What is BDSM?

-By Morgan Aguilar, student staff

Bondage. Domination. Sadism. Masochism. Four words that have been cast as scary, dirty and freaky by many.

As a final project, my professor for Race, Class, and Gender in the Media asked us to bring what we had learned out into the community. We had spent the semester studying the way different genders, races, ethnicities, classes and sexualities are portrayed in the media. Yet we had not once discussed the “oh so scary” concept of BDSM. Three other girls and I decided to put on a BDSM lecture, and my job was to create this video and conduct interviews.

I set out to find out what people already knew about BDSM here on the CU Boulder campus. Turns out…not very much. On the rare occasion that someone was able to correctly indicate the four words of the acronym, they still had a skewed picture of what it is in their minds. It was primarily thought of as being weird, freaky sex that only really odd people actually do. Many also thought that it was dangerous, and one young woman told me she would never do it because she would feel like it was not consensual.

The truth is, when done correctly, BDSM is extremely safe, consensual, and fun for everyone involved! Some participants choose to write out very detailed contracts before engaging in any sort of BDSM, while others choose to have a conversation, and keep open communication throughout.

As stated in the video, a sadist is a person who likes to give pain, while a masochist is a person who likes to receive pain. A dominant is a person who likes to be in control, while the submissive is a person who enjoys being controlled. Who is the “Dom” and “Sub” is discussed ahead of time.

Types of BDSM are plenty. Media tend to focus on the ropes, gags, handcuffs, etc. There can also be wax, fire play, needle play, and many, many others. The purpose of the verbal and/or written contract is to decide what the Dom and Sub are okay with doing, and what they are not. This way, the Sub can trust that the Dom is not, at any time, going to ask the Sub to do anything that they have not previously agreed to do. This is where the Sub actually has a lot of control. They are able to tell the Dom exactly what they want and don’t want.

Next comes Safe Words. A lot of times, saying “stop” or “no” during BDSM play is part of the turn on for both the Dom and Sub. Because of this, the persons involved must choose safe words that mean “almost too much pain” and “stop now.” Some examples are “Yellow” and “Red” or “Bunny” and “Monkey.” Whatever you’re in to!

As long as you choose a partner you really trust, and follow the safety rule of safe words, experimenting with BDSM does not have to be the scary secret of sex that society is afraid of. Maybe now, instead of asking what BDSM is, I can ask: Are you more of a Dom or a Sub?

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