The Happy Trail

Communication is key when experimenting


Some pretty strong words in there for what comprises the meaning behind the acronym BDSM. Understandably, it can make one want to immediately run in the other direction.

But please, take off your coat (or… pants) and stay a while.

I get it, I had the same reflex whenever I head about it. Most people think pain and cruelty; I used to associate it with humiliation and disrespect. Then I found out more.

Beyond what the on-the-surface scary components of the BDSM label suggest, Wikipedia’s ballin’ definition is: “an erotic preference and a form of sexual expression involving the consensual use of restraint, intense sensory stimulation, and fantasy power role-play.”

Hot damn, that sounds pretty fun to me!

I first started wising up when someone once explained some other characteristics of much BDSM: a community that prizes experimentation, communication and consent.

Hey, safe words even originated in the BDSM community.  You know, when an agreed upon phrase (preferably something that is distinctly unsexy so as not to be interpreted as dirty talk) is said when things get too freaky and you want to stop.

That way, you can try something new and daring, and still have an escape route.

So many people are  uncomfortable with the idea of instructing or giving constructive criticism in order to get their needs met (especially met with flying colors). Hence, the safe word is nothing short of genius. Thanks, BDSM!

If bellowing something like “PORK CHOP SANDWICHES” or “HILARY CLINTON’S  LEFT ARMPIT” isn’t really your thing, try a more simple approach: green-yellow-red light. Green being “Awww yeah,” yellow being “Whoaaa there, slow your roll” and red being “ABORT!”

It took a couple months before I warmed up to the idea of practices that fall under the far-too-broad umbrella of BDSM. Most of us probably see BDSM through porn-tinged glasses.

I stumbled upon such imagery one day on what might have been one of those baneful pop-ups. Women bound-and-gagged hung upside down and were being “abused.”

First off, abuse is NOT sexy to me in any capacity. Furthermore, I am a bit claustrophobic. Stick me in a sleeping bag upside down and my peaceful demeanor will unravel, giving away to a near panic attack or at least a good deal of desperate thrashing. Nads be warned. So the idea of being unable to move my arms or legs AND hanging upside down makes me a little nauseous even thinking about it.

But I was doing what might happen to a large portion of people in response to BDSM: jumping to conclusions on a subject while only examining the extremes. Most porn is an exaggeration, a caricature, if you will, BDSM porn certainly not excluded.

BDSM is not just whips, chains, bindings, leather, flogging, ball-gags, gimps and torture. This may be your cup of tea, but there is more to it.

Slowly I began to realize how refreshing an occasional slap on the ass, grasping (though not tugging) of the hair and a little nibble can be. I’ll even go as far to admit that some biting can be pretty enjoyable.

Now, in keeping with a consensual theme, a little forewarning is necessary. Babeland’s Sex 101 Workshop even had a list of adventurous things, wherein both partners marks “Yes, Maybe, or No.”

This can inspire or expose you to new things you may not have thought about, and opens up the door for dialogue about specific things. You can ask for an elaboration on why they put no and discuss it, but make sure you’re respectful and honor their hesitation.

In any sexual interaction, I love the idea of a push and pull.  First off, it’s almost like yin and yang, and speaks to a greater sense of balance in the bedroom. But it’s also great to break the pattern of one person consistently taking control, perhaps out of habit, and mixing it up.

You may find that you like getting diddled on your back, but you also like to take things into your own hands by being on top. Or, even if one is on their back, say in missionary, you can totally run the show and give them a break.

Plus, it can totally transform a position if both people are participating, whether it be hip gyration or thrusting back at the same time.

I’ve recently realized how much I like to “wrassle.” I love to have a mock power struggle, usually pushing my partner on the bed with me on top, and then playfully wrestling. Since I am straight and my idea of a workout is yoga, I will quickly be dominated. Yet, despite the disparity in size, I am super feisty and it’s  super hot to work out that sexy tension.

A partner once told me, “I want to hold you down and have my way with you.” I reflexively felt creeped out, before then realizing how BDSM it is and how it can be totally consensual.

I recommend exploring BDSM with someone you’re comfortable with and consistently being intimate with, so you can fumble around and take the time for trial and error.

Even though BDSM can seem scary from the outside and immediately evoke pain and humiliation, don’t judge a book by its leather, spike-collared cover.