected by clothing. She’s either naked, or has exposed whatever body parts you’re working over.
The bare-ass spanking, for example. Pull down her pants, pull down her panties, spank her bare ass – are you supposed to ignore the fact that there’s nothing but air between your fingers and her pussy? Or her asshole? Is she supposed to ignore the fact that she’s bent over your lap, and has just gotten so wet (according to all the spanking erotica I’ve ever read) that she’s soaked through your pants with her arousal?
But there are other forms of impact than just the spanking. Usually much more intense. Anything from a paddle roaming away from the ass to bruise other areas of the flesh, to the use of scarier implements, like the flogger, the whip, or the cane.
And then there’s aftercare. The part where you bring her back to a state of functionality. Where you soothe her, provide for her needs, bring her water and a blanket or whatever, and hold her. Comfort her.
I can’t help it. I’m sorry, it’s just the way my brain works. It puts things together that DO NOT BELONG TOGETHER. Every time I think of ‘aftercare’, there’s a brief moment where I think of slash fiction.
I once knew a female sci-fi fan who read lots and lots of slash fan fiction. (‘Slash’ fiction being named for the slash between ‘M’s in the M/M designator letting you know the story involved sex between two males.) I’ve never read any of it, but her and I talked about it a few times. Her favorite slash sub-genre was something called ‘hurt-comfort’.
Hurt-comfort stories were those in which a male character (this being fan fiction, an already established character, who was always depicted as being heterosexual) suffers some kind of physical or emotional trauma. And, in order to cheer him up, take his mind off it, help him heal, etc., another strong male heterosexual character (oftentimes his best friend) has gay, gay sex with him.
[Just listening to this description is a scenario that starts out with my brain saying, “Wait—what?!” and ends up with it’s little brain eyes glazed over, drool dripping down from it’s little brain mouth while it sits up in the corner of my skull with a piece of chalk, making diagrams on the floor to try and figure out A.) WTF?; B.) how such a piece of logic could possibly work; and C.) WTF?.]
So when I think of aftercare, there’s always this brief moment where I think of slash fiction. I mean, if ‘comfort’ is such a strong concept that it can cause two strong, well-established-as-heterosexual, male archetype characters to suddenly become gay for each other, then certainly a hetero male dom/top comforting a naked hetero female sub/bottom is going to lead to sweet lovemaking, isn’t it?
[Yeah, as soon as it enters my mind I push it quickly out again, because it’s a ridiculous string of logic to try and follow.]
B&D, S&M . . . and we can’t forget about D/s. Wow. All I ever knew for sure about Dominance and Submission was that if I had a woman who was willingly submissive to me (or better yet, a slave), I’d be set – sexually – for life.
BDSM Is a Coin
I was shocked to discover that not everybody practiced the fantasy version of BDSM that existed in my head. I was really surprised to discover the fact that ‘play parties’ weren’t just great big orgies with the addition of paddles, whips, and rope.
But there it was: People practiced BDSM activities at a complete remove from sexuality. Spanking, beating, flogging, whipping, caning . . . all actions being performed by people who would go their separate ways when the impact play was finished, instead of moving to a bed (or other convenient surface) for sex. Bondage (particularly suspension bondage) done just to experience it. (‘Caught’, then released.) Dominance and submission was practiced over ‘high protocol’ scenes where everything was formal and things like etiquette were of the utmost importance.
Once I adjusted to the notion that BDSM was it’s own thing and not simply a component of kinky sex, I made an even more startling discovery . . . I still wanted ‘in’. I looked at it, and realized that there was still something there for me.
Sure, I was aware that there were people who practiced BDSM the way I’d always fantasized it, and I wanted to fall in with that crowd and stick my cock in somebody during the whole bondage, spanking, and giving orders thing . . . but I also was more than willing to hang out with the ‘separation of sex and BDSM crowd’ and play with them.
I like the thought of control. (And I’m willing to bet the feeling is even better.) I want to find a woman who yearns for the endorphin rush of pain and help her satisfy those needs. I see bondage as being useful as an aid to keeping her in place for the spanking or flogging or whatnot. (Beyond that, I still can’t really reconcile the concept of non-sexual bondage in my poor confused noggin.)
