{#TransparentTuesday} Exploring BDSM

I’m taking a course right now on the psychology of kink

(specifically on dominance/submission, BDSM, and fetishes) for my clinical sexology program, and when I mentioned it on Instagram I got an explosion of interest in the topic!

For those who don’t know, BDSM stands for Domination/Submission, Bondage/Discipline, and Sadism/Masochism. It’s a huge umbrella term for people with alternative sexual interests and kinks to explore power exchange and other erotic fantasies, and there are whole BDSM communities built around people playing with their authentic erotic desires in a “safe, sane, and consensual” way.

It’s important to note that BDSM is not a one-size-fits-all gig. A person who enjoys being spanked might not enjoy being flogged or humiliated, and a person who enjoys being in control might not enjoy tying someone up. It’s very much a choose-your-own-adventure situation.

Everyone’s erotic fantasies are different (like fingerprints!) and there’s no “one way” to approach BDSM anymore than there’s “one way” to approach sex in general.

Now onto the fun part!

I loved taking this course, because it gave me the unique opportunity to explore my own authentic erotic desires and fantasies, through the lens of power exchange and kink.

Personally, what used to come to mind when I thought of BDSM was very specific, violent, and dungeon-y: high heels, black leather, whips, latex, whips, paddles, and chains.

That kind of imagery did not stoke my erotic fire. It does for many people, but it just made me feel tired and uncomfortable.

That’s not to say I don’t have my own unique erotic interests though. When I get honest (and I mean reeaaaallly honest) about my deepest sexual desires and fantasies, there’s some weird shit in there.

My professor believes that many people have a lifelong “kink orientation,” meaning the patterns, roles, and plot details found in our deepest erotic desires fantasies are often seen consistently throughout a lifetime. He considers fetishes to be as much a part of your sexual orientation as being gay or straight!

Take a “sexually submissive” person for example. She might have had fantasies about being dominated and ravished for as far back as she can remember– which means being allowed to step into a sexually submissive role or relationship isn’t about violence or oppression. It’s actually about expressing her authentic sexual self.

(Note: many women were curious how being a sexual submissive can coexist with modern feminist values, and I find this framework to be very helpful.)

Most of us ultimately land somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, not drawn toward a strong orientation of domination or submission for example, but maybe a bit interested in both, or neither. Some of us will find ourselves interested in altogether different kinks, such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, humiliation, romance, nature, groups, or feet.

The key to this exploration is looking for themes which have stuck with you from your earliest erotic fantasies.

Can you remember when you first became aware of your erotic desires and fantasies? Was there a particular story, character, role, or tone to your fantasies when you first became aware of them? Was someone else usually in charge of the situation, or were you? Can you see any themes emerging, details or patterns which your fantasies throughout life all have in common?

Personally I was surprised by what I found when I went spelunking around in my darkest erotic realm looking for patterns.

For example, I found domination.

Mind you I don’t want to punish or hurt anyone (I think I would be a shitty “top” all things considered) but I love being a generous partner, creating an experience for someone else, and using my empathy skills to tune into what they’re feeling and what they want. This is absolutely the role of a dominant!

I also fantasize about scenarios in which I have full-stop agency and autonomy (probably the result of feeling sexually powerless for so long), which means the other people involved aren’t allowed to touch me or make a move without my explicit consent. This sounds very much like a dominant’s role as well, giving instructions and permission as we go.

Plus I love praise, approval, and attention. Who doesn’t want to be worshipped?? In certain scenarios I can see how it would be erotic to have total power over someone who is in a submissive role, insofar as they worship me so much that I get to decide what happens between us.

All of these can be considered “domination” fantasies, even without violence, whips, or chains.

I also found submission in my own erotic landscape!

Not to men or with violence (I think I’m too morally opposed to that dynamic to ever find it erotic), but it was there as an erotic power dynamic.

Interestingly, instead of latex and ball-gags, my brain came up with fantasies that couldn’t exist anywhere in reality, like mind-control, and wizards. After all, if an alien mind-controls me into an orgasm, I can hardly be mad about The Patriarchy, right? 😉

That was a big part of my submissive fantasies, actually, it was a need to step completely outside of reality in order to play with them. Instead of real life dom/sub roles like teacher/student, I found complex interplay between gods/goddesses and humans and other magical beings.

And just like with the role of being dominant, I discovered that submission could be erotic without it needing to be painful or dark. Instead of dark dungeons I found airy beaches, lush forests, other planets, and sentient plants.

Sometimes I wasn’t even dominated physically in my fantasies, but rather I submitted after a battle of psychological wills (in which I was outpaced by someone smarter than me). But that’s still the role of a sexual submissive: to surrender, to give up control, to let someone else call the shots.

I found it fascinating that when I began this exploration for my class, I was sure I didn’t have a BDSM bone in my body (due to the violent and unappealing images I had in my mind of what that meant) but when I went searching with courage and honesty, both were there.

Kink isn’t just about props or costumes or violence. It’s about getting honest about your truest, deepest, and most authentic erotic desires and fantasies. It’s about facing and embracing your authentic sexual self, whoever that might be.

It’s about self-acceptance, in a powerful way.

Clearly I’m not particularly fetish-oriented, but these parts of our erotic psyche are deeply human, and most of us will find power exchange fantasies hiding somewhere, if we go exploring deeply enough.

In a lot of ways, erotic power play is our evolutionary heritage. Most mammals have some kind of organizing alpha-beta pecking order when it comes to power (represented by our natural calling toward dominance and submission), and the reptilian part of our evolution can be blamed for the parts of ourselves that still connect with a predator/prey dynamic (represented by sadism and masochism).

What happens for you, when you go exploring in the realm of your life-long authentic sexual self? What themes, patterns, and fantasies have always been there? Do you connect to dominance or submission or something else entirely?

And more importantly, can you accept and love and embrace whatever you find there?

<3
Jessi

Please follow and like us: