BDSM versus Sex, part 2: How Does It Feel?

Every once in a while, someone will ask me a question about something BDSM-related that I feel “done with”; I feel like I did all my thinking about those topics, years ago. But it’s still useful to get those questions today, because it forces me to try and understand where my head was at, three to seven years ago. It forces me to calibrate my inner processes. I often think of these questions as the “simple” ones, or the “101” questions, because they are so often addressed in typical conversation among BDSMers. Then again, lots of people don’t have access to a BDSM community, or aren’t interested in their local BDSM community for whatever reason. Therefore, it’s useful for me to cover those “simple” questions on my blog anyway.

Plus, just because a question is simple doesn’t mean the question is not interesting.

One such question is the “BDSM versus sex” question. Is BDSM always sex? Is it always sexual? A lot of people see BDSM as something that “always” includes sex, or is “always sexual in some way”. In the documentary “BDSM: It’s Not What You Think!“, one famous BDSM writer is quoted saying something like: “I would say that eros is always involved in BDSM, even if the participants aren’t doing anything that would look sexual to non-BDSMers.”

But a lot of other people see BDSM, and the BDSM urge, as something that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with sex — that is separate from sex.

I see two sides to this question: the political side, and the “how does it feel?” side. Both sides are intertwined; when it comes to sex, politics can’t help shaping our experiences (and vice versa). I acknowledge this. And yet even when I try to account for that, there is still something deeply different about the way my body feels my BDSM urges, as opposed to how my body feels sexual urges. I don’t think that those bodily differences could ever quite go away, no matter how my mental angle on those processes changed.

I already wrote Part 1 of this post about the political side of this question. Now for Part 2 ….

The Embodied Side of BDSM versus Sex

Although Part 1 was all about how the divide between “BDSM” and “sex” is often nonsensical, or purely political, or socially constructed … that doesn’t mean that the divide does not exist. I once had a conversation about ignoring social constructs with a wise friend, who noted dryly that: “One-way streets are a social construct. That doesn’t mean we should ignore them.” Just because the outside world influences our sexuality, does not mean that our sexual preferences are invalid.

Some polyamorous BDSMers have very different rules about having sex with outsiders, as opposed to doing BDSM with outsiders. For example, during the time when I was considering a transition to polyamory, I myself had a couple relationships where we were sexually monogamous — yet my partners agreed that I could do BDSM with people who weren’t my partner. Those particular partners felt jealous and threatened by the idea of me having sex with another man, but they didn’t mind if I did BDSM with another man. Maybe the feelings of those partners only arose because they categorized “BDSM” and “sex” into weirdly different socially-constructed ways … but those partners’ feelings were nonetheless real, and their feelings deserved respect.

And there are also unmistakable ways that BDSM feels different from sex. There is something, bodily, that is just plain different about BDSM, as opposed to sex. I often find myself thinking of “BDSM feelings” and “sexual feelings” as flowing down two parallel channels in my head … sometimes these channels intersect, but sometimes they’re far apart. The BDSM urge strikes me as deeply different, separate, from the sex urge. It can be fun to combine BDSM and sex, but there are definitely times when I want BDSM that feel very unlike most times when I want sex.

The biggest political reason why it’s difficult to discuss this is the way in which we currently conceptualize sexuality through “orientations”: we have built a cultural “orientation model” focused on the idea that “acceptable” sexuality is “built-in”, or “innate”. Some BDSMers consider BDSM an “orientation” — and I, myself, once found that thinking of BDSM as an orientation was extremely helpful in coming to terms with my BDSM desires. But one thing I don’t like about the orientation model now is that it makes us sound like we’re apologizing. “Poor little me! It’s not my fault I’m straight! Or a domme! Whatever!” Why would any of these things be faults in the first place? Our bodies are our own, our experiences are our own, and our consent is our own to give.

