Following the election theme, today I’m going to talk about relinquishing control of yourself to someone who you deem trustworthy enough not to cause permanent damage to your well-being. Welcome to BDSM 101.

There’s been a fair bit of press around BDSM since the release of those Fifty Shades of Grey books. There’s been a fair bit of backlash from the BDSM community about these books, the majority of which suggests that it is not really a book about BDSM at all; it’s just abuse-themed masturbatory material for your mum. I can’t really comment as I only got halfway through before I got bored, but what I can do is give a little insight into what BDSM is all about.

BDSM stands for bondage, domination, and sado-masochism. They are all quite different things, but certainly have a lot of overlap, so people who are into one of them tend to be into a few if not all of them. Whilst I’m sure most readers will know what they mean, I’ll outline it anyway just in case.

Bondage: bondage is a blanket term for practices relating to restraint of the body and sensory deprivation. This can go from furry handcuffs, ropes and blindfolds anywhere up to full-body straitjackets and gags.

Domination: This is more of a vague one, and there’s not too much to say on it. It involves a partner or partners taking a dominant role, while another partner or partners submit.

Sado-masochism: This refers to people who get off on inflicting pain on others, and those who enjoy having pain inflicted on them. This can involve whipping, caning, spanking, clamps, weights or electrodes on various body parts, the list goes on.

Now we’re all caught up on definitions, you might be wondering why people like this sort of thing. To provide some understanding, I interviewed two friends: one of them a pansexual girl and the other a gay guy. To conceal their identities, I will use the pseudonyms Hamisha Beck and Hamish Beck respectively.

So first off, what are you two into when it comes to BDSM?

Hamisha Beck: I’m into all of it a little bit really. I like shibari (Japanese artistic rope bondage) and I’m a bit of a sadist at heart. I take a dominant role. I’ve subbed in the past but it’s not really my thing.

Hamish Beck: I’m also into most of it, but I’m a full on sub. My main thing is full-body restraint. I like being completely unable to move and particularly being suspended from something. I’m also quite into electro play

Do you have equipment for this?

Hamisha Beck: I’ve got a nice silk rope set, a couple of whips, a riding crop, a spanking paddle, some nipple clamps and a spreader bar (attaches to the ankles and wrists to keep the legs spread apart)

Hamish Beck: I’ve got quite a collection so I’ll just list it and you can explain what the things are. I’ve got a sleepsack (basically a full body straightjacket), ropes, a suspension frame (to hang the sleepsack from), a paddle, several leather and rubber hoods, spreader bars, weights to hang on the balls, an electrostim buttplug and and electrocock cage (they shock your bits).

What’s your number one fantasy?

Hamisha Beck: I wouldn’t really say I have one. I get to live out most of mine so I like a mix really. Most of them involve pretty rope arrangement though. Google shibari and you’ll see what I mean.

Hamish Beck: I think my number one fantasy is to be suspended in a sleepsack, gagged, with an electro butt plug and electro pads on my dick, while someone else controls the power dial.

What do you like about BDSM?

Hamisha Beck: Well it’s hard to pin one thing down but I definitely find the control very hot. Teasing and playing right on the edge of peoples’ limits is a huge turn on for me. I guess it’s just really exciting.

Hamish Beck: I just love the complete forfeiture of control. It’s hard to explain why without getting too Freudian. As for the pain side, I think all sensory extremes are quite deeply connected. That uncertainty of whether a feeling is pleasurable or painful is just so exciting to me.

Any advice for those wanting to try it out?

Hamisha Beck: Consent! Consent and trust are the big things here. It’s important that you start slowly, and establish your partner’s comfort zone before you start to push beyond it. When you finally do, push gently, and remember the importance of aftercare.

Hamish Beck: I second that. Aftercare is a big thing. It’s important that after a session is finished, everyone involved feels respected and safe.

And that concludes our interview! I’d just like to highlight that last point. Consent and trust really are the most important things in any encounter, and it seems that is why Fifty Shades received such a bad reaction from the BDSM community. BDSM is not about abuse, it’s about mutually-enjoyed, exciting sexual experiences. For that reason, I’d recommend you leave that book on your mum’s bedside table, and learn about BDSM from pros like Hamisha and Hamish. I hope that’s been somewhat enlightening. See you next week!