50 Shades of BDSM For Beginners

50 Shades of BDSM For Beginners

When the 50 Shades of Grey novels first started becoming popular, some of my friends who are in theBDSM scene (and have been for years) were excited that their particular brand of play was getting some national attention. But that joy quickly faded when they realized something– while housewives all over the country were getting their jollies off on these books, they weren’t portraying realistic, and, more importantly, healthy BDSM relationships.

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Also, grey’s not really the right color.

I mean, you gotta feel for them. Suddenly, other women we knew who were too sheepish and shy to buy vibrators or who condemned our own openness about sex were wearing t-shirts declaring themselves, ‘Subs,’ and claiming they were looking for their Mr. Grey. The whole thing felt a little icky in the beginning, but on the other hand, it’s hard not to be happy that these women are finding something sexually expressive that entices them.

First of all, let’s clear up some common misconceptions:

1. BDSM is not about abuse. It is a fantasy to indulge in that doesn’t hold sway in the world outside of the scene. Being in a relationship that uses BDSM during sexual encounters does not give you the right to abuse your partner physically, mentally, or emotionally outside of the scene. And if your partner is using it to abuse YOU outside of the scene, don’t be an Ana. Get help, get out of that relationship. No one EVER has the right to hurt you without your consent, and we aren’t just talking physical abuse here. Even if you have consented to a BDSM relationship in the past, you do not have to put up with abuse.

2. BDSM is not about pain. It’s about power. Pain may be a popular ingredient in BDSM play because it’s an easy way to demonstrate power and it gets the blood pumping, but it isn’t the only way to power-play. Have you ever had a partner stop right when you were about to orgasm, just to draw out your pleasure on their own terms? Have you have worn a blindfold while your partner teases you? In both cases, your partner would be practicing power over you. Both of these things fall under the umbrella of BDSM. It’s not all about whips and chains.

3. People who enjoy BDSM don’t have something wrong with them. Unlike Christian Grey’s reasoning for being a complete douchebag, a history of abuse does not make someone more likely to enjoy BDSM. People in the BDSM community come from all walks of life and have had as wide a variety of experiences as folks in any other community. They don’t have a mental illness. Subs aren’t always weak and doms aren’t always assholes outside of the scene. Just like any other fetish, it’s simply something some people find exciting and isn’t indicative of their mental status or past.

If you are new to the lifestyle (and especially if you found your way to it through these particular novels), welcome. After consulting some friends from the community, I’ve come up with some tips for beginners that 50 Shades won’t teach you.

1. Participate in scenes with people or a person that you know and trust really well. Even if it’s a long term partner, your first few scenes shouldn’t be too trying. Many experts suggest staying away from anything that has to do with someone being restrained until you build up a complete trust in your partner.

2. Discuss everything beforehand. It seems that in the books, Christian and Ana get into quite a few scenes before discussing what’s cool and what’s not. While they may eventually go over their hard and soft limits, their first few encounters are still some big BDSM no-nos. Before taking off your clothes, talk about what’s going to happen, what you would like to happen, what’s completely off limits, and even decide on a safeword or scale to indicate to your partner if things are cool.

3. Especially if you or your partner are beginners, ease yourself into it. Don’t go all out during your first scene– that’s a good recipe for hurt feelings or even worse. Depending on experiences and tastes, some people might feel more comfortable using our Slap and Tickle Set, but others might be ready to jump into Weighted Nipple Clamps and the Fantasy Whip. Also, doms, a good rule of thumb is to try everything out on yourself first so you can understand the degree to which you may be hurting your sub.

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