SEXetera: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips make me nervous

I’m going to open with this: BURN your copy of Fifty Shades. It is not BDSM, and anything you “learned” from it is crap.

Now we have that out of the way, let’s talk about BDSM and what it actually is.

BDSM stands for bondage, domination, submission, and masochism. I know those words sound super intense and scary, but BDSM is a spectrum, and you have probably participated in some form of it without even noticing.

Have you ever been spanked or handcuffed? Though these actions seem pretty tame, they are still considered BDSM.

The BDSM spectrum covers everything from sensation play, involving satin ropes and feathers, to device bondage, including metal shackles and intense sex toys, such as huge vibrators and ball gags.

No matter what sexy adventure you’re planning on taking, you need to know the two main principles of the BDSM community.

Safety and consent.

Let’s tackle safety first.

In BDSM, lots of “accessories” can be used, and the operators need to be educated about how to uses them.

For example, suspension BDSM requires the use of ropes that must be tied around the participant as they are suspended. This type of BDSM can be dangerous if the person tying the ropes isn’t trained.

It can cause pain and bruising by obstructing blood flow if the ropes are too tight. There are many workshops and BDSM clubs that teach proper techniques to people who are interested in suspension.

Safety also means taking care of the equipment used for sex, both toys and restraints. Before you put handcuffs on someone be sure to do a quick visual inspection to make sure there are no sharp edges or areas that could snag the skin, always make sure that sex swings are securely fastened to the ceiling, and double check any and all toys you will be using are clean and free of debris.

No matter what kind of roleplay you’re doing, you want a responsible “Dungeon Master.”

Next let’s talk about consent, which is a facet of safety, but is so essential that it deserves its own category.

Without consent, BDSM is assault – like any other unwanted sexual advances. The whole point of BDSM is for both parties to have a pleasurable experience, and if one partner is uncomfortable during the act, it’s not BDSM.

Before engaging in any BDSM-type activities with your partner you need to establish boundaries. Go through everything you are planning to include in your “scene,” no matter if it’s light slapping or anal fisting – check with your partner beforehand and ask them if these acts are OK.

Next, choose a safe word.

A safe word is exactly what it sounds like – words that are used to let your partner know to stop or slow down.

These are especially important in roleplaying scenes where there is a power dynamic being presented.

A few popular options for safe words include “yellow” for “slow down” and “red” for “stop.”

You can also make your own safe words, like “pineapple” or “ice cream.”

Whatever you choose to be your safe word, make sure that it’s easy to remember and won’t come up naturally in sex.

Don’t make “harder” your safe word.

Let’s end with some pro-tips:

1) When restraining someone, do not use duct tape. The adhesive is a skin irritant. Plan ahead – buy some “bondage tape” online. It’s adhesive free, hypo-allergenic, and my personal favorite brand is only $3.29 a roll on Amazon. If you didn’t plan ahead, use a tie or a piece of fabric.

2) Don’t be afraid to experiment. BDSM is a spectrum, and I’m sure there are a few practices you and your partner will enjoy. Personally, I suggest light spanking during penetration. It’s a real nice sensation.

3) Adjustable nipple clamps are a wondrous investment. Stop ignoring your nipples. I promise you won’t regret it.

Now, go explore.

[Editor’s note: Due to the unfortunate stigma surrounding women discussing sex, the author of this column has requested to use the pseudonym “Kay Ann.”]

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