"Sensual sadism is an Artform... your body & soul is My canvas!"

Join My Mailing List!

Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Check out my NEW

Live Journal!

The World of BDSM

I have been actively exploring the world of BDSM (Bondage & Discipline / Dominance & Submission / Sado - Masochism) for over a decade. I think that the most important thing that I have learned through my explorations of this vast & kinky universe is that there is always more to learn!

The world of BDSM contains a huge array of activities, dynamics and people that enjoy them. Since this topic can easily fill entire libraries with information this is page is only meant to give a brief over view from my own ever evolving perspective and growing knowledge. I do not by the way claim to be an absolute authority on anything but my own feelings and thoughts and those shift almost constantly as my awareness of other people's perspectives grows.

Whether you are a long time Scene veteran, hesitant curiosity seeker or some where between the two, I hope you find this page interesting and educational. ~ Suzanne

Technical / Instructional Note: For those who are reading this with very little prior knowledge of the terminology used here I have included an extensive glossary with this site and have hot - linked many of the terms with in this page and clicking these links will cause the glossary page to launch separately from this one and bring you straight to that term. I suggest that you shut off your pop up blocker just for this occasion. For ease of use, I would also suggest that you horizontally tile this page with the glossary page so that you can easily refer to the terms as you read.

The Players and a few Dynamics

So who does this kinky BDSM stuff and why? The short answer is: a lot more people than you think and for as many reasons as there are people doing it.

One common misperception that "vanilla" folks have is that people that are drawn to this stuff are sick and twisted individuals that are abusive to themselves and others. While many of us with in"the Scene" or Life style smile and kid amongst ourselves that we are indeed a bit "twisted" or are self proclaimed "perverts and proud of it", the vast majority of the lifestyle players are respectable and compassionate people that simply have kinkier bedroom tastes than their more conservative and less adventuresome "vanilla" counter parts.

I have met 100s and 100s of people that are involved in one form of BDSM or another and most of them lead perfectly normal every day lives, but their fantasies and the way they express themselves and their love for and with others can vary widely with in the Scene. I personally dislike labels but they are often a necessary evil when you are trying to express concepts such as this. So for the purpose of clarification I am going to present a few generic ones. Also please keep in mind that for the moment I am trying to separate the people from the dynamics at play and what drives them, which as you will see shortly can be rather complicated.

Let's make the assumption that an average scene consists of two people. Generally it can be further assumed that there is a dominant partner and a submissive partner.

These people can be referred to in a variety of ways and some of the generic terms for these individuals are: Dominant - Master / Mistress - Top - Dom - Domme - Submissive - Sub - Bottom & Slave. However those labels often but don't always denote the real dynamics with in the "relationship". I put relationship in quotes here because the nature of that relationship can range widely as well. It can consist of every thing from from a simple play date for an evening between casual acquaintances, to a deeply committed relationship as strong or in some cases stronger than the average marriage, and everything in between.

Now back to the folks in this hypothetical scene. The "assumed" dominant partner, who I will from here on refer to as the Top, is many times the one holding the whip, tying the rope, barking the orders etc. and is generally the one that is controlling the scene. Most new people assume that this is the person with all the power and control, and will be the one that decides exactly what will or will not take place with in the scene. In other words: what s/he says goes and the submissive / bottom must accept it, like it or not.

The truth is, in the majority of safe, safe & consensual BDSM scenes the submissive partner or Bottom, is often the one that is setting the scene parameters by having informed the top as to what his or her limits are during a negotiation before the scene started, or at some earlier time in the relationship. Most experienced and responsible Tops will take into consideration the Bottom's limits, needs, and desires and will craft a scene that will be enjoyable for both of them. Yes, the Top is often still directing the course of the scene but quite often he or she is doing so in response to the Bottom's reactions.

That is not to say that the Top always does only what the Bottom wants or enjoys! Quite the contrary, a Bottom may actually become (or just appear to be) quite distressed during a scene. Especially one that may involve punishment for an infraction or misdeed. However, if the Bottom reaches a point that they feel they must stop or communicate something to the Top, they generally have either a safe word / signal or some other way to do so.

I myself, have many times witnessed scenes at public events that were not to my taste because of how extreme they looked, and I am sure that some of my play dates may look "out of hand" or even abusive to onlookers who do know know the dynamics between the individuals involved. However, I am generally comforted by the knowledge that even in the scenes I have witnessed that appeared to go beyond a Bottom's enjoyment level, that the activity is still almost always consensual to at least some degree.

