A Trans Hotline is Available!

As much as I loathe the word, “folks,” I feel this article is important to share, despite the backwoods language. (Them there words like “folks” is unedumacated yammerins!) People or persons would have sufficed. : / Anyway, here is the article.

America’s First Transgender Suicide Hotline Is Live

Jesse Mechanic, ContributorWriter. Founding Editor of TheOvergrown.com

12/22/2017 10:34 am ET Updated Dec 27, 2017

The National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) completed by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, found that 41 percent of trans individuals surveyed had attempted suicide—the general population number at the time was 1.6 percent. A study by the Williams Institute analyzing the NTDS report found that suicide attempt rates were even higher for those between the ages of 18-24 (45 percent), those with a multiracial background (54 percent), those who are American Indian or native Alaskans (56 percent), those without a full high school education (48-49 percent), and those with an annual household income less than $10k (54 percent). The study also found the suicide attempt rate was higher among those who disclosed to everyone that they were trans or gender non-conforming (50 percent).

These numbers are catastrophically high; the disparity is simply devastating. While we certainly need to do everything we can to become a more accepting society, we also need more resources for the trans community right now. Thankfully, the transgender community has its own suicide hotline courtesy of Trans Lifeline.

US: (877) 565-8860 CANADA: (877) 330-6366

The line is staffed by transgender people and is entirely dedicated to the trans community.

It’s open every day for 18 hours:

Pacific time: 8am to 2am

Mountain time: 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Central time: 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.

Eastern time: 11 a.m. to 5 a.m.

Resources like these are vital.

While society has certainly evolved in terms of how we treat the LGBTQ+ community overall, the transgender community is still stigmatized and demonized all over the country and the world. This is why, as the aforementioned stats bear out, being publicly trans or gender non-conforming can be even more isolating than hiding. Imagine identifying with a gender that doesn’t align with your physical form, imagine reckoning with that realization in a society that can be judgmental, crude, hateful and helplessly stitched to binary ideas of gender. And then imagine somehow, in spite of it all, summoning the bravery to be yourself. This is something we should celebrate, not castigate.

Unfortunately, pleas for empathy and acceptance will not shift society overnight, so the trans community needs organizations like Trans Lifeline. Hopefully, this is one in the first in a new wave of resources aimed at helping trans folks.

Correction: It was originally reported that Trans Lifeline is a new service, but they have been in operation since 2014.

Previously published on The Overgrown.

*This article was found here.

More BDSM Psychology

The article shared below can also be found HERE.

The Surprising Psychology of BDSM

Who does it, what do they do, and how does it affect them?

Posted Feb 05, 2015

By Brad Sagarin, Ph.D., guest contributor

 “A pervert is anybody kinkier than you are.” (Wiseman, 1996, p. 23).

The novel Fifty Shades of Grey introduced BDSM into polite public discourse. Since its publication, hallowed papers such as The New York Times have published articles on bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. Harvard University now hosts a student group for undergraduates interested in consensual S&M. And Cosmo’s sex tips have taken a distinctly kinky turn.

With the Fifty Shades movie now coming to theaters, it seems like a good time to take stock of what we know, scientifically, about BDSM: Who does this stuff? What do they do? And what effects do these activities have on the people who do them?


1. How many people are into S&M?

According to researchers, the number likely falls somewhere between 2 percent and 62 percent. That’s right: Somewhere between 2 percent and 62 percent. A pollster who published numbers like that should be looking for a new job. But when you’re asking people about their sex habits, the wording of the question makes all the difference.

On the low end, Juliet Richters and colleagues (2008) asked a large sample of Australians whether they had “been involved in B&D or S&M” in the past 12 months. Only 1.3 percent of women and 2.2 percent of men said yes.

On the high end, Christian Joyal and colleagues (2015) asked over 1,500 women and men about their sexual fantasies. 64.6 percent of women and 53.3 percent of men reported fantasies about being dominated sexually—and 46.7 percent of women and 59.6 percent of men reported fantasies about dominating someone sexually. Overall, we can probably conclude that a substantial minority of women and men do fantasize about or engage in BDSM.

2. Are they sick?

For Freud, the answer was a clear yes: Anyone interested in S&M was in need of treatment—treatment that, by fine coincidence, he and his contemporaries were qualified to provide.

