9 Tips For Bondage Beginners

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By Kasandra Brabaw

Have you ever thought about tying your partner up with rope? Or being tied up yourself? It’s a kink that more people than you’d probably think are interested in trying. But as intriguing as the thought of bondage is, it can also be pretty scary.

There are so many questions when you first start out. What kind of rope do you get? What body parts are okay to tie up? Is it possible to seriously hurt your partner (or get hurt yourself)? How do you tell your partner what you do and don’t want to try? And what happens if you do it wrong?

Ahead, we talked with Yin Q, a dominatrix and writer/producer of BDSM webseries Mercy Mistress, to answer some of those questions. Read on for tips about consent, safety, rope types, and safe words.

1) Negotiation and consent.

Before anyone gets tied up, you and your partner(s) need to have a negotiation about what’s going to happen. And in that negotiation, you have to talk about consent, Yin says. “You have to know how you’re going to actually explore,” they say. You could start exploring bondage in an experiential way, where no still means no. But you could also try a theme where struggle is part of what makes bondage erotic. So, you’ll need to talk to your partner up front about what you want.

“It’s not that you just say yes to bondage and then that means that you’re saying yes to everything that happens after you’re in bondage,” Yin says. There are multiple things you and your partner have to consent to, whether you’re the top or the bottom in the bondage situation. But especially if you’re the bottom (the one being tied up). Once someone is in bondage, Yin says, they might enter something called “subspace” and might no longer feel comfortable negotiating what they do and don’t want to try. So it’s essential to have negotiation and consent up front.

2) Safe words.

Part of the negotiation process is establishing a safe word (or multiple safe words) with your partner. In BDSM, a safe word is something other than “no,” “don’t,” “stop” or any other word you’d usually use to tell someone to slow down. Because those words tend to be part of the play. “If you want to play with those roles and power dynamics, language can start changing meaning,” Yin says. Instead, use a word that usually wouldn’t come up in the context of sex. For beginners, Yin suggests “yellow” and “red.”

“‘Yellow’ meaning that you’re getting to your edge where you know something doesn’t feel right or that this is basically as much as you can take,” they say. “Red” meaning that you’re totally done with the scene and you want to be untied.

3) Knowing your bodies (and minds).

Does your partner have bad knees? Are you prone to back aches? Does anyone have diabetes or epilepsy? These are all things you and your partner should discuss before anyone gets tied up, because where you place the rope might exacerbate any of those problems.

And mental health is just as important as physical health. “If somebody has gone through trauma, language can become a trigger when you’re playing,” Yin says. Some people enjoy what’s called “slut play,” which is essentially dirty talk that uses words generally considered humiliating or degrading. But, for some, certain words can bring up insecurities. Yin, for example, feels totally fine using words like “slut,” “submissive,” and “dirty dog” in their play. But can’t stand saying or hearing the word “stupid.”

“For some reason, that triggers something in childhood for me,” they say. “It’s just not sexy to me. I’m very cerebral, so that’s going to call up a lot of insecurity for me.” So, like everything else, you’ll need to talk with your partner about which words are a no-go for them, and keep the communication open so they can tell you if something feels wrong in the moment.

4) Triggers

Just like words can be triggering, so can actions. And it’s important not to assume that something won’t be triggering, Yin says. As a switch (someone who both tops and bottoms), Yin says they can take a lot of masochism, like flogging and canning. “But, the one thing I cannot take is tickling,” they say. “I get angry, first of all, and then I also get nauseous.”

Their partners might not even consider that tickling could be a trigger — after all, tickling is something we do to tiny children, and it doesn’t hurt — but it’s important that they listen to them when they say they can’t handle it. As a beginner, you and your partner(s) might not yet know what your physical triggers are, so communication becomes important again.

5) Nerve damage.

Once you’re done with the negotiations and consent and other talking, there are some things you should know before tying someone up. Mainly, that certain areas are more prone to nerve damage than others. “Usually it’s around the elbows or the knees and especially the neck,” Yin says.

So, if you’re idea of bondage comes from beautiful photos of Shibari-style knots, then you’ll have to adjust your expectations. “Going into it as a beginner, one must learn the basics and also understand that each person’s body has it’s own capabilities,” Yin says. Anyone who’s just starting out should never put rope near the neck, because doing it wrong has the potential to cause serious damage.

6) Tingling.

If you’re the person being tied up, it’s important to tell your partner when you’re experiencing tingling in your fingers, toes, or anywhere else. That could be a sign that the rope is too tight or that you’re not in a comfortable position, Yin says. Tingling is fine for about 20 minutes, as long as it’s just a light tingle. But you should be able to move, to struggle against the rope (that’s part of the fun), and to move the rope around your skin.

When you’re tying someone up, Yin says to make sure their hands are below the heart and to get them into a position that’s going to be comfortable for them.

7) Safety.

When tying someone up, tighter might seem better. But that’s not true, Yin says. “If you’re the top, you want to be able to slip about two fingers underneath the rope, so that the rope can be moved around on the skin,” they say. That’s going to make bondage safer for the partner who’s on the bottom.

But, even if you’ve made the ropes loose enough, it’s important to have a pair of safety scissors like these close by, in case your partner needs to be cut out of the ropes quickly.

8) Types of rope.

Stretchy rope is best for beginners right? Wrong. Rope that has any elastic in it is dangerous, especially for beginners, because you can’t tell how much give it will have, Yin says. Instead, you’ll want to use a sturdy rope that moves nicely against skin. “I tend to start my classes with nylon rope, because it slides nicely against the skin, is laid very flat, and is smooth,” Yin says. “And then we graduate on to either cotton or hemp rope, which are the natural fiber ropes that are going to be a little bit more sturdy for any knots.” Cotton and hemp are more likely to give rope burn, though, so they’re not essential for beginners.

9) Aftercare.

People who do bondage often practice something called aftercare, which involves sitting down with your partner afterward and talking about what you did and didn’t like. This is especially important for beginners, since you don’t yet know what about bondage turns you on.

But don’t think that you can’t continue talking about it once that first sit-down is done. Aftercare can last days, Yin says. “If something comes up three days later and you think, ‘Oh my God, that was triggering something else for me,’ to share that with your partner or at least to be able to honestly pinpoint it for yourself is really important.”

So, once your first-time bondage is done, replay the experience again and again. Even if it doesn’t make you realize something that could have gone better, it’ll likely make you even more excited for the next time.

Complete Article HERE!

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7 kinks and fetishes that are more popular than you think

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By Lea Rose Emery

No matter how comfortable you are with a new partner, talking about kinks/fetishes can feel like a big step. But the truth is, they’re way more common than you might think — and if you feel sure that you have a totally weird kink or quirk, you’re almost certainly not alone. Most fetishes are way more common than you would imagine, so there’s really nothing to be embarrassed about.

There are so many popular fetishes out there. That’s because not only are fetishes totally normal, but many of us actually have more than one.  According to one survey by Ann Summers, the sex toy retailer, it’s not uncommon to have more than one kink or fetish. In fact, while more than a quarter of people said they had more than one, 17 percent of people said that they had three or four. So just because somebody’s into BDSM or has a hair fetish, doesn’t mean that’s their only one. That means if you’re feeling self-conscious about your own proclivities, it’s time to relax — we’ve all been there. The more you start talking about and exploring your kinks and fetishes, whether with a partner or a community or even at a sex shop, the more normal you’ll realize they are.

And if you don’t think of yourself as a fetish person, it may be that you just have found yours yet. If you’re interested in playing around, knowing the most common fetishes is a good place to start. Though there’s no international fetish database, you can glean a pretty good idea of the most popular options by seeing what comes up in surveys the most frequently. Once you get a sense of those, you can decide what appeals the most and start experimenting.

Here are the kinks/fetishes that tend to come up the most — because you never know until you try.

1. BDSM

Call it that 50 Shades of Grey effect, call it human nature, but again and again, BDSM tops the list of fetishes. In fact, in that same survey from Ann Summers a whopping 74 percent of people said they were into it. Try subbing, try domming — who knows? You may love both.

2. Foot fetishes

Foot fetishes are another quirk that repeatedly comes at the top of fetish lists. Seriously — having a thing for feet is way more common than you think. This isn’t to be confused with a shoe fetish, which is also very popular, though they two can certainly overlap. Apparently, foot fetishes are so popular because of the way our brains are sometimes wired, although Freud thought it was all to do with the fact that feet look like penises. Which makes me wonder — what the hell did Freud’s penis look like?

3. Costumes and role play

A classic and popular fetish is dressing up and role-playing. In fact, one survey found that this was a fetish that ranked high on the desirability scale and low on the taboo scale, which means it’s an ideal way to ease yourself into trying fetishes. A lot of people are open to it and it’s nothing to feel weird about bringing up. From the classic maid’s uniform to something more daring, there are plenty of costumes to try.

4. Voyeurism and exhibitionism

There’s a reason that “dogging” is so popular in Britain. Some people like to watch others have sex — and some people like to be watched. And of course, some people like both. This fetish can manifest in more vanilla or kinkier ways. It might be that you just watch your partner masturbate or vice versa, maybe you experiment with sex in public places, or maybe group sex helps scratch that itch. You can start with more vanilla versions and work your way up to find where your boundary is.

5. Rubber, latex, and leather

For some people, it’s all about the texture. According to the sex toy retailer Lovehoney, “rubberists” and other texture fetishisms are very popular. It has a BDSM twist, with some people finding that the material itself has a bondage-like quality, although apparently for some it’s the smell that turns them on.

6. Crossdressing

Gender play is another exciting option — and one that you can experiment with to find different limits. Cross-dressing continues to be a popular fetish and can be a great way to experiment with slightly kinkier sex because it can be as simple as switching clothes.

7. Spanking

Though some might put spanking in the BDSM realm, it actually seems to be so popular in its own right that it deserves its own category.  That may be because, for a lot of people, spanking provides a slightly more vanilla option — or an intro to BDSM. It can also be combined with many other fetishes, while for some just a good spanking is enough.

