BDSM Myths & Facts

To many the world sadomasochism is strange or even appauling. Traditionally such sexual tendencies were considered a mental disorder or simply a grave disturbance in personality. In recent years however topics related to bdsm has found its way through the backdoor to mainstream media, hollywood movies and public life in general.

The heavy metal band Metallica released a song called S&M, famous popsinger Madonna released a photobook with a sadomasochistic theme, mainstream movies such as The Secretary and 9½ Weeks were both clearly sadomasochistic in their themes and contents. The list could be continued through the day, as little symbols of dominance and submission are seen in every corner of society.

Following the transistion from an abhorred perversion to an almost mainstream feature in everyday publications has obviously opened the door for followers of this alternative sexual orientation to come out in the light more freely. In several western countries BDSM clubs, unions and parties have moved from secterianism practices where the preferred sexuality was explored with select fellow sadomasochists in secret locations and out into the open. Most bigger cities have publicly announced fetish parties and bdsm munches, the latter being a form of casual meeting in a public cafe or similar. Similarly there are now “open house” events in plenty of the formerly so secretive BDSM societies and clubs, certain bigger cities even have fetish and sadomoschistic themed annual street parades and the internet has opened the gates further with several dedicated BDSM dating sites such as Alt, Fetlife and Collarme.

To the individual sadist or masochist, dominant or submissive, the development in recent years has obviously made life easier and the fear of negative opposition from friends and family a less pressing issue. However, there are still obstacles, myths and prejudices hampering particularly bdsm beginners as they attempt to explore their sexuality.

Firstly, there is a widespread taboo attached to males being the dominant part and females the submissive. The reason is fairly simple and understandable as many link such a relationship to unacceptable occurences of non-consensual wife abuse and solidified sexist or patriarchal roles. However, the roles within a relationship of any kind and within a BDSM relationship in particular is determined not by norms or historic context, but by the pleasures of the individuals living it. No two relationships are the same and that goes for sadomasochistic ones as well, each couple defines exactly the path they feel most comfortable walking. The link to abuse of women is a rather fundamental misunderstanding as the key concept in any BDSM relationship is consent. No sadomasochistic relationship can or should have any elements that are non-consensual, it is a world playing itself out within boundaries considered extreme by outsiders, but that doesnt remove the boundaries – it makes them stronger and more essential to maintain.

Secondly, there is a myth connecting the dominant or sadist parties to evil spirited criminal activities of a sadistic nature. It could be committer of non-consensual or violent crimes, the connection has even been made in relation to notorious serialkillers and historical menaces responsbile for genocides. Now, yet again its essential to point to consent and the general unwritten law of the bdsm scene, sometimes vocalised as “Safe, Sane and Consensual”. In a bdsm context no play can happen if one side doesnt consent and the scene rather efficiently carries out self policing on that front. In case a person on the bdsm scene becomes known not to have a codec respecting consent, safewords and the general limits set for their d/s relationships, they wont just be expelled from the scene, but potential partners will be warned and briefed about the dangers of such people. As such, a dominant person committing a violent crime, raping someone or in other ways cause non-consensual harm is a criminal, perhabs mentally disturbed, but certainly his actions have nothing to do with BDSM. Such a person might declare himself a sadomasochist, but in fact he would fail even the most basic of requirements to qualify as such. No BDSM scene would allow him entry, no informed scene person would engage in play or relationships with him and indeed the nature of his crimes would rule them out as being defined as BDSM. A rapist calling himself a BDSM master or similar is on the same level as Hitler labelling himself a socialist. It is a reality only existing in a disturbed mind. The first principle of BDSM is consent from both sides and failing to adhere to that moves your activities into an entirely different and criminal category.

Issues such as these and indeed the fundamental admittance to living an alternative lifestyle or having a form of deviant sexual appetite may forthwith restrain bdsm beginners and those interested in dominance and submission from declaring so. Indeed, some people try to repress such emotions within themselves and aims for an entirely “vanilla” lifestyle. Such choices are for the individual to make, but certainly in these times making the move to take the sexual attractions from pure fantasy and out into the real world has become easier and more straightforward.

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