Countdown To Fantasyland: What You Think You Know About BDSM (And Why You're Wrong)
Whenever someone mentions BDSM you get nervous. All you can picture are people dressed head to toe in leather suits, hitting things with whips and screaming in pain. The idea of being ball-gagged really isn't your thing, and you' find yourself inching towards the door out of fear.
But you shouldn't.
BDSM is a lot more complicated, respectful, and open than you might think. It's gotten a bad rap thanks to mainstream media and is usually a topic people think they know a lot about, but in reality only have a skewed misconception about what it really is. So we at IX Daily have set out to dispel the top five myths surrounding BDSM culture in preparation for Fantasyland 2014, being put on by Cirque De Boudoir at the Telus Theatre this upcoming Saturday. The event promises to be full of sexy fun for open minded people, and even offer attendees a body painting room as well as a fetish play area for BDSM lovers.
But before we begin, let's get a few things straight for the sake of clarity.
The term BDSM, when broken down, stands for three things; bondage and discipline (BD), dominance and submission (DS), and lastly sadism and masochism (SM). Not everyone who wants to be dominated wants to be tied up. Not everyone who wants to be tied up wants to be spanked. Not everyone who wants to be spanked wants to be submissive. BDSM is an all encompassing term that stands for some narrower principals.
So sit back, open your mind and toss your reservations out the window. Hopefully by the end of this we'll be seeing you at Fantasyland 2014, and if not then at least you're better aware of why it's not for you (which is OK too!).
5- BDSM is anti-feminist.
Nope! Just because you're a feminist doesn't mean you can't be submissive. It means that you have the right to choose submission, as well as the right to reject it. Being in control of your body doesn't stop once you engage in fetish play or start acting out a kink. It means that your partner needs to respect the boundaries you've set once the fun begins. Women have even credited the type of fetish play with being liberating for them by giving them the chance to take on a dominant role, one they may not have otherwise explored, with their partner. And while you might shout "abuse" when you see a tied up woman being spanked, you have to remember that in consensual BDSM the woman elected to be in that situation and has set boundaries to be respected by her partner during the play (as off-putting as some may find it). For more about feminism and BDSM, you should check out an article from Queereka that addresses it in even more detail.
4- BDSM is oppressive to self-identity and exploration.
Not at all! BDSM allows couples to explore power, trust, and sexual fantasy together in a safe and open environment. It's a way to play with the structure of a relationship without judgment or fear of rejection. Fetish play allows for individuals to test their limits and their comfort zones, while also encouraging an open dialogue between participants in asking each other what they do, or don't, like. BDSM isn't about forcing one partner to do something they're not comfortable with, but about exploring the untested sexual waters together and finding something that works for both individuals. It's about liberating the otherwise stuffy, conservative, otherwise shy couple and giving them an outlet to open up and be as wild (or as tame) as they both want.
3- It's only about physically/emotionally abusing your partner.
Sorry, but wrong again. BDSM, believe it or not, is about trust and openness. For those who choose to engage in the sadism/masochism aspect of it, it's about trust that your partner won't cross the line you've both set and about trusting them to balance pain with pleasure, and follow proper aftercare procedures (both physically, but also emotionally) to make sure you're comfortable after a session. In dominance and submission, it's not about forcing your partner to do what they don't want, but instructing them in a way both of you find enjoyable. In bondage and discipline, you both have to reply on each other, and if anything gets out of hand a respected safe-word is in place to ensure the fun, and comfort, of both parties. In no way should either participant feel abused after a fetish play session, and if they do then they need to step back and examine both their type of play, and relationship, in order to keep it healthy and fun, or discard it if it's not working for them.
2- All dominants are pseudo-rapists and all submissives have low self-esteem.
Not even a little bit. The dominant/submissive relationship is complicated, but guided by boundaries. Someone who's dominant in the bedroom doesn't necessarily exude that same control during their real life. Just because you're into being submissive, doesn't mean you won't stand up for yourself or send coffee back when the barista gets your order wrong. What happens in the bedroom, for most, stays in the bedroom. Just because you like to role-play with leather, doesn't mean you're going to wear a leather mask and catsuit to work. The same goes for dominance and submission. Between the sheets is one thing, but real life with that same partner is another. Although, yes, there are some couples who like to live these roles 24/7. It's not because one has an unhealthy need for power and the other's too meek to do what they want, but rather the relationship provides them with structure. If one partner enjoys giving direction and the other loves guidance, then what's wrong with that? This doesn't mean they boss everyone around, or follow every order, but there's an agreed upon power relationship between them and if that ever stops working for either one then they have the freedom to leave it, or modify it, as needed.
1- Something must be wrong with you/you must have past trauma if you like BDSM.
Completely untrue. Some people are under the notion that to enjoy BDSM, you need to have experienced something traumatic in your life and are now using fetish play as means to cope. This is probably the biggest misconception that people have, but it's rarely the case behind people's motivation for engaging in BDSM. It isn't sex-therapy to deal with past horrors. Maybe for some it can be, and we're definitely not saying it doesn't happen, but the fact is that the majority of individuals who engage in fetish play are just seeking an alternative way to express their sexual identities and desires. A while ago Fifty Shades Of Grey came out and it painted a false picture of BDSM. One heavily suggested aspect was that the male protagonist was acting out fantasies he had due to being raped by an older woman when he was only 14. While he never calls it rape, rather he insists he was simply with an older woman, the fact of the matter is that he was underage at the time and now seeks out women who remind him of her in order to carry out his kinks. While there are a million other things wrong with this book, which I strongly encourage people to read about here, BDSM is attractive to so many because it creates a deep bond between participants derived from trust and openness. Fetish play can be intense, which is why it's not actually linked with previous trauma or abuse for the hundreds of people who participate in it. Allowing someone control of your body, even with predetermined parameters, can be terrifying and exhilarating. It takes trust and love to make BDSM work, not a history of abuse.
Now, for something a little lighter, but still (technically relevant)...
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