There is no limit to what can be fetishized, but some fetishes are definitely more popular than others. Start experimenting with the more common ones and see what excites you — you never know where it might lead.

Complete Article HERE!

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Kinky Sex Could Be the Secret to Your Success

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Turns out whips and blindfolds are the unseen force behind a lucrative career—and a satisfying love life.

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[C]laudia wasn’t sure if it was nerves or the night before that had given her the confidence to ask her boss for a raise. Either way, negotiating her salary was easier than expected. She’d been practicing, after all… just on something a little less G-Rated.

The 36-year-old mother-of-two, who asked me not to use her last name, had spent the past few days negotiating with her husband about how she could flex her longtime fantasy of dominating him in a way they’d both enjoy. Afterward, she told me, the experience had made her feel confident, valued, secure and pleased at their ability to compromise—feelings which she was surprised to find lasted into the the following day. When she arrived at work, still swimming in the satisfaction of a fantasy realized, she decided this was it. Raise day.

The way Claudia was able to benefit from her erotic encounter is a common theme among people with knacks for kink. Many successful visionaries throughout history, from artists to scientists and even politicians, have had well-documented kinks and fetishes that affected how they operated in their daily lives. I was curious: Could it be that whips and blindfolds are the unseen force behind their artistry, leadership and innovation?

A wave of recent research has confirmed this: If it’s something you desire in the first place, kinky sex can benefit you not just in the bedroom, but outside of it as well. “Unconventional” sexual practices and fantasies, such as BDSM, group sex, or role play, have been shown to reduce psychological stress, improve mental health and can help with satisfying and communicative relationships. Kinky people have also been found to have higher self-worth than those who are too afraid or ashamed to pursue their fantasies; all positive effects, which Los Angeles-based sex therapist, Jamila Dawson, LMFT, says can help optimize your goals, mood and overall well-being even after kinky play ends.

“A healthy relationship to kink can absolutely be the underlying cause of some people’s success,” explains Dawson, who specializes in kink and polyamory. “I see this all the time in my practice.”

No wonder Claudia felt so motivated.

So, how is it that kink is able to give the people who practice it such an edge? Why would getting lost in the fantasy of floggers, blindfolds and safe-words matter in everyday moments like asking for a raise?

The answer is multifaceted, but the primary way kinky sex gives people a life boost is the fascinating way in which it can affect the brain.

Activities like BDSM can actually alter the pattern of blood flow within the brain, creating a number of favorable mental states with positive effects similar to that of mindfulness and meditation, according to recent findings by Dr. Brad J. Sagarin, Professor of Psychology at Northern Illinois University and founder of the BDSM Research Team. These mental states are highly distinctive, altered states of consciousness which can improve mood, enhance cognition and heighten our capacity to form original ideas and novel connections, adds Dr. Justin Lehmiller, a faculty affiliate of The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and author of the blog Sex & Psychology. In the context of kinky sex, these distinct head spaces are called “flow.”

Flow is most often described as a transcendent state of heightened sensory awareness, focus, presence and euphoria. It can be intense—it’s not uncommon for people to feel high, floaty, melty, tingly, or detached from both time and their body. Most commonly, it’s brought on by the endorphins released during a physically intensive experience (flogging or spanking, for example; similar to a runner’s high), but the same feeling can be brought on by passionate mental or emotional stimulation.

Interestingly, the quality of these altered states can differ according to the type of kinky play someone’s involved in. In particular, Dr. Sagarin’s research found that dominance and submission activates two unique types of flow that enhance creative and emotional conditions.

More specifically, Dr. Sagarin found that the participants who played the submissive role in their experiment achieved greater transient hypofrontality, which refers to a feeling of peacefulness and happy detachment, where time has slowed down. Runner’s high, meditation and even some drug highs produce a similar effect. Meanwhile, dominant participants experienced slightly different altered state. As opposed to a dreamlike detachment, those in the dominant role felt a greater sense of control, a loss of self-consciousness, clearer goals and heightened concentration—less of a “high” in their case; more of a laser focus.

When you’re in one of these flow states, Dr. Lehmiller continues, you’re operating with much lower levels of self-awareness. You’re focused; you’re in the zone. It’s like playing an instrument—when you think too hard about what you’re doing and how each note is supposed to sound, you psych yourself out and make mistakes as your body tries to catch up to your brain’s over-analysis. But when you detach from that hyper-awareness of yourself and let things, well, flow, they come out naturally. They sound better.

That’s precisely the mental state in which both creativity and productivity flourish best—when we’re not concerned with moment-to-moment survival or the stressful mundanities of everyday life.

Outside of the bedroom (or dungeon, or… wherever), feelings of flow can stay with a person anywhere from a few minutes to a few days, during which time Dawson, the sex therapist, says many of her clients and kinky acquaintances harness their power for a variety of uses. One acquaintance in particular, she tells me, was able to overcome a severe case of writer’s block the morning after her partner finally obliged her rope bondage fantasy. The catharsis of a fantasy realized—and the freedom to inhabit her desires in a safe and trusting space—put her in a creative mood.

World-famous composer Georg Friedrich Haas is a more well-known example of this. In 2016, The New York Times chronicled the unusual union between Haas and his wife, writer and sex educator Mollena Williams—a 24/7 kinky relationship in which Haas, now a 64-year-old music professor at Columbia University, played the role of Master; Williams, his ever-doting Submissive. Reportedly, the two fell in love after Haas told Williams he wanted to “tame” her on OkCupid. (“I find intense fulfillment in being able to serve in this way,” she told The New York Times, describing the situation as feminist because it’s her choice.)

In the article, Haas directly attributes his success as an artist to his kinky (and sexually vibrant) marriage, which he said had “dramatically improved his productivity and reshaped his artistic outlook.” After three divorces and a lifetime of repressing what he’d once considered “devilish desires,” he explained that the freedom to not only explore, but live in his dominant fantasies had “roughly doubled” his artistic productivity.

This delights, but does not surprise Dawson.

“In general, I’ve found that people who engage in forms of expansive sexuality such as kink are more creative or imaginative in their jobs or recreational life,” she says. “The culture of kink supports their creative drives. It gives them a space to play with the limits and boundaries of their bodies and minds, and with mental states such as surrender, fear, playfulness and surprise. In that sense, kink’s not so different from art, design or any creative venture. It’s a totally valid form of self-expression.”

Of course, not everything kinky immediately leads to a revelation, artistic inspiration or a sudden solution to a long-suffering problem, but, as Dawson points out, getting into a headspace where it’s more likely to happen definitely doesn’t hurt.

In fact, while many people still hold the belief that fantasizing in a relationship means you’re unhappy with your partner (a faulty theory devised by Freud in 1908 which has since been debunked), it has been reported that people who incorporate fantasy into their sex lives reap a surprising number of benefits. Frequent fantasizers have sex more often, engage in a wider variety of erotic activities, have more partners, masturbate more and orgasm more reliably than people who fantasize infrequently, or don’t fantasize at all.

And just having sex can also make you more productive at work. A 2017 study from Oregon State University found that having sex before work—either the night before or the morning of—made people more engaged and efficient on the job.

Fantasy-based sex can also decrease stress and anxiety much like meditation and exercise, only rather than through silence or sweat, the reward comes through say, the satisfying swish of a paddle, or the worshipping of a lovely foot. Kinky sex has also been linked to the sorts of changes in cortisol levels which can reduce psychological and physical stress; correlated with better physical and mental health, increased life span, better coping skills, and improved mood. Show us a job, relationship, creative project or personal goal that can’t be helped by those things.

Expressing a fantasy, a particularly intimate form of connection, can even increase intimacy and connectedness in relationships. One 2009 study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior found people who practice sadomasochism (consensually exploring the pleasure of pain) show an increase in relationship closeness. This, researchers theorized, is because safely executing that kind of play takes a great deal of trust, acceptance and communication.

“Most people in mainstream relationships tend to reserve the most transparent and direct communication for challenging situations like a fight or some obstacle that requires they finally ‘break down’ into total honesty,” Dawson continues. “By contrast, when responsible people engage in kinky acts, there is almost always clear, intimate communication and respect for boundaries, two things that build trust like nothing else.” And even if you identify as vanilla, you can still benefit from communicating like kinky people do: with limits, safety, comfort, and compromise in mind.

Translating that to other areas of your life—either at work or in relationships—isn’t that big of a jump. Midori, a renowned fetish and sexuality educator who teaches a three-day domination intensive for women called ForteFemme, tells me her students utilize her kinky negotiation tactics in a number of practical ways.

One, an IT manager, uses her negotiation training to “discover what motivates potential employees and their compatibility with the scope of the project and team environment.” Another has a special-needs child in school. When school administrators tried to shirk their responsibilities and blame her parenting, she used the physical postures of dominance and negotiation skills Midori taught her to advocate for her daughter’s well-being.

“We learn so much about our bodies and our minds when we engage in kinky sex,” explains Dawson. “It absolutely makes sense that we’d transfer that knowledge to other endeavors.”

Perhaps this transference is why people who engage in BDSM and kink have been found to be happier, more conscientious and less neurotic than people who don’t engage in so-called “deviant” sex.

The question that remains then, is not whether kink is safe, healthy and beneficial, but how you can apply it to your life. If you’ve been harboring kinkier desires and feel empowered to communicate them, one way to cash in is pure honesty: Turn to your partner after reading this and have a discussion about how you’d like him or her to spank you, armed with the knowledge that them doing so can benefit you in ways beyond the thrill of the sensation.

Ideally, that knowledge can help mitigate any shame or embarrassment the prospect of sharing and negotiating your kinky fantasies may bring, but if you’re not ready to communicate your kinky interests—or simply don’t harbor them at all—there are other ways to go about reaping the rewards.

“Let’s be clear, it’s not kinky sex itself that makes life better,” Midori cautions. “It’s the conversational skills and self-knowledge needed to engage in it that makes life better.”