But recent research tells a different story.

Pamela Connolly compared BDSM practitioners to published norms on 10 psychological disorders. Compared to the normative samples, BDSM practitioners had lower levels of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychological sadism, psychological masochism, borderline pathology, and paranoia. (They showed equal levels of obsessive-compulsive disorder and higher levels of dissociation and narcissism.)

Similarly, Andreas Wismeijer and Marcel van Assen compared BDSM practitioners to non-BDSM-practitioners on major personality traits. Their results showed that in comparison to non-practitioners, BDSM practitioners exhibited higher levels of extraversion, conscientiousness, openness to experience, and subjective well-being. Practitioners also showed lower levels of neuroticism and rejection sensitivity. The one negative trait that emerged? BDSM practitioners showed lower levels of agreeableness than non-practitioners.

This is not to say that everyone into sadism or masochism is doing so for psychologically healthy reasons. The latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) still includes Sexual Sadism Disorder and Sexual Masochism Disorder as potential diagnoses. But a diagnosis now requires the interest or activities to cause “clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning” (or to be done with a non-consenting partner). BDSM between consenting adults that “does not cause the participants distress” no longer qualifies.

3. What do they do?

Both researchers and practitioners (Wiseman, 1996) have developed categories of BDSM activities. For example, Alison and colleagues have categories for physical restriction (bondage, handcuffs, chains); administration of pain (spanking, caning, putting clothespins on the skin); humiliation (gags, verbal humiliation); and a category related to sexual behavior.

4. What effect does BDSM have on the people who do it?

This is one of the central questions my research team has been investigating. In a BDSM scene, the person who is bound, receiving stimulation and/or following orders is called the bottom. The person providing the stimulation, orders or structure is called the top. We measured a range of physiological and psychological variables in bottoms and tops before and after their scenes.

Both bottoms and tops reported increases in relationship closeness and decreases in psychological stress from before to after their scenes, but bottoms also showed increases in physiological stress as measured by the hormone cortisol. We found this disconnect between psychological stress and physiological stress to be very interesting, and we wondered whether it might indicate that bottoms have entered an altered state of consciousness.

To test this theory, we ran a study in which we randomly assigned switches (BDSM practitioners who sometimes take on the top role and sometimes take on the bottom role) to be the top or the bottom in a scene. The results revealed that both bottoms and tops entered altered states of consciousness, but they entered different altered states.

Bottoms entered an altered state called “transient hypofrontality”, which is associated with reductions in pain, feelings of floating, feelings of peacefulness, feelings of living in the here and now and time distortions. Tops, in contrast, entered the altered state known as “flow” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1991), which is associated with focused attention, a loss of self-consciousness and optimal performance of a task. We believe that these pleasurable altered states of consciousness might be one of the motivations that people have for engaging in BDSM activities.


  • Human sexuality journals such as Archives of Sexual Behavior and the Journal of Sex Research
  • Organizations such as the Kinsey Institute, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) and the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexuality (CARAS)
  • Web sites such as www.scienceofbdsm.com (my own site)
  • Advocacy organizations such as the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF)
  • Community organizations such as the Society of Janus and the Arizona Power Exchange
  • Books such as Jay Wiseman’s SM 101: A Realistic Introduction
  • … Or you could simply Google “BDSM” and see what comes up, but I wouldn’t try it at work.

Brad Sagarin, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at Northern Illinois University. He teaches courses on evolutionary psychology, attitude change and statistics. His research interests include social influence, resistance to persuasion, deception, jealousy, and infidelity, human sexuality and research methods.