BDSM has nothing to do with sex.
BDSM is all about sex.
I don’t really see it as two radically different philosophies so much as two sides of the same coin. (Especially considering the number of people who flip the damn thing – playing either platonically or sexually on a situational basis.)
To my way of thinking, BDSM play should still ideally involve a sex act. This could be because I’ve always thought of BDSM play and sex play as one thing. It could also be because I’m an incredibly horny 38 year old who should have lost his virginity twenty to twenty-five years ago with the rest of his peer group instead of letting his sexual tension stay bottled up until present day, when he’s on the verge of exploding.
My definition of a sex act, by the way, being “something done by two or more people involving manipulation of genitals intended to bring about orgasm”, which covers everything from simple handjobs and fingering all the way up to sweaty, grinding, thrashing, wild, screaming, penis-in-vagina fucking.
I’m not saying that every little spanking should necessarily lead to a full-fledged fuck. But definitely the second-or-third base ‘foreplay’ style stuff should be a common occurrence.
Various Opinions on the Subject (or “BDSM is a Kiss”)
A couple of months ago (back when I thought that I’d be writing this post much, much earlier than now), I posted a thread on FetLife asking about the intersection of sex and BDSM. How connected are the two? How many people keep them separate, and how many people keep them linked? And so on.
Many of the answers were prefaced with the caveat that: “There is no such thing as ‘normal’ or ‘standard’. All that there is, is whatever you find works best for you.” Which is good advice, but not what I was looking for.
Some people told me that – for them – BDSM and sex were completely intertwined and inseparable. Without the sex, there’s no point to having the BDSM. (One of my favorite lines from this viewpoint was “Sex without kink is just vanilla sex . . . while kink without sex is just a tease.”)
Others said that while they didn’t see sex as an integral part of BDSM, engaging in a play session invariably made them incredibly horny . . . so BDSM usually led to sex, despite the fact that they didn’t consider the two to be a single set of actions.
For some people, it was always sensual, but not always sexual. For others, it’s about a feeling of intimacy. (One respondent indicated that she could have sex without intimacy, but she can’t do casual BDSM play.)
There were people for whom BDSM tended to involve sex, but only because their usual play partner was also their lover. With other play partners, it was just the BDSM. And in other BDSM relationships, sex didn’t enter into it.
And then there were the people with two different styles of play. One representing each side of the coin.
So, on the one level, I got most of the expected answers from the spectrum of “BDSM is a part of sex” to “BDSM is apart from sex”. Then came the fun answers.
One of the people who replied to the thread hit me with this little piece of insight: There are people who are into flogging, bondage, power exchange, and so on, but whose activities do not include penetration. And these people will tell you that BDSM isn’t about sex. Because they engage in BDSM activities, and don’t incorporate sex into that play. But then again . . .
How do you define sex? How do you define making love? There are people out there who would say that flogging their partner is making love to them (or that being flogged is being made love to). Who’s to say that for some people BDSM (the standard actions, even without the benefit of penetration) isn’t sex?
Another respondent said that BDSM had never been about sex for her, but had always affected her sexually. And that giving herself to someone in a BDSM context was better than any sex act could ever be. (She went on to say that so long as she was able to serve another within the context of BDSM it wouldn’t bother her if she was never penetrated again. A statement she revised in a later post further down the thread when clarifying her remarks, as she really didn’t want the whole penetration thing absent from her life . . .but still . . . it says something about her views on BDSM that she made the comment in the first place.)
There also came the opinion that since BDSM is a lifestyle [which is a potential topic for another time], sex is a part of it as much as sex is a part of anyone’s life. If people only practice BDSM in the bedroom, then it’s a sex thing. But if it goes beyond that (up as far as a 24/7 participation in the stuff), then that’s how they live their live, and they have sex when they have sex. But the BDSM has become more, and the fact that the sex involves BDSM is less noticeable, because everything involves some level of BDSM.
My favorite answer was from someone who stated that the closest analogy was to kissing. An intimate action. And one that can be done platonically. Caringly or affectionately. As a prelude to sex. As foreplay. As part of a sexual encounter. Or simply as a self-contained act – ‘an end-unto-itself’.
