Created By: Xzenu on June 8, 2011 Last Edited By: Xzenu on July 10, 2011
Nuked

UsefulNotes/BDSM

Draft for a Useful Notes page about BDSM

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What is BDSM?

BDSM is a wide range of consensual activities that are either sexual or indirectly connected to sexuality.

The four letters can be read in two ways. Either as the initialism for Bondage, Dominance-games and SadoMasochism. Or as being a condensed version of Bondage & Discipline + Dominance & Submission + Sadism & Masochism.

What is "Bondage", in this context?

Bondage means tying someone up. Usually with ropes. Can also be with chains or whatever, or putting someone in a cage, or simply forbidding the person to move. The later is sometimes categorized as Discipline.

To be Bondage, it has to be sexual and consensual.

If it is consensual but not sexual, it's just a game or something. If it is neither sexual nor consensual, it's kidnapping. If it's sexual but not consensual, it's kidnapping or sexual assault or both.

What is Dominance-games / Dominance & Submission?

An exchange of power: One person choosing to surrender to another by his own free will. Because he want to, not because he has been coerced or extorted in any way. Of course, the surrender only counts if it's accepted by the Dominant.

This dominance & submission can be limited to a single scene, ranging in length between seconds and hours, or be more drawn out. Some people have this kind of dominance dynamics permanently integrated in their relationships. There are three main differences between this and patriarchal gender roles. The first is that BDSM is gender neutral. The Dominant may be male or female, and may be hetero- homo- or bisexual. So may the submissive. The second difference is that they have this dynamic because they want to and choose to, not because they have been thought that "it's the way it's supposed to be". The third is that they have detailed options for what parts of their relationship is or isn't included in the dominance. For example, it's very common that the Dominant has no say over the submissive's professional life - especially since many sexual submissives are very dominant career people in their professional lives.

What is SadoMasochism / Sadism & Masochism?

A masochist want to experience pain - of the right kind, from the right person, in the right context. This can take the form of spankings, whippings, hot candle wax, or whatever. If the person who give these experiences is also enjoying the session, then this person is called a "sadist". These people typically combine their sadism with empathy and ethics, and are thus not dangerous or destructive in any way. However, a person who is a sexual sadist and a psychopath is an entirely different matter.

Also, note that "BDSM" is a range of "activities", while the title "sadomasochist" is often used about people who are interested in BDSM - including people who doesn't practice. In this sense of the words, Sadomasochism is the interest / desire / preference / orientation (whatever you prefer to call it), while BDSM / Sadism & Masochism is the act that express it.

So, it's all mixed together?

Some people combine all three parts, while others pick only one or two. It's a smorgasbord. Some people are masochists without being submissive, while some people are submissive without wanting pain to be a part of the deal at all. Of the people who enjoy both D&S and S&M, some enjoy each of them in their own right, while others enjoy one and only use the other to reinforce the experience. Likewise, some people enjoy both being the dominant and being the submissive. This is often referred to as being a "switch". Others enjoy only one of the positions.

Same goes for fetishism: There is no inherent connection between enjoying spanking and enjoying leather clothes, but the same subculture includes both.

How old is BDSM?

The sexualities currently categorized as BDSM are very old. Some of them probably older than mankind itself, since the instinct to dominate or submit is integrated into all social species. As for S & M, it's mentioned in the ancient Indian textbook Kama Sutra. Sexy ways of beating, scratching or biting each other gets a chapter each. Also, female dominance is mentioned in one chapter, as an interesting kink. Male dominance is not mentioned, since ancient India was patriarchal: Male dominance was taken for granted.

The social construct to categorize such things as "BDSM", on the other hand, is quite recent. The leather subculture started blooming up after WWII. After that came the concepts of B&D, D&S and S&M, which got merged into BDSM. The whole subculture is based on the concept sometimes called Safe, Sane and Consensual or Risk Awareness Consensual Kink. This reflects modern civilization's values of individualism, mutual respect and caring for each other.