Alison, L., Santtila, P., Sandnabba, N. K., & Nordling, N. (2001). Sadomasochistically-oriented behavior: Diversity in practice and meaning. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 30, 1–12. Ambler, J. K., Lee, E. M., Klement, K., R., Loewald, T., Comber, E., Hanson, S. A., Cutler, B., Cutler, N. & Sagarin, B. J. (under review). Sadomasochism as a path to altered states of consciousness. Connolly, P. H. (2006). Psychological functioning of bondage/domination/sado-masochism (BDSM) practitioners. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 18, 79-120. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1991). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper Collins. Dietrich, A. (2003). Functional neuroanatomy of altered states of consciousness: The transient hypofrontality hypothesis. Consciousness and Cognition, 12, 231-256. Joyal, C. C., Cossette, A., & Lapierre, V. (2015). What exactly is an unusual sexual fantasy? Journal of Sexual Medicine, 12, 328-340. Moser, C., & Levitt, E. E. (1987). An exploratory-descriptive study of a sadomasochistically oriented sample. Journal of Sex Research, 23, 322–337. Richters, J., de Visser, R. O., Rissel, C. E., Grulich, A. E., & Smith, A. M. A. (2008). Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5, 1660-1668. Sagarin, B. J., Cutler, B., Cutler, N., Lawler-Sagarin, K. A., & Matuszewich, L. (2009). Hormonal changes and couple bonding in consensual sadomasochistic activity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 186-200. Wiseman, J. (1996). SM 101: A realistic introduction. San Francisco: Greenery Press. Wismeijer, A. A. J. & van Assen, M. A. L. M. (2013). Psychological characteristics of BDSM practitioners. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10, 1943-1952.

Keeping it Positive!

I shared the link to the crossdresser’s reference page someplace online tonight, mentioning that if there were any suggestions for website additions that people please let me know. Then I thought it prudent to add something more to that statement. I would like to share that something more here now.

“In regard to the reference page, I am trying to keep it to things that are helpful without getting bogged down in the political stuff, so I did not include websites promoting political agendas or those lashing back at the non-trans population for being “privileged” in some way. The non-trans population had no more say in how their sexuality and identity developed than did any trans person. Therefore, I will not be part of promoting division, hatred, or notions of “privilege” between the two. Promoting such division will not further anyone’s cause. It will only serve as fuel for more violence and prejudice. Those are things we do NOT need more of in this world! What I think we need more of is the live and let live mentality where we do what is right for ourselves and stay out of the decision regarding what is right for our neighbor.

In other words, don’t submit these type of hateful pages for me to add because I won’t. I want helpful, positive resources only.” ~ Portia

One cannot convince another to accept one’s way of life if one is not also willing to accept the other’s way of life in return. It simply defies the laws of the universe.

An Easy BDSM DIY Gag

I saw this pacifier gag on Etsy, and thought, I could make that (pictured below)!

If you don’t have the time or patience for BDSM craft projects you could just order this item and be done with it, but I had just picked up a couple pacifiers for my dungeon, so I figured I would just make one into a gag.

I sat down with my tools, rivets and a very skinny belt only to realize my pacifier didn’t have the same slots as the one pictured on Etsy (above). Mine had smaller circular holes, so I would either have to cut slots in the plastic, or abandon the belt idea. I wasn’t in a patient mood, so I ditched the belt.

I decided to take a quicker, less pretty, but still functional route. Instead, I opted for paracord rope with a little plastic cincher like you find on jacket hoods. I could have done some nifty knot work along the sides, similar to a paracord bracelet, but again, I was not in a patient mood, so I just used a single paracord strand on each side. My crude, but functional version is pictured below.

You simply put the cord through the hole in whatever crude or fancy way you like, then measure the length of the paracord by putting it around your head to ensure it will fit around someone else’s head. Use a lighter to melt the ends of the paracord strands. Try to keep the ends of the melted paracord rope skinny so they will slip through the plastic cincher. Two strands of paracord through this type of plastic cincher can be a pretty tight fit. (If you heat it short bursts you won’t burn your finger while shaping the ends.) Once I threaded each paracord strand through the plastic cincher, I tied knots at the ends so they could not slip back through the clincher. That would be a time waster to re-thread during a session. I then heated my knots with a lighter to melt the knot a little. It is less likely to come untied that way. You could also dip the knots in a plasti-dip coating if you were so inclined. I wasn’t.

That’s it. You now have a pacifier that you can slip over your sub’s head and cinch up in a jiffy! No buckles, no incorrectly spaced holes. No need to add extra holes to the leather. Just zip it snug and move on. Easy peasy!

