Categories and rules of BDSM

Categories and rules of BDSM

The ABC of aggressive eroticism starts from the understanding of those psychological and physiological substrates referring to the very name: Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism.

 

Bondage & Discipline (B/D) explains not so much the power ratio between partners, but the tendencies to adopt active or passive roles, to be the beneficiaries of the "treatments" served in privacy. From this point of view, people can feel free to oscillate, because there is no rule that the dominant to be the active part, and the submissive the passive one. The reverse is also equally possible, because carrying out a particular action, does not necessarily equals with the "privilege" (oriented to constancy) of controlling the action.

The term "bondage" defines the option to spice up the bedroom menu, resorting to physical freedom restrictions of the other one, more exactly tying his/her hands and/or feet (with handcuffs, slings, ropes, various fix devices, etc.), separating them or fixing them with a particular object or immobilizing him/her using all kinds of tools or special systems. To some extent, the technique is used also by normal couples, often tempted to improvise and introduce new elements into their erotic universe, by purchasing cute fluffy handcuffs or using all kinds of scarves to tie their hands, feet, eyes. The difference is that for the BDSM couples, the strategy is one deeply rooted in the sexual routine, being continuously refined through multiple and systematic „specialized” trainings.

The physical actions of "bondage" are filled resorting to psychological, "disciplinary" component, where one of the participants exercises his/her control over the conduct of his/her pair, imposing rules, establishing punishments, humiliating, attempting to the physical integrity of the other one, all of these, only to feed the agreed mechanism of putting into function the scenario where both get fulfillment.

The decisions on what has or not the right to do the active half, are always taken with mutual consent, without sudden and radical interventions that can unpleasantly surprise, injure or despise the limits set.

 

Dominance & Submission (D/S) include subordination and the related psychological connection, between two practitioners unequal in power, manifested in the private space or even beyond its borders. The desire is done by using a set of sexual games including: games of age (age play), the ones in which the person acts as a pet (pet play), the education ones (based on the classic system of punishments and rewards, tailored to the context), games that simulate the sexual rejection of the partner and even slavery, expression sometimes found also in public, by wearing a collar, suggestive piercings, tattoos or other "symbol-prooves" of obedience, accepting to be the "victim" (notorious) of a total power exchange.

The conversion to this "revolutionary" doctrine regarding their relations and good demarche, is, however, impossible without a complete trust manifested in the one besides. To allow a person to exercise his/her will to the most neuralgic depths of sexual living is certainly a performance that can be achieved only under certain conditions, namely when he/she expresses credibility, safety and interest, not only for himself/herself, but for the whole process that is meant to be done for the delight of common sense.

Given the risks involved in such extreme situations (the absence of consent of one of the participants, lack of experience, selfishness, inability to handle the getting out of the "role", the monopol of instincts), the prevention plays a particularly important role. In this respect, there were designed and implemented in real plan the so-called "contracts" whereby the parties concerned declare, first of all, their consent, negotiate their preferences, and (un)abilities, sketching the rules of the game, so that the atmosphere to be one not only sensual but also secure.

Although not legally binding, these contracts can be countersigned or "authorized" by bringing them to the attention of a third parties, formally invested as a witness. From this point of view, in the case of BDSM "romances", daring to follow the momentum (such as, for example, having sex on the first date or begging any stranger for whip hits or punishments for "not being good") is not exactly the indicator of a brilliant reasoning, worthy to receive any medal of merit and congratulations. Exploring the field is therefore more than imperative.

 

Sadism & Masochism (S/M), the third important component of BDSM, is the most representative, especially when it is viewed in terms of popularity. The interest for suffering is famous when it comes to eroticism to specific this category, the pain being, actually, seen not as an aim, but as a mean of efforts made to cross a variety of conditions and situations adjacent to the practice itself (humiliation, dependence, obedience, vulnerability, control). Each of the two partners, both the sadist one (the one who induces pain) and the masochist one (the one who receives it) follow a "regulation" well done and do not comply in actions by chance, which could permanently damage the personal integrity of any of them.

Usually, sadists are active and dominant participants, and the masochists are passives and submissives, but there may also occur cases where the report in question is a neutral one, without ostentatiously flirting with power differences. Regardless, though, the "protocol" they undertake (and despite its apparent rigidity, it can take various forms), relations of this kind never deviate (or at least should not do it) from two fundamental principles: consent and safety.

The informed consent is always the first step to take before all, the foundation and starting point of the whole "love story", and the safety the element which removes the chaos and inconvenience that may occur on the way. In order to maintain an environment free of danger when one of the partner feels overwhelmed, BDSM followers recommend using some "safe words" (as relevant in the real plan, it was established, inclusively a metaphorical color code that determines the importance of utterances: "red" indicates the desire to stop a certain action and "yellow" requires decreasing the intensity of the treatment applied). The gradualness can be, though, substituted with other terms of comparison, or with an individualized number of non-verbal equivalences useful when they are unable to speak willingly.