A small, but significant tool she recommends is to start noticing and logging each occasion you don’t speak what you really want, or you minimize your wants in comparison to another’s. These are areas to apply the communication, negotiation, self-awareness and creative thought kink affords. Changing these habits isn’t easy, she says, but they address a lifetime of putting your own needs aside. In kink, when there’s consent, it’s okay to put yourself first.

Dawson offers some of her own advice inspired by safe BDSM practices to help you reach flow during any kind of sex, be it vanilla or covered in more leather than an industrial tannery.

“Setting the scene, taking the time to breathe and slowing sex down to a pace that’s much slower than you’re accustomed to are all things kinky people do to get the most out of their scenes and interactions,” she says. Enhanced pleasure and erotic creativity, Dawson reminds us, can be achieved when you’re not focused on a particular outcome—rather, simply immerse yourself in the experience, concentrate fully, and remain open to what arises in the moment. You can get into the same sort of flow states that latex-clad dominatrixes can, sans the craving for control.

The experience of living one’s fantasy in a safe, consensual space that’s free of judgment and expectation, it seems, far outweighs the perceived benefits of keeping kinky desires under wraps. If you have them, try bringing them to light. At the very least, you might get a raise out of it.

Complete Article HERE!

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8 Bondage Sex Positions For When You Want To Get A Little Kinky

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[Q]uestion: Do you have a bedframe? A silk scarf? A tie? A pair of stockings? Something you could wrap around your arm without it chafing or pulling hair? Great, let’s talk bondage.

If you are looking to dip a toe into kink, bondage is a great place to start: Most of the tools you need are likely lying around your house already, making this a fairly low-fuss fulfillment of any BDSM fantasies you may have. But before you grab the nearest bandana and strap your partner to a kitchen chair, there are a few things you should know.

First of all, you and your partner should discuss your boundaries: which of you is willing to be tied up and/or tied down; what you want done to you in that position, and what you don’t; how much pressure you’re into; and what safe word will signal when one of you has had enough.

Pay attention to your partner’s body language during the act, too, and ask them how they’re doing if you think they look uncomfortable.

And remember: You don’t need to hog-tie someone to reap the erotic rewards of restraint—the mere act of having your wrists bound, whether or not you actually could worm your way out of the ties if you wanted, is hot all on its own.

See for yourself with these eight bondage-perfect sex positions.

1 Conquistador

How to: Missionary is the easiest possible position for beginner bondage: Simply lie on your back with your arms above your head and your legs spread, then have your partner bind your wrists and ankles to the bed frame.

In a previous interview with WomensHealthMag.com, licensed sex therapist Vanessa Marin recommended Sportsheets’ under-the-bed restraint system ($29, amazon.com), because its velcro cuffs are easily removed for a quick escape if you decide in the moment that you no longer want to be bound.

2 Cowgirl

Whether you opt for standard or reverse cowgirl, woman-on-top positions provide a perfect opportunity for you to take complete control.

How to: Have your partner lie on their back and bind their wrists and ankles, either together or to the bed frame, with a silk scarf, a tie, or hell, even your own underwear. Once they’re adequately restrained, straddle them facing forward or away, whichever you prefer.

Because they’re tied down, you can switch it up as often as you see fit—playing with your clit, or maybe pulsing a bullet vibe on your partner’s perineum, nipples, or clit (try the Tenga Iroha Stick, $20, amazon.com.) Basically, you get to do whatever you want—you’re in charge.

3 Leap Frog

How to: Lie with your stomach flat on the mattress (or wherever you’re going to be having sex) and have your partner bind your wrists together over your head. Maybe have them blindfold you, too, because why the hell not?

Then, have them lift your hips to enter you from behind, keeping your shoulders down and your knees rooted while he (or she) thrusts.

4 Rear Entry Standing

Here’s one for the flexible among you!

How to: Bend over and have your partner bind your wrists to your ankles, with your feet anchored shoulder-width apart for better balance.

Have your partner enter you from behind, keeping their hands on your hips to make sure you don’t topple over. Try a hands-free couples vibrator, like the Eva II ($135), for added clitoral stimulation.

5 Pinball Wizard

This one is like the leap frog, but in reverse.

How to: Lie down with your back flush to the mattress and then lift your hips into the air, as if you were doing a bridge in yoga. Then, have your partner bind your wrists behind your back and grab your butt, so you can wrap your legs around their waist as they thrust.

6 Seated Rear Entry

How to: For this one, grab a sturdy chair and park your partner’s butt in it. Then, tie their wrists and ankles to the frame, and once they’re ready to go—after a little oral sex, maybe—straddle them and pump up and down. Whether you face them or turn away is entirely up to you.

7 Knees To Chest

How to: To best introduce bondage into a knees-to-chest position, have your partner bind your ankles and calves together. Then, while you’re lying on your back, drape them over one shoulder as your partner penetrates you. You can also make use of those restraints or even cuffs, and have your partner bind your wrists above your head.

8 Downward Dog

How to: For this one, assume roughly the same position as leap frog, but have your partner handcuff your wrists behind your back and spread your legs. They should kneel between your legs and enter you from behind while your body is flat against the mattress, ground, kitchen table, wherever. Then, have them reach a hand around to stroke your clitoris—because to neglect it would be very rude indeed.

Complete Article HERE!

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BDSM and consent

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How to stop rough sex crossing the line into abuse

[W]hen allegations of assault were made against New York’s top prosecutor Eric Schneiderman this week, he denied them, saying engaging in non-consensual sex was a line he would not cross.

“In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone,” he told The New Yorker magazine, which broke the story.

Four women say he repeatedly slapped them and one said he insisted she call him “master” in non-consensual situations.

One former girlfriend, Michelle Manning Barish, said: “This was under no circumstances a sex game gone wrong… I did not consent to physical assault.” New York prosecutors are investigating the allegations.

This is not the first time a man accused of assault has claimed he was consensually engaging in rough sex (in Mr Schneiderman’s case, he was in a sexual relationship with three of his four accusers; a fourth woman said he hit her after she rebuffed him).

In 2014, Canadian musician and former radio host Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted of multiple sexual assault charges after several women claimed he had choked, slapped and bitten them without warning or consent.

And in 2015, nine women accused adult film star James Deen of assaulting them and not respecting their sexual boundaries or safe words. He denied the accusations and no charges were ever brought.

In recent days, Mr Schneiderman’s case has come under close scrutiny in the BDSM community, an overlapping acronym for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism.

The BBC spoke with sex experts and prominent members of the community who said full and free consent was a vital element of the practice, in which partners consent to inflicting or enduring pain or physical abuse.

They said they were keen to explain what does, in fact, make a consensual BDSM relationship.

“Stuff like this, doesn’t give [BDSM] a good name,” said Allen TG, one of the directors of Torture Garden, the world’s largest fetish club. “Generally in a BDSM relationship, there are fairly strong guidelines – it’s all about consent.”

Many people who practise BDSM, which is an aspect of kinky sex, may not consider themselves to be in a BDSM relationship or an active member of the community because the exploration of boundaries in sexual imagination are deeply personal and subject to individual tastes.

Certified sex coach Sarah Martin explained: “A lot of people start with something as simple as a blindfold, and it can be erotic and connecting, it doesn’t have to involve equipment or paraphernalia.

“Consent should be freely given, and it should be reversible at any point,” said Ms Martin, who is also executive director of the World Association of Sex Coaches. “Many people think that if you consent, that you agree until it’s done, but that’s not at all how it’s done.”

BDSM vocabulary

  • Kink – a broad term that usually encompasses sexual acts considered outside the norm
  • BDSM – this acronym is described as a pre-agreed power exchange, sometimes not explicitly sexual
  • Dominant and submissive – the names for the roles individuals enact during BDSM practice
  • Play and scene – BDSM participants describe themselves as playing in a scene
  • Munch – a casual social meet-up for people involved in or interested in BDSM
  • Vanilla – refers to someone, or sex, that is not kinky
  • Safe words – words or a gesture pre-agreed with your partner to alert them to your physical and mental limits
  • Aftercare – argued to be just as important as the scene, this is personal to the individual but may involve blankets, cuddles, conversation and a cup of tea to ease both participants physically and emotionally back to normality

To exercise informed consent, the sub – the abbreviated form for submissive – needs to know what activities will take place and how.

“Different bodies respond to touch in different ways,” explained the sex coach. “You may agree to spanking, but then if your partner uses a paddle, then that’s not informed consent.”

“It is entirely unacceptable to ‘surprise’ someone with slaps, whips, blindfolds, or anything like that if you haven’t spoken to them about it before,” said anonymous sex blogger Girl on the Net.

Mr Allen added that there’s a misconception that the dominant partner – or dom as they are sometimes called – is the one with control.

“A good dom is giving pleasure to the submissive, and that’s what gives the dom pleasure. If it’s only going one way, then that’s when it’s not healthy,” the fetish club organiser said.

Clinical sexologist Dr Celina Criss agreed. “It can be said that the power in a scene lies with the submissive because nothing can happen without their agreement.”

Playing it safe

Communication and understanding are cornerstones to any healthy relationship, the experts say. Because there is intimacy in divulging personal fantasies, a level of trust is also developed when establishing a BDSM relationship.

“People who participate in the BDSM community pride themselves on their communication and negotiation skills,” said Dr Criss. “Ideally, negotiation happens before partners ever touch each other.”

Traffic light colours are common safe words used between BDSM partners

Girl on the Net recommended listening carefully, reading the other person’s body language and tone, asking questions to check in and making sure they’re comfortable at every step of play.

The anonymous author also explained that in BDSM there are “pre-agreed safe words or gestures that mean – stop this immediately”.

A simple and common example of this is the traffic light system, using colour cards or the words themselves. Green means “that’s great, keep going”, explained Ms Martin. “Yellow is a check in, but not necessarily a stop, and red is no – it means stop, it means it’s done.”

So why isn’t “no”, as a word, enough?

