BDSM 101

Share this:

Sadism and Masochism

Whether you call it sadism and masochism, sadomasochism, or S&M (I'm looking at you, Rihanna), this branch of BDSM is possibly the most misunderstood element. Deemed a psychiatric disease by Sigmund Freud in 1905 with its name derived from the Marquis de Sade, a man seemingly uninterested in consent, sadomasochism can be the most violent of all BDSM activities and is fraught with the most danger.

What Is S&M?

Sadists and masochists derive sexual pleasure from pain, either physical or emotional. The sadist enjoys giving pain, while the masochist enjoys receiving it. Typically sadists are the tops (or Dominants in D/s), and masochists are bottoms (or submissives). Contrary to popular belief, not all sadomasochism play ends in sex ­ even though it's a turn­-on for the players ­ nor is it a "requirement" in D/s relationships.


If you're a sadist, you might enjoy dishing out pain, degradation, humiliation, or anything to cause the suffering of your willing and consenting masochist. As a masochist, you might enjoy feeling physical pain, being humiliated, or simply suffering for your top or Dominant. For outsiders looking in, sadomasochism can be hard to take. Tears, bruises, and marks are common. Many masochists (myself included) see the bruises or marks as trophies and badges of honor of having both enjoyed and endured something difficult.

Different Types of Play

As I said before, sadomasochism can involve physical or emotional pain. The physical is most common and ranges along a wide spectrum of activities:


  • Nipple and clitoral clamps;
  • Cock and ball torture;
  • Wax play;
  • Knife play, which may or may not involve blood being drawn;
  • Bondage in order to cause pain. ­Breast bondage is a classic example. The breasts are bound tightly, causing blood to pool. When the bonds are released, the returning circulation can be excruciating;
  • Forced Orgasms: ­ one orgasm is nice, two are better, but multiple orgasms from sensitive genitalia can be painful; or
  • Spankings: ­ for some in the BDSM lifestyle, spankings are an element of punishment and discipline for bad behavior, but in sadomasochism, they serve another purpose entirely.
If it causes pain, and you and your partner enjoy it, you can add it to the physical sadomasochist column, even if you don't find it on common lists.

On the other side of things, humiliation and degradation are a form of emotional S&M play. A sadist may use derogatory language towards the masochist such as ­ "fat," "stupid," "ugly." Other forms include begging, being treated like an animal or piece of furniture, slapping of the face, kissing or licking feet, and much, much more. If a person finds it humiliating, it may be included, even if a casual observer wouldn't recognize it as such.

Consent and Safety

What separates the sadist from an abuser who belongs in jail is one word: consent. Like all elements of BDSM, full communication and disclosure are a requirement for safe S&M play. A safeword should be available for use at all times, and when a bottom or submissive is unable to communicate verbally (most common with gagging), a hand signal or some other device should be used. Sadomasochism has the potential for both physical and emotional injury and should not be entered into lightly.

For those new to S&M, no activity should begin without some prior knowledge or training. For example, if you've never used a flogger, your partner's bottom or back are not the first place to try it out. Meet with local people in the lifestyle at a BDSM club, watch videos online, and practice on a pillow before you ever try something out on a person.

Responsible sadists in the BDSM lifestyle understand the importance of consent and do not engage in any activity without it. Masochists have a responsibility to bring forth their concerns and/or medical history so that they are not unintentionally harmed by the physical or emotional pain that's being inflicted. Someone with past abuse who finds themselves triggered in certain situations will need to disclose that so that their top doesn't engage in anything that could trigger an episode.

It's good for anyone in BDSM, but especially sadists and masochists, to become certified in first aid and CPR. Even with excellent preparation, plenty of communication, and extensive knowledge, things can and do go wrong during playtime or a scene. Knowing what to do in an emergency can save a person's life.

Although bruises and marks are a badge of honor for many masochists and rough, physical play often becomes loud and sounds angry, do not think your consent will be accepted in a local courtroom or by the police. Be mindful of when and where you play. If you've got nosy neighbors or thin walls, and they think abuse is happening, they might call the cops. Depending on where you live, even the appearance of abuse could land you in jail. Play safe and smart.

For those of us who enjoy it, sadism and masochism heightens sexual pleasure. Understand, though, just because we like kinky pain doesn't mean we enjoy other forms of pain. Personally, I love a good spanking, flogging, smack on the cheek, and nipple pinch. I will cry like a baby if I step on a Lego in the middle of the night or stub my toe on the corner of the couch. It's not the same kind of pain at all. With that, I leave you with one last thought ­ a classic S&M joke:

"Hurt me, hurt me!" cries the masochist.

The sadist replies, "No."

I know of no better description of sadism and masochism than that.



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.

 

Connect with us