The orientation model is one of the cultural factors that makes it hard to discuss sensory, sensual experiences without defaulting to sexuality. As commenter saurus pointed out on the Feministe version of part 1 of this post:

Sometimes I think that we have compulsions, needs or “fetishes” that aren’t sexual, but lumping them in with sexuality is sometimes the most convenient or socially manageable way to deal with them or get those needs met. They might even physically arouse us for a variety of reasons, but that might be a side effect instead of the act’s inherent nature. Which is not to say that every act can be cleanly cleaved into “sexual” and “non-sexual” — of course not. But I think we lack a language around these needs that doesn’t use sexuality. I see a lot of groundbreaking work coming out of the asexual and disability justice communities in this regard (which is just to say that I find the folks in these groups are churning out some incredible ways to “queer” conventional dominant ideas about sexuality; not that they never have sex or whatever).

I think one answer to that is to just open up the definition of sexuality to include these things, but as someone who identifies vehemently not as “sex positive” but as “sex non-judgmental”, I know I don’t personally want all my shit to be lumped in with sexuality. It just makes me picture some sex judgmental person insisting that “oh, that’s totally sexual.”

I, Clarisse, can certainly attest that it’s common for people to have BDSM encounters that are “just” BDSM — “no sex involved”. For example — an encounter where one partner whips the other, or gets whipped, and there’s no genital contact or even discussion of genitals. (I’ve written about such encounters several times, like in my post on communication case studies.) And I’d like to stress that when I have encounters like that, they can be very satisfying without involving sex. The release — the high — I get from a heavy BDSM encounter can be its own reward.

I’ve also had BDSM encounters where I got turned on …

…but I didn’t feel turned on until later, or afterwards, or until my partner did something specific to draw out my desire. For example — I remember that in one intense BDSM encounter as a domme, I wound up the encounter and pulled away from my partner. We had both been sitting down; I stood up and took off the metal claws I’d been using to rip him up. (Secretly, the claws were banjo picks. Do-It-Yourself BDSM is awesome.)

Then I leaned over my partner to pick something up. I had thought we were pretty much done, but he seized me as I leaned over, and he pulled me close and kissed my neck, and I literally gasped in shock. My sexual desire spiked so hard … I practically melted into his arms. And yet if you’d asked me, moments before, whether I was turned on … I would have said “no”.

One way to think about it might be that sometimes, BDSM “primes” me so that I’m more receptive to sexual energy. It’s not that BDSM is exactly a sexual turn-on in itself; sometimes it is, but that’s actually surprisingly rare. Yet BDSM often … gets my blood flowing? … and seems to “open the floodgates”, so sexual hormones can storm through my body.

And just in case this wasn’t complex enough for you … on the other hand, I’ve had BDSM encounters where my partner tried to take it sexual, and I wasn’t interested. It’s almost like there’s a BDSM cycle that I often get into, and once the cycle is sufficiently advanced, I can’t easily shift out of it.

Sometimes, when I’m near the “peak” of the BDSM cycle, then being interrupted for any reason — sex, or anything else — is absolutely horrible. I’d rather be left on the edge of orgasm, burning with sexual desire, than be hurt until I almost cry. The emotion becomes a stubborn lump in my throat; becomes balled up in my chest. At times like that, it almost feels hard to breathe.

A while back, a reporter named Mac McClelland who worked in Haiti made a splash by writing an article about how she used “violent sex” to ease her Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I briefly reported on the article for Feministe, but at the time, I didn’t share many of my thoughts about what she wrote. One thing I did say was that the reporter didn’t use any BDSM terminology — at least not that I spotted. She didn’t seem to conceptualize her desire for “violent sex” as a BDSM thing at all. Interestingly, a Feministe commenter named Jadey, who has experience with kink, also didn’t conceptualize the reporter’s article that way. Jadey wrote:

I don’t think she’s bad or wrong, and I don’t think her method of coping with her PTSD is bad or wrong. … [Yet] I’ve got a kink/BDSM background, but that’s not what she’s describing here. She’s talking about something far different, and I can’t understand the experience she describes with Isaac. It is … incomprehensible.