The words Sadism and Masochism was originally only about the sexual variations included in BDSM. The words was invented by the 19:th century sexologist Kraft-Ebing. He derived the names from Marquis De Sade and Leopold von Sasher-Masoch, two aristocrats who was both authors of sadomasochistic pornography. De Sade wrote satires where he portrayed the authorities as horny hypocrites who oppressed the population, while Masoch wrote about his romantic desire to be dominated by a woman.

A century later, these words had picked up some quite different and quite negative meanings. "Sadism" was used as a generic slur for being a malicious Jerk Ass, while "masochism" was used as a similar slur to brand people as self-destructive. A popular excuse for refusing to help victims of Domestic Abuse was to brand them "masochists", implying that they merely pretended to not enjoy the beatings, just to get attention. These days, these creepy secondary meanings are losing power as actual sadism and masochism is becoming more and more socially accepted.

So, this whole thing about SSC...?

Most of it is covered under the useful notes page on Consent. However, safety is a huge field that is not covered there and will not be sufficiently covered here either. If you are interested, read a book or two.

Generally speaking, BDSM is entirely free from risk of disease/infection and unwanted pregnancies, as long as you don't break the skin or combine it with intercourse. However, the people who practice it need to be careful with blood circulation, respiratory systems, and not hitting any vulnerable areas such as over the kidneys. Most importantly, don't use comic books and similar fiction as instruction manuals: See the Common Hollywood Sex Traits list.

What about BDSM in media and tropes?

There are three different basic ways to handle BDSM in works. Portraying a character or group as into BDSM. Portraying events that are interesting or sexy in a BDSM way, without necessarily being BDSM in the context of the work. And finally, portraying the dynamics and nuances for where various lines are drawn.

Portraying a character’s interest in BDSM can be done in three different tones of voice: It can be portrayed as something positive, something neutral (usually for comedic effect, toying with expected prejudices in the audience) or as something negative and maybe “perverted”. Sometimes, people into BDSM gets the role of Exotified Subculture of the Week.

Portraying events as BDSM-sexy can be done in many ways. Three of the many tropes commonly used for this are Abusively Sexy, Bound and Gagged and Spank the Cutie.

When it comes to portraying dynamics and boundaries, the following tropes are often useful:

Why are people into BDSM?

Lots of different reasons. Some enjoy the physical sensations, some enjoy dreaming away by acting out role-playing scenarios. Some enjoy the control and responsibility that come with being the dominant, some enjoy the Freedom from Choice (and responsibility) that can come with being the submissive. For some it's a thrill, for some it's about feeling secure.

Most people who enjoy BDSM can enjoy vanilla intercourse as well. For some, guilt doesn't come into it either way. For others, submission is a way of escaping sexual guilt: By taking the role of the innocent victim, they can enjoy the sex without feeling like a slut. For yet others, guilt doesn't cone into it naturally, but they choose to cultivate a sense of guilt and make up excuses for why they deserve to be "punished" - not out of any actual guilt, but simply because they enjoy it. Compare with civilians who are peaceful or even Actual Pacifist, but enjoy taking on the role of bloodthirsty world-conquering emperor in various strategy computer games, reveling in the sociopathy because their fellow players doesn't sustain any actual trauma from having their virtual citizens slaughtered.

Also, the human brain tend to enjoy having it's systems exercised. If our jobs doesn't include physical labor, we start going to the gym. We eat sour and bitter candy, in spite of those taste receptors originally evolved to warn us from spoiled or poisonous food. We don't like food that's that sour or bitter, but a bit of sourness or bitterness is good. Likewise, no-one enjoy a hammer to the kneecaps - but some people do enjoy a spanking. Along this line, being used to a bit of pain can for some people make the bad kinds of pain more bearable.

But is BDSM always a good thing?

While no Safe, Sane and Consensual sexuality is inherently destructive, all forms of sexuality can be used in destructive/self-destructive ways. It's always important to be careful with your own and your partner's emotional and physical well-being.