The cost to order the pretty version is $26.32 plus shipping. For mine, I obtained two pacifiers for $1 at Dollar Tree, you can also get 25ft of paracord there for $1. I already had a package of plastic cinchers I purchased from the sewing section in Michael’s. They are also available cheap on Amazon as seen on the picture below, or free if you take one off an old jacket hood. I’m going to guess my pacifier gag cost me about $3 (no shipping), with supplies leftover if I wanted to make more. : )

Why Do We Cross Dress?

I stumbled across this article while doing research on a related topic. While some of the points within the article may ring true for some, I feel it over looks those who psychologically identify as a different gender, and those who truly wish to transition into the opposite sex. Nevertheless, it is interesting to read, so I am sharing it below.

What Excites Kinky People?

*This article is credited to The Gardian and may be viewed on their site by clicking HERE

The science of what excites kinky people doesn’t end with armchair psychology

Though popular tropes all hold that people interested in BDSM were all abused or are disturbed, the biological basis of kink deserves more study

When it comes to explaining the how and why of sexual desire, there are few answers more reassuring than “because it’s in our DNA”, or “because we’re wired that way”. From why men love boobs to why both partners start wanting to scratch other sexual itches after seven years, a plausible-sounding biological explanation for our sexual predilections is always welcomed – apart from, of course, when it comes to BDSM.

Most general medical discourse about kink focuses on unpicking early childhood trauma, emotional disturbance or abuse (as experienced by the protagonist in Fifty Shades of Grey). Psychological arousal is not, however, just about physical stimulation, and physical reactions don’t confine themselves to psychologically comfortable circumstances. But when it comes to consensual kink, we could greatly benefit from more focus on the physical.

Put simply, there’s a science to spanking, to nipple torture, to candle waxing and to pretty much any other sex act you could name where prolonging the anticipation of touch or relief or safely manipulating blood flow causes the release of neurotransmitters – such as dopamine, adrenalin or serotonin – that result in a chemical high. It’s true that you have to be able to find that kind of physical stimulation arousing in order to be turned on, but if you do, having a person you find attractive putting you over their knee and spanking you in a way that encourages your body to release noradrenaline, adrenalin and dopamine in anticipation of the spank, and then opioids on point of contact is likely to be a pretty positive sexual experience.

And the research backs it up. Take some conducted by Meredith Chivers of Queen’s University, for example, which found that vaginal blood flow in women interested in BDSM increases when they watch kinky porn – at the same rate as it does for non-kinky women who watch vanilla porn. Conversely, blood flow does not increase when kinky women watch vanilla porn, implying that the brain has a part to play in controlling that blood flow, and that the brains of people who respond to kinky stimuli fire up the way those who respond to vanilla sex do. The pending fMRI scans of kinksters are expected to confirm what sexologists already hypothesise: there’s nothing neurologically or biologically dysfunctional about kink-related desire.

Most of us have demons and neuroses, swallowed frustrations and some of us act on them more than others and at different points in our lives. For a minority, BDSM may be a way those are expressed – as vanilla sex is for many others. But most of us lack the self-awareness necessary to pick apart the vagaries of our psychological motives and sexual peccadilloes. If you and your partner walk away from a sex act both satisfied and unscathed – or at least with no lasting emotional or physical bruises – perhaps that’s an outcome that needs no further probing.

Fifty Shades may certainly have opened up the general debate on kink, but social and legal prejudice still prevails. In the UK, December amendments to laws governing online porn fell disproportionately on kink acts. In the US, the First Amendment still does not apply to all sexual communications under the Communications Decency Act, if they are “patently offensive under local community standards” and cannot be proved to have “redeeming social value” by the author – particularly if they are kinky and non-heteronormative. And while the fifth edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders may no longer consider sadomasochism or fetishism to be medical conditions, it still lists paraphilias such as sadomasochistic disorder and fetish disorder.

And the systemic prejudice against BDSM affects the funding of research that would help us better understand it. Off the record, American academics at major colleges have told me that their sex research projects remain on ice for months, sometimes years, and many American sexologists decamp to Canada where the liberal climate – and budgets – better facilitate research. Yet if the US National Institutes of Health won’t even fund, for example, research on the intersection of gender and health despite the massive current discussion around transgender identification, it’s unlikely to fund research on spanking and health.