I want to stress here that I, Clarisse Thorn, have never been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (And I’ve undergone plenty of analysis, so I’m sure that if I had PTSD, someone would have noticed by now.) And just in case it needs to be said again, I’ll also stress that I have no intention of telling anyone else how to define their own experiences. And just in case it needs to be said again, there is a big difference between consenting BDSM and abuse; here is an article I’ve written about the distinction between consenting BDSM and abuse.

But unlike Jadey, when I read the original “violent sex” article, the reporter’s description of her encounter sounded a lot like some of my preferences … indeed, it sounded like some of the BDSM encounters I’ve had. For example, the reporter writes:

“Okay,” my partner said. “I love you, okay?” I said, I know, okay. And with that he was on me, forcing my arms to my sides, then pinning them over my head, sliding a hand up under my shirt when I couldn’t stop him. The control I’d lost made my torso scream with anxiety; I cried out desperately as I kicked myself free. … When I got out from under him and started to scramble away, he simply caught me by a leg or an upper arm or my hair and dragged me back. By the time he pinned me by my neck with one forearm so I was forced to use both hands to free up space between his elbow and my windpipe, I’d largely exhausted myself.

And just like that, I’d lost. It’s what I was looking for, of course. But my body — my hard-fighting, adrenaline-drenched body — reacted by exploding into terrible panic. … I did not enjoy it in the way a person getting screwed normally would. But as it became clear that I could endure it, I started to take deeper breaths. And my mind stayed there, stayed present even when it became painful …. My body felt devastated but relieved; I’d lost, but survived. After he climbed off me, he gathered me up in his arms. I broke into a thousand pieces on his chest, sobbing so hard that my ribs felt like they were coming loose.

… Isaac pulled my hair away from my wet face, repeating over and over and over something that he probably believed but that I had to relearn. “You are so strong,” he said. “You are so strong. You are so strong.”

Sounds extremely familiar to me.

Now, it’s not like I have BDSM encounters like that all the time; indeed, experiences of that type are relatively rare for me. But the reporter’s description doesn’t sound “far different” from what I’ve experienced. Certainly not “incomprehensible”. There’s only one big difference, actually: I’ve never had such an intense BDSM experience in which my partner also had penis-in-vagina sex with me. (I’m assuming the reporter means “penis-in-vagina” sex when she talks about “getting screwed”, but I could be wrong.)

Honestly, I’m not sure why I would want to combine vaginal sex with an experience like that. Vaginal sex strikes me, personally, as kinda incidental to what I’d get out of it. But maybe I’ll try it sometime and it’ll be the greatest thing in the world; we’ll see, I guess.

Sometimes I find that I’ve still got a “BDSM versus sex” distinction to work out, although I seem to have comfortably settled into the frameworks I’ve created. One of my very first blog entries, back in 2008, was called “Casual Sex? Casual Kink?“, and I spent the whole thing musing about whether I was more or less okay with casual BDSM than I was with casual sex.

These days, I find that I’m kinda okay with both casual sex and casual BDSM, but I much prefer those experiences within intimate relationships. Make no mistake, my friends: BDSM can include a great deal of love and connection … at least as much as sex.

To hammer the point home, let me tell you about what happened after I broke up with a much-beloved ex-boyfriend: Mr. Inferno. It was back when I was very focused on being monogamous with my partners. Mr. Inferno broke up with me, and a month or two later I had the chance to have an overnight BDSM encounter with another man, so I took it. There was no genital contact; the whole encounter was limited to this guy giving me orders, and hurting me until I cried.

But I remember, even as I slipped into the familiar emotional cycle, that I couldn’t let go: I couldn’t let go because I felt like I was betraying Mr. Inferno. He’d broken my heart, but on some level I felt like I still belonged to him. It was wrong, wrong, wrong for me to cry in someone else’s arms. The wrongness rang through me like a bell. It was so impossible, unbearable — all I could think was how it should have been Mr. Inferno. I choked on the tears. I couldn’t lose myself in them.

