Can I try BDSM?

spank me

Maybe you’re the kind of discerning reader who wants to know, “Okay, it’s one thing to read about kinky sex  in fictional books like Return. Do people do this in real life?  Could I try it?”

The short answer is YES – some people do it in real life.  Various studies show that between 2% and 62% of the population have at least fantasized about BDSM at some point. (Sagarin, 2015)

But it’s also NO – other people don’t do it because it doesn’t appeal to them, or their body can’t handle it.  Just because people do it somewhere, sometimes, doesn’t mean it will be fun, safe or healthy for everyone. Whether  it will work for you depends on your interests, your body and your mind.

There are many women who enjoy fantasizing about kink as a way to get their mental juices flowing, but don’t actually want to incorporate it into their real sex life (Joyal, 2014). And that’s fine. It’s totally acceptable to enjoy kink only in your fantasies!  People often enjoy fantasizing about things they’d never want to do in reality.  But if you want to incorporate some kink into your sex life, remember to read and research first, start slow, stay safe, and always use good communication with a trusted partner.

 

What is BDSM?

BDSM is an acronym that incorporates many aspects of kink – the B&D are for bondage and discipline, D&S are for dominance and submission, and S&M is sadism and masochism.  As Sharon Glassburn points out, the common theme in all of these pairings is power, and in fact, many practitioners of BDSM call their relationships “power exchanges.”  (Glassburn, 2015.)  Because BDSM involves activities that can be painful and dangerous (things like bondage and impact can be damaging or even deadly if done incorrectly), it’s critical for practitioners to have knowledge of what they are doing, clear limits, ways to stop all action, and a lot of communication on exactly what will and will not happen.  The common-sense approach to BDSM is called SSC – Safe, Sane and Consensual. If you’re contemplating BDSM, this means that you should only do things that make sense for your body and your situation, that you should keep your personal safety as the number one priority at all times, and that everything must be consensual.

Why do People like BDSM?

The connection between pain and pleasure has intrigued people since early times.   The ancient Etruscans  included erotic cave drawings on tombs in the Tarquinia region of Italy from 490 BC; the one called The Tomb of the Whipping includes a fresco of a woman being whipped by a man.  (Steingraeber, 2006).  In  India, the Kama Sutra – an early sex manual – describes how to implement erotic spanking, scratching and biting into passionate love-making.  Descriptions of BDSM and the mingling of pain, pleasure, dominance and submission appeared  in art and literature for the next several hundred years, and as times progressed,  various psychological theories abounding as to why people enjoyed it.  Practitioners  claim that the immense trust that occurs between partners is a rush in and of itself, and that being the dominant or submissive partner and living out that role, even temporarily, increases sexual arousal and attraction to their partner. Today, researchers are narrowing in on the neurochemistry and brain science behind pleasure and pain.

etruscan cave

The commonly described Runner’s High, a euphoric state that can occur from any vigorous aerobic activity (not just running) may be caused by the release of opioides in the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex and insula, as well as from endo-cannabinoids, the brain’s natural cannabis-like molecules.  Some researchers believe that BDSM practitioners may enjoy a similar rush of chemicals when they push their bodies and minds past certain limits.  (Linden, 2011.)  In addition, novel brain research shows that dopamine, the brain chemical responsible for the pleasure behind orgasms and cocaine, may be released not just during pleasure, but upon the anticipation of pleasure. Dopamine may also be released, in certain cases, in response to pain or the anticipation of pain, in a “pay attention, this is important” way.  And since pleasure is registered more strongly in the brain at the cessation of pain, all of these factors may be part of the brain chemistry behind the reason why sexual pain and pleasure work together for some people.  (Linden, 2011).

It’s also been shown that activities like spanking increase blood flow to the genitals, and the blood flow is partially responsible for arousal and orgasm. In addition, a spanking may stimulate nerves that carry information to the genitals.  (Keenan, 2014.)

There’s no one clear answer on why BDSM appeals to a certain part of the population, but it seems clear that the psychological and physiological reasons go far beyond one popular, simple explanation — that it’s  just a carryover, a learned behavior traced to centuries of conditioning from a patriarchal society.

Do Lots of Research Before You Start

Things like bondage, spanking, and anal play  can be  damaging when done incorrectly; you need to aware of pertinent safety concerns, which you can only get from doing a lot of reading and research first, before you try these things.  And your research shouldn’t be along the lines of “I read the novel XYZ so I know what I’m doing.”  You should Google the topic in question, read various blogs and “how to” articles, mentally separate the fact from the fantasy ( this can be hard to do, especially if you’re just beginning your research – this is why you need to do a lot of reading first), and then start slow and gentle and easy.

If you’re bold and adventurous, or interested in getting to know new people, you can visit your local dungeon for classes or demonstrations — many major cities have BDSM clubs that offer classes and learning experiences in addition to play parties.  You can often go to meetings called “munches” at public restaurants or coffee shops to meet other kinky people in safe environment and get to know others who are interested in the same things.