If science was on the side of the kinky, how might that change the American mindset about what makes for good, clean and even godly sexual relations?

There’s almost certainly a methodology for exploring the science of kink – but if it threatens to challenge the sexual status quo, or inject some rationale into a debate about what kind of sex is acceptable, it’s a safe bet that it won’t be funded any time soon.

An Interesting Article I’d Like to Share

There is so much confusion and misinformation regarding BDSM. So, when I ran across this article, I thought it might be prudent to share. Article below. Enjoy! ~Mistress Portia

25 Facts About BDSM That You Won’t Learn In “Fifty Shades Of Grey”

Forget Fifty Shades of Grey. Here’s your real primer on all things kink.Posted on February 12, 2015, at 2:51 p.m.

Casey Gueren

Casey GuerenBuzzFeed Staff

1. First things first: Here’s what BDSM actually stands for:

BDSM includes bondage and discipline (B&D), dominance and submission (D&S), and sadism & masochism (S&M). The terms are lumped together that way because BDSM can be a lot of different things to different people with different preferences, BDSM writer and educator Clarisse Thorn, author of The S&M Feminist, tells BuzzFeed Life. Most of the time, a person’s interests fall into one or two of those categories, rather than all of them.

2. It doesn’t always involve sex, but it can.

Most people think BDSM is always tied to sex, and while it can be for some people, others draw a hard line between the two. “Both are bodily experiences that are very intense and sensual and cause a lot of very strong feelings in people who practice them, but they’re not the same thing,” says Thorn. The metaphor she uses for it: a massage. Sometimes a massage, however sensual it feels, is just a massage. For others, a rubdown pretty much always leads to sex. It’s kind of similar with BDSM; it’s a matter of personal and sexual preference.

3. There is nothing inherently wrong or damaged with people if they’re into it.

This is one of the most common and frustrating misconceptions about BDSM, says Thorn. BDSM isn’t something that emerges from abuse or domestic violence, and engaging in it does not mean that you enjoy abuse or abusing.

Instead, enjoying BDSM is just one facet of someone’s sexuality and lifestyle. “It’s just regular people who happen to get off that way,” sex expert Gloria Brame, Ph.D., author of Different Loving, tells BuzzFeed Life. “It’s your neighbors and your teachers and the people bagging your groceries. The biggest myth is that you need this special set of circumstances. It’s regular people who have a need for that to be their intimate dynamic.”

4. Know that you can always say no.

“A lot of people starting out think it’s ‘all or nothing,’ especially if you’ve only been with one partner,” says Thorn. For instance, you might think that because you enjoyed being submissive under certain circumstances, that means you must agree to a whole host of submissive or masochistic behaviors that you’re not necessarily into.

But that’s absolutely wrong. You can — and should — pick and choose which BDSM activities you are and are not interested in, says Thorn. And that can vary depending on the situation, the partner, or even the day. Just remember that consent is a requirement in BDSM, and it’s possible to consent to one thing while still objecting to another.

5. BDSMers are just as stable as people who prefer vanilla sex.

“In my experience, it’s easier for people to get into BDSM if they don’t have a history of abuse, people who are in a more stable place in their lives,” says Thorn. A 2008 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that people who had engaged in BDSM in the past year were no more likely to have been coerced into sexual activity and were no more likely to be unhappy or anxious than those who didn’t do BDSM. And actually, men who engaged in BDSM had lower scores of psychological distress than other men.

That said, BDSMers do not judge people who aren’t into it, explains Thorn. The term “vanilla” isn’t meant to be derogatory, just to refer to non-BDSM sexual acts or people who aren’t interested in kink.

6. Fifty Shades of Grey is considered very cringeworthy in the BDSM community.

If you ever find yourself at a BDSM meet-up or dungeon, don’t mention any shade of grey. While some people appreciate that the books spurred more interest in kink and may have made it less stigmatized, others take issue with the abusive, unhealthy relationship it portrays and the seriously unrealistic scenes. All in all, it is not an accurate representation of the BDSM community.

