I was invited by my Alma Mater to teach a BDSM 101 class, which meant figuring out what I consider to be “essential” BDSM information, and condensing that into an hour-long presentation. A daunting task, to say the least; everything I’ve learned over these past 3 years – even things I’m still learning as a titleholder – could be considered “essential!”
So instead of trying to go all “process of elimination” on it, I started developing the class with the assumption that everyone in attendance had learned about BDSM through sensationalized mediums, and that they were going to start beating each other for the first time that night. I had to teach a class that made me comfortable with that; really, I was liable for their safety during that first hypothetical scene.
That narrowed down what I needed to convey pretty damn fast!
I included the speaker’s notes for this presentation below. I won’t do this for every class I post, but BDSM 101 is such an important topic I want as many people to have access to the information as possible.
Download the Google Slides for BDSM 101 here.
Each bullet point below corresponds to a bullet point in a slide. For example, the fourth bullet in the first section of the speaker’s notes elaborates upon the fourth bullet on the slide with the same title. “N/A” indicates that I don’t have any speaker’s notes for that bullet.
Who is Superhorse?
- I present as a submissive 90% of the time, but the other 10% I’m a dominant. Technically, I’m what’s called a switch. I’m also very much into pony play, which means being treated and trained as closely to a real horse as possible.
- Leather titles are basically Miss America pageants with hot, sexy leatherfolk. Titleholders are the “face” of the community; we support our communities by creating resources, organizing events, and promoting causes.
- Voodoo Leatherworks is the BDSM dungeon in Colorado Springs, and as a member of its core leadership group I attend just about every party, class, discussion group, and social night that we have.
- The Marquis Lifestyle Center seeks to demystify BDSM by providing education to law enforcement, health, and mental health professionals, who have a long history of stigmatizing us.
- I blog about BDSM and Dungeons & Dragons, both of which involve hitting things in dungeons!
- I give this class as if you were going to go home right afterwards and try BDSM for the first time. That isn’t optimal, but if you listened to this presentation first, my mind would be a little more at ease.
- I find that a lot of people have a working knowledge about what BDSM is, but there is a lot of misconceptions surrounding it. There’s no way I could clear them all up, so I’m just going to clear up yours.
- I have my toys here! I encourage you to come up and touch them, wear them, ask questions about them, and so on. It’s way less intimidating than walking into a sex store!
What is BDSM?
- This means that kinks can be expressed without necessarily being BDSM. A foot fetishist licking their partner’s feet would be kink, but a foot fetishist being forced to lick their partner’s feet would be BDSM. BDSM is kinky, but not all kink is BDSM.
- When you hear “Leather,” people are typically referring to the BDSM lifestyle and community at large; you can engage in BDSM recreationally without being Leather.
- Sadomasochism is receiving pleasure from the fact that your partner is receiving pleasure from you hurting them, or from them hurting you. It’s what keeps just about every scene going!
Why Do We Do BDSM?
- Power dynamics are the main source of pleasure in BDSM. The intensity of taking complete control of someone – or of giving up that control – is where the arousal comes from. The arousal also comes from the inherent danger or intensity of the actions being performed.
- Typically, submissives have a lot of control over their lives they want to relinquish, while dominants are those who want to express that control. As with every binary, though, we know it isn’t totally true.
- The identifier on the left of the slash is the “top,” while the one on the right is the “bottom.” Thus we have Dom/sub, Trainer/pony, Master/slave, etc.
- BDSM is pleasurable because of the sheer amount of endorphins that get pumped into your system during a scene. Endorphins affect everyone differently.
- Sometimes, endorphins help you go that extra mile during particularly intense scenes. For example, since I’m into receiving pain, endorphins allow me to take amounts and types of pain I couldn’t take otherwise.
- A lot of fetishes and roleplayed fantasies can only be fulfilled through BDSM. Common scenarios include kidnapping, imprisonment, and enforced servitude.
What is “RACK?”
There are multiple approaches to consent in BDSM.
- BDSM isn’t safe, and it isn’t sane. Once you so much as slap on a pair of handcuffs, you and your partner are assuming a level of risk. Risk can be managed, but the idea that BDSM is “safe” is not true.
- The idea is that you are responsible for whatever you get yourself into during a scene. While this is true, this mentality can enable victim blaming; “it’s your fault for having a scene with a predatory dominant!”
- When you discuss having a scene with someone, you should script everything that’s going to happen during a scene, and overview all potential risks. Air out all concerns that you have, and establish as many boundaries as necessary.
- BDSM is very much consent based. Consent needs to be specific – “I consent to this action” – enthusiastic, and continuous throughout the scene. We take consent violations very seriously in the BDSM community, and you should too. A good way to prevent a consent violation is to stick to the script!