“For some people, saying no but not being listened to may be part of the sexual fantasy,” explained the sex coach. “But you’ve negotiated this ahead of time so the dominant knows that’s part of your cathartic pleasure.”

Crossing the line

Overstepping a sexual boundary can and does happen, but sexologist Dr Criss said an adherence to communication, negotiation and repeated mutual consent keeps rough sex from becoming wilful abuse.

“People who are not involved in BDSM are likely to have many misconceptions based on what they’ve seen in movies,” she said, referring specifically to the popular erotic romance novel and film series Fifty Shades of Grey.

Ms Martin warned that such mainstream depictions of BDSM relationships are fantasy, and almost never show the level of negotiation and ongoing conversations that shape a successful BDSM experience. She says: “The quickest way for [abuse] to happen is if there isn’t communication.”

Girl on the Net likened it to a contact sport. “BDSM is to abuse what boxing is to being punched by surprise. The former is done with consent and an understanding of risks. The latter isn’t, and is assault.

“I also know that ‘BDSM made me do it’ has been an excuse used by powerful men in the past to try and dodge accountability for their actions. It’s not acceptable… BDSM is not an excuse for abuse.”

“It can be sexy, but also deeply caring,” explained sex coach Ms Martin. Kinky sex should never be used as a way to defend violent behaviour, she said.

“It makes me feel it makes an attempt to take advantage of general societal ignorance of BDSM,” she said.

Complete Article HERE!

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Here’s How Consent and BDSM Role-Play Actually Work

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In an article published in The New Yorker, four women detailed the extreme psychological and physical violence they say they experienced at the hands of former New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman. In response, Schneiderman resigned, but he also made a disturbing statement linking these women’s allegations with sexual role play. His claim was promptly dismissed by Ronan Farrow, one of the reporters who broke the story, and the women who allege he assaulted them. (One of the women wasn’t even in a relationship with Schneiderman at the time, and all the alleged acts of violence happened well outside the context of sex.) The Cut spoke to sex and BDSM educator Barbara Carrellas, who explains exactly why Schneiderman’s “role play” defense is so flawed.


[R]ole play means two people had a conversation and decided: I think this sounds really hot, now how can we sensibly play this out. You need to negotiate before you start playing. When you negotiate, you talk transparently about what you like, your no-go zones and you state what (in certain circumstances) you might be okay with. We call it the yes/no/maybe list. For acts that you decide are a “maybe,” you should think very deeply about what conditions would have to be in place for that “maybe” to be a “yes.” Get specific — there can’t be any surprises. You also distinguish between what you would give and what you would like to receive. Maybe you enjoy being spanked, but you have no interest in spanking? Then you and your partner can switch lists you can see where they match up.

Being slapped, choked, spit on, and called racial slurs out of nowhere by a drunk person with no prior discussion of kink or role play is a red light of volcanic brightness. For most people, those fall under “edge play,” and that’s the most carefully negotiated play in BDSM. It’s much better to let a desire go unfulfilled for the moment than to be left physically or emotionally injured.

When you have both consented to something that requires skill, or has potential to trigger — such as receiving a slap on the face — your partner should know how to safely execute it and be prepared to support you emotionally. The kind of BDSM we have been talking about, consensual play, requires affirmative yeses, which are all prenegotiated. Of course, you can consent to being slapped on the face, or to being called a slave, but that did not happen here. The slapping as described in this article was bang-on brute violence.

In BDSM role play face-slapping is a trigger for a whole lot of people. The trigger level is so high that we really need to get three times consent. People who slap should learn how to do it safely, and you would never slap someone on an ear. Before the role play, the slapper would ask, are you sure you have no triggers from childhood? Have you ever been slapped before? If so, under what circumstances? Someone might say, “I was slapped a lot in the past by someone who hated me but I want to try being slapped in role play so I can see what it’s like.” I would move very slowly and I’d probably stop after the slap so we can process it and if the receiver wanted to go further we would pick up at a later date.

Responsible BDSM players do not negotiate or play while intoxicated. There was a lot of drinking reported in the story about Schneiderman. You can’t give consent and you can’t accept consent when you are intoxicated. When you are asking for consent you are asking someone to turn over their emotions and their bodies to loan you a piece of their power. We don’t lend power to drunks and drug addicts. People who are BDSM sadists or doms are not enacting their will on a poor, helpless victim; they are accepting responsibility to give someone an experience they have asked for and they are responsible for the result.

A master-slave contract takes time, thought, and sensitivity to negotiate. Schneiderman’s reported references to terms like “master” and “slave” are alarming. Master-slave contracts are negotiated between two consenting, loving people, and they usually take years. They are fine-tuned so that everyone knows where they stand. You discuss exactly how much power is given up and in which situations. They typically do not include what someone eats, and most masters do not order their slave to remove things like tattoos from their bodies.

Race play requires extra-sensitive negotiation and consent. It’s reported that Schneiderman called one of his partners his “brown slave” and demanded that she repeat that she was his property. Race play is just as, if not more, delicate a negotiation than master-slave. It is so loaded. They are some of the deepest, edgiest emotional role-play scenes that two loving people can agree to do together. They are not entered into casually. Or when drunk.

All play requires an affirmative yes from both partners to all planned activities. He was hitting these women so hard they had marks the next day. Marks would be part of the negotiation — you’d ask each other, “Are marks okay?” In cases where you have negotiated no marks and it seems like a sex act might leave a mark, a responsible top will stop and say: “I will not go any further because I can’t be certain that this won’t leave a mark; what else would you like that would not leave a mark?” You have to talk these things through and you have to do that when you are sober. This takes skill.

Nonconsensual breath play (choking) is about the most hideous nonconsensual act in SM, or at least it’s way high on the list. When you are controlling someone’s breath it is so dangerous. Most people don’t swim in that pond. You can do choking with a lot of acting, there are safe places on the neck like the collarbone. You can then put your fingers up over the throat to give the illusion of choking. BDSM is a collection of skills. BDSM players learn from people who know what they are doing.

Always establish a safe word.
When you use a safe word it means that you have to stop. You don’t want to deploy your safe word because you are miserable or hurt: Maybe you need to pee? Maybe a rope is too tight. You stop, come out of role immediately and ask: What do you need? The safe word would stop all play instantly — it doesn’t mean, okay, this is completely over; it just means when it’s uttered everything stops until we figure out why. Safe words are usually words that don’t come up during sex, saying “no no no no no” could be part of the scene. So when someone screams “grapefruit” in the middle of a rape fantasy, it’s clear what that means.

Accidents happen even when there is consent and proper preparation, but there’s a way to deal with that.
Of course role play doesn’t always go exactly as planned. If the giver accidentally makes a wrong stroke and hits some place they didn’t intend to hit, I recommend that the top should acknowledge it. You don’t have to come out of role, you don’t have to grovel. But if you tell the bottom “that was unintentional” that is very important for creating trust and letting the scene swim on. The top might put their hand on the spot to take the sting out. Or give them a kiss, and you can do all of that in a very dominant fashion.

Consent is ongoing, and it can be rescinded at any time.
Withdrawing consent is not renegotiation. Even if these women had consented to a little bit of rough sex (and there’s nothing wrong with that), they did not consent to being brutalized. They did not consent to being slapped in the face on the ear. They didn’t consent to being choked. It doesn’t matter what the role play was if they didn’t consent to that. Role-playing is consensual pretending, it is not BDSM without consent. It’s not violence and abuse.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to use handcuffs during sex in the best (and safest) way

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Please, please, please avoid cheap metal cuffs.

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[C]onsidering trying BDSM? If you’re looking for a beginner‘s way in, handcuffs are a really simple and super-fun way to start.

“Restraints are a fantastic way to explore the world of bondage and discover a new level of pleasure and play,” says Megan McCormack, sex expert for Ann Summers. “Using handcuffs may seem pretty self-explanatory, but there are a few key things to know to ensure you’re getting the most of being cuffed and doing it safely.”

Introducing restraints

When most people think of BDSM, a lovely, gentle chat is probably the last thing that springs to mind. But any form of BDSM play needs to be based on absolute trust and effective communication between partners.

“Establish consent, boundaries and safe words before you begin exploring,” Megan explains. “Talk to your partner about exactly what turns you on. Having this discussion through ‘dirty talk’ allows you to go into detail and build up a scenario to play out later, while building the suspense.

“Set the scene; seduce and relax with your partner,” she advises. Don’t have too many alcoholic drinks for ‘dutch courage’ though, safe BDSM play operates on the Safe, Sane, Consensual principle. This basically means you should be in a sensible frame of mind to take part. “Light candles, kiss and build the anticipation of what’s to come. A slow build makes your body more reactive to sensations,” Megan adds.
Pick your handcuffs style

There are so many different types of handcuffs and restraints, it’s really not necessary to walk away with bruised wrists (unless you’re into that, of course). A dominatrix once told me to never, ever use that cheap metal cuffs you see because they will cut your wrists up so badly. Avoid them at all costs.

“Always begin with soft cuffs, such as Silicone Quickie Cuffs. These stretchy handcuffs allow you to explore restraints without having to worry about getting stuck,” she says. You can play around with control, all in the comfort of knowing there are no pesky keys to lose.” Hypoallergenic silicone is a great and safe material for sex toys and accessories – and they’re soft, flexible and strong.

Chinese rope restraints and rope cuffs are also great introductory restraints for first-timers. “They’re made from soft yet sturdy material, and with sliding knots rather than clasp openings,” Megan explains. “Buckle cuffs are often the easiest type to use and their fabric or leather straps cause less irritation to the wrist during wear.” Plus, they’re often adjustable so you can have them as tight or loose as makes you comfortable.

Putting them on

Before anyone gets handcuffed to anything, you need to pick your position. “Whether you want your hands tied above your head, behind your back or to the bedposts, the options are endless,” Megan says. “If you’re the one being retained, you’ll have to rely on your partner to position you in your chosen cuffs. With your discussion beforehand, you should both be quite clear of what everyone wants and is comfortable with.