Also, at most sizable public events or clubs there is a Dungeon Monitor or DM who is assigned to watch over all the play during their shift and determine if and when intervention is deemed necessary for safety reasons. If you witness something at a play party that gives you reason to be concerned about either the Bottom's safety or the Top's sanity, the DM is the person you should locate and ask to check the scene. They are also usually great people to ask general safety questions of because most DMs are either very experienced players or have under gone a training class to make them qualified to do the job.

But let's back up for a moment and take a closer look at the players and what makes them tick.

Control vs Sensation

The majority of the life style players that I know enjoy weaving both aspects of control & sensation into their play. Looking at these elements separately for a moment:

Control

The key dynamic in Ds (Dominance & submission) based relationships is control. One leads and the other follows. In most a healthy consensual Ds relationship this does not involve tyranny or abuse since the subjugated partner or submissive is voluntarily giving that control to the Dominant and generally has a voice in determining how much control is given and for how long. This is a very individual thing and the extent power exchange is often a shifting and evolving aspect of their relationships that needs to be readdressed and renegotiated as time goes on.

It is up to both parties to determine through negotiation, how much control is to be given up by the submissive and accepted by the Dominant and over what aspects of the submissive's experience. It can range from just telling the submissive how to behave for an evening of play to micro managing practically every aspect of the submissive's life. Submissives that enjoy giving much greater degrees of control to their Master or Mistress are often referred to as slaves.

The submissive can give up the control for merely the duration of a scene, several hours at a time, an entire weekend, or even for contracted periods of time. This is usually done through negotiation in the beginning stages of the relationship or before a scene between new play partners.

During the negotiation phase both parties will often discuss important factors like medical conditions, hard and soft limits and things that they both enjoy so that they can determine if they are suitable play partners. Many dominants will have a submissive partner fill out a pre scene check list prior to play like this one: Pre scene Form.


Putting the Dynamics into Perspective

While most most do combine both these elements and dynamic into their play, not everyone enjoys them in equal measures. I attended a class once with Fetish Diva Midori that used a chart to make this concept exceptionally clear and was a very useful and informative tool even for a scene veteran such as myself.

Let's take a look at my version of it for a moment:

 

Sensation

C
o
n
t
r
o
l

 

None

Sadist

Masochist

None

Vanilla / Night Off

Egalitarian Sadist

Egalitarian Masochist

Dominant

Service Receiving Dominant AKA "Control Top"

Dominant Sadist

Dominant Masochist AKA "Pushy Bottom"

Submissive

Service Oriented Submissive

Service Oriented Sadist

Submissive Masochist

So on one axis you have the element of Sensation. Sensation doesn't necessarily mean pain by the way but it can. It can also be light teasing touches with feathers and bunny fur, or tingly electrical play or the impact of thumpy heavy floggers. On the other axis you have the Control dynamic which determines who the one at the helm is, if anyone.

In order to determine where you best fit in, and who would be your best match as a play partner, the things to consider is which party likes to give / receive sensation while taking or giving up control, or neither. A dominant sadist for example will not be happy with a submissive that does not enjoy strong sensation and vice versa.

As a switch, I have been in all of these spaces at different times in my journey and sometimes in several through out the course of an evening or even a particular scene depending on my mood shifts and the person or people I am playing with. To illustrate this better I will use some of my own experiences as I describe these spaces in greater detail.

Let’s begin at the top left corner and presume that if you are not really into giving or receiving sensation and you really aren't interested in experimenting with the power dynamics of control you are either vanilla or taking a night off from play. (And most likely you won’t be reading this article.) <grin>

If you very much enjoy giving and or receiving sensation play but only in equality based situations then you are more of an Egalitarian Sadist or Masochist. In this situation neither partner is interested in the control dynamic and simply wants to play with sensation or other activities as equal partners.

I play this way with several of my friends who either enjoy bottoming or topping for it’s own sake without the Ds dynamic or when I am introducing someone to a particular activity such as a single tail. At a demo for example, I may use a whip on someone just to let them see what it feels like outside the context of an entire scene. I have also bottomed to others for the purpose of teaching them a new skill while giving helpful feedback to them on their technique.