7. It’s not all whips and chains all the time — or ever, if that’s not your thing.

Sure, some S&M enthusiasts might have these in their arsenal, but it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of kink. “Some people go for what’s called ‘sensual dominance,’ which is where there might be some toys or play but no pain involved at all,” says Brame. “It’s more like one partner agrees to do everything the other person asks. BDSM doesn’t have to follow any pattern, and there is no one model for what a BDSM relationship can be.”

8. BDSM encounters are called “scenes.”

Again, since it isn’t always about intercourse, you wouldn’t necessarily say that you “had sex” or “hooked up” with someone after a BDSM experience. Instead, these are called scenes (like, you scened with someone or you had a scene).

“It’s an evolution from a time where, if you did S&M, you might only do it with a professional for an hour, or you might just see it performed at a BDSM club,” says Brame. “Now people have much more organic relationships, but they still call it a scene — the time when we bring out the toys or get into that headspace.”

9. There are dominants, submissives, tops, and bottoms.

So you’ve probably heard about dominants and submissives (if not, the dominant enjoys being in charge, while the submissive enjoys receiving orders). But BDSMers may also use the terms “tops” and “bottoms” to describe themselves. A top could refer to a dominant or a sadist (someone who enjoys inflicting pain), while a bottom could refer to a submissive or a masochist (someone who enjoys receiving pain). This allows you to have a blanket term for those who generally like being on either the giving or receiving end in a BDSM encounter. And there’s no rule that says you can’t be both dominant and submissive in different circumstances or with different partners.

10. It can be as simple or as technical as you want.

Maybe the thought of being tied up excites you, or you enjoy spanking or being spanked. Or maybe you’re more interested in leather masks and nipple clamps and hot wax. All of that (and obviously a lot more) is within the realm of BDSM. Basically, you can still be into kink without actually ever going to a dungeon.

11. Before you go past the VERY basics, do your research.

Using a blindfold or an ice cube or fuzzy handcuffs you got at a bachelorette party are all relatively harmless beginner behaviors if you’re into them. But before you play around with some of the trickier tools, you need to learn how to do so safely. Even a rope or a whip can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Hell, you can even mess up with your own hands (think: fisting): “[Some people] think they can clench a fist and stick it inside somebody,” says Brame. “That’s a good way to really injure someone and send them to the hospital.” (Instead, she suggests an “enormous amount of lubricant” and starting with two or three fingers, then slowly and carefully building up to the whole hand.)

12. Seriously, BDSM involves A LOT of reading and learning.

If you’re one of those people who throws away the directions and tries to build the bookshelf on intuition alone, BDSM is probably not for you. “I would say the vast majority of what we call BDSM education is how to maximize ecstasy and minimize risk,” says Brame. “How to do all the things you fantasized about doing and to do them safely.”

While there’s no one required reading list, there seem to be a few favorites that are often recommended to beginners, like SM 101 by Jay Wiseman, Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns, by Phillip Miller and Molly Devon, and The New Topping Book and The New Bottoming Book by Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton. [Editor’s note: Have others you’d suggest? Please add them in the comments!]

Classes, conferences, and meet-ups are also helpful for learning specific techniques, says Thorn. Another popular resource is FetLife.com, a Facebook-like network for the kink community, which can connect you with message boards, groups, and classes in your area.

13. It’s important to get your information from a variety of sources.

One mistake many people make when first experimenting with BDSM is relying on one person to show them the way. Even if they do have your best interest at heart (and they might not), it can be limiting to only have one perspective on something that is so multidimensional, says Thorn. Instead, seek out books, workshops, meet-ups, mentors, friends, message boards, and more to find a safe place to explore your interests.

“When you can’t talk about what’s happening and you can’t make sense of your experience with like-minded people, that’s way more dangerous than the variety of activities you might fantasize about,” says Thorn.

14. Safe words are definitely a thing.

It might sound cheesy, but it’s a well-established norm in BDSM. (And hey, your safe word couldactually be “cheesy” if you want. You do you.) “Safe words are probably one of the most important norms that have spread across the community, even if people use them in different ways,” says Thorn. For instance, not everyone uses safe words all the time after a while, but it’s important to start out with them. They can essentially be anything you want, as long as it’s something that you wouldn’t normally say during sex. You can find more info about safe words here.

