BDSM Basics Everyone Should Know

Author and educator M. Christian talks us through the BDSM Basics that everyone needs to know.

The cane tip arced through the steamy dimness of the dungeon, its blurring intensity concluding with a resounding, and pleasantly meaty, crack on the submissive’s boldly upraised and moon-bright posterior. 

The Dominant wielding the sturdy implement cackled with enthusiastic malevolence as their target stiffly tensed, sharply hissed, and quivered in orgasmic bliss.

Within the submissive’s trembling mind, there was a spark of understanding as precise and brilliant as the pain of the cane stroke that here, at this moment, was all they were and ever wanted to be: merely an object existing for their all-knowing, unquestionable dominant’s pleasure…

Aside from a brilliant (if I do say so myself) example of kink erotica, what else can you say about the above?

For starters, it might surprise you to learn that it has absolutely nada to do with what BDSM’s actually about. Making it a good jumping-off point for getting into the fundamental basics of safe, sane, and consensual play. 

This article can be your guide should you decide to try BDSM out for yourself, for while it may not resemble the literary fantasy, BDSM done properly and safely can be enlightening, transformative, and, most of all, tons of fun.

The Importance Of Kink Education

There’s another reason I subjected you to this opening, as the first lesson I like to impart to newbies in the kink scene is to understand that the books, stories, movies, and so on, are fantasies. They may get your juices flowing, but it’s important not to confuse them with reality.

There’s nothing terrible about enjoying or having these fantasies, though what can be dangerous is to believe they somehow represent a BDSM ideal that you and everyone else must live up to.

This is why I suggest putting your fantasies far aside and clearing your little noggin of any expectations when beginning your introduction to kink. That, and come with a willingness to learn!

What Is BDSM?

Technically meaning Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, and Sadism/Masochism, BDSM is a massive umbrella covering practically every kind of power exchange, fetish, or alternative sexuality. 

From informative guidebooks to online and in-person classes, there are many ways to learn about the world of BDSM. Some people in the community, online or local to you, might also be willing to talk about their experiences and give their advice if you’re starting out in the BDSM scene. Take the opportunity and the time to find your people! Connection with the community is a fundamental cornerstone of any safe and profound BDSM or kink practice – just make sure never to assume that someone will educate you or be willing to talk about personal matters

If you drop your ego and preconceptions and allow yourself to make mistakes, apologize when you do, take the advice of others, and never stop learning about BDSM, you can discover an amazing world of exploration and experiences. 

Safe, Sane, and Consensual

Another thing frequently missing from kink-fiction is the underlying foundations of anything involving BDSM – safe, sane and consensual.

Safe leads the way. Everything you do, first and foremost, must be built on the idea of understanding, respecting, and doing all you possibly can to make a scene as risk-free as possible. “Scene” refers to a kink play session. It can also be shorthand for the BDSM community as a whole, as in “so-and-so is a member of the scene.”

I want to emphasize this, as another thing overlooked in books, movies etc. is the amount of work put into scene safety. This is again where education is critical. No one should do anything unless they’re well versed in what could go wrong.

Safety shouldn’t be merely a physical concern but an emotional one as well. 

A particular thing I adore about BDSM, and a sentiment I wish was a part of every aspect of our day-to-day lives, is the goal for everyone to leave a scene feeling better than when they began it. So, above all else, whatever someone needs for this to happen should be acknowledged and respected. 

Sanity also touches on this: people in a scene need to have their heads screwed on straight, as in not impaired by drugs or alcohol, for example, and certainly no one should ever be coerced. This doesn’t necessarily mean threatened: coercion also occurs when it can be inferred directly or indirectly that not agreeing to an activity will displease someone or result in a withholding of affection.

This leads me to consent. Beginning with initial negotiations: everyone stating what they need, might be open to, and don’t ever want. 

