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BDSM: What It Is, What It Is Not
 by: David Kamau

To some people, the term BDSM brings to mind images of people tied up in chains, in some dark secret dungeon being whipped senseless for some type of twisted if not macabre pleasure. You know, an indulgence for those bordering of mental illness.

So, what exactly is BDSM, and what type of people practice it?

BDSM is an acronym of Bondage and Discipline (B&D), Dominance and Submission (D&S), and Sadism and Masochism aka Sadomasochism. Though there a variant definitions for the term, this one is the most widely accepted.

Letís go a little further and briefly describe each of the sub-terms:

1. Bondage: refers to the practice of physically restraining a person, by means of devices such as handcuffs, rope, chains etc.

2. Discipline: refers to the process of punishing or being punished.

3. Sadism: refers to deriving pleasure of personal gratification from causing pain, suffering or cruelty.

4. Masochism: refers to deriving pleasure from mental, emotional or physical pain.

While the major sub-groupings of BDSM are within its own definition, it encompasses a very wide variety of practices, some being obvious and others not so obvious. They include;

1. Servitude or slavery

2. Spanking/flogging/canning/whipping

3. Suspension

4. Humiliation

5. Sadism/masochism

6. Sensory deprivation (Example, blindfolding)

7. Body piercing and tattooing

8. Movement restriction

9. Sensation-play (Example, tickling)

10. Medical procedures

BDSM involves, but is not limited to, any one or a combination of the above practices. The practice is as varied as the people involved in it. The one common denominator is eroticism.

What sort of people practice BDSM?

Contrary to the images imprinted in our minds by the media, BDSM is not necessarily hardcore sadism or pornography. BDSM activities are performed by people of all walks of life, from various backgrounds and nationalities, and all sexual orientations, including married couples. Participants are, in most cases, normal well-adjusted, even respectable people in their communities.

Is BDSM abuse?

People who practice it say they do so for fun. The emphasis is on SSC (Safe, Sane and Consensual). It is not about dominance or forcing another person to do things they donít want to do. It is about both parties doing what they do want to do. It involves two happy parties.

BDSM can also be subtle and highly erotic, as in the case of tickling or stimulating sensitive body parts with a feather, paint brush or similar object. There may or may not be pain.

BDSM requires a great deal of trust between the parties involved. If you canít be trusted youíll have a hard time finding partners.


Okay, this is where it gets complicated, as we humans are complicated creatures. There are as many reasons as there are people. The most obvious is good old fun. Some people do it to fulfill their fantasies. For others it is the role-playing. For some it is simply the feeling of dominance or submission. The list is endless.

Is this just another passing trend?

The media, when not bashing it, takes BDSM rather lightly, as though a passing trend. The financial success and continued growth of companies which market bondage equipment testifies to the fact that it is much more than that.

Where do you find partners?

The internet has enabled people to find others with similar interest across the globe. They can communicate anonymously, as well as purchase the necessary tools and toys without having to look over their shoulder. Specialty websites now offer BDSM personals.

About The Author

David Kamau is webmaster of Find top-rated websites for BDSM personals at:

This article was posted on September 01, 2006


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