“Starting with either yourself or your partner laid on your back, and restrained with hands above your head, is a simple and pleasurable position to start in.” Whatever you want to do once you’re in position, is totally up to you. But it’ll leave you free to get into loads of awesome sex positions. “It also means that you can explore erogenous zones and both give and receive oral sex,” Megan says.

What next?

Communicate

“Reassure your partner by talking to them throughout, and telling them exactly what you’re going to do to them next,” Megan says. “This allows them to voice any concerns and can also settle any nerves they may have.”

Play with temperature and other accessories

Temperature play is so much fun, and introduces new sensations to your sex play. “Freezing lube in an ice cube tray is a super fun (and slippery) way to use it. With your lover’s hands already cuffed above their head, add a blindfold,” she says. “One sense becomes heightened when another is taken away. Watch how their body responds as you slide the ice cubes over them – the coldness will also increase skin sensitivity.”

Rubbing the frozen lube on their neck, nipples, inner thighs and genitals makes bloody rush to the area, too. “Kissing and licking their erect nipples, or gently blowing on their chilled, lubed neck will be the ultimate tease.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Finding power through play: How BDSM can fuel confidence

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By Emerald Bensadoun

[M]arianne LeBreton is suspended in mid-air, tied in an upside-down futumomo, legs bound together. The ropes cascade in intricate patterns, beginning at her ankles and working their way all the way around her wrists. The ropes arch her body backward. Her breathing steadies. Serenity washes through her. The slight discomfort of certain positions causes slow burns to spread across her body—but the pain is secondary to the relief. LeBreton becomes entrenched in a state of flow. Her mind is quiet. She’s enjoying the intensity, both emotionally and physically.

For LeBreton, bondage has become a meditative experience. When it comes to receiving pain, which she enjoys, it takes a certain focus and determination. LeBreton finds rope— especially Japanese rope bondage—to be particularly meditative. She equates BDSM to an empowering “sense of calm,” but it didn’t start out that way.

“What colour should it be?” thought LeBreton. She wanted her boyfriend to like it. As an 18-year-old student on a budget, it couldn’t be too expensive. For almost a week she scrolled through the internet until she finally came across what she was looking for. It was even in her price range. This was the one. Satisfied, she clicked “purchase.” LeBreton had just bought her first flogger—a whip with long tendrils coming out the end. “It felt like the beginning of something for me,” said LeBreton.

When asked about her first experience with BDSM, she grins from ear to ear, trying to visualize the details. “There wasn’t Fifty Shades of Grey but there was hentai,” she says. At the age of 13, LeBreton became fascinated with Bondage Fairies, an erotic manga about highly sexual, human-shaped female forest fairies with wings who work as hunters and police protecting the forest.

Now 30, LeBreton has an MA in sexology from Université du Québec à Montréal and owns KINK Toronto, an up-and-coming BDSM boutique in Toronto’s Annex. BDSM, she says, is about much more than pain—it’s about empowerment. LeBreton says we could use a little more playfulness in our lives. More sensuality. More discovery. “That’s usually what I hear from customers who are curious; they are excited and thrilled to be daring and to be doing this for themselves or their partners,” says LeBreton. “It’s definitely a journey of self-discovery and acceptance.” In her workshops, being naked and engaging in play publicly, she says, has helped with her confidence and body image.

In 2015, Christian Joyal, who has a PhD in psychology from the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, and his colleagues published a paper on fantasies; ranging from sex in a public places, to tying up a sexual partner, to watching same-gender sex and pornography. But there were also fantasies about being dominated sexually. These were present in 65 per cent of women and 53 per cent of men; dominating someone sexually, present in 47 per cent of women and 60 per cent of men; being tied up for sexual pleasure which appealed to 52 per cent of women and 46 per cent of men.

“From what we’ve seen, most people have a very strict image of what [BDSM] should look like, which is very restricting,” she says. BDSM, she notes, doesn’t have to involve leather. It doesn’t have to involve pain. Another mistake is attributing masculine or feminine traits to erotic behaviour. For many people, BDSM is a healthy way to express their sexuality and grain a sense of control in their lives and of their bodies.

In her workshops, being naked and engaging in play publicly, she says, has helped with her confidence and body image

When it comes to dominance and submission, negotiations, and boundaries, safety and consent are crucial. While the words “dominant” or “top” may conjure up images of complete control, those in the BDSM world know that the submissive, or “bottom” hold true power. “The bottom is the one who gets to decide what they would like, what they do not want, what their limits are,” says LeBreton, “It’s the top’s responsibility to follow that through. Of course some people have very specific kinks where it’s kind of like ‘I want you to take control.’ But that’s negotiated and within limits set by the bottom.”

Feeling in control can also be about letting go. Relinquishing that sense of control they exert in every other part of their lives can be therapeutic. For this reason, LeBreton says that men, especially those in positions of higher power, will often identify as submissives in the bedroom.

Alex Zalewski says he’s always been a little rough. But in a seven-year “vanilla” relationship, it was difficult to break routine. Months later, for the first time in Zalewski’s life, he felt horribly unsure of himself. He’d been flirting with a new girl for some time whose friends invited him to their apartment. But he was confused. “Spit in my mouth,” she demanded. “Slap me.” Zalewski was torn between arousal and inner turmoil. If there was one thing he’d ever been taught from a young age, it’s that good boys don’t hit women.

For Zalewski, empowerment is a quiet confidence, and feeling a level of control that builds pleasure from the knowledge that he is fulfilling his partners’ desires. Zalewski, who lives in Toronto’s downtown core, offers relationship and personal coaching for various clients in his spare time, but he doesn’t charge money for it. The women in his life kept asking him for advice on BDSM. He decided he would try his best. In 2016 he created Authentic Connections, to help people overcome their barriers in exchange for a relationship they’ve always wanted. His goal was to have someone open up to him enough about the types of barriers that were preventing his clients and their partners from having the sex life they wanted to have.

“What are your fantasies? What are your desires? What do you want out of your partner or partners?” He would ask them. Once he could get them to admit what they actually wanted, they would work out a plan. Develop themselves, develop their skills to be able to do the things that would help them achieve their goals. Zalewski says a lot of the time, this is the most difficult step for the people he’s met with. It’s hard for people to step outside their comfort zones sometimes, he says, because they’ve been conditioned into associating kink and BDSM with abuse and mental instability.

A person becomes curious in BDSM. They don’t tell their friends. Maybe they’re afraid of being ridiculed or judged. Maybe rejection. But maybe it’s none of those things. Maybe they just want to keep their personal life, personal.

In 2006, the Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality published an article that compared BDSM practitioners to published norms on 10 psychological disorders. Compared to the normative samples, those who actively engage in BDSM had lower levels of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological sadism, psychological masochism, borderline pathology and paranoia.

But just because a person likes to be controlled in the bedroom doesn’t necessarily mean those needs translate into the real world and can have dangerous implications for parties involved.

Jen Chan was 16. Her boyfriend was 24. He was her dominant and she was his submissive. “That was generally the dynamic of how our relationship went,” she says. But chipping away at her self-esteem, her boyfriend would pressure her into doing things she wasn’t sure if she was comfortable with, and she would go along with them, afraid of appearing inexperienced and childish to her older boyfriend. While BDSM allows you to play out different scenarios from that of everyday life, she says her first experience with dominance and submission was just an extension of the life she already had.

It’s hard for people to step outside their comfort zones sometimes, he says, because they’ve been conditioned into associating kink and BDSM with abuse and mental instability.

After their relationship ended, Chan says it took her several years until she felt confident enough to engage in BDSM again. Coming out as queer, she says, has also made all the difference. Chan now identifies as a switch, which is someone who enjoys partaking in both dominant and submissive roles, or both topping and bottoming.

“There is something very staged, controlled and intentional about BDSM, at least that’s the way I interact with it,” says Chan, who adds that her empowerment with BDSM lies in feeling like she’s doing something adventurous in an environment of her choice. Feeling satisfied sexually, she says, has made her feel more confident in the real world.

Is what you’re doing safe? Is what you’re doing consensual? Zalewski says risk awareness, the amount of risk a person is comfortable taking in order to attain the pleasure plays a large role in BDSM. From flesh hook suspension to unprotected sex, it’s important to understand the personal level of risk you are comfortable with when it comes to the acts you want to perform.

Chan says that while engaging in BDSM gave her the opportunity to try new things and step into new roles, most importantly, it allowed her to reclaim control, sexually. As a person begins to immerse themselves in BDSM, Chan says, they start to learn more about what makes them comfortable, where their boundaries lie, all while pushing themselves to continually learn new things—and to her, that’s all empowerment really is.

Complete Article HERE!

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Everything you need for a beginner’s kink-friendly Valentine’s Day

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If vanilla sex doesn’t really do it for you, imagine the bounty that Valentine’s Day could be if you decided to celebrate it the BDSM-friendly way – with all the necessary kink toys.

Whether you’ve always looked at handcuffs with a glint in your eye or got interested in kink thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s a fun playground to express your sexual personality and have fun with your partner. If you’re a beginner, start slow and enjoy the exploration. We have a few recommendations to help you begin your journey too.

1. Burn your copy of Fifty Shades and grab one of these instead.

Fifty Shades of Grey may be a popular book, but it’s a poor guide when it comes to properly honoring the rules of BDSM. For that, you’ll need to turn back to some of the classics in the genre.We have a handy list right here we highly recommend. In addition to the classics, a book like The Ultimate Guide To Kink is a great way to learn about the rules and concepts that BDSM is defined by.

Price on Amazon: $19.18 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle)

2. Try out restraints.

The only way to find out if one or both of you like restraints is to give it a try. While you could start with a regular old pair of handcuffs, we suggest something with a little padding to ease you into the experience. If you really enjoy it, upgrade to a nicer pair (Ardour Crafts makes a solid set).