However, extensively discussing things beforehand doesn’t mean consent is set in stone. Instead, it’s an ongoing process where the dominant continually checks in on the submissive to make sure they are physically and emotionally okay to proceed or to get feedback on how things are. It’s the submissive’s responsibility to communicate as best they can, and to keep in tune with their boundaries, limits, and how they’re feeling in the session. 

It’s important to know that having boundaries and limits doesn’t make someone a “bad” or “weak” submissive. In fact, the opposite is true! Safe, sane and consensual play can only happen when everyone is aware of their own limits and those of their playmates. 

Safewords

And a tried and true way for everyone to remain in contact with everyone else is to set up safewords beforehand. These can be anything, really, aside from what might be said in the so-called “heat of the moment.”  

So rather than using “OMG,” “Fuck,” or “Stop” (a confusing one, as if someone were to say “don’t stop” they’ve technically used the safeword, leading to play ceasing when that was the opposite of what was wanted) to indicate you want things slowed down, sped up, or stopped, you can use “green,” “yellow,” and most of all “red”. 

Each word is useful in its own way: “green” is a go-ahead for things to continue as they are, or as an affirmative answer to a question about progressing to another level. “Red” means an immediate stop to play and a move towards aftercare: a boundary has been reached. “Yellow” is an important one too, as it can be used to indicate that a boundary is being approached, communicating that things may need to slow down or back off a little without interrupting play. 

Whatever words you choose to work with, make sure the person or persons you’re playing with understand and respond accordingly to them by testing them out before things get too intense. Safewords aren’t exclusively for subs as many a dom can and should use them when they’re unsure, need to take a break, or want to have an all-important confab before proceeding. 

RACK and PRICK

Like the world and everything that’s ever been in and on it, kink isn’t set in stone but continues to evolve—and in answer to the growing criticism that safe, sane, and consensual could be clearer, we now have RACK and PRICK.

Fundamentally the same as SSC, they go into greater detail. The RA in RACK stands for Risk-Aware: where it’s not enough simply to say you understand what could go wrong in a scene, but instead you must be able to articulate and discuss the risks fully with whoever you’re playing with. 

The rest, CK, stands for Consensuality and Kink, with an emphasis on clarity. So rather than giving and getting a simple brief “okay” to go ahead, RACK encourages kinksters to explicitly say what they do or don’t agree on. Then with K for Kink, you can further cement things like the where, when, and how of the scene. Being really clear on your kink – whether it’s service, power exchange, or something else – can help you to be clear about boundaries and the content of a scene. 

Then there’s PRICK: Personal Responsibility, Informed, Consensual Kink, which is the philosophy that whatever roles are taken during play, no one is exempt from personal responsibility—and if mutual, unequivocal consent and risk comprehension can’t be reached, then don’t play.

Admitting Mistakes and Moving Forward

Yet another glaring error in how BDSM is depicted outside of the scene is by perpetuating the perfect dominant or submissive stereotype: that the former is always right, in control, and never admits to screwing things up; and the latter is supposed to live for their dominant’s pleasure, have no needs of their own, and take whatever they dish out with a smile.

In a word, bunk. A dominant who never fesses up to their mistakes or acts as if they’re some kind of infallible black leather deity should have their vests confiscated and canes snapped in two. 

And here’s what you should understand about submissives: while they may seem like they’re to be used and abused, the fact is they’re in control of the scene. After all, it’s their ass, and other body parts, on the line, so, of course, the dominant’s got to serve them. This is a mutual relationship, with both the dom and the sub [ideally] enjoying the scene in their own way.

And please don’t think submissive is always interchangeable with masochist or that dominant is another way of saying sadist. BDSM at times may involve physical sensations, even ones that otherwise might be considered painful, but this is only a tiny portion of what kink play can involve.   

BDSM is called an umbrella term because it covers everything from bondage to fetish play, age play (pretending to be younger or older than your actual age) to ritualistic body modification, and along with masochism and sadism, people who enjoy emotional power exchange: finding pleasure in serving a dominant, being served by a submissive, taking or relinquishing sexual control, or a million other forms of play. 

