April 20

10 Wonderful BDSM Facts Everyone Should Know

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Attention all kinksters! Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast with years of experience under your belt, relatively new to this ‘scene’ or simply curious about a new perspective on pain and pleasure, you’ve come to the right place.

You know BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism and masochism) is practiced by consenting adults: in the bedroom, as part of a sexual setting, or as a wider lifestyle choice. Whether you identify as dominant, submissive or ‘switch’, you know it’s a great way to explore your darker desires – and can offer fantastic opportunities to fuck.

But let’s penetrate a little deeper. Just how much do you know about BDSM beyond the bedroom? Where did the name come from, who designed the logo (yes – there is one!), and what on earth is a ‘munch’ if not a nickname for oral sex? Here are my top ten facts every fetishist should know.

1 - Where BDSM Gets It's Name From

Rihanna sang about ‘S&M’ in her 2011 hit single of the same title – referencing, of course, sadism and masochism – but just where did these two words originate? Well, some enthusiasts have had such an epic involvement in the scene that they’ve lent their names to new words. Can you imagine having an entry in the dictionary presenting your passion to future generations?

‘Sadism’ – the pleasure of inflicting pain on another – derives from the erotic fiction of the 18th century French nobleman, philosopher and writer, the Marquis de Sade. Arrested at the orders of Napoleon Bonaparte following Sade’s scandalous novel, ‘Justine and Juliette’, the Marquis was imprisoned without trial yet continued to pen controversial stories rich with intense sexual suffering – including ‘120 days of Sodom’, featuring extensive sexual torture.

The word ‘masochism’ also derives from a real-life deviant; Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, 19th century Austrian author, whose infamous novel ‘Venus in Furs’ drew heavily on his own personal preference for female domination and masochistic degradation, equating pain with pleasure. (The Velvet Underground song beginning ‘shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather’ took this novel as its own namesake, too.)

2 - BDSM Is An Ancient Art

As long as humans have been fucking, we’ve been dabbling in the more devious side of things, too. It’s documented as far back as some 3,000 years BC in Ancient Mesopotamia (located in the modern-day Middle East), humanity’s first ‘advanced civilization’ which would invent the wheel and the written word. Alongside these achievements, this ancient culture also featured the fertility goddess Inanna, who would arouse her human worshippers by whipping them into a sexual frenzy. (It certainly works for me.)

Ancient Greece followed suit, and a series of preserved tombs includes a dedicated ‘Tomb of the Whippings’ – incorporating graphic images of a couple having sex while another man raises a lash. Fucking whilst flogging is clearly nothing new. In Roman culture, the ‘Villa of Mysteries’ unearthed in Pompeii documents an ‘rite of passage’, where young women moving towards adulthood would be ceremoniously beaten by the ‘Winged Whiptress’. Every culture has its kinky undercurrent – including those expressed in literature, imagery or photography – and you’re merely the latest in a long line of devotees lining up for a good lashing.

3 - The Kama Sutra Mentions BDSM Too

Whether you’d define your sexual interests as kinky or otherwise, chances are most adults will be familiar with the idea of the Kama Sutra; an ancient Indian Sanskrit text including – amongst information on emotional and erotic fulfilment – a wide range of sexual positions. Although some of these may certainly be reserved for the more gymnastically-capable, a little slapping and spanking is also documented. The scriptures mention how a woman may ‘at the time of excitation become hard and fearless and dominates’, especially when ‘carried away by passion’.

The text goes on to suggest there are six sexy ways to strike a person in the heat of the moment and four ways to do it – alongside instructions for administering love bites. It certainly sounds enlightened to me: even more so for its emphasis on a culture of consent, cautioning these activities should only be used on participants who find such experiences ‘joyful’.

4 - There's A BDSM Logo

Ever want to communicate your credentials or interests to others – without wanting to attract adverse attention from those unenlightened with the ‘seriously strange lifestyle’ you lead? Why not use a logo that those ‘in the know, know’?

Especially before the advent of the Internet, such symbolism was even more important to connect and communicate. The BDSM emblem – a circle encompassing three ‘arms’, based on a shape called a ‘Triskele’ – first featured in the 1954 erotic novel, ‘The Story of O’. In this story, a beautiful Parisian woman is willingly trained as a submissive sex slave for her lover and his elite club to enjoy – where she wears a ring emblazoned with this insignia as a token of her ‘ownership’. 

BDSM Logo

Look out for it on T-shirts, pin buttons and other ephemera when you’re next out and about town: although the introduction of the world wide web has made it ever-easier to connect and hook up with like-minded people, you never know when you might catch the eye of someone wearing this specific circular symbol…

5 - Saint Andrew’s Cross Has Significance Too

Just what does Saint Andrew – the martyred saint whose distinctive X-shaped cross features on the Scottish flag – have to do with a modern-day BDSM dungeon? Well, the saltire (or diagonally-shaped) cross – on which the saint himself chose to be crucified, claiming himself unworthy of Jesus’ vertically-shaped version – has since lent its name to the bondage furniture of the same name. A common item in many a dungeon and private play room, the St Andrew’s cross often has securing points for a submissive’s wrists and ankles, and is ideal for restraining a subject with their limbs spread open whilst facing either inwards or outwards.

