People unfamiliar with the world of BDSM may see it as something bizarre, or weird, or something they themselves could never understand. Some people see the leather outfits, the spanked bottoms and the gruesome implements of torture and assume that it’s a world of sadists simply acting out their violent fantasies.
But there’s much more to BDSM than pain and macabre imagery. For many, BDSM is a lifestyle. It’s a way of exploring a person’s darkest fantasies and subconscious desires. In addition to providing sexual fulfilment, it can also be a way of form of therapy for many, as BDSM play can provide an outlet for stress and other deep-rooted issues.
BDSM is an acronym for Bondage, Domination and Sado-Masochism, although modern variations on the term incorporate Dominance, Discipline and Submission in there too.
On their own, the words sadism, masochism, bondage and discipline all conjure up bleak, depressive images, however, in the context of sexual fulfilment and personal exploration, BDSM becomes something much different.
The origins of BDSM date back to the seventeenth century, when French transgressive author Marquis de Sade wrote his magnum opus 120 Days of Sodom. Written within the confines of a French prison, 120 Days of Sodom details the fictional events of a group of wealthy gentleman who spend several months torturing, abusing and ultimately murdering almost fifty victims in the most harrowing ways imaginable. The sadism part of BDSM comes from Marquis de Sade.
The masochism part of BDSM is derived from Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, whose famous novel Venus In Furs deals with similar themes to 120 Days of Sodom, but on a smaller scale. Venus In Furs sees the nameless narrator submit himself entirely to his female master, requesting that she degrade him in the most inhuman ways possible. Eventually, after years enforcing countless acts of humiliation, degradation and torment on her slave, domination becomes the only way she can achieve sexual gratification.
The bondage aspect of BDSM incorporates the most common element of BDSM play: restraint. This usually takes the form of a person’s hands or feet being bound either together or to an object, used to display submission. Restraint is also a tool used to inflict sensory deprivation in a submissive, such as through the use of mouth gags, blindfolds and handcuffs.
Bondage provides an incredible amount of fulfilment for both the dominant and the submissive partners. While the dominant will enjoy the freedom and ultimate power which restraints afford them, the submissive derives arousal by handing over their livelihood to another person. Through the use of bondage, the submissive becomes the dominant’s possession.
The domination part of BDSM is inclusive of both the dominant and submissive partners as both are equally important. Domination involves the complete relinquishment of power from one partner to the other, allowing the dominant partner to take full control of their submissive. Domination can take many different forms, with the most common being physical reprimanding, acts of humiliation and mental dominance.
Despite what many people may think, there’s nothing weird, bizarre or unconventional about the world of BDSM. It’s a lifestyle with a rich history dating back hundreds of years, and, as a recent series of novels have shown, is now is more alive than ever before.
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