Spanking Example

There are  people in real life who enjoy spankings – even extreme ones –  with absolutely no lasting ill effects or injuries. But it’s not as simple as just grabbing your partner and whaling away. If you do the right research, you’ll learn that spanking should be generally confined to fleshy areas of the buttocks for intense play, although other parts of the body can handle less aggressive impact.  You’ll need to avoid the face and areas over bones and nerves.  If you hit certain parts of the back too aggressively, you can damage the kidneys or spine, resulting in bloody urine or paralysis.  So don’t hit near the spine or kidneys. Hitting the tailbone can cause serious injury (broken bone) in addition to significant pain, so never do that, regardless of whether you’re using your hand, a paddle, a crop, or anything else.

You’ll discover that some implements used for spanking can cause cuts and welts if used hard; things like canes and floggers can be intense and actually require practice on inanimate objects like pillows for a person to develop “expertise” at using them.  Belts can cause damage to skin if used too hard, and anything long and slender can wrap around the body and hit the waist or hips, which is usually not desired.  Whips should not be used by anyone except an expert, because they can cause such serious damage in the wrong hands.

You’ll also learn that it’s important to start out a spanking with light slaps; this may help prevent bruising, if you plan to engage in a longer,  harder  spanking.  You need to stop as soon as the spankee tells you to; and if they do not ever tell you to stop, you will still need to use your common sense and err on the side of caution. You need to check on them and be prepared to stop if and when their skin starts to appear too red or if it gets red and then white, if they seem to be breathing strangely, if they are not responding to your words, if they seem too excited/anxious/angry, or too calm.

This is not an exhaustive list or even a  primer; it’s just a few examples of things you need to keep in mind if you’re interested in spanking  as you begin your research.  Regardless of what you’re interested in trying, you’ll need to read about it first to understand the risks, the techniques, and to think carefully about how it might work for you and your partner.

 

Communication and Safe Words

Discussion about the activity needs to happen before, during and after.  You may start by saying, “What do you want? What if I did this?  How you will you tell me to stop or keep going?” Afterwards, check with your partner. “How did it feel? Did you like it? What should we repeat, do differently, change for next time?” Your words  will vary, but the point is that communication needs to happen if you want to be a responsible partner.

Some people enjoy giving or taking BDSM activities that cause discomfort, fear or pain — but only to a point. And that point is going to vary by individual, and even for the same person, by time of day, time of month, hormone fluctuations, stress, amount of sleep, weight and diet.  You can never assume that what a person likes/wants one day will be the same on the next. Ask.

You need to be aware that someone feeling stress or pain may respond by getting loud and vocal, or the opposite, by retreating mentally and becoming unnaturally quiet. Be aware that things that sounded like a good idea ahead of time may turn out to be abhorrent or awful in the moment, and you need to change your plans accordingly.

As a beginner in real life, it’s a good idea to use your real words.  It’s fun to read and write about heroines who are only allowed to use “RED”  or “NEON CRAYON” for stop. Many people do like having a separate word for stop, because part of their play includes crying out, “Oh, stop!” and not really meaning it.

However, many people in real life use actual communication, like “Stop now, that hurts in a bad way.”  Or, “Ouch, leg cramp, let me readjust! Okay, good, keep going.”  Or, “How about you stop doing X and start doing Y?” Or, “Too high, that doesn’t feel right.”

It might not seem as exciting and sexy as in a novel, but it’s easier and safer for most beginner situations.  And most people find that feeling safe and secure with their partner allows for a much deeper, profound and sexy experience overall, because then they can relax and fully enjoy the sensations.

Set Limits and Honor Them

Before you start to “play” (a common word for engaging in a BDSM activity with a partner), or begin your “scene” together, it’s critical to discuss limits.  What exactly will you allow your partner to do or try this time? What is on the “never do this” list?  Some people may like being spanked, but will have a panic attack if a blindfold is placed on their face.  Some may enjoy being called  “slut” during sex, but others will shut down completely and need to stop if that word is used.  Everyone is different.

There are huge lists of potential activities you can go through together with a partner, but that’s not necessary. You can start out with one activity and say, “You can spank me with your hand until I tell you to stop,” and take it from there.  As long as you are very clear with your partner on what is allowed, you don’t need a printout during your planning.

Even if everyone is clear on limits and consent is given for specific activities, the dominant partner will still need to check in  with their submissive partner during the scene. It doesn’t mean that you need to get consent before every single thing: “May I touch your breast? Great. Now may I tough the other one? Cool. May I put my hand on your arm?” However, when you are engaging in BDSM or kinky play that involves bondage or pain, you do need to periodically check in with your partner to affirm that they are enjoying it (or enjoying the “not enjoying” part of it) appropriately and are safe.  Use your gut — if something doesn’t feel right, or if your partner seems to be reacting in a strange manner, it’s always safest to stop and see what’s going on before continuing.  It may well be that a person consented to a spanking or other activity, and suddenly it no longer feels good, and for whatever reason, they’re not telling you — so be responsible and make sure to check their body language, movement and words as necessary.