Once upon a time, psychiatry believed that heterosexual intercourse within marriage was always a good thing, even if non-consensual, while so-called "deviant" sexualities was inherently bad. However, this view is long since dead. In 1990, the psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual known as DSM finally stopped counting sadomasochism as being inherently bad. Before 1990, being a sexual sadist or masochist counted as having a mental disorder. After 1990, only sadistic rapists and self-destructive masochists are considered having a disorder - those who play SSC are now considered mentally healthy. There's also a lot of scientific research supporting the conclusion that the typical sadomasochist is not unhappy or destructive, and isn't immoral or unhealthy unless you declare BDSM to be immoral and unhealthy ''in itself''.
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • June 8, 2011
    Xzenu
    This YKTTW is a spin-off from this TRS thread.
  • June 8, 2011
    Xzenu
    BDSM is a range of activities/games between Consenting Adults. Usually outright sexual or with heavy sexual/Fetish Fuel undertones. The letters can be read as either standing for Bondage, Dominance and Sado Masochism - or as being a condensed version of Bondage & Discipline + Dominance & Submission + Sadism & Masochism.

    Important aspects:
    • Safety
    • Consent (see Consent
    • Neurology
    • Psychiatry
    • Western bondage vs Shibari
    • mental dominance vs S/M
  • June 8, 2011
    HersheleOstropoler
    Ok, for a Useful Notes page, we ought to touch on leather theory, as it were, though without going full-on Franklin Veaux (or even full-on Jay Wiseman).
  • June 8, 2011
    Xzenu
    Sounds good to me!
  • June 8, 2011
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
  • June 9, 2011
    halfmillennium
    What else is there? Don't Bondage Is Bad, Safe Sane And Consensual and parts of Consent cover everything you think we should agree with?
  • June 9, 2011
    Koveras
  • June 10, 2011
    Xzenu

    What is BDSM?

    BDSM is a wide range of consensual activities that are either sexual or indirectly connected to sexuality.

    The four letters can be read in two ways. Either as the initialism for Bondage, Dominance-games and SadoMasochism. Or as being a condensed version of Bondage & Discipline + Dominance & Submission + Sadism & Masochism.

    What is "Bondage", in this context?

    Bondage means tying someone up. Usually with ropes. Can also be with chains or whatever, or putting someone in a cage, or simply forbidding the person to move. The later is sometimes categorized as Discipline.

    To be Bondage, it has to be sexual and consensual.

    If it is consensual but not sexual, it's just a game or something. If it is neither sexual nor consensual, it's kidnapping. If it's sexual but not consensual, it's kidnapping or sexual assault or both.

    What is Dominance-games / Dominance & Submission?

    An exchange of power: One person choosing to surrender to another by his own free will. Because he want to, not because he has been coerced or extorted in any way. Of course, the surrender only counts if it's accepted by the Dominant.

    This dominance & submission can be limited to a single scene, ranging in length between seconds and hours, or be more drawn out. Some people have this kind of dominance dynamics permanently integrated in their relationships. There are three main differences between this and patriarchal gender roles. The first is that BDSM is gender neutral. The Dominant may be male or female, and may be hetero- homo- or bisexual. So may the submissive. The second difference is that they have this dynamic because they want to and choose to, not because they have been thought that "it's the way it's supposed to be". The third is that they have detailed options for what parts of their relationship is or isn't included in the dominance. For example, it's very common that the Dominant has no say over the submissive's professional life - especially since many sexual submissives are very dominant career people in their professional lives.

    What is SadoMasochism / Sadism & Masochism?

    A masochist want to experience pain - of the right kind, from the right person, in the right context. This can take the form of spankings, whippings, hot candle wax, or whatever. If the person who give these experiences is also enjoying the session, then this person is called a "sadist". These people typically combine their sadism with empathy and ethics, and are thus not dangerous or destructive in any way. However, a person who is a sexual sadist and a psychopath is an entirely different matter.