An essential element to getting into kink is a willingness to own your goof-ups. So when you do make a mistake, as you inevitably will, don’t blame others or get defensive but listen, accept, understand, learn, apologize, and go on from there. You’ll be a better person for doing so, and the scene will respect you for it.

How To Know What You Like—And What To Watch Out For

But, as the old saying goes, no journey is not without its rocks to trip over. When it comes to kink, a tip-top one for beginners is how to tell the difference between what they like or don’t?

Don’t scoff, as this is entirely understandable. It’s natural to be confused with so much coming at you and thousands of possibilities to explore. 

When I first began my kink explorations, I found taking long breaks from it to be helpful. They gave me time to clear my head, process my emotions, talk with my partner, and get a handle on my deep-down feelings. 

I also discovered not going too far too fast kept me well-grounded. Like, despite how I really liked getting pegged, I resisted the urge to immediately go bigger, with the time and distance between play sessions giving me a much-needed opportunity to reflect and work through my feelings.

Getting into the scene also means meeting people, and though it may be tempting in your newly awakened enthusiasm for all things kinky to jump into things feet first, I advise caution. Again, BDSM is not a race, so think twice (or more) and only go ahead when you’re extra-extra-extra sure of your headspace and whoever you’re thinking of playing with.

Even then, I suggest thoroughly getting to know each other and only having your scene in public at a community dungeon or the like. The reason for this precaution is, should something go amiss, you’ll have immediate support and people willing to offer assistance. 

It’s hard to list every potential red flag, though a top one for me would be when dominants treat me as a submissive before a scene was even negotiated. To say this kind of behaviour makes me raise my eyebrows is an understatement, especially when the situation is compounded by dominants who won’t admit they made a mistake or apologize afterwards. Egos get in the way of safe, sane, and consensual play. Leave them out of every scene. 

For submissives, my alarms ring when they expect me to read their minds and then act disappointed because they didn’t get what they wanted, are unable or unwilling to communicate, or treat me as a machine without any needs or desires.

Your early experiences will naturally be your own, with different ups and downs as you get more and more used to what you want, how the scene works, and develop your understanding of safe, sane, and consensual kink.

Keep your eyes and mind open, communicate, take your time, and you’ll be fine.

BDSM Is Not Without Its Risks

Teaching yourself to be safe equally involves what’s probably BDSM’s harshest reality. That depending on what you’re doing, it can be incredibly dangerous. Take for example, that staple of fetish porn: tying someone up. Looks hot, doesn’t it?  Especially when the bound person is suspended off the floor.

Unfortunately, we don’t often see the years, sometimes decades, of study and practice that goes into perfecting this type of bondage. Experience that still doesn’t protect anyone from a slipped knot, a pinched nerve, a torn tendon, or a million other potential injuries.

Sorry for harshing your BDSM buzz, but for your safety as well as others you play with, you need a total and complete idea of what you’re getting into. And that, I’m afraid, can’t be got from a fantasy fiction or film.

Besides, as you educate yourself, maybe stumbling and falling a few times, you’ll realize what you like about kink and what you don’t. You’ll come out the other side not only knowing how to be a safe, sane, and consensual member of the BDSM community, but really knowing what it is that works for you. 

Whips, Chains, and Having Fun

Whilst BDSM basics like these may not immediately tickle (or indeed spank) your fancy, ignoring them won’t preserve your illusions, either. 

Instead, you’ll be cutting yourself from all the beautiful, eye-opening, and extremely hot realities of kink play waiting out there for you to discover and enjoy.

So take a deep breath, enjoy your fantasies for what they are, and enter the world of BDSM armed with the knowledge the best is yet to come. 

READ
The Best Non-Gendered Sex Toys On The Market
Share
[uam_place id='3705']