BDSM Domains: Part 1 of 4

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The purpose of this article on BDSM Domains is to draw attention to one very common challenge many people run into when exploring BDSM. This is especially true of the first few years when facing a confusing array of terms, definitions, activities and variations. I noticed that there are groupings of activities and engagement which have some common underlying themes. Understanding these thematic groupings, which I call Domains, might help those who are new and exploring to see and appreciate the vastness, variety, and uniqueness, while still being able to appreciate the commonality integral to the human condition. What follows is my understanding gleaned from my experiences, with a view from a perspective regarding human nature, psychology, and behavior.

The three domains of BDSM: Activity, Relationship, Persona
The Three Domains

Introduction

In BDSM, there are many ways to experience and express what you find to be engaging and stimulating.  I have found that there are often three thematic groupings of activity, or Domains, within most of BDSM and related alternative lifestyles.  I use the word Domain here to indicate aspects or characteristics which have some common ground.  The three domains I will indicate can serve reference points from which people typically engage, connect, and upon which relationships are built. These domains include BDSM Activity, the nature of a given Relationship, and exploring or giving space for one’s Persona.

This multi-part series will review each of these individually and then provide some observations about their interaction.

The Activity Domain

For many people, this is what is first associated with when imagining BDSM – the “kinky stuff” of which so many romance novels and movies incorporate.  The more common kinks include a number of activities many people secretly harbor. These include, but not limited to, being tied down or restrained, spanking, intense oral, forced orgasm, Daddy/baby-girl and similar role play, voyeurism/exhibitionism, etc.

More intermediate activities may include things such as comprehensive bondage, flogging or heavier impact, use of single tail whips, hot wax, electro-play with violet wands or TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), rough body play and erotic wrestling, rope suspension, objectification/humiliation, group sex, ravishment (i.e. “being taken”), etc.

Then there are higher risk activities known as “Edge Play” because they these activities often ride along the very edge of safety, or can be called such because they push people to the edge of their consent.  Edge play activities includes fire play, erotic asphyxiation (breath play), the use of knives or other sharps such as needles or “decorative cutting”, scarification and branding, interrogation or torture (e.g. water-boarding), and various forms of medical play – especially when blood or other bodily fluids are involved (i.e. risk of infection).

Those with a focus in Activity are often drawn to interaction via particular modes of engagement, due to a given situation or an affinity for the tools/toys utilized as the way to connect.  Someone with an Activities focus also tends to seek greater variety in the number of play partners, thus increasing the opportunity to engage in specific activities.  It is no wonder then, to find that what attracts many to BDSM events and play parties is the access & opportunity to perspective play partners seeking a shared activity.  As a result, it can be said that the Activity domain has more in common than the swinging lifestyle, in terms of seeking variety and opportunity and will often prioritize the activity over the interpersonal connection.

Some may disagree with the above paragraph, and rightly so as these are only broad generalizations. There are certainly a good number of individuals that prioritize the quality of the interpersonal connection above the experience itself.  However, whether it’s fully acknowledged or not, those with an Activity focus do have a greater tendency to objectify the partner. Much is based on the impulse, and the belief that those involved are going to be safe and responsible.

Be it consciously or unconsciously, the play partner is often a means to an end – especially in pick-up play where there’s been little opportunity to develop a relationship or to have earned trust.  This is evident by the use of event boards “In Search Of” where tops, bottoms, or switches are looking for a type of activity based scene or play.  There is a common scramble in making play-dates, and filling up your “dance card”, trying to do “all the things”.  While this is most common with those very new, and in a state of frenzy, it’s not exclusively so and can be found across the board.

 

In the next post, BDSM Domains – Part Two,  we will focus on the Relationship Domain

 

-Sir Vice
Copyright 2018 Limits Unleashed

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