Are you in a safe, healthy relationship? Are you intrigued by the idea of “rough sex,” where hitting, slapping, scratching, or biting is involved? Then you might be interested in BDSM, or impact play.
As a sex-positive, sexual health educator, I realize that many people have trouble communicating their sexual preferences with their partners. This can leave them feeling unsatisfied and, in some cases, resentful. Further, tinkering with sexual play that borders on traditional ideas of “sexual deviance” can make some conversations feel even more impossible. But, as we know with other favorites we have (birthday cake flavors, pizza toppings, movies, etc.), we must make them known before they can become known. We have to decide, for ourselves, what our likes and dislikes are, and it’s our responsibility to convey them to others if we ever expect to get what we want. Remember, folks, your partners are not mind readers: in the bedroom is no exception!
According to Wikipedia, BDSM is “an erotic preference and a form of personal relationship involving the consensual use of restraint, intense sensory stimulation, and fantasy power role play. The compound initialism BDSM is derived from the terms bondage and discipline (B&D or B/D), dominance and submission (D&S or D/S), and sadism and masochism (S&M or S/M). BDSM includes a wide spectrum of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships, and distinct subcultures. Activities and relationships within a BDSM context are characterized by the participants usually taking on complementary but unequal roles, thus the idea of consent of both the partners becomes essential. Typically, participants who are active – applying the activity or exercising control over others – are known as “tops,” or dominants. Those participants who are recipients of the activities, or who are controlled by their partners are typically known as “bottoms,” or submissives. Individuals who alternate between top/dominant and bottom/submissive roles — whether from relationship to relationship or within a given relationship — are known as “switches.”
If you’re intrigued by BDSM sex practices, here are some things you want to keep in mind:
1. Safe Sex: It is always imperative to practice safe sex, even when stepping outside the traditional sex models. Male or female condoms should be used during intercourse or oral sex (though male and female condoms should never be used at the same time for tearing reasons). Dental dams or plastic wrap should be used for protection during oral sex on a female, and condoms should be used when sharing toys. Even if in a committed relationship, we strongly encourage testing for sexually transmitted infections together before engaging without barriers as protection.
2. Safe Words: When trying out new sexual practices, it is exceptionally important to communicate your needs and boundaries with your partner. It may not always feel “sexy” to stop and discuss your comfort level “in the moment,” so safe words can help to identify your needs without feeling like you’re leaving “the mood.” Particularly with BDSM play, words like “green,” “yellow” and “red” can be helpful for communicating your sensations. “Green” for “go” or “yes, I’m enjoying this”; “yellow” for “slow down” or “you’re approaching the limits of my comfort zone”; and “red” for “stop what you’re doing.” Since we’re all familiar with yellow, green and red as associations for “movement,” it can serve as a natural communicator. It’s up to you and your partner to decide your safe words are before the act occurs.
3. Start Slowly: Particularly with sex, it is important to begin slowly and identify your comfort zones as you go. A specific position or activity might be fulfilling to one partner but be very uncomfortable – or even painful – for the other. This is why, especially when engaging in any sort of “pain” or “impact” play, it is important for you and your partner to learn each other’s preferences slowly. Pain and/or “impact” play is a delicate creature that, without proper boundaries and communication, can easily become negative or even traumatic.
So, be safe, communicate, and go slowly. BDSM can only be healthy when all parties feel equally heard and valued with boundaries respected.
Care to learn more? Are you 18 and up? Here’s a good video by the folks at The Smitten Kitten explaining how to start with “impact play” (another term for BDSM). Let me be frank about the video: it is not safe for work and does include nudity and sex scenes for instructional purposes.
This is the first time we’re linking to something so explicit in content. Let us know, Feronian readers, are you offended by our openness? Or do you appreciate us bringing you sex-positive content you might not otherwise find in your online communities? We’re here for you!