Price on Amazon: $9.99

3. Experiment with a blindfold.

If you’d like to see what sensory deprivation is like, a blindfold is a good place to start. We suggest you forego the super cheap ones and try out a wider style that completely blocks out light that can seep in around the nose or at the top of the forehead. Try pairing it with the handcuffs to see how it feels. There’s lots to choose from in the kink world when it comes to masks, but this is a classic start.

Price on Amazon: $6.99

4. Explore your sadomasochistic side.

If you think you might like spanking (or know you do), trying out a crop is the next best option. It’s not quite as intense as a full whip and creates a more concentrated sting. If you’re super into it, try out a horse whip next – you won’t regret it.

Price on Amazon: $16.99

5. Strap on a collar.

Submissives love the feeling of a leather collar around their necks. This one attaches a leash that’s perfect for that extra bit of roleplay you may be looking for. Put all these goodies together, and your Valentine’s Day is going to leave chocolates and flowers in the dust.

Price on Amazon: $25.99

6. Rope Bondage.

Beginner? Just getting started and not sure what you need or what to do?  The Twisted Monk crew answers the top five questions they get from folks trying rope for the first time to help you find your way picking out your rope kit. (For more in-depth product and ordering information, check out their FAQ.)

Complete Article HERE!

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What a leather convention can teach everyone about sex and consent

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I don’t think I’d ever realized just how “vanilla” I was, and how little I understood about all of the ways you can engage in fun, healthy, consensual, adventurous sex.

“Hotel is closed for private event” read the signs affixed to the front of the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill last weekend. A steady stream of people, mostly men, many in leather harnesses, some in collars and on leashes, and some simply in jeans and sweaters, walked in and out in an almost continuous stream.

Mid-Atlantic Leather (MAL), now in its 48th year, is a three-day long celebration of the leather community, a subculture that celebrates various sexual kinks, many centered around leather and toys. Bears, daddies, pups and others identifying with various subsets roam the Hyatt Regency, participating in conference-like demonstrations about suspension (BDSM where you’re bound and hung) and electro (BDSM involving electric shocks), buying handcrafted leather goods and sex toys, and, of course, partying. (Actual sex was not part of the convention but no doubt took place in private.) It’s a predominantly LGBTQ centric space, although look closely enough and you’re sure to find people on every part of the gender and sexuality spectrum.

My first MAL was in the winter of 2016. I’d just gone through a breakup and my friend had suggested that perhaps it would be good for me to explore life beyond my comfort zone. “Just get ready,” he’d said, “it may be more than your little vanilla heart can handle.” And he wasn’t entirely wrong. It wasn’t that I couldn’t handle it, but I don’t think I’d ever realized just how “vanilla” I was, and how little I understood about all of the ways you can engage in fun, healthy, consensual, adventurous sex.

That first year I met Adam, a dentist in town from Texas just for MAL. “You look like you could use a drink,” he said back in a hotel room he was sharing with a friend of mine.

“Do I look that out of place?” I asked. I’d put on a leather jacket to try to blend in.

“Not out of place,” he said, “just kind of shocked.”

And shocked I was. Not necessarily at anything that was going on at the hotel that night, but more so at the fact that for the better part of my life I’d allowed myself to believe that this kind of sexual openness was only available to a certain kind of person.

“Where I grew up, there wasn’t really anything like this,” said Anthony, a 30-year-old living in Arlington, Va., who grew up in Portsmouth. (The sources for this story preferred that only first names be used, for privacy reasons). “There was no kink culture, and I really wanted to explore it. Everyone here was super welcoming, and that’s why I keep coming back.”

This was a common sentiment. “It’s a different part of the gay family,” said Garret, 28, who lives in Washington. “We all have different interests … and if nobody else respects that, come to MAL because they do here.”

Respect, as it turns out, is a dominating theme throughout the course of the weekend. You might expect that when many attendees are walking around in only a jockstrap and a harness, but it is pleasantly surprising to see how strictly they adhere to that principle. In the era of #MeToo, when more and more queer folks are being vocal about the role consent plays in queer spaces, perhaps the leather and kink communities have something to teach the general public about active and enthusiastic consent.

Ask for permission before petting. Hold out your hand and let the pup come to you first. If the pup doesn’t, or turns or growls, let them be as they may not want to or have permission. This is rule No. 5 as listed on the board outside the 10th anniversary mosh at the MAL Puppy Park, a yearly tradition in which individuals who participate in pup play — a BDSM role-play wherein one participant acts as the “pup” and one as the handler — have an opportunity to interact with other pups. Other rules include: Nudity is not permitted in public spaces, genitals cannot be exposed and DO NOT pull on a pup’s tail or collar. It can cause injury and is disrespectful. Change some of the verbiage and perhaps these would be appropriate guidelines to post at the Academy Awards.

“It’s where I met my current roommate,” said Allyn, a 31-year-old originally from Wisconsin who now lives in Washington, of his first MAL experience. “It was exhilarating. I’d never seen anything like it. It make me feel brave and nervous at the same time.” He didn’t speak to his would-be roommate the first night they met, however. “I mean, I had a ball gag in at the time,” he recounted.

Zack, 23, from Baltimore, also used the world “exhilarating” when describing his first MAL experience. “I got chills coming down the escalator into the lobby of the hotel,” he said. “It’s the closest thing to Folsom I’ve ever been too,” a reference to the San Francisco street fair that’s the world’s largest leather celebration.

Everyone I spoke to talked about descending that escalator on the evening of the opening party. It is truly a complete sensory experience. The sight, sound and smell of wall-to-wall leather and latex on every kind of body, not just seen but celebrated and appreciated.

While I was talking to Garret about the weekend, someone he appeared to know approached him, whispered something in his ear and, after he nodded yes, lifted Garret’s arm and began to sniff his armpit. Garret continued to answer my questions without pause. “There may be something over here that’s not your thing, but then you’ll look over there and see something going on that you’re totally into,” he explained “Don’t be shy, don’t judge other people for something you don’t understand. And above all, come and have a good time. No one is here to be spectacled. It can be a learning and cultural experience.” The sniffer had moved on to his other armpit by the time he finished talking.

Although I have yet to be brave enough to buy and wear a harness to MAL myself, each year I attend I move closer toward that goal. At the very least, the event has highlighted for me the fact that there is an exciting world beyond the “vanilla” one I’d relegated myself to — and has given me a better understanding of the queer community as a whole. At one point, in the leather market, a man who had recently undergone top surgery was trying on a new harness next to a group of folks signing to one another, while feet away a $1,400 bejeweled pup hood was on sale. Only at MAL.

Complete Article HERE!

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A Very Sexy Beginner’s Guide to BDSM Words

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Me talk dirty one day.

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[T]he vocabulary of BDSM can be intimidating to newcomers (newcummers, heh heh). What is your domme talking about when she tells you to to stop topping from the bottom and take off your Zentai suit for some CBT? What, while we’re at it, is a domme? So, let’s start with the basics: “BDSM” stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism, the core pillars of kinky fun. Beyond that, there’s a whole language to describe the consensual power exchange practices that take place under the BDSM umbrella. At press time there’s still no “kink” on Duolingo, so here’s a handy glossary of some of the most common BDSM terms, from A to Z.

A is for Aftercare
Aftercare is the practice of checking in with one another after a scene (or “play session,” a.k.a., the time in which the BDSM happens) to make sure all parties feel nice and chill about what just went down. The dominant partner may bring the submissive ice for any bruises, but it’s important to know that aftercare involves emotional care as well as physical. BDSM releases endorphins, which can lead to both dominants and submissives experiencing a “drop.” Aftercare can help prevent that. There’s often cuddling and always conversation; kinksters need love too.

B is for Bondage
Bondage is the act of tying one another up. In most cases the dominant partner is restraining the submissive using ropes, handcuffs, Velcro, specialty hooks, clasps, or simply a belt if you’re on a budget.

C is for CBT (Cock and Ball Torture)
In BDSM, CBT does not refer to cognitive behavioral therapy, it refers to “cock and ball torture,” which is exactly what it sounds like: The dominant will bind, whip, or use their high-ass heels to step on their submissive’s cock and balls to consensually torture them.

D is for D/S
D/S refers to dominance and submission, the crux of a BDSM relationship. While kinky people can be on a spectrum (see: “Switch”), typically you’re either dominant or submissive. If you take away one fact from this guide, it should be that even though the dominant partner in D/S relationship may be slapping, name-calling, and spitting on the submissive, BDSM and D/S relationships are all about erotic power exchange, not one person having power over another. The submissive gets to set their boundaries, and everything is pre-negotiated. The submissive likes getting slapped (see also: “Painslut”).

E is for Edgeplay
Edgeplay refers to the risky shit—the more taboo (or baddest bitch, depending on who you’re talking to) end of the spectrum of BDSM activities. Everyone’s definition of edgeplay is a little different, but blood or knife play is a good example. If there’s actually a chance of real physical harm, it’s likely edgeplay. Only get bloody with a partner who knows what they’re doing without a doubt and has been tested for STIs. You don’t have to get maimed to enjoy BDSM.

F is for Fisting
Fisting is when someone sticks their entire fist inside a vagina (or butthole). Yes, it feels good, and no, it won’t “ruin” anything but your desire for vanilla sex. Use lube.

G is for Golden Showers
A golden shower is when you lovingly shower your partner with your piss. It’s high time for the BDSM community reclaimed this word back from Donald Trump, who, may I remind you, allegedly paid sex workers to pee on a bed that Obama slept in out of spite. This is not the same thing as a golden shower. Kink is for smart people.

H is for Hard Limits
Hard limits are sexual acts that are off-limits. Everyone has their own, and you have to discuss these boundaries before any BDSM play. Use it in a sentence: “Please do not pee on me; golden showers are one of my hard limits.”

I is for Impact Play
Impact play refers to any impact on the body, such as spanking, caning, flogging, slapping, etc.

J is for Japanese Bondage
The most well-known type of Japanese bondage is Shibari, in which one partner ties up the other in beautiful and intricate patterns using rope. It’s a method of restraint, but also an art form.