15. And at some public events, there are even safety monitors on duty.

“Dungeon monitors will kick out people who don’t look like they’re playing safely,” says Brame. This can be anything from ignoring safe words to using a whip incorrectly. Seriously, did we mention that safety is paramount here? In fact, the acronym SSC (safe, sane, consensual) is one of the most common pillars of the practice.

Buy this leather harness on Etsy for $98.

16. It’s not as spontaneous as Hollywood movies or porn make it out to be.

Getting swept up in the moment and accidentally stumbling into a millionaire’s red room (where you’ll have multiple orgasms) is probably not going to happen to you ever. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “The sexual fantasy makes everything look so easy,” says Brame. “People who actually do this stuff are very cautious about it. It has to be the right place and right time and right equipment. And you have to know you can get the person out [of whatever bondage] if there’s an emergency. You have to feel you can trust the person.” So there’s a lot that goes into one scene, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less satisfying for those who enjoy it.

17. There’s also probably way more talking involved than there is with (most) vanilla sex.

Whenever people question the role of consent in BDSM, they should consider the enormous amount of communication that occurs before, during, and after the scenes. “We talk about it hugely before we ever do it,” says Brame. “We talk about what we want to do, what we’re going to do, what our fantasies are… that’s part of negotiating a good relationship as a BDSMer.”

18. There’s actually a pre-negotiation period, where the partners discuss what they like, what they don’t like, and what they absolutely will not tolerate.

Think of this as the primer before the scene. “It’s a way of discussing the experience ahead of time that can increase emotional security,” says Thorn. This can involve anything from scripts and checklists to a more informal discussion of what each person’s expectations are for the scene, what they want and don’t want, and any words or actions that are completely off-limits.

19. And then comes aftercare, the debriefing period that happens once the scene ends.

Since BDSM can be an incredibly intense and emotional experience for some, most experts strongly suggest this wrap-up step, where the partners can discuss the scene and any reactions they had to it. “People are extremely vulnerable during aftercare,” says Thorn. “It can be really weird to have a scene without it.” This can also be a strong bonding experience between the partners.

20. BDSMers can be monogamous, polyamorous, or whatever the hell they want.

Not everyone who’s interested in BDSM has multiple sexual or relationship partners. “It used to be a popular perception that we don’t form long-term relationships,” says Brame. “A lot of BDSMers are just monogamous people. A lot of people just want to do it with their partner or play with the big toys at clubs.”

21. There are so many different types of whips.

This is not a one-size-fits-all kink. There are light floggers, leather whips, whips with single tails, whips with multiple tails that are flat and wide, the list goes on, says Thorn. But because certain types can be harsher than others, you really need to learn how to use them properly (again, workshops are crucial). “People practicing with a single-tail whip will often start with a pillow or some distant small object, like a light switch,” she says.

22. And there are some places that you definitely don’t want to whip.

Like, um, the eyes, obviously. Or the kidney area. “The skin is thin there and you have vital organs under there. You can bruise your kidneys,” explains Brame.

23. If you want to bring it up in your current relationship, absolutely do it.

“There are plenty of stories out there of people who were too nervous to bring it up and then found out that their partner had the same fantasy,” says Thorn. If you’re nervous about it, ask if they’d be interested in checking out a particular book or workshop you heard about. Or just talk about it in the context of sexual fantasies by asking your partner if they’ve ever tried anything like BDSM or if they’ve ever wanted to. If you think about it, you’re only risking one awkward conversation, and the payoff can be huge if this is something you want in your life.

Buy this latex catsuit on Etsy for $266.20.

24. There is an immensely helpful list of kink-aware professionals so you can find a doctor or therapist who uniquely understands your lifestyle.

Maybe you’re worried that your gynecologist or your lawyer won’t be sensitive to your lifestyle or doesn’t allow you to feel comfortable talking about it. Check out the Kink Aware Professionals Directory from the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom to find someone who will be more accepting.

25. Basically, it’s way different than most people expect.

Between stereotypes, porn, and Fifty Shades of Grey, there’s a lot of misconceptions about BDSM. Short of attending a workshop or visiting a dominatrix, the best way to learn more about it is to do some research. “Just like with regular sex, if you want to be good at it, you really have to learn about what’s going on when this stuff is happening,” says Brame.

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