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Beginner bondage equipment

An Introduction To BDSM

BDSM is an acronym for a variety of erotic practices which fall under the broad headings of bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. There is a long and rich history to BDSM, but also a lot of stigma and scepticism. In today's society, BDSM is generally regarded as a kink or a fetish. No particular sexual orientation is more likely to enjoy BDSM, and the wide range of themes and practices it encompasses means that it appeals to a large percentage of individuals. Indeed, millions of people around the world enjoy positive, intimate, and enjoyable BDSM every single day.

It's about trust

BDSM is an oft-maligned art, associated in popular culture with violence, harm, and immoral practices. The truth, however, is far removed from the popular perception. In reality, BDSM is all about trust.

Far from being the perverted, dangerous, dehumanising practice, some perceive it to be, those who enjoy BDSM regard it as one of the most loving, caring, nurturing, and intimate forms of human contact. BDSM requires a deep level of openness with your sexual partner, giving yourself over to them and trusting them completely. It is that profoundly open and trusting aspect of BDSM which can make it an incredibly intimate and erotic experience.

The dynamics of power

One of the more common aspects of BDSM is that of using restraints. Often, this involves one partner using bed restraints, a BDSM collar, ties, cuffs, BDSM furniture or other methods to restrain the other before and during sex. Bondage such as this is always consensual - both partners having agreed beforehand what is going to happen, and what form the BDSM-play will take.

Consent aside, it is obvious that in this kind of BDSM one partner is exercising a level of control and power over the other. Power dynamics such as this often form a key element of BDSM. One partner will generally take on a dominant, controlling role, whereas the other will be more submissive, giving up control to the dominant partner. The exploration of this power dynamic, the aspects of control and submission, is the key element of BDSM in general, and bondage in particular.

What does BDSM look like?

There are as many types and styles of BDSM as there are people who enjoy it. As well as using restraints, some of the more common types include latex BDSM, where people wear rubber clothing or use special liquid latex as part of their play. As well as rubber, many BDSM materials come in leather, as leather is another popular kink.

For some, it is the role play which is the key element of BDSM. This may involve, for example, one partner playing a dominant role (in femdom BDSM, this would be a woman playing the role of a BDSM queen), with the other partner being more submissive in the role of the BDSM slave. But again, there are as many variations of this type of play, and the power dynamic and trust it entails, as there are people who take part in it.

BDSM is nothing new

The history of BDSM erotica dates back at least 30,000 years. That's a known fact since archaeologists have discovered BDSM art that old at historic sites. Indeed, the history of Ancient Greece features accounts of ritual flagellation in Sparta; while in Northern Italy, an Etruscan tomb dating from 490BC includes a mural depicting two men erotically flogging a woman.

The French Marquis de Sade published, in 1791, what is widely thought to be the world's first BDSM-themed novel, "Justine." Including whipping, flogging, nipple clamping, and restraints, it was de Sade's name as the writer of this seminal work which gave rise to the word 'Sadism'. Unfortunately - both for the Marquis and for us - after the book was published, de Sade was found to be criminally insane and imprisoned; a fact which did nothing to combat the negative image of BDSM.

It was Freud, the well-known psychologist, who coined the term sadomasochism in 1905, calling the enjoyment of BDSM 'neurotic'. Such is the enduring influence of Freud's work that BDSM was officially considered a mental disorder by the World Health Organisation up until 18th June 2018, having been included in the International Classification of Diseases since the early 20th century.

The Science of BDSM

Recent research has shown that taking part in BDSM can have a positive effect on your mind and body. It's well known that vigorous exercise, combined with intense concentration - such as running a 100m sprint, or in the course of BDSM - can bring about a change in mental state. Add into the mix the powerful neurotransmitters dopamine, noradrenaline, and others which are released both during sex, and when we feel pain, and one of the reasons why BDSM can feel good becomes readily apparent.

These conclusions are backed up by recent scientific research from the University of British Columbia, Canada, which found that after BDSM-themed sexual encounters couples reported a better mood and reduced levels of stress. You might even say that there's scientific proof that (safe, well performed) BDSM is good for you!

Safety

Planning and preparation are crucial to making sure that you get the most out of a bondage experience without causing anyone any harm. If you're new to this kind of play, take time to research it, learn how to tie someone up safely, and invest in some purpose-made BDSM equipment. "Making do" with homemade BDSM gear is one of the leading causes of sex-related hospital admissions, which is not an experience anybody wants!

As the critical element of any BDSM experience, trust is vital; and trust means talking with your partner about what you want from the experience, your hopes and expectations. It's also important that before the heat of the moment is upon you, you take some time to discuss between you anything which is off limits; and what you will do if either one of you wants to stop. Safe words, while they have become the butt of many a joke, are a useful tool to ensure that you both know how to bring the experience to a close if you need to, or want to.

Acceptance

There are still some people who believe that BDSM is morally wrong in some way. Just as with other aspects of sexual orientation and erotic practices which used to be considered taboo, the increased positive visibility of BDSM can only be a good thing in leading to greater acceptance and healthier, more open conversations about all aspects of sex and kink/fetish culture.