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What is BDSM?

It's an acronym you've likely heard tossed around at parties or proudly posted on dating apps. But what exactly does BDSM really refer to? Let's explore.

While there are multiple exact word associations, generally speaking, BDSM stands for body domination, and sadomasochism. According to one excellent definition by Morten Nielsen at the University of Copenhagen, BDSM refers to the... "Practices and relationships involving either a) the deliberate infliction of pain (bodily and/or mental) on one part (the submissive) by another (the dominant) or/and b) the deliberate suspension of, or handing over of, (at least parts of) normal powers and rights from one part (the submissive) to another (the dominant), both with the goal of sexual arousal or satisfaction in mind" (Nielsen 2010).


Essentially, it's an exchange of power for the purpose of pleasure. It can be done on an occasional basis, lived as a lifestyle, and made into a profession (duh).


The kinky community is vast and complex. But regardless of what gets each of us going, we all individually strive to make every interaction an entirely safe, sane, and consensual one. It's not always easy -- there's plenty of participants who like to push boundaries and some individuals who try to use the lifestyle to carry out their twisted fantasies on unsuspecting partners. It's absolutely imperative that you not only adhere to these guidelines yourself, but that you keep a keen eye on them when you're vetting potential subs too. 

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