    Also, note that "BDSM" is a range of "activities", while the title "sadomasochist" is often used about people who are interested in BDSM - including people who doesn't practice. In this sense of the words, Sadomasochism is the interest / desire / preference / orientation (whatever you prefer to call it), while BDSM / Sadism & Masochism is the act that express it.
  • June 10, 2011
    Xzenu

    So, it's all mixed together?

    Some people combine all three parts, while others pick only one or two. It's a smorgasbord. Some people are masochists without being submissive, while some people are submissive without wanting pain to be a part of the deal at all. Of the people who enjoy both D&S and S&M, some enjoy each of them in their own right, while others enjoy one and only use the other to reinforce the experience.

    Same goes for fetishism: There is no inherent connection between enjoying spanking and enjoying leather clothes, but the same subculture includes both.

    How old is BDSM?

    The sexualities currently categorized as BDSM are very old. Some of them probably older than mankind itself, since the instinct to dominate or submit is integrated into all social species. As for S & M, it's mentioned in the ancient Indian textbook Kama Sutra. Sexy ways of beating, scratching or biting each other gets a chapter each. Also, female dominance is mentioned in one chapter, as an interesting kink. Male dominance is not mentioned, since ancient India was patriarchal: Male dominance was taken for granted.

    The social construct to categorize such things as "BDSM", on the other hand, is quite recent. The leather subculture started blooming up after WWII. After that came the concepts of B&D, D&S and S&M, which got merged into BDSM. The whole subculture is based on the concept sometimes called Safe Sane And Consensual or Risk Awareness Consensual Kink. This reflects modern civilization's values of individualism, mutual respect and caring for each other.

    The words Sadism and Masochism was originally only about the sexual variations included in BDSM. The words was invented by the 19:th century sexologist Kraft-Ebing. He derived the names from Marquis De Sade and Leopold von Sasher-Masoch, two aristocrats who was both authors of sadomasochistic pornography. De Sade wrote satires where he portrayed the authorities as horny hypocrites who oppressed the population, while Masoch wrote about his romantic desire to be dominated by a woman.

    A century later, these words had picked up some quite different and quite negative meanings. "Sadism" was used as a generic slur for being a malicious Jerk Ass, while "masochism" was used as a similar slur to brand people as self-destructive. A popular excuse for refusing to help victims of Domestic Abuse was to brand them "masochists", implying that they merely pretended to not enjoy the beatings, just to get attention. These days, these creepy secondary meanings are losing power as actual sadism and masochism is becoming more and more socially accepted.

    So, this whole thing about SSC...?

    Most of it is covered under the useful notes page on Consent. However, safety is a huge field that is not covered there and will not be sufficiently covered here either. If you are interested, read a book or two.

    Generally speaking, BDSM is entirely free from risk of disease/infection and unwanted pregnancies, as long as you don't break the skin or combine it with intercourse. However, the people who practice it need to be careful with blood circulation, respiratory systems, and not hitting any vulnerable areas such as over the kidneys. Most importantly, don't use comic books and similar fiction as instruction manuals: See the Common Hollywood Sex Traits list.

    What about BDSM in media and tropes?

    There are three different things here. First, we have BDSM portrayed in media. Second, we have stuff that is not BDSM but is designed as sadomasochistic Fetish Fuel, based on Rule Of Fun or Rule Of Sexy. Third, we have that which is neither BDSM nor sexy, but is common in BDSM-play and/or inspired by the BDSM subculture.

    As for BDSM portrayed in media, it usually comes down to Casual Kink, Brains And Bondage or Bondage Is Bad. Sometimes it gets the role of Freaks Of The Week. Tropes such as Abusively Sexy (with subtropes), Bound And Gagged and Unwilling Suspension are normally not portraying BDSM, although they are often used as a sadomasochistic kind of Fetish Fuel Station Attendant. Tropes such as Safe Word and Safe Sane And Consensual are not about BDSM and not sexy either, from a BDSM point of view - but their relevance to Real Life BDSM play has inspired many situations in works of fiction - often situations that have nothing to do with BDSM and is not at all related to sexuality.
  • June 10, 2011
    Sceptre
    I second covering the psychology, as it is very interesting; I've seen several discussions on #tropers, and even on the SA thread ripping TV Tropes a new one, about it.
  • June 11, 2011
    Xzenu
    Mmm, there are at least two levels of psychology here: The psychological dynamics of BDSM, and the whole thing about mental health issues.


