The Soft Side of BDSM

Ideas expressed are entirely based on the author’s own opinions and experiences

While Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele showcase both mild and intense methods of bondage on screen in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy, their on and off again relationship is undoubtedly unhealthy and unrealistic in regard to the BDSM community. As a result of the movies portraying their sexual relationship as an extremely controlling one, many now view a BDSM partnership as undesirable. However, the truth of the matter is that most BDSM relationships are completely unlike that of Christian and Anastasia's as they are built on mutual trust and communication rather than money and power.

Terminology

The term BDSM actually stands for Bondage, Dominance/Discipline, Submission/Sadism and Masochism. Bondage is the act of restraining a partner, whereas dominance refers to the partner who dominates the other (sometimes called the “dom”) and discipline is the range of mild to severe emotional and physical punishments that a dom would apply. Submission refers to the person who submits themselves to be dominated (sometimes called the “sub”) and sadism is when a person is sexually aroused by inflicting pain/humiliation on another person. Similarly, masochism is when your own pain/humiliation sexually arouses yourself. In addition to many BDSM relationships being referred to as a dom/sub pairing—in which one partner is dominant and the other is submissive—the BDSM community stems into other kinds of relationships as well. These relationships cover a wide range of sexuality in both hetero and homosexual pairings. They can be anything from FemDoms (female partners who dominate their submissive male) to those between “sugar daddies” or an older man and a young person often entitled “daddy dom” partnerships. While the “Fifty Shades” trilogy focuses on two heterosexual lovers similar in age, it is clear through Christian’s ominous way of introducing his desire for BDSM and the drama that ensues that much of the BDSM realism is left offscreen.

The Pain, Pleasure and Positivity in BDSM

While some may question the desire to control/be controlled by another person, it’s important to note that, despite rules often times being put in place in regard to the portrayal of each role, a healthy BDSM relationship features open communication and allows for both parties to be satisfied.

Almost anyone with tattoos can vouch for the strange pleasure they feel when the needles penetrate their skin—and BDSM pain is often the same. Additionally, over the past decade, sex toys have continued to improve and maintain the safety and pleasure of the person receiving the pain. For example, most handcuffs in sex stores now feature a more comfortable lining and most whips/paddles are typically faux leather or padded. Despite pain being something to expect from a BDSM relationship, many partners also have a deep emotional  connection to their dom/sub.

In BDSM, trust is one of the most important aspects. In order to be giving or receiving pain and pleasure to another, you have to be able to relax and trust them as you are essentially allowing them to see you at your most vulnerable moments. BDSM relationships are more than just inflicting pain for pleasure and engaging in rough sex—but rather, are typically extremely intimate and generally very caring. A good BDSM partnership ensures that boundaries and limits are clearly expressed and not crossed, and usually incorporates “safe” words in case either party gets uncomfortable. However, like any healthy relationship, BDSM partners often push each other out of their comfort zone whilst also being motivating and encouraging in the bedroom.

Some may see Christian Grey on the movie screen or dream of him between the lines of the novel, but in reality, he doesn’t embody what a BDSM partner should be like. While he does spend money on Anastasia and acts supportive and caring, his jealousy and rage get entirely out of hand as, in the first movie, we witness him continue hitting her with no regard for her clear discomfort as she cries in pain. Despite the movies having an extensive fan base, it’s frustrating to myself and others in the BDSM community to witness such horrific and hardly-consensual events in regard to this particular intimate topic.

As a result of these movies, many people may feel traumatized by the experience and never try BDSM at all—which is unfortunate as the real-life version of a BDSM relationship truly does focus on mutual consent, trust and open communication and is not built on abuse or control.

If you and your partner want to start introducing BDSM into your relationship, don’t use “Fifty Shades of Grey” as your inspiration. Instead, do some of your own research, watch porn with your partner to showcase what you’d be comfortable with, and most importantly, keep your minds and the conversation as open as possible. By doing so, you’ll be improving your relationship with your significant other, experiencing something new as a couple, and hopefully, enjoying 50 Shades of Great Sex in no time!

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