BDSM 101

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Bondage and Discipline

Bondage and discipline are two halves of a whole even if they don’t seem like they should go together. Bondage involves restraining the body while discipline restrains the mind. There’s a spectrum for each from light to heavy. Sex may or may not be a part of it. It all comes down to the personal preferences of you and your partner.

Bondage

Simply put, bondage is the consensual tying, binding, or restraining of your partner. The

purpose of the bindings can be to look nice, create sensations in the body, to be erotic, or some combination of all three. Bondage comes in many forms. It can be as complicated or as simple as you like. Handcuffs and silk scarves are as much a legitimate form of bondage as the more complex options like Shibari.

Forms of Bondage

Regardless of what you use to restrain your partner, the purpose behind the bondage can take several forms. It’s not always about kinky sex.


Erotic Bondage

Any bondage used in sex is erotic bondage. Some people find the act of restraining or being restrained erotic by itself even outside of sex which is also a form of erotic bondage.

Decorative Bondage

This type of bondage doesn’t serve a specific function. It is just pleasing to the eye. You’ll see this most often in photography, but it might also be used in places like at BDSM parties as a way to adorn a bottom who may being serving the party guests or to showcase a bottom as art or furniture during the event. (Yes, this really happens.)

Predicament Bondage

When a bottom is given two choices, both considered painful in some way, and they must choose the lesser of two evils, this is predicament bondage. An example is a bottom who is forced to balance on their tiptoes (which isn’t easy) or stand flat footed and painfully have their hair pulled because it’s bound by rope to a hook in the ceiling. There’s a chance, although not a requirement, that in a predicament like that, the top is probably a sadist and the bottom is a masochist.

Torture Bondage

Being tied up or bound in a way that’s painful or difficult to handle is torture bondage. If you’ve ever gone looking on the Internet, you’ve undoubtedly come across images of men and women bound with their arms behind them or their legs over their heads.

Sometimes you’ll see a woman’s breasts bound until they’re purple. It looks painful, and it probably is painful. Sometimes this is part of a sex act, but not always.

Materials and Methods Used in Bondage

Anything you can imagine can be used in bondage if it has the ability to lock, tie, or restrain someone physically. Metal, leather, latex, cloth, or rope are the most common materials. Rope bondage is probably the most popular in erotic photography and the most easily recognized.



Japanese bondage has become more popular over the years. The official practice is known as kinbaku which means to 'bind tight.' The other term you may be familiar with is shibari which simply means 'to bind.' You may see the terms used interchangeably but the term "shibari" is often used for any type of rope bondage, regardless of its purpose. Shibari is purely aesthetic while kinbaku is erotic. Both forms use thin rope made from hemp or jute to create a simple but intricate bondage pattern. Regardless of which term you use, Japanese bondage is probably the most easily recognized type of rope bondage.

Safety

Safety is paramount in all parts of the BDSM lifestyle but especially in bondage where blood circulation can be impaired or airways can be cut off. There are specific things to do and be mindful of so that everyone stays safe and healthy.


  • Always obtain consent. This is non-­negotiable.
  • Play sober. When you’re drunk or on drugs, your judgment is impaired. You won’t be able to make the best decisions for you or your partner.
  • Don't ever leave your bound partner alone.
  • Change positions at least once every hour to avoid issues with circulation.
  • Keep scissors nearby for a quick release in an emergency.
  • Use a safe word or action (if a gag is used).
  • Practice before play. Learn from others in the BDSM community and practice on stuffed animals or pillows before you engage in bondage on a real person. It is too easy to get hurt or hurt someone else when you don’t know what you’re doing.

Discipline

While it might not seem to go together with bondage, discipline is a form of mental restraint and can take many forms. Discipline requires a certain amount of training, self-control, obedience, willingness to follow rules, and acceptance of authority. Both partners have a role to play in this, and it’s not always easy to do.


Bottoms or submissives must be willing to do what they’re told, without question, when they’re given a command. They also have to be willing to follow implicit commands because they already know what’s expected of them based on previously established rules and expectations.

Failure to show discipline and obedience results in consequences, often in the form of punishment. If you’re a bottom or submissive, this might seem easy to do during kinky sex and become harder outside of the bedroom. Discipline, from your perspective, means you’re willing to follow rules and cede control of daily functions or actions to your partner. For tops or Dominants, the responsibility in discipline can be hard to bear. Consistency is the key to making sure rules are followed and consequences are doled out when they aren’t. Only you can decide if you can maintain discipline even when the rest of your life gets crazy and you aren’t sure if you have the time to devote to it.

Examples of Discipline

Discipline can take a variety of forms and be as simple or as complex as you choose to

negotiate for your specific situation. It can be sexual, service oriented, or a combination.

Mental bondage is the ability to assume a physical position and maintain it for a set amount of time or until released. Human furniture or art displays are examples of mental bondage. This can also be applied to something as simple as maintaining a specific position during kinky play, such as a spanking. This is harder than you think.

Rules are a form of discipline often created to nurture and care for a bottom or to help achieve personal goals or even a sense of empowerment. When to go to bed, what to wear, and how to address other people in the BDSM community are examples of rules that could be put in place.

Protocol is a manner of behavior to follow in specific situations like calling your Dominant "Sir" or not speaking without permission. In the local BDSM community, some protocols are followed when you first meet. At a munch or in the club, you may find that Dominants will not speak to a claimed submissive without permission or that all Dominants are to be addressed by a specific title, regardless of their relationship to you. Some people don’t care much about protocol, but some care very deeply and consider the use of proper protocol a sign of respect.

Consequences and Punishment

Just as with anything in BDSM, discipline and how it will work in your relationship must be

agreed upon from the beginning. The same is true for the consequences. You must give your consent to any and all activities ­ good or bad. If a possible consequence is a hard limit for you, it must be respected. Consequences for disobeying a top vary from person to person.

Some examples include:

  • Kneeling in the corner;
  • Having your mouth washed out with soap;
  • Not speaking to one another for a set amount of time;
  • Removal of privileges;
  • Spankings ­ for those who don't enjoy pain; or
  • Lack of spankings ­ for those who do enjoy it.;
Consequences are meant to be a deterrent from future bad behavior. They should be fairly unpleasant but never cause permanent damage or harm. The idea is that the rules will be followed to avoid the consequences or that one taste of a punishment will keep someone from breaking the rules in the future. It’s not unlike parenting, except that as an adult, you may be able to enjoy some kinky sex or a glass of wine after dealing with the consequences.


The way you play with bondage or discipline will look different than the next kinkster, and that’s okay. If you only like handcuffs or asking permission for orgasms during sex and no other time, you’re just as much into bondage and discipline as someone who will spend hours tying intricate knots and requiring their partner to ask permission to use the bathroom. The levels of play may vary, but as long as you have the full consent of your partner, nothing else matters.



Written by Kayla Lords
Profile Picture of Kayla Lords

Professional writer, sex blogger, erotic author, sexual submissive, and kinkster, Kayla writes more than is probably healthy over at A Sexual Being and overshares about the kinky and mundane side of her BDSM relationship. Her mission: to make BDSM, specifically Dominance and submission, less scary, less weird, and much more real and attainable for anyone willing to learn more.

 

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