Limits (BDSM)

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A submissive man is consoled by his mistress after she has made his back bloody through massive beating. Femdom bloody back.jpg
A submissive man is consoled by his mistress after she has made his back bloody through massive beating.

In BDSM, limits refer to issues that participants in a play scene or dynamic feel strongly about, usually referring to prohibited activities. Participants typically negotiate an outline of what activities will and will not take place. The participants describe what they desire, do not desire, will and will not tolerate, including the determination of limits. For example, it is common to set a safeword and to establish certain types of play as prohibited.

Contents

The BDSM usage of the terminology "limits" derives from the concept of "off limits", the idea of limiting a scene to a specific set of activities, and the limitations (in terms of interest, as well as physical and emotional tolerance) of the participants.

Setting limits

Both dominants and submissives can set limits. [1] Limits can be agreed to verbally or they can be incorporated into a formal contract. Sometimes the participants engage in a formal conversation about limits and boundaries; this is referred to as negotiation. Other couples discuss their likes and dislikes in a similar manner to "Vanilla" relationships.

"No limits"

Some partners choose not to set limits. This is commonly seen in total power exchange dynamics, consensual non-consent, and edgeplay. This practice is considered "Risk-aware consensual kink". Those favoring the approach suggest that limits are either wishful thoughts which can never be reliably enforced, or sometimes, just deceptions in order to find acceptance by society.

Types of limits

The terminology varies slightly across different local communities and Internet forums. However, there are general usages recognized across most BDSM populations.

Hard limit

A hard limit is something that must not be done. Violating a hard limit is often considered a just cause for ending a scene or even a relationship. Examples include “scat is a hard limit for me” or “I have a back injury, so striking on the back is a hard limit”.

Soft limit

A soft limit is something that a person hesitates about or places strict conditions on, but for which they may still give informed consent. An action could be prohibited except under specific circumstances or an area of discomfort that someone wishes to avoid. Soft limits can also include actions that require a cautious approach or — while somewhat appealing — still generate an uncomfortable amount of apprehension in one or more partners.

Requirement limit

A requirement limit, or must-limit, is something without which one or more partners will not participate in the scene. Examples include “lots of hair pulling is a must-limit for me” or “if you’re going to flog me, I’ll need lots of aftercare.”

Time limit

A time limit is a set time period for which an activity or temporary relationship takes place. This is most common for scenes and casual play.

Some couples practice time limitations for relationships. They can be used to set time limits on phases of relationships, such as training or consideration.

See also

Further reading

Related Research Articles

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Human sexual activity Human behaviour that is sexually motivated

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Consensual crime

A consensual crime is a public-order crime that involves more than one participant, all of whom give their consent as willing participants in an activity that is unlawful. Legislative bodies and interest groups sometimes rationalize the criminalization of consensual activity because they feel it offends cultural norms, or because one of the parties to the activity is considered a "victim" despite their informed consent.

The fundamental principles for the exercise of BDSM require that it be performed with the informed consent of all parties. Since the 1980s, many practitioners and organizations have adopted the motto safe, sane and consensual, commonly abbreviated SSC, which means that everything is based on safe activities, that all participants are of sufficiently sound mind to consent, and that all participants do consent. It is mutual consent that makes a clear legal and ethical distinction between BDSM and such crimes as sexual assault and domestic violence.

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Sexual roleplay Sexual and other interactions of people playing type roles

Sexual roleplay is roleplay that has a strong erotic element. It may involve two or more people who act out roles in order to bring to life a sexual fantasy and may be a form of foreplay and be sexually arousing. Many people regard sexual roleplay as a means of overcoming sexual inhibitions. It may take place in the real world, or via an internet forum, chat-room, video-game, or email—allowing for physically or virtually impossible erotic interests to be enacted.

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Risk-aware consensual kink

Risk-aware consensual kink is an acronym used by some of the BDSM community to describe a philosophical view that is generally permissive of certain risky sexual behaviors, as long as the participants are fully aware of the risks. This is often viewed in contrast to safe, sane, and consensual which generally holds that only activities that are considered safe, sane, and consensual are permitted.