Later, I mentioned to my partner that one of my ex-boyfriends (not Mr. Inferno) had trouble dealing with my BDSM desires. “Ah,” my partner said. “That explains why you had trouble letting yourself cry.” I decided to nod; to let him think he knew what was blocking me off. It seemed simpler.

In the morning, I had breakfast with my partner. We hugged and split up, and I went for a walk until I found a local creek. I sat next to the creek and I closed my eyes and I let the helpless tears slip down my cheeks.

I’d felt (and I’d known others who felt) this way after the dissolution of a sexual relationship. But I had never imagined that such a reaction of intense bodily loyalty could apply to BDSM as well as sex. I hadn’t anticipated that I’d feel such heartbreaking, visceral loss just because I let another man hurt me.

So different, and yet so the same.

About Clarisse Thorn

Clarisse Thorn is a Chicago-based, feminist, sex-positive activist and educator. Personal blog at clarissethorn.com; follow her on Twitter @clarissethorn; you can also buy her awesome book about pickup artists or her awesome best-of collection, The S&M Feminist.
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20 Responses to BDSM versus Sex, part 2: How Does It Feel?

  1. Fat Steve says:

    I have a very stupid and naive question as I have no experience, knowledge or even reliable third hand information on BDSM, apart from when I read your posts on here, which always leave me with so many queries. I’m so hesitant, because my ignorance is such that I have no idea if I’m saying something that would cause offense. So please, feel free to delete this question or ignore it, if it offends you in anyway.

    I suppose I am what you would call VERY ‘vanilla.’ It’s not that I don’t have an active libido, I just get a lot of enjoyment out of the simple stuff. But I find the same stuff sexy in the bedroom (meaning any place you’re having sex privately) as out of the bedroom and it seems like with BDSM there is a dividing line. For example if I’m out to dinner with my wife and she’s dressed in a way that shows off her curves I find that very sexy, and when we’re in the bedroom I find her curves just as sexy. However if we were out to dinner and she was humiliated in someway, I would be absolutely gutted. But if you get sexual pleasure out of humiliating your partner in the bedroom, would you be finding it sexy if he/she was humiliated in public? I know it’s a stupid question and like I said, you don’t have to answer, but I just wonder how one manages to compartmentalize that sort of thing.

  2. Andy says:

    The type of “humiliation” that occurs in BDSM is pretty far removed from the type of humiliation that occurs when, say, you’re walking on the street and you trip and fall flat on your face. It’s not akin to your wife wearing revealing clothes in the bedroom and then her wearing them on the street. It’s more along the lines of your wife wearing revealing clothes in the bedroom and then wearing revealing clothes on the street because an escaped tiger ran by and ripped them off her. At which point, I’d think you’d be more concerned with getting the scratches tended to than precisely how high her new, tiger-improved hemline was.

    The reasoning behind WHY your wife is in revealing clothes/being humiliated and the precise quality of the clothes/humiliation is usually pretty central.

  3. Tina S says:

    After reading this, I just feel like people like the author need to go find all the domestic abusers out there and pair up with them. Seems like a perfect match of those who like to exert power over others and those who love the people who hurt them.

  4. I approved Tina’s comment above so that y’all could see what ignorant anti-BDSM actually looks like.

    Also: way to tell me what I want, and way to define my experiences for me, Tina! You’re such a great feminist. /sarcasm

    Anyone who is interested in the EXTREMELY LARGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONSENTING BDSM AND ABUSE is welcome to read this old post from me:
    Thinking More Clearly About BDSM versus Abuse

  5. saurus says:

    Fat Steve:
    I have a very stupid and naive question as I have no experience, knowledge or even reliable third hand information on BDSM, apart from when I read your posts on here, which always leave me with so many queries. I’m so hesitant, because my ignorance is such that I have no idea if I’m saying something that would cause offense. So please, feel free to delete this question or ignore it, if it offends you in anyway.