    Why are people into BDSM?

    Lots of different reasons. Some enjoy the physical sensations, some enjoy dreaming away by acting out role-playing scenarios. Some enjoy the control and responsibility that come with being the dominant, some enjoy the Freedom From Choice (and responsibility) that can come with being the submissive. For some it's a thrill, for some it's about feeling secure.

    Most people who enjoy BDSM can enjoy vanilla intercourse as well. For some, guilt doesn't come into it either way. For others, submission is a way of escaping sexual guilt: By taking the role of the innocent victim, they can enjoy the sex without feeling like a slut. For yet others, guilt doesn't cone into it naturally, but they choose to cultivate a sense of guilt and make up excuses for why they deserve to be "punished" - not out of any actual guilt, but simply because they enjoy it. Compare with civilians who are peaceful or even Actual Pacifist, but enjoy taking on the role of bloodthirsty world-conquering emperor in various strategy computer games, reveling in the sociopathy because their fellow players doesn't sustain any actual trauma from having their virtual citizens slaughtered.

    Also, the human brain tend to enjoy having it's systems exercised. If our jobs doesn't include physical labor, we start going to the gym. We eat sour and bitter candy, in spite of those taste receptors originally evolved to warn us from spoiled or poisonous food. We don't like food that's that sour or bitter, but a bit of sourness or bitterness is good. Likewise, no-one enjoy a hammer to the kneecaps - but some people do enjoy a spanking. Along this line, being used to a bit of pain can for some people make the bad kinds of pain more bearable.

    But is BDSM always a good thing?

    While no Safe Sane And Consensual sexuality is inherently destructive, all forms of sexuality can be used in destructive/self-destructive ways. It's always important to be careful with your own and your partner's emotional and physical well-being.

    Once upon a time, psychiatry believed that heterosexual intercourse within marriage was always a good thing, even if non-consensual, while so-called "deviant" sexualities was inherently bad. However, this view is long since dead. In 1990, the psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual known as DSM finally stopped counting sadomasochism as being inherently bad. Before 1990, being a sexual sadist or masochist counted as having a mental disorder. After 1990, only sadistic rapists and self-destructive masochists are considered having a disorder - those who play SSC are now considered mentally healthy. There's also a lot of scientific research supporting the conclusion that the typical sadomasochist is not unhappy or destructive, and isn't immoral or unhealthy unless you declare BDSM to be immoral and unhealthy ''in itself''.
  • June 14, 2011
    Techhead
    Can we get a historical note in here about Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who Sadism and Masochism are named after?
  • June 24, 2011
    Xzenu
    Good idea. Added.
  • July 10, 2011
    Xzenu
    Making a Swedish translation while I'm at it. :-)


    Vad Àr BDSM?

    BDSM Àr ett brett spektrum av aktiviteter som utövas i samtycke och Àr antingen sexuella eller indirekt kopplade till sexualitet.

    De fyra bokstÀverna kan lÀsas pÄ tvÄ sÀtt. Antingens om en förkortning för Bondage, Dominanslekar och Sado-Masochism. Eller som en sammandragning av Bondage & Dicipline, Dominance & Submission och Sadism & Masochism.

    Vad Ă€r ”Bondage” i detta sammanhang?

    Att binda nĂ„gon. Vanligtvis med rep. Kan ocksĂ„ vara kedjor eller vad som helst, att sĂ€tta personen i en bur, eller helt enkelt förbjuda personen att röra pĂ„ sig. SistnĂ€mnda kategoriseras ibland som ”Discipline” snarare Ă€n ”Bondage”.