How Do I Build a Scene?
- As mentioned earlier, if you do not hear a specific, enthusiastic “yes, I want to play with you,” then the scene shouldn’t happen. That goes for both parties; don’t get involved in a scene you don’t consent to!
- When scripting your scene – called “negotiating” – ask questions conducive to the activities you’re performing. What do you want to do? What don’t you want to do? Do they have circulation issues? Are you allergic to certain toys? Are your teeth strong enough to allow for a gag? Are there any triggers I should be aware of?
- For a first-timer, it’s hard to negotiate because they haven’t tried anything. So don’t use safewords - stop at “stop” and “no” - and lightly try a lot of things to zero in on what they like. This is called a “tasting;” most dungeons have nights dedicated to tastings.
- THERE IS NO LAUGHING IN BDSM. Seriously though, your first few scenes and plenty of your later scenes are going to be very giggly and clumsy. But that’s part of the fun! Don’t try to force the mood.
- At the same time, the mood of a scene is something that has to be actively maintained, and both parties are responsible for maintaining it. Don’t have dead fish syndrome! Squirming and struggling tells the dominant that you are enjoying it. The top should throw in some dirty talk and intimate whispers. Both of you should really ham it up!
- The dominant should be checking up constantly. You can mask questions like “you doing okay?” with “you really want this, don’t you boy?” If you demand that your submissive answers “Yes Sir,” any response other than that will catch your full attention.
- For some people, catharsis is orgasm, crying, even being silent and unable to move. This is the peak of endorphins, and you can tell when you reach it through a shift in the scene’s energy. This means it’s time to either wind down or stop, depending on how your partner deals with catharsis.
- Those endorphins are gone now, and it’s a huge valley after a huge peak. Eat some sugar/protein, cuddle, drink water. Check in the next day, even over the next week. It feels like depression, guilt, or even total apathy, and it’s totally okay.
What Does a Safe Scene Look Like?
- Be careful with tying hands above the head for too long. Be careful not to latch a cuff or collar too tight. Be careful with anything on joints, and watch for locked knees if your partner is standing. Tell your dominant if you feel tingling or numbness. Watch for swelling and discoloration. Take a class on choking before trying it.
- Do not hit kidneys with heavy blows. Do not strike downwards on breasts. Do not aim directly at the spine, especially with canes. Do not hit the ribcage. If you’re doing ball stuff, beware of torsion.
- Communication includes checking hand temperature (cold), pupil dilation (dilated), coherence (slurred), and checking expressions (bad pain, horror). If you see any of those, it’s time to slow down or stop! Never go out of eyeshot with a secured bottom; undo them first, even if it’s just a hand!
- Universal safewords are green (I’m good), yellow (slow up or do something else), red (stop now and end the scene). If they cannot speak, put a hanky in their hand for them to drop, or pick a song to hum (“Mary Had a Little Lamb”).
- Have shears if playing with rope, bolt-cutters for chain, panic snaps for both (secure ropes and chain to carabiners). Locks and bondage are sexy, but not if something happens to the dominant. There’s a Stephen King novel about that (Gerlad’s Game)!
- Keep some rubbing alcohol around for possible cuts, and envirocide for fluid-bonded toys. Stop impact if there’s bleeding, so blood doesn’t fly everywhere!
- Like cops get pepper sprayed, try something before it gets done to you. If you’re going to do anything riskier than normal like needles, fire, knives, breathplay, get mentored on it first.
How Do I Get Into the Community?
- Munches allow you to meet people outside the dungeon, and sometimes dungeons use it for gatekeeping. It’s called a munch because you typically eat something while you’re at it! You can also attend classes, discussion groups, and social nights to ease in; they are typically free to members, and low cost to non-members.
- Outing other people is shitty! Some people can’t be associated with kink due to jobs, family, even stalkers. Things you learn in the dungeon stay in the dungeon. If you see kinksters in public, don’t approach or acknowledge them unless they told you it’s okay beforehand. A number of kinksters use scene names and don’t upload any pictures or personally identifiable information; do this if you feel the need.
- The law says you cannot consent to being assaulted. Law enforcement does not consider BDSM consent violations rape. Law enforcement can consider consensual BDSM to be domestic abuse. Keep these things in mind when engaging in BDSM practice, and prepare accordingly.
- At private parties and scenes, you might not find the same accountability you have at public dungeons. Good spaces have dungeon monitors, in-depth orientations, and waivers. Have a buddy, set a safe call. Ask people you trust in the community where is okay and where isn’t.
- Each dungeon is like its own little family. They have to warm up to you! You may not get to have a scene with someone or find a mentor for a while. But if you keep showing up, we’ll know that you’re serious, and before you know it, three years pass and you’re getting carpet tacks spanked into your ass!