    I suppose I am what you would call VERY ‘vanilla.’ It’s not that I don’t have an active libido, I just get a lot of enjoyment out of the simple stuff. But I find the same stuff sexy in the bedroom (meaning any place you’re having sex privately) as out of the bedroom and it seems like with BDSM there is a dividing line. For example if I’m out to dinner with my wife and she’s dressed in a way that shows off her curves I find that very sexy, and when we’re in the bedroom I find her curves just as sexy. However if we were out to dinner and she was humiliated in someway, I would be absolutely gutted. But if you get sexual pleasure out of humiliating your partner in the bedroom, would you be finding it sexy if he/she was humiliated in public? I know it’s a stupid question and like I said, you don’t have to answer, but I just wonder how one manages to compartmentalize that sort of thing.

    To put it another way, if you’re a kid, playing that you’re doing battle with a fire-breathing dragon might be super fun. But if you magically transform that fire-breathing dragon into a real creature, that kid is gonna be traumatized. It’s not fun anymore. It’s terrifying.

    Sometimes a fantasy isn’t a concession – i.e., wanting a situation to actually come true but “making do” with a cheap imitation – rather, sometimes it’s wanting to enact a version of a situation in which the variables are controlled; a situation that can’t come true because if it did, it wouldn’t be good anymore…it would be scary and awful.

    Likewise, I might be into certain types of “kinky” (I hate that word and the whole concept, actually) roleplay, but I can say genuinely that if someone exhibited the same behaviors out of the bedroom I would not be into it. Largely because I do not walk around everyday in a state of sexual excitement in which I’m receptive to such behavior, but also because while I’m happy to minister to a fantasy douchebag, I am not at all inclined to humor a real one.

    My partner is the same way – maybe he’s into the idea of watching me be humiliated in a bedroom context. But he also cares about me, and with him knowing what I’ve been through in the past with negative sexual situations, if he saw this happening to me and knew I wasn’t into it, he’d be horrified. In fact, even in the bedroom, if he thinks I’m not 100% into what’s happening, he’s horrified. Which is as it should be, I think!

    Anyway, this is not to say that what you want in the bedroom is always completely disconnected from what you want outside of it – sometimes I worry, for example, that a partner whose tastes are heavily informed by mainstream heterosexual cisgendered porn may have some funny ideas about a woman’s role that extend beyond (or leak into) the bedroom. But I do know that it’s possible for the two to be separate.

    Thanks for the namedrop btw, Clarisse.

  6. Fat Steve says:

    @Andy
    I didn’t even mean that type of severe humiliation. I meant anything that made her feel embarrassed or even when I’m in a totally douchy mood and find making a comment in which I say something to make her feel bad and I see the look on her face, I immediately get emotional pain from that, not pleasure.

    @saurus
    That is a really helpful explanation. I suppose I wasn’t the sort of kid who imagined doing battle with dragons. I was the sort of kid who thought Star Wars was really boring. (Not to imply that I had intellectually superior highbrow tastes or anything, I just preferred comedies, like anything with the original SNL cast in it or Richard Pryor/ Gene Wilder films or even Burt Reynolds but with real people, set on Earth.)
    I suppose I really am the most boring person. When I was 8 I decided I wanted to be on the radio, and thats what I do for a living now, and when I was somewhere in my pre-adolescence I decided I’d like to have sex with a female, and that is what I do in the bedroom (some sleeping occurs as well.) Ironically, no one I know would refer to me as boring because just because I have the somewhat rare ability of talking absolute shit in a humorous way.
    Thanks for the

  7. Fat Steve says:

    ooops my last point got cut off… I wanted to thank Clarisse for not making me the example of the ignorant anti-BDSM shithead.

  8. Well, you made it easy by not being that example ;)

  9. Anon for this one says:

    Interesting… for me, BDSM is always sexual. Without sex, to me, there would be no point… I don’t get anything out of it other than sexual gratification. I wonder if that’s an individual thing, or if S/M is different from D/S that way. Interesting to hear a different perspective :)

  10. Rachel says:

    @ fat steve

    Let me preface this by saying I’m still a bdsm newb, and I’ve experimented almost exclusively with my primary partner, my gf, and we have a monagamish relationship. k

    so, what I think you’re asking is: If one person likes to be hurt or humiliated (yup :) and the other likes to hurt and/or humiliate (indeed) doesn’t that play out outside the bedroom.

