I use the term 'lifestyle' because I've found through my research that those practicing this with the highest level of commitment, are into the entire lifestyle. For most of us though, this phrase is often thrown around with the act of tying your partner up, or spanking them to spice things up.
I've been researching this for quite some time now because I've wanted to learn about this lifestyle in order to write a story about someone involved in BDSM or getting involved in it at some level, from simple spanking all the way up to becoming a live-in Dom or Sub.
For those of you like me-on the fringes, looking at this lifestyle-peering in for just a sample of what it's all about, let me explain some things.
The term 'BDSM' really encompasses six things, not just four, as the acronym would imply. First there's bondage and discipline. Of course, bondage is the tying up part but the lifestyle goes beyond that. For the true BDSM aficionado, bondage is about control-ownership. Discipline goes along with bondage as a means of supporting that control and ownership.
The 'D' and 'S' in the acronym also mean 'Dominance' and 'Submission.' This means that, in this relationship, one partner plays the dominant role, while the other plays the submissive role. Some people are good at (or enjoy) one role or the other. A person that can play both roles is called a switch.
The 'S' also stands for 'Sadism' along with the last letter 'M' for 'Masochism.' This deals with the blurry borders between pleasure and pain. Specifically sadists gain pleasure (most often, sexual pleasure) from inflicting pain upon others, while masochists gain that pleasure from receiving pain.
Keep in mind here that the key to this lifestyle is consensual participation.
There is so much more to BDSM than I can possibly discuss here but know that it is mostly about power play, ownership, and control by all parties involved. The entire lifestyle is very psychological in its very nature, and explores what some might consider, some very Freudian issues.
It is important to understand though, that when you read, or write in my case, about tying up a partner, or spanking, or even some taboo issues such as daddy/teacher play, you are dabbling in the realm of BDSM.
Is that necessarily a bad thing? No, I don't think so. I just find it interesting how all these practices are considered so taboo by many, yet so worth exploring if for no other reason than self awareness.
What are your thoughts?
Note: Thank you to anonymous for pointing out that I had originally written the definition of sadist and masochist backwards.