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The World of S&M

The World of S&M | Jo Divine

Although people have been part of the world of Bondage, Discipline, Sadism & Masochism (BDSM) for years, Fifty Shades of Grey introduced the general public with toys ranging from the lighter end of the spectrum spankers and ‘jiggle balls’, heading right down to a spreader bar with ankle and wrist restraints.

Those who are part of the BDSM world will tell you that FSOG is nothing like their world, esepcially as consent plays heavily in their relationship s and sex play unlike the film and books.

What is Sadomasochism?

Sadomasochism is defined as the ‘receiving of pleasure from acts involving the infliction or reception of pain or humiliation’ and is a part of the Bondage, Discipline, Sadism & Masochism scene. The sadist is the one who enjoys giving pain and the masochist is the one who enjoys receiving pain; however, when engaging in S&M you can also be a ‘switch’ – someone who receives pleasure from either inflicting or receiving pain.

Is it normal to practice S&M?

S&M is more common than you probably think. Experts estimate one in five couples dabble and one in 20 engage in very serious play. You may not think you engage in S&M, but think again: have you ever pinned your partner’s wrists down or tugged on your partner’s hair during sex? Then you have already explored the lighter side of S&M and this desire is higher and lower in different people.

The tricky part is figuring out how—and if—you want to take it to the next level. However, it is important to point out that a big fallacy is that if you’re into S&M, it’s all you’re into, which is not always the case as many couples partake in S&M only occasionally. Many couples enjoy S&M because it is a form of escapism – letting you relinquish your everyday roles and breaking free from your normal routine.

How can I learn the basics?

To find out more about the world of S&M, you can attend introductory classes which cover all the basics, teach you how to set the scene and let you practise with different implements. Teachers offer advice to pupils to help them have a more knowledgeable and pleasurable S&M experience.

For example, one teacher advises pupils to warm up the buttocks by patting or rubbing them in a circular motion to ensure it is pleasurable rather than painful. Then she advises you to pick a safe word other than “stop” as it can be mistaken for being part of the submissive game. One professional dominatrix sees spanking as more than just a job and insists it can be good for you and has wonderful health benefits: “The spanker’s brain releases endorphins, as well as the spankee’s. It is very stress-relieving and exhilarating for both parties,” she says.

S&M clubs are a good way of meeting like-minded people in a non-judgemental and private setting. Indeed, the website of one London-based sadomasochism club states that they “accept people as they are and to listen to whatever fantasies or desires they have and fulfil them”. However, they strongly stress that this club does not allow members having sex at meetings, but instead advocates indulging in erotica up until that point.

When seeking out an S&M club, it is strongly advisable to do your research. Find out what level of sadomasochism the members are into, whether there is an opportunity for you to switch roles (if you desire) and what their policies on membership prices and rules actually entail. Look into whether there are introductory classes in your area, or run by the group, before deciding to commit to a new membership. Above all, know your own boundaries and always respect the boundaries of others.