Glossary of BDSM Wikipedia glossary

This glossary of BDSM terms defines terms commonly used in the BDSM community.

Dominance and submission Erotic roleplay involving the submission of one person to another

Dominance and submission is a set of behaviours, customs, and rituals involving the submission of one person to another in an erotic episode or lifestyle. It is a subset of BDSM. This form of sexual contact and pleasure has been shown to please a minority of people.

Erotic humiliation Consensual use of humiliation in a sexual context

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Play (BDSM)

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Erotic sensation play is a class of activities meant to impart physical sensations upon a partner, as opposed to mental forms of erotic play such as power exchange or sexual roleplaying.

Consent (BDSM)

Consent within BDSM is when a participant gives their permission for certain acts or types of relationships. It bears much in common with the concept of informed consent and is simultaneously a personal, ethical and social issue. It is an issue that attracts much attention within BDSM, resulting in competing models of consent such as Safe, sane and consensual and Risk-aware consensual kink. Observers from outside the BDSM community have also commented on the issue of consent in BDSM, sometimes referring to legal consent which is a separate and largely unrelated matter. However, the presence of explicit consent within BDSM can often have implications for BDSM and the law and, depending on the country the participants are in, may make the differences between being prosecuted or not.

Animal roleplay Animal roleplay or petplay (erotic roleplay related to BDSM)

Animal roleplay is a form of roleplay where at least one participant plays the part of a non-human animal. As with most forms of roleplay, its uses include play and psychodrama.

Master/slave (BDSM) consensual authority-exchange structured sexual relationship

In BDSM, Master/slave, M/s or sexual slavery is a relationship in which one individual serves another in a consensual authority-exchange structured relationship. Unlike Dominant/submissive structures found in BDSM in which love is often the core value, service and obedience are often the core values in Master/slave structures. The participants may be of any gender or sexual orientation. The relationship uses the term "slave" because of the association of the term with ownership rights of a master to their slave's body, as property or chattel. While male "masters" will usually be referred to as "Master", whether or not female Masters are referred to as "Master" or "Mistress" may depend upon whether they identify as following the leather subculture or BDSM path, or simply preference.

Sexual consent is consent to engage in sexual activity. Sexual activity without consent is considered rape or other sexual assault. In the late 1980s, academic Lois Pineau argued that society must move towards a more communicative model of sexuality so that consent becomes more explicit and clear, objective and layered, with a more comprehensive model than "no means no" or "yes means yes". Many universities have instituted campaigns about consent. Creative campaigns with attention-grabbing slogans and images that market consent can be effective tools to raise awareness of campus sexual assault and related issues.

Top, bottom, switch (BDSM) Roles in BDSM practices

The terms top, bottom, and switch are used to describe roles for the duration of a sometimes-sexual act, or may be used more broadly as a psychological, social, and sexual identity, as well as indicating one's usual preference. The terms top, bottom, and switch are also used in BDSM, with slightly different meanings. In both contexts, the terms top and bottom refer to dominant or submissive, or active and passive roles, not to who is physically on top in a particular sexual act. The older term "versatile" is sometimes used instead of "switch".

BDSM and the law

The relationship between BDSM and the law changes significantly from nation to nation. It is entirely dependent on the legal situation in individual countries whether the practice of BDSM has any criminal relevance or legal consequences. Criminalization of consensually implemented BDSM practices is usually not with explicit reference to BDSM, but results from the fact that such behavior as spanking or cuffing someone could be considered a breach of personal rights, which in principle constitutes a criminal offense. In Germany, Netherlands, Japan and Scandinavia, such behavior is legal in principle. In Austria the legal status is not clear, while in Switzerland some BDSM practices can be considered criminal. Spectacular incidents like the US scandal of People v. Jovanovic and the British Operation Spanner demonstrate the degree to which difficult grey areas can pose a problem for the individuals and authorities involved. It is very important to learn the legal status of the right of consent in the judicial statue of the country of resident for the practitioners of BDSM.

References

  1. Keir, Zak Jane. "No Limits Slaves In BDSM". CaraSutra. CaraSutra. Retrieved 25 May 2021.