    För att vara bondage mÄste handlingen vara bÄde sexuell och konsensuell.

    Om handlingen Ă€r konsensuell men inte sexuell sĂ„ Ă€r det bara en lek eller dylikt. Att leka ”indianer och vita” eller dylikt Ă€r inte bondage, Ă€ven om ett sĂ„dant scenario sĂ„ klart ocksĂ„ kan inkluderas i en BDSM-lek. Om handlingen Ă€r sexuell men inte konsensuell sĂ„ Ă€r det kidnappning eller sextrakasseri eller dylikt.

    Vad Àr dominanslekar / Dominance & Submission

    Ett maktutbyte: En person som fritt vÀljer att underkasta sig en annan person för att hen sjÀlv vill det, inte för att hen har blivit tvingad eller utpressad pÄ nÄgot sÀtt. En underkastelse som den dominanta parten har valt att likaledes fritt ta emot.

    Denna dominans och underkastelse kan vara begrÀnsad till en enda scen, som varar mellan nÄgra sekunder och nÄgra timmar, eller sÄ kan den vara mer utdragen. Vissa vÀljer att ha en sÄdan dominansdynamik permanent integrerad i sina relationer.

    Det finns tre huvudsakliga skillnader mellan detta och traditionella patriarkala könsroller. Den första Ă€r att BDSM Ă€r könsneutralt. Den dominanta parten kan vara man eller kvinna, och kan vara hetero-, homo- eller bisexuell. Samma sak gĂ€ller den undergivna parten. Den andra skillnaden Ă€r att de har denna dynamik dĂ€rför att de ’’vill’’ och ’’vĂ€ljer’’ detta, inte för att de har blivit itutade att det sĂ„ skall vara. Den tredje skillnaden Ă€r att de har stor valfrihet nĂ€r det gĂ€ller vilka aspekter av deras relation som ska eller inte ska vara inkluderade i dominansen. Till exempel Ă€r det mycket vanligt att den dominanta parten inte har nĂ„got att sĂ€ga till om nĂ€r det gĂ€ller den undergivnas professionella liv – sĂ€rskilt med tanke pĂ„ att mĂ„nga som Ă€r sexuellt undergivna ocksĂ„ Ă€r mycket dominanta karriĂ€rmĂ€nniskor i sina yrkesliv.

    Vad Àr SadoMasochism / Sadism & Masochism?

    En masochist vill uppleva smĂ€rta – rĂ€tt sorts smĂ€rta, frĂ„n rĂ€tt person, i rĂ€tt sammanhang. Detta kan ta sig former som till exempel smisk, pisk eller hett stearin. Om personen som ger masochisten dessa upplevelser ocksĂ„ trivs sĂ„ rĂ€knas den personen som sadist. Dessa personer kombinerar normalt sin sadism med empati och etik, och Ă€r sĂ„lunda inte farliga eller destruktiva pĂ„ nĂ„got vis. En person som kombinerar sadism med psykopati, dĂ€remot, det Ă€r nĂ„gonting helt annat.

    Det bör ocksĂ„ noteras att ”BDSM” Ă€r ett spektrum av ’’aktiviteter’’, medan epitetet ”sadomasochist” ofta anvĂ€nds av personer som Ă€r dragna Ă„t BDSM – inklusive personer som inte praktiserar det. NĂ€r orden anvĂ€nds pĂ„ detta sĂ€tt Ă€r sadomasochism lĂ€ggningen / preferensen / sexualiteten / intresset eller vad man nu vĂ€ljer att kalla det, medan BDSM / Sadism & Masochism Ă€r de handlingar som uttrycker sadomasochismen.

  • July 10, 2011
    Xzenu
    Never freaking mind, I forgot how bad TV Tropes server is with the three last letters of the Swedish alphabet. :-(

    Might get back on this later if I find a solution.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=l9uofiqhnztlzb4n16adu69i