Although the myth states the BDSM does not conceive pleasure without pain, as if, in the absence of offensive stimulations, practitioners of these games could not reach any climax, the reality is that "torture" is not the "key" element of the approach, but a wheel (central, that's right) of a much more sophisticated mechanism of obtaining satisfaction. Not all "schemes" in this field exploits, thus the human indulgence to physical pain, but only the ones created around the idea of S/M, for which any "craziness" is allowed, as long as it is on the list of bearable limits agreed and corresponds to the particular way of unleashing the endorphins and adrenaline, felt by at least one of the participants.

Either exclusivists and of long-term, or "from flower to flower", whether with or without pay (there are dominant/submissive professionals who provide their services for money), the bonds of this fantastic world, usually follow the same pattern: they are held in a place called "scene" (word that also identifies the action itself), in a manner labeled as "play" and in a specified time, considered to be "session".

The place can be public or private. Generally, there are preferred those special places in the profile clubs, the "dungeons" being considered the paradise of BDSM (thanks to the multitude of erotic equipment available to those interested, as well to the implied permissiveness towards exhibitionist/voyeuristic approaches) or the private homes of persons who organize in their own spare time, "willingly and not forced by anyone", the events dedicated to the celebration of this lifestyle, with the condition of complying with two serious non-negotiable rules: banning the access of minors and of the consumption of alcoholic beverages or other substances found on the list of legal prohibitions. But even if they do not own at home a wide range of accessories, appropriate to their play, not all of them aim such moments that expose their personal "foibles" to the public sight, contenting themselves instead with the familiarity of their own home, with the tools purchased normally and used to a free imagination, fearless allowed to roam outside the "little box".

While in the past it was believed that sexual acts committed to sodo-masochism are maintained on the basis of certain conduct disorders whose solutions fall within the competence of specialized doctors, nowadays, the phenomenon, although partially freed by its interpretation as a mental disorder, still arouses suspicions and disapprovals at level of global perception. A great progress made towards its "normalization", was the elimination of such practices from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of many EU countries (the first one achieving the "miracle" was Denmark in 1995 followed by Sweden in 2009, Norway in 2010, Finland in 2011). The change occurred gradually. The initial rush manifested by psychiatrists in the nineteenth century to diagnose any sadomasochistic activities as blatantly deviant from the mental and emotional health standards of an individual, gradually subsided. The "disorder" came to be labeled so, only when it produced effects of social and occupational maladjustment among those consulted or, later, when it negatively interfered with the proper conduct of another person’s life, being guilty in addition with the violation of his/her consent.

Legislatively speaking, there is no unified approach regarding the criminalization of BDSM relations, the implied provisions related to such facts being different depending on the country and the socio-cultural geographical area under discussion. And even if, in principle, the legal rules do not refer explicitly to what is understood today by all erotic practices in the field, legislation such as the US one, however condemns acts of flagellation, whether or not the result of a mutual consent expressed. However, beyond this excess of zeal embraced by some states, the existence of an informed consent, primarily constitute, the line between crime or abuse and the private activity, free from answering before any judicial court. The permissiveness of law (where it is any) to this reality does not exempt, though, those directly involved, by the responsibility for documentation on the subject and how it is treated (differentiately) from the perspective of "impartial" varied justices.

Independently of the medical or normative interpretation that people give to this lifestyle, its supporters, often prefer to keep silance on their personal erotic passions, since the pressure and coercive nature of the "scared" and defensive society regarding the concept of sexual diversity, often says its word with intolerance and firmness. Discretion is thus the one characterizing the tumultuous existence of BDSM supporters. Despite this, the scientific attempts to understand the issue, prooves a growing, natural attraction of „ordinary” people to everything that is beyond the familiarity of a typical and monotonous sexual act.

The temptation of the "forbidden fruit" works at full capacity also in this area considered "taboo". Thus, as shown in the specialty studies, there are not few those who say they are interested in the less conformist aspects of physical relations. The trend is obvious also when casting a glance towards the auxiliar components built around this universe, at all dull and simplistic: organizations, clubs and profile websites, mercantile successful initiatives that make  accessible to all mortals, the "toys" indispensable in the unleashed bedrooms, support groups sustaining the misunderstood souls with special weaknesses, all in one place and more other, revealing the existance of a request not at all negligible.

The spread of the phenomenon is, however, a silent one, showing only sometimes public excesses or vehement forms of promotion. And the main reason the anonymity and invisibility are favored in the detriment of transparency, is the fear of rejection, condemnation and brutal finger pointing (incriminating). People easily judge everything beyond the horizon of their own understanding and affinities, so those who do not fit into the overall landscape, very often risks to become the target of misplaced behaviors (in their personal, professional or social life) being discriminated, marginalized, harshly blamed, sometimes even by family or paradoxically (through the influence of their entourage) by themselves.

The situation is usually the joint product of stereotypes, myths and prejudices that still persist like a rotten and unpleasant odor, despite the emancipation in the thinking way that boasts contemporaneity. Among these, the most acute fixation sustain (yet) that "only a person mentally unbalanced may adopt such sexual behaviors, that the motivation underlying the actions of this type is an exacerbated appetite for violence (felt not only in private, but also outside it), a childhood abuse, a defective self-esteem (in the case of submissives), an uncontrollable obsession for pain" and many others. Things which, though not a rule, may be true, but only arbitrarily, without bringing to the surface a consistent relationship about cause - effect.