If you prefer to stay in control of what you will or will not experience during the scene you most resemble the Dominant Masochist category. Too often people with these desires are given negative labels like Pushy Bottom or Smart Ass Masochist or said to be “topping from the bottom” like it is a bad thing by other players that do not know understand or want to play under those circumstances. I feel that a bottom that can be quite clear about what they do and do not want to do should be applauded for their ability to communicate and stand by their needs rather than treated like second class citizens. However, a bottom with dominant tendencies is best off seeking out a service oriented sadist.

A Service Oriented Sadist is someone that very much enjoys meeting the needs of their partner, especially if that partner craves bottoming to sensation. They do not necessarily need to control their partner or require that they act submissively to them in order to enjoy the play. For example, when I work professionally with clients, my focus is not usually about getting my own needs met but rather it is on fulfilling their fantasies and needs.

This is very different from when I play with my personal slaves, since that tends to be far more about what I want and need to do for my own enjoyment. When I flip into a Dominant Sadist space I want not only to exercise my sadistic demons but also to enjoy the power dynamic of having my partner be submissive to my needs. I generally will only play this way with a submissive masochist however, since they are best suited to meet the needs of a dominant sadist.

Submissive masochists enjoy being under the dominants control while experiencing sensation. Most of my most personally rewarding bottoming experiences have been when I have been with a partner I could trust enough to allow to take control and experienced enough to take me to new heights in sensation. A truly magical combination.

Then there are those that want to simply explore the Dominant & submissive dynamics without any element of sadism or masochism. I find quite often those that find service for it’s own sake most rewarding fit into these categories. I have a sissy maid for example that loves to dress up in an adorable little outfit and clean my house and do chores for me. Kristine is not a pain slut by any standard but she loves to be of service and I enjoy having her take care of my household chores for me. She is quite a blessing to me.

I have also felt how rewarding service can be while giving a foot massage to a domme that I admire greatly, not because I wanted anything in return, but simply because I knew she had been on her feet all day in those exquisite heels and I wanted to give her lovely feet a break and a bit of pleasure. Also, when I am in service to Master R at La Domaine and things need to be done either in readying the chateau for guests, cleaning and preparations etc as well a serving dinner or attending to his other needs, I get the satisfaction of a job well done as it’s own reward. Although a pat on the head and a smile from him also help make the hours of sweaty work seem even more worthwhile, I enjoy knowing that I have made his life easier in some small way by my service.

Another Note On BDSM Sexuality

Some people find it surprising to discover that there are many instances with in the community that BDSM play has nothing to actually do with sex or sexual orientation.

For instance when I play professionally with people, it does not include anal oral or vaginal sex with me, (except for maybe me wearing a strap on). Yes, there have been many times when I have found my clients to be very sexy and or attractive, but I usually manage to maintain a professional decorum and behave myself whether they wish I would or not.

It is not uncommon for example for a dominant to play with someone of the same gender or opposite gender as they are, and have it have nothing to do with the gender they are sexually attracted to.

To clarify this point a bit, there was one evening when I was very much in the mood to bottom and the only person at the club I was at was a gay male friend of mine who also identifies as a bottom. I asked Tim if he would do me the honor of playing with me and although he has absolutely no sexual interest in me what so ever, we proceeded to engage in a wonderful scene together.

He very much understands, as I do, that connection, sensuality and intimacy can be deeply shared between people who are not physically or sexually attracted to each other He also understands about breath work and how it can enhance the experience. Our scene together was extremely enjoyable for us both and it strengthened our bond of friendship even further. Afterwards, we were amused and gratified to learn that several people that watched the scene thought that he and I were a couple because of the depth of intimacy that they witnessed and felt coming from us.

I have also many times engaged in personal play with people that I care for very deeply and although there has been mutual attraction and a lot of sexual and erotic energy, we have opted to not complicate our relationships by becoming sexually intimate. For me at least, there is a huge difference between playing sensually and enjoying the building, and sharing of erotic energy with someone, and actually having sex with them and I can totally enjoy play without sex. Sometimes the foreplay is the best part.


Coming soon:

The Yin / yang dynamic

Protocol – A thing of the Past?
Within, the confines of a Ds relationship there are generally rules or protocols that a submissive / slave must follow. But, well mannered & experienced Tops also have protocols that guide them.

What is subspace and how do I get there?

 
© 2002 - 2006 SMAntics. All rights reserved. Page design by SMAntics