BDSM 101.

There’s no BDSM textbook. Well sorta. I mean I’ve looked on Amazon. Here’s stuff I’ve gone over with clients when they are first exploring this world.

The definition is Bondage, Domination, Submission/Sadist, Masochist.

Let’s break it down.

Bondage- Being tied up/restrained. There are actually people who specialize in rope and learn very cool ties.

Domination- Part of a D/s (Dominant/submissive) dynamic. I know every one’s thinking it, the D would be Christian Grey in 50 Shades. But for real, 50 Shades leaves a lot of stuff out.

Submissive- The person in the D/s dynamic who submits to a dominant. This can take many forms and variations in a one time play or a long term D/s dynamic. Submission can evolve into slave/master dynamics and/or Daddy/little or Mommy/little dynamics. They are pretty much what they sound like.

Sadist- Some one who derives sexual pleasure from inflicting pain.

Masochist- Someone who derives sexual pleasure from receiving pain.

That’s a lot to process. So just think about it for a minute.

BDSM falls under the broad category of kink. Within the D/s dynamic there are individuals who identify as a switch. These are people who can dominate or submit depending on the partner or situation. Dominant does not mean male. Just as submissive does not mean female. There are many female Domme’s and many male sub’s.

How did I learn about BDSM? Work. I worked with clients in “the lifestyle” as many Kinkster’s call it. I had a client who identified as a “little” which is part of a daddy/little dynamic. I had to learn about it. Fast.

I found fetlife. It’s super pervy- social media for Kinkster’s (There is pornography on that site so don’t go on it if you’re not able to tune it out or if you find that offensive). However fetlife actually houses amazing writers where there are A LOT of blogs about BDSM and I soaked it all up so I sounded like I actually knew what I was talking about with BDSM clients. Because for real, I couldn’t find a textbook. But I have found two authors on fetlife who actually published some works on amazon.

I also spoke with therapists who specialize in sex therapy and who also work this population of individuals.

I unknowingly built a niche. And it’s fun. What I’ve learned about BDSM dynamics is that when done right, there is a tremendous amount of trust, deep connections, a need for recovery from play, some people with strict rules and definitions, others who are more fluid. Kink is a world in and of itself.

When done correctly BDSM is the opposite of abuse. It is not a reason to commit some one (yes that’s happened to a couple of my patients after they told their previous provider they are in a d/s dynamic). And a provider who doesn’t take the time to understand it is really doing their client wrong.

I remember working inpatient and a patient disclosed they were a masochist in a d/s relationship. I remember my old school Attending just crossed his arms and said gruffly, “You use safe words?” the patient said yes. “You consent to everything beforehand?” patient said yes. My attending nodded, and the interview proceeded. Had I known then what I know now my respect and awe at his acceptance and knowledge in that moment would have been much more than it was.

BDSM is ultimately individuals seeking fulfillment sexually and/or romantically in a way that is authentic for them. It should be consenting adults engaging in a pre-arranged situation or scene that has been talked out with safe words to slow it down and/or halt it completely (Often yellow and red are used. Though some people in the community think that’s too easy?! And they use something random like noodleCaboodle or something weird.)

For people who want to explore their sub/dom/switch/little/daddy/sadist/masochist/top/bottom side…don’t just dive in. Do your research. Understand what should happen, what you are entitled to ask and know ahead of time. Research “negotiating a scene” “aftercare” and “hard limits and soft limits”. Know that there are plenty of individuals who prey on newbies whether you identify as a top or bottom dom or sub. But there’s also a thing called “Sub-frenzy” google that too. It’s real. I’ve seen people get taken advantage of in that state and it’s not safe or good.

There are beautiful and lasting BDSM relationships. There are short or long ugly one’s too.

If you are interested in exploring or starting to explore BDSM do so with caution. You don’t want to be tied up, cuffed, blindfolded, gagged, with some one’s hands around your neck, when you realize you have no way to safe word and maybe this was a bad idea.

The biggest blunders I’ve seen are ignoring your gut, because a person is all into diving into BDSM so they ignore warning signs that this person is nuts. And it doesn’t end well. I hear so many bad stories of people first starting out. Part of the issue being they have no one to ask or talk to about any of this. Because of the stigma society carries toward alternative sexual practices. But we are good with “grabbing a woman by the pussy” when she doesn’t consent. I mean really. Sorry. One political jab. No more.