It’s an interesting was of looking at it. BDSM is a kiss.
Your sub/bottom/partner has a bad day, and needs pain, or discipline, or whatever it is that she personally cries out for. As a caring dom/top/partner, what do you tell her? “Oh, come here. Let me kiss it and make it better.”
The bratty sub tells you to ‘kiss her ass’. Which causes you to take off your belt. Yeah, you’re going to kiss her ass.
“Kiss Me, I’m Irish” becomes “Kiss Me, I’m Submissive”.
Hmm. My word games are going to carry me off if I’m not careful. Time to kiss this little subtopic good-bye and move on.
My Dungeon Encounter at KinkFest 2008
My BDSM-est encounter thus far took place at last year’s KinkFest. I’ve talked about this a few times already, most notably in “My BDSM Experience”, way back near the very beginning of the blog. It wins the title of “BDSM-est” over anything that CJ and I ever did by the simple virtue of having racked up a larger number of BDSM points. Taking place in a dungeon. In public. Involving actual leather cuffs. And a spanking bench. And so on and so forth.
Paddlevendor (not her real name) was set up in the vendor’s area, trying to sell me a paddle. (Which probably helps to explain why I’ve named her what I did.) She’s tenacious – I’ll give her that. So much so that when our back and forth ‘I don’t need a paddle, and here’s why’ / ‘Oh, yes you do, and here’s why’ game came to what I thought would be a close by me telling her that I really had no use for a paddle as I had no partner to use one on . . . she told me that she’d play with anyone, so long as it was public, and asked if I was planning on going to the play party that night. Well, that’s the kind of sales pitch you just can’t ignore.
When we met up in the dungeon later that night, she explained her medical problems, and gave me a list of places where I couldn’t hit her because of them. She also informed me that her panties (along with tights and socks, as it turned out) would be staying on, because she didn’t want anything to go to far, as genital play was reserved for her sex partner.
Now, none of that is anything that I have a problem with. I understand it all, and I’m fine with it. However, at the time, I was incredibly disappointed. And, if I’m completely honest, a tiny little bit pissed off. Why? Because hours earlier, after purchasing the paddle from her, I asked the question: “So, what do you all do in the dungeon?”
To which her response was, “Pretty much everything.”
Her medical concerns kept me from hitting her legs. I wasn’t allowed to devote any real amount of spanking to her ass. (Everything I did was concentrated on her back.) And she remained fully dressed below the waist.
It would really have been nice to know about the medical limitations beforehand, but you and I both know that’s not my complaint. “Pretty much everything.” I spent several hours with the words “Pretty much everything” reverberating through my head. I tried very hard not to think about the prospect of losing my virginity that night, although I couldn’t help but picture fucking her while she was strapped down to a spanking bench. But I was planning on at least finger-fucking her in addition to the paddling I planned to give her. I fantasized about cumming on her face.
But apparently – for her – BDSM had nothing to do with sex.
At the time, I wanted to ask her if she incorporated BDSM and sex into a single activity with her (monogamous sexual) partner. I actually started formulating the question in my brain, but couldn’t think of a way to phrase it that wasn’t going to sound like the beginning of a negotiation to try and get into her pants. (Which was NOT my intent. No means no, and all that. But I was honestly curious about whether she kept her BDSM completely separate from her sexual activities 100% of the time, or just outside of her bedroom.)
“Pretty much everything.” Yeah, right. That was a far-too wide-ranging statement to be casually thrown around. I found myself thinking that there should be a way to tell the difference between the “BDSM has nothing to do with sex” people from the others.
What’s In a Name?
One of the things that I love about BDSM is how elegant it is. I’m not talking about the activity right now – I’m talking about the name.
Somehow – whether it was one creative genius, a committee, or a work-in-progress passed along from collaborator to collaborator over time – Bondage and Discipline and Dominance and Submission and Sadism and Masochism became known by the simple, four letter initialization BDSM.
I like that kind of thing. I like initializations when they’ve got some creativity packed into them, I like acronyms (and the related fields covering the topic of word-strings condensed into a single word), and I like the idea behind mnemonic devices. (I also like portmanteau, anagrams, palindromes, and so on and so forth.)