Other items of ‘playroom’ furniture – such as stocks, whipping benches and cages – derive more directly from their dungeon origins. The pillory, or stocks, was typically used to restrain a wrongdoer’s neck and hands – leaving them at the mercy of their punisher, or even members of the public. The spanking bench (or whipping bench) dates back as a punishment piece since at least the 15th century. As for cages, they’re available in as many shapes and sizes as you could ever want: I’ve even been known to drag a genuine dog crate home for some fun on all fours.

6 - Famous People Who Like BDSM

‘It takes all sorts to make a world’, the old saying goes, and BDSM is certainly no exception; practised by people across all walks of life – some entirely privately, others more publicly. However, while the newspapers love any form of high-profile sex scandal, they seem even more titillated when there’s a kinky side to the story too. Alfred Bloomingdale, heir to the department store franchise and advisor to President Reagan, was the subject of scandal when  decade-long affair with a whip-wielding Dominatrix many years his junior went public in 1980.

Thankfully, with BDSM practices becoming more ‘mainstream’ – or certainly with more people aware of the subculture, and less likely to negatively judge – it’s easier to be open. In fact, a number of celebrities have even come forward about their own kinks. Angelina Jolie once said that S&M had ‘changed her spiritually’, Nicole Kidman is quoted as having ‘explored strange sexual stuff’, and as for burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese – well, with Google available, you really needn’t rely on your imagination.

7 - Is BDSM Legal? Where's The Line?

So, can you actually consent to be hurt? And where does the law stand on BDSM? The answer is an ambiguous one, depending on what you’re doing and the extent or permanence of the physical harm. According to U.S. law, there is no specific determination for consensual BDSM acts, although technically a criminal offense occurs when a person causes any physical harm to another; the UK adopts a similar approach. Germany and the Netherlands tend to acknowledge the element of consent more.

Some have called for a change towards liberalising the law – believing that consenting adults have a right to consent to lesser injuries such as bruises, and that safe practices between two BDSM practitioners should be their business alone. Critics are worried that genuine examples of domestic violence could be overlooked in the name of erotic experimentation. Either way, make sure what you’re doing is safe, sane, consensual and considered (in terms of acknowledging and anticipating risk) – accusations of abuse or domestic violence are never a nice thing. Needless to say, the story of cannibal Armin Meiwes – who infamously advertised online for a victim to chop up and eat – is taking the issue of consent far too far, and should be considered neither a realistic or rational kink to consent to!

8 - BDSM Was Once Classified As A Mental Illness

It’s an unfortunate misconception that those interested in BDSM (particularly submissive partners) are in some way mentally unstable or victimized; equally, a dominant participant can all too often be labelled as abusive. However, if approached appropriately, BDSM should in no way be synonymous with these stereotypes. Alarmingly, it was a prejudice the American Psychiatric Association held as recently as 2013 – when they removed kinky sex (including BDSM preferences) from the DSM-5, a formal guide to all things mental health, where it was first miscategorised as a mental illness in 1905. Even Sigmund Freud himself believed BDSM desires to be a sign of ‘severe neurosis’ – although he certainly had some strange views on the psychology of sex!

Another highly suspect view of sex prevailed in Victorian Britain, when doctors believed that women suffering from ‘hysteria’ could be ‘cured’ with appropriate intervention – namely, a ‘hysterical paroxysm’ (read: orgasm). Tired of fingering every ‘hysterical’ female queueing up outside, the electric vibrator was invented to assist in getting women off, and continues to assist countless women worldwide in seeking a much-needed ‘cure’.

9 - The Word "Fetish" Can Be Interpreted Differently

These days, we tend to associate the word ‘fetish’ as referring to a sexual desire; usually an object of specific sexual significance. Whether feet are ‘your thing’ – or perhaps watersports ‘float your boat’ – the long list of fetishes (be they parts of the body, items of clothing or acts deemed ‘unusual’) are infinitely varied. Got a fetish for seamed stockings? Can’t come without the thought of being watched? Whatever kinky quirk does it for you, there are certainly a lot to love.

However, in ancient cultures, ‘fetish’ took on another meaning: an object – such as a token, talisman or other item – believed to have protective charms or magical powers. So a ‘fetish object’ simply meant something to worship or revere – which is perhaps where our more modern interpretation, and the adoration of an object in a sexual sense, stems from today.

10 - What Is A Munch?

No, we’re not talking about ‘eating out’ – at least, not like that. A ‘munch’ is an informal social gathering, usually centred around a meal. So just what relevance does this have to the kinky community? Well, not all BDSM enthusiasts are engaged in play parties or dungeon depravity (at least, not all the time). A ‘munch’ – advertised locally on sites such as Fetlife – allow those interested or curious about the lifestyle to meet others in a safe, public place such as a restaurant or a bar (often in an otherwise ‘vanilla’ setting).  With trust such an integral part of the BDSM ‘scene’, face-to-face encounters provide excellent opportunities to meet and engage with the community well away from the perceived pressures of the play room.

We hope you enjoyed these ten eye-opening facts about BDSM!


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