    I think the answer is complex. I think it can, but not in the ways you might expect. In my (admittedly quite limited) experience, folks who play put a lot of time and energy into establishing boundaries and limits. So, that’s the easy answer.

    I’ve only played a little tiny bit outside my relationship, and the people I played with were careful to delineate the difference between playing and not.

    Now, within my relationship, it does come out of the bedroom sometimes. I like being bossed around, my gf is a newbie domme. Sometimes she totally tells me what to do. And I like it. Is that our relationship all the time? Heck no! Outside the bedroom, I have a pretty damned forceful personality. So am I meekly following orders 24/7? Nope. So, its complex. The easy answer is that you draw a line between play and not. That’s simple if you’re not in a relationship, but if you are the lines blur a bit. The harder answer is that you have to also look at underlying motives.

    My gf is a sadist, so, it certainly excites her to hurt me. But she’s also giving me something I want and need, and its clear to her that this is the case, or she wouldn’t be doing it. So is she mean to me in the world? Heck no. This is a woman who, when we’re on a bus, grabs the bar with one hand and wraps the other arm around my waist and whispers into my ear, “I got you.” She helps me put my coat on and pulls out my chairs. She treats me really really well.

    Its the same impulse. Its enacted differently. The best dommes I’ve met (again, only a few) were incredibly gentle, kind people in the day to day. It’s the act of giving them permission to top that allows them to do so, just like giving myself permission to bottom lets me do that. Hope that makes sense.

  11. Aydan says:

    This was an interesting read– I know (or know of) several asexual people who are into BDSM or kink, so I have thought of BDSM as not-necessarily-sexual for a while. Interesting to see another take on the topic.

    Thanks especially for reposting this, which I had not seen but with which I strongly agree:

    “Sometimes I think that we have compulsions, needs or “fetishes” that aren’t sexual, but lumping them in with sexuality is sometimes the most convenient or socially manageable way to deal with them or get those needs met. They might even physically arouse us for a variety of reasons, but that might be a side effect instead of the act’s inherent nature.”

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  13. Sophia says:

    @Fat Steve

    I know a few people have already answered your question, but I’ll chime in with my perspective too.

    I personally often get off on being humiliated in bed by my partner, but in my day to day life I’m a very shy person and find embarrassing situations to be really awful for me – not sexy in the slightest. Like others have said, it’s a matter of choice and consent. When I’m being kinky in bed with my boyfriend I’m choosing to be insulted by someone I love and trust because I’m turned on by it, but when it happens randomly in public it’s completely non-sexual and unpleasant. Similarly, if he was to do anything humiliating to me in public or when we weren’t having sex, then I would be extremely pissed off rather than aroused, because I would feel like he was disrespecting me and ignoring my boundaries.

    To give a vanilla analogy, you may find it super sexy to make out with your partner. But if you were randomly kissed by a weird acquaintance or if your partner started making out with you during a completely inappropriate time (say in the middle of your workplace), then you would probably feel pissed off rather than aroused.

  14. jemand says:

    @Fat Steve… Here is one additional perspective that applies for me. I think it’s because sometimes I fantasize about voyeurism, that I’ve considered even everyone who sees an incident of BDSM or sex (or both) as participants in some way.

    So, anything that feels like it could scratch a BDSM itch in public would make me feel VERY uncomfortable that I was bringing nonconsenting individuals into my private sex play, by making them watch. If it is something very minor that wouldn’t be recognized as sex OR BDSM to an observer, and if it wouldn’t be upsetting to anyone watching, then I would be ok with it, but watching someone get humiliated in public CAN be upsetting for a lot of people.