And as someone who likes that sort of thing . . . BDSM just fuckin’ knocks my proverbial socks off.
It didn’t end up being B&D&D&S&S&M. It didn’t end up being BD&DS&SM or even BDDSSM. No, someone decided to grab hold of the overlapping initials and squeeze for all they were worth, condensing them into single letters pulling double duty. Four capital letters representing six words (and either three or five ‘ands’ or ‘ampersands’, depending on how you’re counting.)
Like I said: Elegant.
In fact, not just elegant. Perfect. Flawless. So completely and totally ideal that it should never be altered, adjusted, or manipulated in any way, shape, or form. Obviously, that goes without saying. Anyone who would try to change ‘BDSM’ into something different is clearly a fool.
That having been said . . .
I would now like to talk about something I’ve decided to call ‘BDSMI’.
What the fuck is BDSMI?
Actually, it’s a smaller question than that. Broken back down into it’s component parts, we all know what B&D is. Along with D&S, and S&M. Which just leaves us with the new guy. M&I. So really, the question becomes . . .
What the fuck is M&I?
M&I is Masturbation and Intercourse. A term I’m using here to cover most (if not all) possible sex acts.
Define it however you like. Take masturbation to mean jacking off or fingering yourself (or the mutual masturbation style jacking or fingering someone else), and have intercourse cover vaginal, oral, and anal intercourse.
Or have ‘intercourse’ mean simply intercourse (PIV, and possibly PIA) and define masturbation as any sexual activity outside of intercourse – the classic “Everything But”. Handjobs, fingering, and oral. Titfucking, footjobs, uhm . . . armpit fucking . . . fisting . . . anything else involving putting the cock somewhere, or putting something in the pussy, I guess. Anything designed to bring about an orgasm.
M&I, simply put, is the sex that’s left out of “BDSM has nothing to do with sex”.
And while everybody masturbates (Yes! Even you! We have you on camera!), and mostly everybody has sexual intercourse, my intention for the term M&I is that it be grouped with B&D, D&S, and S&M in the whole BDSM category. Forming BDSMI. Therefore M&I pertains to BDSM-style sex, not vanilla.
Point and Purpose?
Is there a point to my having bastardized the (oh-so-elegant) ‘BDSM’ into a new term? Do I foresee it having a purpose beyond a simple intellectual exercise to help fill up a blog post?
Depends on just how full of myself I am, I guess.
Actually, yeah . . . I’d at least like to think it’s got a purpose. At the absolute minimum, coining the term BDSMI gave me a title for this post (along with a focus for it). But – do I seem like an absolute minimum kind of guy to you? (Penis size doesn’t count. I can’t help that.)
It seems to me like there’s a implicit dividing line (not an angry border, just a simple “here is where the difference kicks in” notifier) between BDSM for it’s own sake, and BDSM as an aspect of kinky sexplay. And currently, in my head, BDSM for it’s own sake is called ‘BDSM’. The other stuff, the stuff that I’ve fantasized about since reading about spanking and tying a girl to a bed way back in Penthouse Magazine? In my head, that’s now labeled ‘BDSMI’.
The thing is . . . I’d like these labels to exist in places other than just in my head.
I’m not necessarily looking for the creation of a symbol or anything. (I added an ‘I’ to the end of ‘BDSM’, so let’s now add an ‘eye’ to the middle of the triskelion icon. Uh – no.) But maybe wearing a pin or a sticker that reads “BDSMI”. Or even just “M&I” Something you can wear to a play party that lets people know you’re orgasm friendly.
This isn’t to say that wearing an M&I pin will get you laid. All it would do is alert people looking for partners at a play party (or wherever) that you’re open to some form of sexual activity (not necessarily full-blown intercourse, but at least some form of genital manipulation). It gives you an opening to bring it up during scene negotiation. (Especially helpful if that’s something that you’re generally too shy to talk about on your own.)
I’d love it if this thing actually took off. Not just for the ego boost it would cause for yours truly, but also because I honestly think it would be a useful tool for the BDSM (BDSMI) community.
So, tell your friends. Point them back toward this blog entry if you want. Spread the word:
Read “Time Delay”.
(That last one is optional – but always appreciated.)