50 Shades of Fun: A Beginner’s Guide to BDSM and BDSM Sex Toys

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BDSM has a long and sexy culture, but in recent years it has garnered mainstream attention — due, in large part, to the 50 Shades of Grey franchise.

What Is BDSM?

What is the meaning of BDSM, a conjoined acronym? It stands for Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sadism and Masochism. Couples participating in BDSM may enjoy only a few or many BDSM activities.

A Brief History of BDSM

Long before 50 Shades of Gray brought BDSM to mainstream attention, couples were participating in BDSM activities.

It’s hard to piece together when BDSM started, not least because consent — a huge factor in modern BDSM — was often overlooked or ignored in BDSM history, making it hard to talk about the beginnings of BDSM without going super dark. Magazines in Victorian England would publish letters about women in tight corsets or forced crossdressing. People read Uncle Tom’s Cabin because they were turned on by some of the descriptions of discipline that were written.

Modern BDSM culture is becoming much more widespread. But participants in BDSM culture are quick to point out the one thing the 50 Shades series got wrong: Healthy BDSM is about consent and communication between partners.

What Are the Different Types of BDSM?

For many, BDSM activities are a kink to occasionally explore in the bedroom. For others, BSDM is a lifestyle that they participate in during all of the time they spend together. Couples may enjoy some or all of the aspects of BDSM listed below.

Bondage and Discipline

Bondage refers to one partner restraining another partner in some way — think handcuffs, ropes, or even a necktie in a pinch. Discipline frequently refers to spanking, but can also be much more intense — or it can involve discipline not physical in nature, such as having your partner stand in a corner or write lines.

Dominance and Submission

Dominance and submission are just what they sound like — one partner dominates while the other partner submits. This can be super empowering for the dominating partner, who is in complete control. For the submitting partner, it can be a great exercise in vulnerability and trust, which can also be extremely stimulating.

Sadism and Masochism

Sadism means enjoying inflicting pain on another person, while masochism refers to enjoying receiving pain. But this doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. If you’ve ever spanked your partner playfully — or received a light spanking from your partner — you’ve engaged in sadism and masochism.

Why Do People Enjoy BDSM?

Pain causes your brain to release endorphins — the same “feel good” hormones that are released during sex to promote bonding between you and your partner. A little bit of pain can also heighten your sensual awareness, making every part of sex feel more stimulating in response. Some other reasons people enjoy BDSM include:

  • Enjoying giving up control. For submissive partners, there can be something incredibly freeing about letting go and allowing your partner to be completely in charge in the bedroom.
  • There’s a creative element. Role-playing, which often goes hand-in-hand with BDSM, can offer a certain amount of creativity.
  • Trusting your partner completely. For BDSM to work, you have to be able to trust your partner completely and be able to communicate well with them, which can help a couple feel more bonded.

Things to Know Before Introducing BDSM to Your Life

Consent and communication are the foundation of BDSM. Before introducing BDSM to your life, it’s critical that you have a strong relationship with your partner and that you discuss your desires and what you want out of BDSM. Since the term BDSM can mean so many different things, you need to be on the same page with your partner before you start.

Some safety tips to keep in mind when introducing BDSM include:

  • Have a safe word. It’s crucial to have a word you can use to tell your partner to stop right away. “No!” and “Stop!” are not usually considered great safe words, especially if you’re going to be role-playing.
  • Have a safe gesture. If there’s any chance that you’re going to be gagged for any portion of BDSM, have a gesture you can use to tell your partner to stop.
  • Never leave if your partner is tied up. For safety reasons, you never want to tie a partner up and then leave. If your partner panics and needs to be untied, you need to be there. And if there’s an emergency, they need to be able to get out.

Ways to Enjoy BDSM in the Bedroom

With BDSM for beginners, it’s a good idea to start slow before working up to your deepest fantasies. If one of you has expressed an interest in discipline, for example, start with a light hand spanking before moving on to BDSM sex toys like paddles or crops.

A little bit of dirty talk or commands like “put your hands against the wall” can help you decide if dominance and submission are right for you and your partner. Gauge your reactions and keep doing your research to find the right level of BDSM for your relationship.

Best Sex Toys for BDSM

Sex toys and fetish gear can help bring your BDSM experience to the next level. BDSM sex toys can be for beginners or advanced participants. Here are some of the best sex toys you can bring into your bedroom right away.

BDSM Toys for Beginners

When getting started with BDSM, a few toys can go a long way. Here are some of the items we recommend when you’re first getting started with BDSM:
  • Massage Oil: Combined with bondage and sensory deprivation, a massage can be extra-sensual. Check out our massage oil candles, which can be used to combine the joy of massage oil with the “danger” of heat and fire — but safely.
  • Blindfolds: Being blindfolded can enhance sensations, making even a light swat on the butt feel intense. Our fetish masks are designed to provide darkness comfortably, perfectly fitting bondage for beginners.
  • Soft Cuffs: Skip the metal handcuffs during bondage play — which can cause serious damage to your wrists — and reach for soft cuffs instead.
  • Remote Control BDSM Sex Toys: The anticipation of not knowing when your partner is going to turn the remote control vibrator on can be exhilarating.
  • Lubricants: If there’s any chance you’re going to foray into anal play, a good lubricant is a must.

Advanced BDSM Gear

Once you have some experience with BDSM, you can begin to figure out where to invest your funds and your time. Some of the best toys for more advanced BDSM players include:

  • Whips: When you’re certain that you enjoy discipline in your relationship, take it up a notch with a supple leather whip — one of the best sexy toys for bondage.
  • Ben-Wa Balls: These kegel balls can be worn out to dinner or while cleaning the house, and are perfect for edge play.
  • C-Rings: If you like the idea of erections that last through the entire BDSM scene, C-Rings are the way to go.
  • Anal Toys: The ultimate combination of pain and pleasure, anal toys like butt plugs and double penetration toys can take your sexual pleasure to the next level.
  • Bedroom BDSM Set: Once you’re sure you enjoy BDSM, investing in a full set of quality bedroom bondage and discipline gear is well worth the money.

Whips and Chains Can Be Exciting

BDSM has emerged into mainstream culture. It gives couples who might not have otherwise thought to introduce bondage or discipline into their bedroom access to information about these sensual desires. As you communicate with your partner through BDSM, you’ll both learn more about what turns you on.

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References

The History of Sadomasochism Is Strange, Dark, and Occasionally Sweet. (August 2018). Vice.

Consent Isn’t Enough: The Troubling Sex of Fifty Shades. (February 2015). The Atlantic.

Why Do People Enjoy Pain? Here’s What the Experts Have to Say. (February 2019). Elite Daily.

Why Do People Like BDSM? Here’s What 8 People Who Love It Have to Say. (February 2019). Elite Daily.