If you are not into BDSM no problem. But if a friend of yours is…don’t shut them down or shut them out. Because they need support. They feel alone. And if you are that person starting a dive down the rabbit hole…research, find people within the community, find mental health professionals who see kinky individuals. Find support. Positive support. Set boundaries. Stick to them. Be safe. And freaking use a safe word and plan for being gagged and tied- plan for a safe signal (some people will hold something in their hand and drop it if they need to stop for some reason. Be creative).

BDSM can be healing for people, a release, comforting. BDSM is not reserved for the LGBT community. There are plenty of heterosexual individuals who practice BDSM. What I’ve learned is there a LOT of kinks and fetishes. It’s not a one size fits all. It can help heal people, but can also leave deep scars when not practiced appropriately. Basically proceed with caution, know what your getting into, and have fun!

“Diversity is strength. Difference is a teacher. Fear difference and you learn nothing.” Hannah Gadsby

BDSM, Polyamory, and Kink and the Sex Positive Nurse.

Our society is rather conservative sexually. I mean did we really not know that women had clitoris’ until the 1970’s? I was born in the 80’s so I can’t speak to life before that. But for real. The United States is rather shaming around sex. To this day.

I probably was no different. I didn’t understand polyamory and I sure didn’t think I’d ever be spending the majority of my days seeing clients who identify as poly or kinky or who practice BDSM on the regular.

But I do. And it’s amazing.

If I look at the clients who are drawn to me and who I have the most success in treating and connecting with it’s usually individuals who identify as part of a minority. I’m drawn to the most vulnerable populations. I see many individuals who are L G B and/or T. I also see many teenagers who are bullied and don’t “fit in”. And for the last year or two my kinky client load has been building. Word got out that there’s a prescriber who is kink friendly. They are finding me. I didn’t go looking for them, I just treated them respectfully when they came to see me, which unfortunately was a different experience than with other healthcare providers.

Treating the kink community and polyamory individuals has been educational to say the least and beyond rewarding. They have generally been shamed by healthcare providers in the past for whatever their kink is or if they are poly. They have never felt comfortable being open about their sexual practices and therefore have never truly discussed sexual health.

I had to get a solid poker face fast. I did. And now, it would take a lot to get me to raise an eyebrow. I mean A LOT. I also educated myself about BDSM and what those relationships can look like. Polyamory and the multiple definitions there are to many different people. I learned we don’t mention 50 Shades of Grey. Genuine Kinksters find this insulting due to it’s many inaccuracies and poor portrayal of BDSM. I’ve learned not to assume that polyamory individuals are into kink and vice versa.

I learned about dominant/submissive relationships and how those can be different and/or similar to sadist/masochist relationships. I learned what a munch is (google it). I’ve learned a ton of vocabulary: sub-drop, sub-space, flails vs. floggers vs. whips, dom-drop, micro-consent, fetlife.com, consensual non-consent play (CNC), play partners, “littles” and Daddydom’s, Little space, and the many many kinks that exist for people.

I’ve gotten so many clients and the sex certified therapists in the area are always full, so I was at a networking event with other therapists and asked who’d be interested in these referrals should they need a therapist. I got a bunch of blank stares and then nervous giggles. I was like, dudes. You seriously wouldn’t take them? They all kinda shied away. And I was like damn. This is the problem. People are ashamed or they have some feelings about sexuality and kinks and fetishes already and are insecure talking to someone else about them.

This is a problem. We as a society need to do better. Why do we marginalize any one who has different ideas or thoughts or desires or needs than mainstream? Why is it we elected someone to the white house who openly discusses sexually assaulting women as his right because of his wealth and position but we shy away from discussing consensual sexual practices with rational adults seeking help in a “safe space”? This makes no sense.

Healthy BDSM sexual practices often contain more discussion especially around consent prior to two people actually engaging in a sexual relationship than a “Vanilla” relationship. We are more comfortable with sexual assault than we are with consensual kink and BDSM. I don’t get it.

I will continue growing my practice with kinky, LGBT, Queer individuals, bullied teenagers, and those young men and women that you know have greatness in them but just don’t fit into the cookie cutter white suburbia life that they are growing up in.

My job is awesome. I get to talk about kinky sex, gender not-normal stuff, and I watch young people who are “weird” grow into these amazing individuals who change our world.

I never wake up and regret taking on clients who don’t fit into the box the world created for them. To all you kinky folks out there, keep on keepin’ on with your kinky self, you’re beautiful as you are. There’s at least one nurse who’s got your back.