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  • BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Sadism & Masochism)

    BDSM—bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism—refers to sexual stimulation by playing with various themes of exaggerated hierarchy. These days, BDSM is a well organized community with its own rules and customs, educational materials and activities. B&D and S&M can be used loosely as synonyms for BDSM or refer to components including intense physical sensations (spanking, paddling, whipping, etc.). The phrase “dominance and submission” is used sometimes to emphasize the more psychological aspects of this play.

    Straight men who engage in BDSM with other men do so for the BDSM scene, not the gender of their play partner. In other words, BDSM is what arouses them, not the gender of their partner. They prefer women but will play with men.

    The field of psychology has a history of seeing BDSM as pathological. I’ve heard therapists say that BDSM is merely an adult response to childhood trauma. “Sex should never be about pain or suffering; it should be only about joy and pleasure.” This doesn’t take into account that for many people pain and pleasure are mixed together, and suffering can be eroticized in healthy ways. No creditable scientific study has shown any trend of psychological pathologies in people drawn to BDSM. In fact, recently BDSM activities have been removed as “disorders” from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel used for diagnosing mental disorders. While it is true that many people who have BDSM desires are troubled by them, this is often because of the shame they have been taught to feel about their atypical fantasies.  Safe, sane, and consensual sex of any kind cannot logically or humanely be called criminal or pathological.

    Men and women who engage in BDSM with same sex partners report they are aroused and attracted to elements of the BDSM and that their play partner can be irrelevant in terms of their gender.