K is for Knife Play
Knife play is, well, knife sex. It’s considered a form of edgeplay (our parents told us not to play with knives for a reason.) If you do play with knives, do it with someone who truly respects you and whom you trust. Often knife play doesn’t actually involve drawing blood, but is done more for the psychological thrill, such as gliding a knife along a partner’s body to induce an adrenaline rush. Call me a prude, but I wouldn’t advise it on a first Tinder date.

L is for Leather
The BDSM community enjoys leather as much as you’d expect. Leather shorts, leather paddles, and leather corsets are popular, although increasingly kinky retailers provide vegan options for their animal-loving geeks.

M is for Masochist
A masochist is someone who gets off on receiving sexual pain.

N is for Needle Play
Also a form of edgeplay (blood!), needle play means using needles on a partner. Hopefully those needles are sterile and surgical grade. Don’t do this with an idiot, please. Most professional dommes have clients who request or are into needle play. It can involve sticking a needle (temporarily) through an erogenous zone such as the nipple or… BACK AWAY NOW IF YOU’RE QUEASY… the shaft of the penis.

O is for Orgasm Denial
You know how sexual anticipation is hot AF? Orgasm denial is next-level sexual anticipation for those who love a throbbing clit or a boner that’s been hard forever just dying to get off—which is to say, almost everyone. The dominant partner will typically bring the submissive close or to the brink of orgasm, then stop. Repeat as necessary.

P is for Painslut
A painslut is a dope-ass submissive who knows what they want, and that’s pain, dammit.

Q is for Queening
Queening is when a woman, a.k.a. the queen you must worship, sits on your face. It’s just a glam name for face-sitting, often used in D/S play. Sometimes the queen will sit on her submissive’s face for like, hours.

R is for RACK
RACK stands for Risk Aware Consensual Kink, which are the BDSM community guidelines on how to make sure everyone is aware of the dangers they consent to. Another set of guidelines are the “SSC,” which stresses keeping activities “safe, sane, and consensual.” We kinksters want everyone to feel happy and fulfilled, and only experience pain that they desire—without actual harm.

S is for Switch
A switch is someone who enjoys both the dominant and submissive role. Get thee a girl who can do both.

T is for Topping From The Bottom
Topping from the bottom refers to when a bottom (sub) gets bratty and tries to control the scene even though negotiations state they should submit. For example, a submissive male may start yelping at his domme that she’s not making him smell her feet exactly like he wants. It can be pretty annoying. It can also be part of the scene itself, such as if the submissive is roleplaying as a little girl with her daddy (this is called “age play”).

U is for Urination
Urinating means peeing (duh) and aside from pissing on a submissive’s face or in their mouth you can do other cool and consensual things with urine, like fill up an enema and inject it up someone’s butt! I am not a medical doctor.

V is for Vanilla
Vanilla refers to someone (or sex) that is not kinky. It’s okay if you’re vanilla. You’re normal and can still find meaningful love and relationships no matter how much society judges you.

W is for Wartenberg Wheel
A Wartenberg Wheel is a nifty little metal pinwheel that you can run over your partner’s nipples or other erogenous zones. It looks scary, but in a fun way, like the Addams Family. It can be used as part of medical play (doctor fetish) or just for the hell of it. Fun fact: It’s a real-life medical device created by neurologist Robert Wartenberg to test nerve reactions, but kinksters figured out it was good for the sex, too.

Y is for Yes!
BDSM is all about enthusiastic consent. The dominant partner won’t step on their submissive’s head and then shove it into a toilet without a big ole’ “yes, please!”

Z is for Zentai
Zentai is a skintight Japanese body suit typically made of spandex and nylon. It can cover the entire body, including the face. Dance teams or athletes may wear Zentai, but some people get off on the sensation of having their entire body bound in tight fabric, and wear it for kinky reasons.

Complete Article HERE!

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Feminism and Sexual Submission Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

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A meme showed up on my Facebook newsfeed one afternoon a few weeks back.

by Savannah Stewart

It was shared by some fuckboy I worked with for about five minutes before he was never seen again, except when sliding into his female former colleagues’ DM’s—which should have been reason enough to keep scrolling past, yet here we are.

The picture was of a young woman. “Preaches feminism,” it said just above her head. And below, “likes bondage.” Accompanying the meme was some type of monologue calling out women who support equal rights but “like to get slapped around” as hypocrites.

If women are going to “complain” about the things feminists get all up in arms about—like the fact that one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, or that almost half of murdered women are killed by current or former partners—then they’d better not enjoy a bit of roughness directed their way during sex or they’re full of shit. That was essentially the message of his ever-so-valued input about a woman’s sexuality. Because, clearly, those things are identical.

A few commenters pointed out that enjoying some naughty fun between the sheets is, in fact, completely different from experiencing abuse. “The difference is consent!” one commenter asserted, drawing digital thumbs-up from me and many others.

I agree wholeheartedly with that idea, and I think that the logical argument ends there. Rape and domestic violence are by definition not at all the same thing as enjoying and consenting to being in a position of submission during sex, and there is no correlation between the two. End of story.

But of course, fuckboy didn’t see it that way—how can a woman who likes to have physical force used on her in a sexual context walk around saying that hitting women is wrong? She obviously could not be taken seriously, he asserted.

I know I should’ve moved on, forgetting him and his irrelevant commentary. But I didn’t. It bothered me to reading that post, because I know a lot of people actually believe the things he believes.

Then I realized something: people who think that way, that feminist women cannot also be sexually submissive, probably just think that way because they don’t understand either concept.

And so this is me, after sitting on it for about a month now, retroactively explaining to Mr. Fuckboy what he doesn’t seem to understand.

First, it’s important to know that feminism is about a lot of things, but primarily it promotes political, social and economic equality regardless of gender, race, ability, sexual orientation, etc. It focuses on the issues that affect women, as well as other marginalized people, with the goal of empowering them and helping them achieve equality with privileged groups.

Sexual and domestic abuse are therefore important feminist issues because, though anyone regardless of gender can be the victims of these, they disproportionately affect women, people of colour, people with disabilities, and so on.

But on top of that, feminism is about making sure everyone has the freedom, education and tools required to make their own choices and become the rulers of their own destinies.

This includes, but is certainly not limited to, sexual preferences. Feminists believe that people should have the necessary information and confidence to figure out for themselves independently of society’s imposed constraints what feels good, what turns them on, and how they want to have sex—as long as it’s done between people who are fully informed and consenting.

Therefore, if someone comes to the conclusion that they enjoy being in a submissive role for sex and they want to act out fantasies of submission with a trusted partner, it in no way makes them less of a feminist—in fact, that’s feminist as hell. Feminism supports people owning their sexuality; so it’s not an excuse to start criticizing people who know what they want and actively seek it out.

But perhaps fuckboy’s issue is more with the notion of a feminist, someone supposed to fight for equality, wanting to submit themselves to the whims of another human being, very oftentimes a man?

The thing about submission is, like most other fetishes, it is the complex and unpredictable result of years of lived experience, exposure to all sorts of media, and plain old nature and nurture. And, just like every other fetish, it is a sexual fantasy that for most people in no way dictates how they wish to be treated outside of a sexual setting.

Think about it: just because you like being touched a certain way during sex does not mean that you want people to touch you that way when you’re on the bus, or making dinner, or reading, or doing whatever else. This can’t be repeated enough—consent is the key.

The truth of the matter is that we can’t control what turns us on, and our turn ons usually have nothing to do with how we live our lives. But something we can do is find ways to act out our turn ons in such a manner that is safe, respectful and enjoyable for everyone involved.

For people who enjoy experimenting with a power exchange, that’s where kink comes in. With communication, safe words, discussions about hard & soft limits, people who want to take on a dominant or submissive role during sex can do so in a way that is respectful and mutually beneficial. If you want to learn more about kink and dominant/submissive relationships, this guide is a really great start.

With all these tools at their disposal, people who are interested in being dominated—or dominating—can do so in a way that makes them and those they engage with feel comfortable. The goal is never to actually hurt someone, push someone’s boundaries or to make them feel unsafe.

Submissive feminists aren’t hypocrites. They are people who know what they like, know what they want, and know that their preferences don’t take anything away from their value as human beings.

Complete Article HERE!

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Inside the Koreatown Dojo Dedicated to the Art of Japanese Rope Bondage

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Mention anything bondage-related and Zetsu Nawa reflexively geeks out.

A participant in a recent Tuesday night class learns the basics of shibari, Japanese rope bondage.

By Lila Seidman

[A] casual reference to a dotted gag in one of his thousands of drawings and photos of bound women launches him into a mini-lecture about its “humiliation factor” in modern Japan. It’s just a dishtowel, he explains. “It’s like he grabbed the thing you’re using to wash your hands to gag you.” As he talks, he’s caressing a length of Japanese jute rope, which he extols for its “toothiness.”

Zetsu — an American who adopted the pseudonym to protect his identity — is the head of a one-room school in Koreatown dedicated exclusively to shibari, or erotic Japanese rope bondage. His rope work has been featured in Katy Perry’s music video “Bon Appetit” and on the cover of Jhené Aiko’s album Maniac.

Launched in its current space in 2014, L.A. Rope Dojo is tucked away on the second floor of an unassuming office building just off Western Avenue and Second Street. The walls are plastered with images of women in various states of constraint. Wooden beams stretch from wall to wall — not coincidentally, the perfect height and size for binding willing men and women to.

On a recent Tuesday night, mostly fresh-faced, young couples stream into the dojo for its sold-out, bimonthly beginner’s rope play class. They look, well, totally normal.

“Most of the people who come here would never set foot in a BDSM dungeon,” Zetsu says, crediting the historical, philosophical and artistic appeal of the practice.

