BDSM is more than just pain

In which someone is wrong on the internet and Stabbity yells about it.

This post’s inspiration was some random jerk on Fetlife who decided he’s the arbiter of what is BDSM and what is not. In a discussion about whether kinky people are obsessed with pain, this guy decided the way to make friends and influence people was to declare everything not physically or mentally painful “not BDSM.” And then of course he got all butthurt when people told him that his rude behaviour was rude and he was straight up wrong, because that’s totally going to make people change their minds about whether you’re a dick.

Not only is it tremendously rude to tell people that their kink doesn’t count, it’s also factually incorrect to say that BDSM must involve pain. While it’s often used as a simple catch-all term for “kinky” what BDSM actually stands for is bondage & discipline, domination & submission, and sadism & masochism. In the context of “bondage & discipline”, discipline does imply pain and of course sadism and masochism are generally understood to be about pain (although some definitions of sadomasochism are just about any intense sensation), but domination and submission are not fundamentally about pain. You can certainly mix pain in if that’s what you’re into, but domination and submission are about control and who has it and how much, not about whacking people with stuff. I’ve yelled about this before, but hey, it’s worth repeating.

People who love having d/s relationships but have no interest in pain exist. Look up sensual domination, the term exists for a reason. Inflicting pain is certainly one way to to show how much control you have, but so is deciding what your partner wears or whether they get to orgasm or what they have for dinner. If you prefer pain then by all means stick with that, but if you can’t conceive of d/s without pain that’s a failure of imagination on your part, not a lack of kinkiness on the part of the people you’re shitting on. I personally do like inflicting pain and wouldn’t be happy in a d/s relationship where I didn’t get to beat on anyone, but because I’m not a hugely self-centered asshole I can deal with the idea that other people have their own wants and needs. If somebody else doesn’t play the way I do, who gives a shit? It doesn’t hurt or even affect me in any way if other people just like pet play or slave positions or sensual domination or eye contact restrictions or what have you instead of pain.

Painful scenes are intense and showy and easy to tell stories about and you still count as kinky if you don’t like any pain at all. You still count as kinky if you only like a little bit of pain or only want to play with pain some of the time. You still count as kinky if you don’t play or run your relationships the way some random dickbag thinks you should.

Just because other people have different tastes doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Even *gasp* not liking your favourite kinks doesn’t make them wrong. People just like different things and you’re going to need to learn to cope with that if you want to make any friends in the scene.

 

4 thoughts on “BDSM is more than just pain

  1. Hah, I wondered if you were going to blog about that thread, actually. And THANK you. It’s nice to hear from the scary sadistic domme (;-)) that we don’t all have to like lots of pain to be legitimately kinky. One Twue Way…really never a great philosophy no matter what the One True Whatever actually is.

    I often think that I’m into D/s and I’m also into S&M (of at least the “intense sensations” kind), but I’m very very picky about the places where the two cross over. I mostly like my S&M without D/s, especially when I’m bottoming but also as a top/dom. That thing where sometimes people go, “Oh, I am enduring this pain for my dom because it pleases them”? Nope nope NOPE NO. No. Sets off my panic response, honestly. Whereas non-pain-related types of control can be super hot to me, and intense sensations where you’re both just playing with the human body to see what kind of symphony you can create, without one person “having” to obey or be the bottom because it’s D/s…that’s super hot as well.

    So like…whip someone because it feels awesome to them and because their top loves doing it? Fantastic. Whip them because it’s something they have to “endure” because it’s “the will of their dom”? Oh fuck no. I admit it’s a fine line, and one that wiggles a lot depending on the situation, but apparently stuff can go from “yeah, awesome!” to “nope, hello triggers” for me if it falls on the wrong side of it.

    tl;dr BDSM totally covers a whole bunch of different interactions and they’re definitely not all the same and not all pain-related! That dude was so wrong and I’m kind of glad a chunk of the Internet fell on his head.

  2. People just like different things and you’re going to need to learn to cope with that if you want to make any friends in the scene.

    Or, you know, in real life, as well.

    Great rant. Would read again.

  3. Yes, I love this rant! Also I’d like to thank Isla for sharing her perspective. I’ve been thinking the same thing about the “having to endure” concept. But I suppose that’s different for everyone and that some people enjoy being forced to do something they don’t like. And then I wonder–At what point does masochism cross the line between “it hurts so good” and “this doesn’t feel good, but I like it, but I’m not sure”? Is that confusion a thing? Does it have a name?

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