  15. Foglet says:

    I find the comment about lacking a language which incorporates bodily desire and need without sexual language to be very helpful. For me both sexuality and kink are about exploring the limits of the pleasures my body can experience. Sex without kink for me is often an uncomfortable experience, an uncomfortability which for much of my life I lacked any sort language to describe and still struggle with. Sex for most of my life was mechanically going through the motions. For me, kink opened up possibilities to break through barriers within myself and has expanded my (sexual) possibilities. However, this is not to say that kink is merely a means to an end as I often have pleasurable kink encounters with nothing that would be considered traditionally sex. I’d much rather talk about pleasure and bodies without reference to specific acts when thinking about my own experience, but it’s difficult.

    I go back and forth with the language to use for myself. panromantic kinky-asexual works in the sense that sex on it’s own is so unimportant for me. I like to be close to others I care about and cuddle and kiss, but that’s about it most of the time. However, what I get from kink can provide that space to experience my and my partner’s body comfortably even if it incorporates sex. But if I can do sexy things can I claim asexual? Is demisexual or variations thereupon more accurate? Are more identities the solution, like an identity soup? Language is difficult and sometimes I feel like I’m just qualifying my own existence.

    Posts like this make me feel better knowing others are just as fucking confused as me. Thanks.

  16. LC says:

    clarisse, I really found this an interesting read. Like Foglet, I find the comment about needing a language more divorced from the sexual rings true.

    My BDSM is almost always mixed in with sex, but it doesn’t have to be. I do think there is an intensity level for me that requires a more intimate relationship, and in my life, those have mostly been sexual ones. This may be throwing the curve off, if you will.

  17. Fat Steve says:

    Having thrown that curveball, I’ll steer this back to the BDSM vs Sex thing. The problem I would think is not the nebulous definition of BDSM, it’s the nebulous definition of sex. I have spoken to men (not friends, on my radio show…it was a topic that came up one day and we had a surprising number of calls,) who’ve talked about occasionally having their female partner use a strap-on dildo to, for want of a better phrase, f–k them up the arse and also to women who’ve done the deed. The men always say they like it as part of sex, they say it feels good and makes them come. Whereas the women pretty much all say they enjoy the power/domination/humiliation. One woman especially made me think it was about humiliation, when she told us she would say things like ‘you love it when I f–k you, you little bitch, don’t you?’

    Are the guys just lying or can one partner be having ‘sex’ and one doing ‘BDSM’ all in the same act?

  18. Steve, context is everything. For example, I identify as a masochist; I like pain. But only in the right context, with the right connection with my partner so I can process it in a way that does something for me that I like. If I stub my toe or get a headache, I don’t like it any more than anyone else. Humiliation works about the same, for me. Certain kinds, in the specific contexts that work for me, can be great, but other kinds are no more fun for me than they would be for you.

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  20. Tina S, your comments are on moderation because despite the fact that you claim to be just asking questions about BDSM, you are taking a highly judgmental tone, and it’s clear that you have made no effort to understand anti-BDSM stigma.

    Despite this, some of the questions you are asking are interesting and legitimate and important questions. But I won’t clear your comments until you think about how to ask them in a less judgmental, adversarial way.

    The reason for this is not because I’m “engaging less in discussion than a conversation with only the like-minded”, as you accuse at the end of your currently-moderated comment. It’s because I’m extremely familiar with how these conversations usually go, especially on the Internet. I know what will and won’t lead to a flamewar, and frankly I am out of patience for flamewars. You can read my previous threads for examples of why.

    An example of a turn of phrase that is guaranteed to lead to a boring and nonproductive flamewar:
    “Embracing masochism sounds like an anti-feminist position to take.”

    If you’re actually willing to learn, then perhaps you’ll read my old post on 5 Sources of Assumptions and Biases About S&M. You’re welcome to try commenting again later, if you’re willing to actually check your language and assumptions.
    http://clarissethorn.com/blog/2010/04/19/5-sources-of-assumptions-and-stereotypes-about-sm/

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