People who engage in real-life consensual non-consent or  “no limits play” (where there is no clear safe-word or safe-phrase of any kind, and no way for the submissive partner to stop the action) are people who have so much trust and experience together and like to play at such an extreme level that they can handle such a relationship.  It’s not the kind of thing that any beginner should engage in – it’s too dangerous, physically and mentally.  As a newcomer to kink, steer clear of anyone who says they will not stop when you want them to.

Respect Your Physical and Mental Limitations

In books and blogs, it’s often sexy to read about intense scenes that push the limits of the character, and  beyond the limits of the reader.  But in books, the heroine may not have  PTSD from an abusive past, hemorrhoids, IBD, gas, a yeast infection, a propensity for developing UTI’s, an allergy to lube, a gag reflex,  her period, hormone fluctuations, an aversion to having her nipples touched, diabetes (which makes her skin more fragile and makes any bruises/wounds take longer to heal), a prescription medicine that thins her blood, eczema,  claustrophobia, anxiety disorder or clinical depression, or a job that requires that she not have a sore anything in order to function at 100% efficiency. In books and fiction, it’s easy to have your hero and heroine engage in all kinds of intense play on a very regular basis — things that just might not work for everyone.

In real life, there are people who should really never try anal play or anal sex, because of their health conditions, or just because they have zero interest.  There are people who should not ever play at spanking, because they hate it or because their skin is too sensitive.  There are people who should never engage in bondage, because they have claustrophobia, tendinitis,  circulation issues due to diabetes,  heart disease, or other medical conditions. Or just because they don’t like it.

For these and a million other reasons, NEVER assume that you should want or be capable of doing what is done in books, or even by other real people!   Only do what you like, when you like it. Only do what is safe for you at this point in time. It’s always better to start really slowly than to rush in too fast and become injured, overwhelmed, panicky or grossed out.

Your body is special and beautiful; treat it like the unique instrument that it is.

 

siggie bar jen web 2

 Links

Here are some links to sites that contain useful  information on BDSM, spanking and kinky play. Read at your own risk! Please be aware that I am not a doctor or a health professional, and this article is NOT intended to give you detailed information on how to practice BDSM.  I take no responsibility for injuries that happen to you as a result of your own actions. Please remember that YOU are the one in charge of you — only you. Respect yourself accordingly and insist on respect from your partner.

 

Beginner’s Guide to Spanking

What is BSDM?

Can I like BDSM and be a feminist?

Pain and Pleasure in the Brain

A feminist enjoys spanking during sex

More from a feminist who enjoys submissive sex

BDSM Impact Zones & Safe Play

Basics for Spanking from sex-toy vendor Lelo

Spanking How-To Guide from Cosmo (yes! Even Cosmo is into it!)

Beginner’s Guide To Bondage

Difference between kink and abuse

 

References

Sagarin, B. (2015). The surprising psychology of BDSM. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-wide-wide-world-psychology/201502/the-surprising-psychology-bdsm

Glassburn, S.  (2015). Safe, Sane and Consensual: The Bedrock Ethics of BDSM. GoodTherapy.org. Retrieved from http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/safe-sane-consensual-the-bedrock-ethics-of-bdsm-0316155

Joyal, Christian C., PhD et al. (2014). What Exactly Is An Unusual Sexual Fantasy? The Journal of Sexual Medicine.  Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1111/jsm.12734/

Steingraeger, Stephan. (2006).  Abundance of Life. Etruscan Cave Paintings. Translated by Russell Stockman.  Getty Publications, L.A., California, 2006.  Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/1173305/Etruskische_Wandmalerei

Picture of the Tomb Of The Whipping can be seen at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_the_Whipping

Text of the Kama Sutra can be found at http://www.freekamasutra.com/ebook_online/2-07.htm

Keenan, Jillian. (2014). Spanking Is Great For Sex.  Slate.com. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2014/09/spanking_is_a_sex_act_which_is_why_it_should_not_be_used_for_punishing_children.1.html

Linden, David J. (2011.)  The Compass of Pleasure.  Penguin Books, New York. 2011.  An excerpt from his book can be retrieved from http://davidlinden.org/blog/older-blog-entries/hurts-so-good/

Cocker, J. (2014.)  BSDM Basics: Impact Play Safe Zones and Spanking Tips. A Submissive’s Initiative.  Retrieved from http://asibdsm.com/spanking_tips/

Copulsky, D. (2015). Consent and safety basics for kink & BDSM [comic]. Sex Positive Education. Retrieved from http://www.sexedplus.com/consent-safety-basics-for-kink-bdsm/