At most dungeons in L.A., people go by BDSM aliases, “like BadMaster79,” Zetsu explains. “Here, people are ‘Beth’ and ‘Kevin.’” In class, Zetsu goes by his real first name. “Nobody’s thinking about hiding in a way that people tend to do in the broader BDSM scene,” he says.

Zetsu, who could pass for anyone’s affable uncle, begins every intro class by detailing the origin of shibari, which synthesizes elements from Kabuki theater and an ancient samurai policing technique.

Before students start immobilizing one another, he asks the “top” (the one doing the tying) to think of a word before grabing their partner’s wrist. The first word is “sensual.” The second is “mine.”

Subtle acts like this reflect the essence of the teaching style he learned from his longtime instructor, Yukimura Ryuu, a grandmaster of the erotic art, who stressed the Japanese concept of kokoro, or “heart,” over technique.
“If your partner is feeling things that they need to feel, then the rest of it doesn’t matter,” Zetsu says. “The rope is just a conduit to get to those feelings.”

As class progresses, a petite girl with her hands bound becomes flushed and sinks to the floor. Her equally flushed male partner asks her if she’d like to be untied. She breathes “no” and they embrace.

(Class assistant Howard, who also goes by Rope Daddy, describes the feeling as “rope drunk” — a sort of euphoric high some people experience via bondage.)

Baltimore-born Zetsu says his path to enjoying bondage was significantly more fraught than many of his students.’ In the late 1970s, at age 12, he would wait 45 minutes to download a single pixelated photo of a bound Japanese woman. He stored the images on cassette tapes; floppy disks didn’t yet exist.

It wasn’t until 2006 that he found himself in Tokyo for work and decided he had to finally explore “this thing.” He took a class with a German expat, Osada Steve, who in turn connected with him a teacher in L.A. At that time, it was still a rarefied practice in the West. Now, “It’s everywhere!” Zetsu says.

In 2010, he returned to Japan to study rope more explicitly. He is now one of only two people in the United States with a teaching certificate from the late Yukimura.

Zetsu says that in Japan, teaching “is an obligation, and a very sacred one.” He had no choice but to spread the knowledge he acquired.

Significant cultural translation is needed to bring the essence of the art form to Angelenos, he admits. For one, Zetsu says in Japan it is normal to “molest” the models during a lesson. Here, that wouldn’t go over so well.
While Zetsu acknowledges ethical questions inherent to sexual power exchange, he believes it’s a basic question of consent.

“It should ultimately be about love and care for your partner, which sounds kind of ironic as you’re tying them up and hitting them,” Zetsu says. “But that’s the whole point: You only do that to people who need it and crave it and love it.”

Ivy, a 20-something Asian woman who came to the class Tuesday with her boyfriend of 3½ years, looks gleeful in the dingy hall outside the dojo. She says she was happy to act on some of her desires for the first time.

“It’s just sort of intimidating, taking that first step,” she explains. She’s already plotting her return.

Complete Article HERE!

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Dating someone with a fetish when you don’t have one

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As you may have seen from our A to Z of fetishes series, there is a huge spectrum of kinks out there.

By

[W]here you might be into a fumble on the couch, your new partner might be fingering the ball-gag they’ve hidden under a cushion, wondering about the right time to approach the topic.

There’s a big gap between missionary with the lights off and latex at dawn, which means there’s a hell of a lot of wiggle room for both of you to try new things. But, if your sexual tastes are wildly differing, it can cause friction in your relationship.

If you’re worried you’re too vanilla while your partner is more of a rum and raisin type, however, there are plenty of ways to remedy this.

Be honest

Don’t rush in, pretending you know your way around bondage knots or puppy play if you’re not au fait. Have an honest chat about what turns you on and off. Sex is an important part of most relationships, and there’s no point in going through the motions if you’re not enjoying it.

Whether it’s something you want to try more of, or something you’re not comfortable with, forget trying to be cool and just say it. You don’t owe anyone anything, so don’t try and bend your needs and wants to fit somebody else’s. Makes things much easier for everyone involved.

Recognise unhealthy traits

People who practise things like BDSM are overwhelmingly disciplined and respectful. There are safe words involved, and a focus on communication and physical and emotional wellbeing. Don’t let someone who’s watched 50 Shades of Grey come into your life and start treating you unfairly.

If someone starts to exercise control over you that makes you uncomfortable or affects your daily life, that can qualify as abuse.

Don’t judge

It sounds obvious, but kink-shaming is a real thing and some of us don’t even realise we’re doing it. If someone likes roleplaying something, that doesn’t make it exclusively part of who we are.

Someone can be a loving, kind, and generous person and still love getting spanked and told they’re a worthless piece of sh*t. As long as they’re respecting your boundaries and being clear with you, that’s what matters.

Understand balance is key

If you’re with someone who refuses to compromise with you, and work out ways that you can both do what works for you, bail immediately. Regardless of specifically what it is they’re into, selfish lovers are uncool.

If you like Thai food and your partner likes roast dinners, you wouldn’t be okay with tucking into a Yorkshire pudding every day of the week. That kind of compromise will look different in every relationship, but it’s vital to have it.

Be open minded

You might find that you’re into something you never even knew about. Their kink might be something you never even thought about before, yet here you are getting a golden shower and it’s the horniest you’ve ever been!

Complete Article HERE!

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Fantastic kinks and where to find them

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“What do you two think about my cock ring?” With a baby blue T-shirt on top and bare as a baby’s bottom below, the stranger nodded down toward his crotch. A bright yellow, adjustable strap was fastened around his pink dick and balls.

“It kind of looks like a watch.” I said abruptly, a bit taken aback by his appearance. I was more modestly dressed in a flowery lingerie set, a UC Berkeley lab coat tied around my waist.

In stark contrast, my close friend and Cal-alumna was wholly unfazed by his sudden, very naked presence. “You should get a figure-eight cock ring!” She advised. “One ring goes around your balls and one around your shaft.” She wore an underbust black dress which showed off her much-complimented heart-tattooed nipples.

“God, I know, right? My boyfriend got this one for me.” His velvety soft dick gently brushed up against my hand like a delicate feather boa. “I wish it was black,” referring to the cock ring.

Last week was the first time I attended Folsom Street Fair, the world’s largest event for BDSM wares and fetish culture. As our Lyft driver pulled up a street away from 8th and Folsom, a man in assless underwear sprinted toward what we could only assume was his kinky oasis. Taking up a sprawling five blocks, I marveled at bondage demonstrations, two public blowjob scenes and the strangest of them all, a plethora of Bud Light stalls.

While others were receiving the blood and body of Christ on Sunday, I received a Bad Dragon grab bag yielding two glow-in-the-dark condoms, a coupon for their high-fantasy sex toys, and their coveted collectable mini silicone dicks, otherwise known as Teenie Weenies. The sex shops and burlesque shows I attended in the past paled in comparison to the absolute spectacle and sexual liberation that embodied Folsom.

Though I have been a longtime patron of the kinky arts, the first time I ever interacted with kink in real life was through a second-hand experience of another Berkeley friend a few years ago. His experience wasn’t the most ideal, as his ex-boyfriend had cheated in order to explore his interests with more seasoned kinksters.

At Folsom, he was asked, as a Filipino man, “how are your people so smooth,” by his ex’s white kink mentor. I was horrified to hear that a seemingly more mature BDSM practitioner unabashedly fetishized Asian bodies. While the sadomasochistic community’s motto is “safe, sane, and consensual,” I realized these words couldn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s easy to forget that existing social stratifications can permeate communities we normally consider to be free of such restrictions.

This is most noticeable in “raceplay” roleplaying in the BDSM community, which frequently focuses on a slave (usually a person of color) servicing their master (usually a white person). While I definitely do not want to be a kink policer, one must note that many kinksters are white and male. Engaging with these scenes uncritically can lead to excusing oppression as simply a “fetish.”

Seeing my friend’s genuine heartbreak and confusion opened my eyes to the potential negativity the BDSM community held within its leather clad jaws. While I still enjoyed consuming kinky content, I was intensely judgemental when my friend’s old flame showed up to a 4th of July barbecue with his “daddy,” who easily looked double his age.

Despite going to Folsom accompanied by a more kink experienced friend, I still had a lot of reservations. Nevertheless, I was determined to challenge my preconceived notions towards kink’s true shades of gray.

When the same cockring man, who also happened to be white, first approached us, I steeled myself for the inevitable harassment and entitlement.

As soon as he said, “women usually don’t tell you what they like, but you two really speak your mind,” I was ready to fall back into the comfortable trap of my preexisting antagonism toward white kinksters.

Feeling defeated, I replied with, “Well, that’s also because many women are still shamed when they talk about sex openly,” and prepared myself for the excuses and false apologies.

After a beat of thinking, he said, “Oh, you’re right! I never thought about it that way.” He ended the exchange with a cheery “Happy Folsom!”

Even my friend, an active participant in kink since her teens, was surprised by the lack of nonconsensual touching and photography, which she had warned me about beforehand due to her previous experiences. Besides that and the masses of entry-level gay boys who wore the same leather chest harness and frayed jorts, the only other discomfort I faced was the oppressively hot sun beating down on all of us — the ultimate dom.

I realized Folsom wasn’t a whirlwind of perceived blasphemy. It was the first time I saw such a variety of racial demographics and age ranges congregate for a specific event. As well as that, snug among all the flogging paraphernalia were free HIV testing stalls courtesy of Trans men 4 men, Queer Asian education booths and gay-friendly doctors. Folsom Street Fair itself is a nonprofit, generating approximately $300,000 annually, and provides a home for other organizations focusing on sex education, AIDS research and kink-friendly psychotherapy, such as Planned Parenthood.

Among the genitalia, latex and leather, Folsom feels like the epitome of debauchery, but it is also inherently tied to education and charity culture. As I watched an older East Asian man lead his White partner around with a chain secured to his balls, I felt like this was the true beginning of my quest to understand the complexities of the BDSM world. Just like Indiana Jones, I will continue to uncover the lost treasures of kink with a crack of my bullwhip.

Complete Article HERE!

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