The main reason for which "cruel" love is charged attitudinally, beyond its alignment with pathology, lies in the fear of escaping the particular habits also into the public space, thus leading to an undesirable increase in the number of crimes. Many are under the impression that the passion for the nonconformist erotic activities, is like some kind of wild beast that must be leashed or even better, kept in a cage, not to wreak among the peaceful and innocent ones. Studies undertaken in the field, however, do not show any correlation between pornography or any other type of unrestrained BDSM behavior and violations of the law, not to mention the fact that the idea of "not guilty" (at least mentally) is only an illusion sustained by hypocrites, for reasons as hypocritical.

This passion for "something else" is not, therefore, a kind of microbe that spreads beyond the control of the personal will of those exposed, a determinism to which they are condemned all who enter, one way or another, in contact with the various manifestations of the phenomenon. But just the expression of certain mature assumed preferences. The pathological cases are already in a separate category, belonging not so much to the subculture’s structure itself, as to certain individual traits, vulnerable to abuse.

Other cons, than those who warn against the danger associated with the practices in question, consider the supposed low status of women in this whole story. Many critics have taken the ideas of a feminist groups of the 70s, focused on the side effects of sex practiced under the auspices of BDSM "callings”: the vulnerabilization of women in relation to the acts of extreme violence, reducing her to the status of sexual slave or the perpetuating of certain misogynistic behaviors, incompatible with the current agenda of eradicating the gender inequalities.

In contrast, pros emphasizes the importance of freedom of decision, own by men and women equally, but also the sovereignity of the freedom to explore and redefine sexuality, limits in love, types of interaction within the couple. And the closing arguments offered by supporters, is founded on the principle of living in agreement with the inner desires, not with the rigid patterns of others.

And how might otherwise be, when human longing to go ever further and to constantly challenge his limits is, after all, an innate one?

Therefore, we can say that the phenomenon is growing, not declining, and uniformity begins to awaken unfullfilment feelings to those who practice it with a Swiss clockwork precision, favoring drastical changes of option and scenery.

Those willing to diversify their erotic register and learn roles from a tumultuous BDSM play, must consider the fact that this playground although bidder is also risky, complicated and delicate at the same time. And the first step to take before penetrating the "forbidden" area, is the one of the theory, gathering information, accessing specialized websites and all the other facilities (forums, courses, brochures, etc.) aimed to opening eyes and minds. Since venturing into a game with handcuffs, leather clothing and covered eyes can be for someone more dramatically than to present a descriptive geometry exam without even once having opened the textbook pages in question. Knowledge is, therefore, essential and cannot be done under way, formally or superficially. All must be passed through the filter of the personal judgment.

The elucidation of mysteries, solving the question marks, harmonizing the preferences with each other's ones, obtaining the clarifications that everyone needs, getting into the multiple needs involved by such a lifestyle on its representatives (physically, psychologically, emotionally, relationally, socially), are not simple details that can be treated like terms and conditions stipulated in a common contract (with no stake or subsequent important effects) that anyway, no one has patience to read before signing it. But there are preceding steps, absolutely indispensable for those tempted to bring to life their fantasies where they exercise their skills to wave the whip or "bear" with elegance a latex mask. The passion for this form of erotic communication, certainly exceeds the predictability and safety of other hobbies of the couple, like cooking together, eating popcorn, watching television or going shopping.

What is important is not just the theory, but the person with whom the theory turns into practice. Choosing the partner cannot be left to chance, to the whims of the moment or destiny, because a sexual episode with BDSM substrate is not as harmless as going out to the cinema or restaurant, so to be done with anyone. The authentic trust is a condition without which it is not possible to enter, in general, in any human association, much less in one of this kind (an interdependance in which the physical, psychological and emotional union tears down any traditional pattern).

The documentation and wise choice of the "other", are worthless when protagonists do not firmly agree to respect the commitments jointly negotiated and undertaken. The consent is therefore another basic element, which should under no circumstances be submitted under pressure, strain, misleading or coercion of any kind. Nobody is forced to do what he/she does not want, just because he/she is required, because so many others proceed the same way, because the other one ardently longs after adrenaline or because he/she intends to kill time in a unique way, although, he/she actually has no idea of what he/she gets involved in.

The consent is inextricably linked to the preservation of personal dignity and autonomy, objective to be pursued regardless of the "hierarchical" role assumed. Despite the clichés and simplistic interpretation, the transfer of power does not mean subjugation or dissolution of individuality, but a different understanding of the classical pattern of physical-instinctual interaction.

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Above the fact of being confused with pathology as still unfortunately happens, BDSM practices do reflect not as much the lack of inhibition of "misfit" people, but rather the weakness of society to label with no right, patterns of thinking and behavior that are not affiliated to the collective mentality, that absolutizes too easily the universal notions of "good" and "bad".