Alternative, or “kinky,” lifestyles are still very hush-hush in the African-American community due to conservative views of morality, religious beliefs, and engrained opinions about “what black folks do” and “what white folks do.” BDSM is especially tricky in the black community because of both our history and the current state of our country in which there are constant reminders to black people that we are not safe in America. Can you imagine a sex play scenario that involved whipping & calling someone “master” or playing cop & perpetrator? For black people in America today, that conjures up fear & disgust, not sexual excitement or lustful desire.
So, I am writing about this topic in the hopes that eyes will be opened, and the stigma might be removed from this totally consensual sexual lifestyle in which adults participate in sexual play based on a power exchange that is governed by protocol. The BDSM lifestyle requires that you know and understand yourself on the deepest level, that you know what you want & are willing to embrace your truth, that you are willing to go beyond your own limits and societal constraints, and that you fully trust your playmate.
Since the release of 50 Shades of Grey, however, the popularity of BDSM has skyrocketed. Yet, many people still do not know what the acronym even stands for. BDSM refers to three different sexual “lifestyles” and four different sexual “players.” They are all VERY different. BDSM is NOT about: kids, breaking the law, violating anyone’s consent, violence or maliciousness. It is about pushing the boundaries of sexuality in a controlled and safe environment.
Dominant – controls play within the hard & soft limits of the Submissive
Submissive – voluntarily relinquishes controls to, and follows the instructions of, the Dominant
Sadist – willingly and intentionally inflicts pain on the masochist
Masochist – voluntarily receives and endures pain inflicted by the sadist
The acronym defined:
“B” is for BONDAGE. Bondage refers to the voluntary restraint of the “Submissive” or “Sub” by the “Dominant” or “Dom” using anything from collars, cuffs, gags, shackles, and spreader bars.
“D” is for DISCIPLINE & DOMINATION. Discipline is achieved in learning how to delay climax. Domination is power, freely-given, to the one who oversees play.
“S” is for SUBMISSION & SADISM. Submission is voluntarily following the instructions of the Dominant. Sadism is the need, or desire, to cause pain to another for arousal and/or sexual pleasure.
“M” is for MASOCHISM. Masochism is the need, or desire, to be subjected to pain or humiliation, inflicted by another for arousal and/or sexual pleasure.
The distinct lifestyles:
“BD” is for BONDAGE & DISCIPLINE.
“DS” is for DOMINATION & SUBMISSION.
“SM” is for SADOMASOCHISM.
Unfortunately, these terms get intermingled, interchanged, and interpreted all wrong. All four players are looking to have ultimate pleasure. That ultimate pleasure is achieved in very different ways, as the terms identify. While all BDSM relationships exercise the dichotomy of powerful versus powerless, they are different in that BD and DS show respect while SM shows degradation (SM).
The Dom-Sub relationship is a powerful relationship in that the Dom has the power to make demands on the Sub and the Sub has the power to end play when their limits are reached. Dom-Sub relationships often involve very detailed contracts outlining the expectations of both parties as well as hard and soft limits. Hard limits are those actions, or implements, the Sub absolutely refuses to participate in or with – so an absolute “no.” Soft limits are those actions, or implements, the Sub is not sure about but will consider – an absolute “maybe.” Actions that might be contracted in a Dom-Sub relationship, outside of intercourse, include, but are certainly not limited to, withholding orgasm, fisting, paddling, flogging, caning, blindfolding, golden showers, or anal penetration. Implements that might be contracted in a Dom-Sub relationship include, but are not limited to, nipple clamps, butt plugs, paddles, floggers, riding crops, gags, blindfolds, spreader bars, canes, and more. The Submissive must have the utmost trust in the Dominant to take them to an orgasmic nirvana by using implements to enhance and intensify their sexual arousal and sensation without inflicting intentional harm. The Dominant must trust the Submissive to use a safe word if they are reaching the point of exceptional pain or any other overwhelming emotion. So, in the Dom-Sub relationship there is mutual respect and mutual trust. The goal is to create the ultimate pleasure for both parties involved.
The Sado-Masochist relationship is a powerless relationship in that the Sadist doesn’t exercise their power to be nice and the Masochist doesn’t exercise their power to stop the Sadist from being cruel. This is not a relationship for the faint at heart. The abuse in this relationship can be physical, mental, or emotional. There may be whippings, cutting, burning, criticism, insults, and other forms of degradation involved.
As much as society has opened up about sex and sexuality, BDSM remains on the “taboo” list for various reasons. Most BDSM players are Caucasian but more people of color participate in this lifestyle than you may ever know. They often meet for dinner, in groups, before heading to the dungeon to play so they can interact with others like them without shame or judgment. More people of color are starting to ask questions about the “draw” to the BDSM lifestyle and admit & explore their secret desires. The topic of sex is handled somewhat differently in each culture, but kinky sex is usually always considered somewhat “taboo” in all cultures. And many people still just prefer vanilla sex. “Vanilla sex” is a term used to describe what most of society considers “normal” or “regular” sex; in other words, heterosexual with one man and one woman, no toys or implements, no role play, no identified difference in power. And in some cases, “vanilla sex” has come to imply “boring” sex. But, to each their own. One person’s kink is not another person’s kink and there’s nothing wrong if you only like “vanilla” too.
If you want to find out more about BDSM in the black community, there are classes, workshops, blogs, chat groups, and forums you can join to learn and keep up with what’s going on in your local area. You can check out:
National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (https://www.ncsfreedom.org/)
Black Rose (http://www.br.org/)
Black Beat (http://blackbeat.org/)
Feel free to leave your comments and questions below.