So what is BDSM and Bondage and what does it all mean?
Let’s start with some of the terms that are involved, as this will answer most of the questions as we move through them, bear in mind that many of these things are related and cross over: Think if you will of a person that likes to be restained or tied up (bondage) then it is likey that they like to be controlled and would therefore also fall under the banner of submissive. It's not always the case and as with many things in life it's not always so black and white. Where some people may enjoy just one aspect of bondage / BDSM, others enjoy a variety of aspects so it can be a bit of a mix and match.
BDSM: Pretty much means ‘Bondage and Discipline, Domination and Submission, Sadism and Masochism’. It is a fairly all-encompassing acronym for everything bondage related and we’ll break these things down one by one.
Bondage: There are a couple of definitions here and they both fit perfectly well. The first is the literal meaning of bondage and that is to be confined within some form of restraint; such restraints would typically be handcuffs and rope at the most basic level, progressing up to cages, benches and chairs and at the higher level the restraints can become more challenging such as mouth and nose hooks or complete immobilization using body bags and vacuum devices . The type of restraints used is really only limited to the imagination, but there is more to this than just being tied up….
….The other definition of bondage is more psychological than physical in the sense that to be in bondage you don’t have to be physically restrained. The restraining is this case is purely mental, an example being ‘in bondage to fear’, being denied desires or being controlled and manipulated.
There are two different sides to these definitions, as there are with most things, and bondage can be broken down into the Submissive and Dominant sides
Generally these two definitions overlap and the term ‘Bondage’ has a wide scope and encompasses many distinct areas which, when broken down to their basic level, can fit into one or both of the above definitions.
Discipline: This is fairly self-explanatory and is quite literally discipline – think teachers and naughty school children, canes and paddles! The person receiving the discipline would normally be Submissive while the one metering out the discipline would normally be Dominant.
Domination: Again, the meaning is quite literal and it does simply mean domination of one person by another. By domination we mean control and being told what to do, or indeed being forced to do something – it is similar to slavery in that there is a person being controlled and there is a controller – a master and slave style relationship; the person being dominated will be the submissive while those doing the domination will be, well, the dominant one.
Unlike the general master/slave relationship, domination is a touch more severe and very much forced and will combine verbal and mental domination along with humiliation and physical acts such as using restraints to control. What acts are carried out are normally determined by the submissive and not, as many people believe, random acts of cruelty being forced on someone. What many people don’t realise is that in this situation it is most often the submissive that is actually in control of what is happening
Submission: This is allowing yourself to be controlled and is the opposite of Domination.
Sadism: is the act of deriving pleasure, often sexual, from mistreating others. This does normally involve inflicting pain is some fashion and the pain inflicted can vary from a mild sting to an all out flogging.
Masochism: Essentially, masochism is the feeling of sexual arousal or excitement resulting from receiving pain, suffering, or humiliation. The pain, suffering, or humiliation can be physical or psychological in nature.
S&M: This is the acronym for Sadism and Masochism. They are normally put together as one cannot exist without the other.
Submissive: Also known as ‘A Sub’. A submissive person is one that likes to be controlled and you will find submissive people in all walks of life. You could think of a submissive person as the office doormat, always being told what to do and always (within reason) willing to oblige. Do you like to be on the top or on the bottom when you are in the bedroom? If you prefer to be on the bottom then you probably tend towards the submissive side.
Dominant: Also known as ‘A Dom’. A dominant person is one that likes to be in control in a given situation. Again, found in all walks of life.
Top and Bottom: These terms are in essence the same as sub and dom. The ‘Top’ being a ‘Dom’ and a ‘Bottom’ being a ‘Sub’. More widely used in the gay community but by no means exclusively.
Switch: A switch is person that likes to have their cake and eat it! As the name implies, they bounce between being submissive and being dominant
Master: Another word for being dominant, but specifically male. This term is usually associated where there is a relationship in force. The relationship in question is a Master/Slave relationship where the Master is dominant over the submissive slave.
Mistress: Another word for being dominant, but specifically female. This term is usually associated where there is a relationship in force. The relationship in question is a Mistress/Slave relationship where the Mistress is dominant over the submissive slave.
Slave: Quite literally as the word implies. A slave is a submissive person that is under the control of a dominant Master or Mistress and can be asked to perform many functions to making the tea to serving as a footstall. The difference between being a Sub and a slave is that a being a slave is often a lifestyle choice and generally part of a relationship where the slave give control to the dominant partner and where a Sub can have a choice, a slave rarely has any.
Safe Word: A safe word in bondage is a get out clause if you like and is for use by the submissive. Most people have boundaries and thresholds and Bondage quite often tests these to the limit. If the boundary is pushed a little to far in any given bondage scenario (be it psychological or physical pain) then the safe word can be used and the session can either be stopped or toned down. The safe word can be any word or phase and is agreed upon by all parties prior to commencement of any activities.
That covers, in broad terms, the main ideas and the main terms behind Bondage. We’ll explore all these things in more detail at a later date.
It should be noted, lest anyone not realize, that all of these things are done in a consensual manner with set boundaries. Bondage is all about testing limits, enjoyment and fulfilling desires in a safe and controlled manner with the thought and care of all parties in mind and it is not about doing harm to others. Also, bondage does not have to be violent in nature and can be quite mild or indeed purely psychological.