A 4 letter Acronym for 6 Things
In the podcast I list the 6 aspects of BDSM: Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism, and Masochism. Dr Jones and I discussed how some abusers may misappropriate BDSM the way the actor Armie Hammer did with his partners. For instance, a person in a controlling relationship might routinely criticize their partner. They may insist that if their partner weren't so boring or frigid the two of them would be having more sex. The abuser uses this emotional blackmail to pressure the survivor into sex. Perhaps the survivor would be more open to sex if they weren't feeling so low all the time due to the constant putdowns! Don't give into an abuser who introduces crops and paddles as a way to get more interesting sex. This may just be a cover-up to assault you under the guise of "kinky sex" you somehow "agreed to" when in fact this is a manipulation to disregard your needs in bed and have more extreme sex that suits him.
Real BDSM always starts from a place of mutuality and consent. Two adults come to the table and agree upon the kind of sex they want to have. You can be into BDSM and leave hard core impact play (i.e. whips, belts, and paddles) off the table. You have the right not to engage in masochism at all!
I mention that there are ways for survivors to reclaim their own desires and pleasures in BDSM without the pressure of an abuser. In the realm of Bondage a survivor may learn to stay present with their body which has previously been experienced as broken, dirty, ugly, or unsafe by relearning healthy touch. Some ropes come in soft materials like cotton and jute. Learning to weave intricate patterns around your own arms or legs can be very soothing and meditative. It's a form of solo sex that your partner cannot dictate. Dominance is one aspect of BDSM that is teeming with possibilities for misuse in that abusers may guise the control they exercise over your life as healthy D-S dynamics. Survivors might instead look for a Dom who wants no sex from them what-so-ever and instead serves as an accountability partner to designate time for them to achieve their individual goals or meet their basic self care needs. Surprising? BDSM can in fact never include sex and a real Dom might gain satisfaction in guiding a the submissive to meet a goal that has nothing to doo with the Dom. You D-S should not only serve your Dom. Sadism does not have to include anything that is self-harming, scarring, or physically painful. I would not recommend most sadism to people who struggle with self harm such as cutting and burning themselves. However, some people get a thrill out of being humiliated. Think about how many of us enjoy the game truth or dare. We might reveal an embarrassing truth to friends or badly sing a karaoke song just because we lost a round. Hence, there is Masochism in Truth or Dare. In that vein, get a friend to witness something vulnerable in you, but make a plan for them to take care of you in that moment.
Safe ways for survivors to get to know their own pleasure is just to go to safe meet-ups for other kinksters called "munches" and ask questions. These are hang outs in vanilla spaces like beer gardens and coffee shops where experienced players and curious newbies gather in normal clothes to talk. It's better than making another novice. Where can you find munches? Scroll to the end to find out.
The Rock and A Hard Place: Prude or Whore
It surprises some women to know that their rape fantasies are common. In a 2009 study by Bivona and Critelli, 62% of women had some interest in resistance play fantasy or what might be more commonly depicted in a romance novel. When the researchers used the term "rape" rather than "over powered by a man," to describe the fantasy, then the number of women admitting to the fantasy dropped to 32% from 52%.
As I talked about in the podcast, the rape fantasy which might be destigmatized by being called resistance play fantasy is very useful. In real life women are rarely taught how to ask for what they want and certainly not in bed! Resisting an emboldened, sexy man who is overcome with "passion" solves the problem of needing to ask for anything. It removes the issues of bumbling over words or not know what actually turns you on. The aggressive suitor can give you hot, rough sex and not need to wait for your direction.
Of course in real life, NO ONE WANTS TO BE RAPED! Rape is a disempowering experience, an often excruciating ordeal that leaves survivors with extreme mental health issues. Rape changes the way we experience the world. Places that were once safe are now unsafe, the idea that most people are trustworthy is now unfathomable. Consensual sex in loving relationships are marred by reliving the rape, or checking out all together.
Still, the resistance fantasy is freeing because if you're a woman who was raised to believe that her body must be defended at all costs and that ladies do not enjoy or want sex, then resisting is a way to maintain your purity while still getting the passionate sex you really desire.
Fantasies are a place of play. They exist in the realms of taboo and imagination. They're not meant to be literal. So don't be ashamed.
If you want to know more about how to find a safe play partner or maybe explore BDSM in a healthy way. Try looking for meet up groups near you using the site FetLife. Here is the bay area, we also have great educational venues Wicked Grounds and organizations such as the Society of Janus. If you're a person of color and want to explore in in BDSM without the white gaze, consider following groups like Kinky POC on Twitter and Black Kink Bay Area on Instagram and FetLife.
Sexpert & psychotherapist, Quandra Chaffers, presents Sass-y comments on love, health, and relationships--Comments too tangential or racy for the therapy room.