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Play, within BDSM circles, is any of the wide variety of "kinky" activities. This includes both physical and mental activities, covering a wide range of intensities and levels of social acceptability. The term originated in the BDSM club and party communities, indicating the activities taking place within a scene. It has since extended to the full range of BDSM activities.
BDSM is a variety of often erotic practices or roleplaying involving bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadomasochism, and other related interpersonal dynamics. Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practising BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent upon self-identification and shared experience.
Play can take many forms. It ranges from light "getting to know you" sessions where participants discover each other's likes and dislikes to extreme, extended play between committed individuals that know each other's limits and are willing to push or be pushed at their boundaries. While physical activities are better known and more infamous, it also includes 'mental play' such as erotic hypnosis and mind games.
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.
BDSM play is usually the primary topic of negotiation, especially for casual players and limited scenes. Most BDSM clubs and local communities offer classes and materials about negotiating play scenes. Play safety is a major topic of discussion and debate within BDSM communities.
Play is broken down into two broad categories, physical and mental. Physical play is better known and consists of the typical activities the average person thinks of as BDSM. As the BDSM scene matures and gains greater mainstream tolerance, mental play is becoming an increasingly noteworthy part of the community.
Physical BDSM encompasses all "kinky" activities that are carried out physically. Two of the best known examples are flogging and bondage. Extensive classes and workshops teach technical skills to carry out these activities competently, as well as safety considerations and protocols. This is the type of play most often seen in BDSM clubs and in media representations of kink. While often associated with sadism and masochism, many activities are not focused on or even involve pain. Non-painful sensation play and elaborate bondage done mainly for aesthetic purposes are prominent examples.
Mental BDSM is the collection of activities intended to create a psychological impact, often without a physical component. Recreational hypnosis is the most prominent example, with a well-developed international community. Another noteworthy but controversial example is the 'mind fuck', wherein a state confusion and/or psychological conflict is intentionally created. While mental 'players' have considerably less documented material to study, an active Internet community and classes offered through local groups and conventions provide many learning opportunities.
Participants in BDSM typically recognizes different types of play, based on their intensity and social acceptability. These distinctions can be rather arbitrary and variant. What is considered edge play for a particular couple or local community may be merely heavy play, or even light play, for others.
Light play consists of activities that are considered mild and/or carry little social stigma. This especially includes BDSM elements commonly practiced by "vanilla" couples. Light bondage, slapping, and casual spanking are examples of light play.
In the BDSM subculture, Bondage is the practice of consensually tying, binding, or restraining a partner for erotic, aesthetic, or somatosensory stimulation. A partner may be physically restrained in a variety of ways, including the use of rope, cuffs, bondage tape, or self-adhering bandage.
Heavy play indicates elements that are intense and/or carry substantial social stigma. The bulk of activities undertaken by BDSM participants would be considered heavy play or as bordering on heavy play. Examples of heavy play includes caning, suspension bondage, and erotic hypnosis.
Edgeplay is a term used for types of play that "push the edge." They usually involve a risk of physical or emotional harm. Breath play, knife play, gun play and blood play are all types of edge play. In males, restriction of flow of urine and semen may contribute to the development of benign prostatic hyperplasia and erectile dysfunction.[ citation needed ]
In BDSM, edgeplay is a subjective term for activity that may challenge the conventional S.S.C. scheme; if one is aware of the risks and consequences and is willing to accept them, then the activity is considered RACK.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also called prostate enlargement, is a noncancerous increase in size of the prostate gland. Symptoms may include frequent urination, trouble starting to urinate, weak stream, inability to urinate, or loss of bladder control. Complications can include urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and chronic kidney problems.
Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is a type of sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of the penis during sexual activity. ED can have psychological consequences as it can be tied to relationship difficulties and self-image.
Edge play can also literally refer to playing with an edge, for example knives, swords and other implements. It is sometimes used to describe activities that challenge the boundaries of the participants.
This type of play generally falls under the umbrella of RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink).
Safety and consent in play are paramount considerations within the BDSM community. Various models of consent and negotiation are employed. Most participants consider it important to take responsibility for the safety of their partners. In addition, consent is typically what they consider to distinguish BDSM activities from abuse (or more specifically, intimate partner violence).
A munch is a casual social gathering for people involved in or interested in BDSM.
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.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to BDSM:
Cock and ball torture (CBT), penis torture or dick torture is a sexual activity involving application of pain or constriction to the penis or testicles. This may involve directly painful activities, such as genital piercing, wax play, genital spanking, squeezing, ball-busting, genital flogging, urethral play, tickle torture, erotic electrostimulation, kneeing or kicking. The recipient of such activities may receive direct physical pleasure via masochism, or emotional pleasure through erotic humiliation, or knowledge that the play is pleasing to a sadistic dominant. Many of these practices carry significant health risks.
This glossary of BDSM terms defines terms commonly used in the BDSM community.
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.
Erotic humiliation is consensual psychological humiliation performed in order to produce erotic excitement or sexual arousal. This can be for either the person(s) being humiliated and demeaned or the person(s) humiliating, or both. It is sometimes performed before spectators, including pornography and webcam viewers. It may be part of BDSM and other sexual roleplay, or accompanied by the sexual stimulation of the genitals of one or both parties in the activity.
A forced orgasm is a consensual BDSM sexual play whereby a person consents to be forced to orgasm despite their attempts to delay or not to orgasm. The person who is to be brought to involuntary orgasm would typically be put in physical restraints to increase the feeling of helplessness, and deprive them of the ability to control the onset and intensity of orgasm. This is a common element during BDSM play and is a form of orgasm control.
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 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 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.
In BDSM, Master/slave, M/s or sexual slavery is a relationship in which one individual serves another in an 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.
This is an index of BDSM articles. BDSM is a variety of erotic practices involving dominance and submission, role-playing, restraint, and other interpersonal dynamics. Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent on self-identification and shared experience. Interest in BDSM can range from one-time experimentation to a lifestyle.
Lee Harrington is a sexuality and spirituality educator, author, and artist, currently based in Denver, Colorado. Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, he began transitioning from female to male in 2007.
Lord Morpheous is a Canadian sex educator, author and photographer based in New York. He is the author of How to Be Kinky: A Beginner’s Guide to BDSM, How to Be Kinkier: More Adventures in Adult Playtime and Bondage Basics: Naughty Knots and Risque Restraints You Need to Know. Morpheous' work is archived in the Sexual Representation Collection of the University of Toronto's Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, at the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago, and at the National Archives of Canada. Morpheous has taught a variety of workshops on rope bondage, the aesthetics of bondage, fetish photography, advanced and beginner BDSM, and workshops catered to professional dominants and submissives. He is also the founder of Morpheous’ Bondage Extravaganza, an annual rope bondage themed art installation.