Common Misconceptions about BDSM

By Aramock Nanuck

      April 2014

Individuals who get introduced to the BDSM lifestyle come with a myriad of misconceptions. Some draw from popular literature, and others from either external or self-deception. Many people promote falsehoods to fill their own specific needs and support a possible view that they wish to propel to the forefront or use to manipulate others. Here are the most common ideas I view as misconceptions and how I view reality. One thing we need to note even in my interpretation is that “Your Kink may not be my kink, but it is okay.” In this style, I would say a colliery is “Your views may not match my views, but each has reasons for his or her own.”


All Kinksters are Weirdos.

Tops (Doms/Dommes or Masters,  etc.) and bottoms (submissives, slaves, and the like) are people first, kinksters second, and have a different set of values from those classified as usual. Over the past 60+ years, even the vanilla community does not always agree on what is natural.  And what was accepted has shifted significantly over time. Kinksters do at times push the boundaries of human interactions but directly in broader ways than others. Thirty years ago, society considered Gay and Lesbian as dysfunctional and aberrant behaviour. While still a minority, it is no longer viewed by most as abhorrent, although many ultra-conservative types again carry such views. Kink is the same way.


Kinksters are Players lacking Commitment

Like most people and kinksters form obligations and relationships, their views and interactions differ, but their level of investing in each other is never lacking. Some do not “bond” well, but this is not different from the errant “vanilla” men and women who cannot place commitments first.


Never be mix vanilla as the bulwark of fidelity.  Individuals who admit to being open in their relationships are not somehow less but somewhat different from those who do. It does not mean that they are not committed to some aspect of a specific individual just fluid in their interpretation of what that commitment entails.


Dominants are all alike.

All of the differences and commonalities of submissives are also at play in the minds and psyches of dominants. Each has their appetites and reasons for being involved and aspects which draw them to the lifestyle. The dominant has the added responsibility of adapting from relationship to relationship to provide for the needs and fulfillment of the submissives with whom they interact. The commitment to a slave is a tremendous responsibility, and more than anything else, defines the difference between a dominant and submissive. The dominant is always the one accountable for the care and safety of the activities undertaken.


Submissives are all alike.

Each person is different; while many hold common traits, each is unique.  Submissive people range from casual players to committed lifestylers with no desire for permanent relationships, to those wanting to balance different aspects of their life, to those who seek the comfort and solace of total surrender (the ones called slaves). Equally, each submissive wants to explore and participate in activities that heighten their experiences and fulfill their needs best. BDSM has so many events, flavours, and types of interactions that no two are indeed the same.


Kinksters are all Swingers.

The people encountered stating they are in the lifestyle may either be in or not a relationship.


Those in a relationship “belong” to their relationship with their specific Dominants or submissives. Individuals trying to ingratiate themselves and play a part in that relationship are “poaching” and show a decided lack of honour, dignity and discretion.  Sometimes this will be accepted or laughed at, but frequently it is at minimum an annoyance and most an insulting intrusion.


If they are single, individuals have the right to choose to pursue relationships of their choice. Assuming just because they label themselves a role that they are that to everyone is an oversimplification and misses the point that the lifestyle is about relationships no matter how divergent from what the vanilla community views as standard. Single people belong or have obligations to no one but themselves unless they willing to change that position. No one can compel their involvement.


Members use role-based labels.

The labels applied to a submissive may be a term of affection or social title either earned or agreed between submissive and Dominant. Frequently, private labels distinguish individuals in a relationship and only for those a party to the relationship. Often, individuals do not these labels used by anyone not a part of the relationship or a part of an activity. Others are more open or nonplussed about it. Again this goes back to each individual is different and has their tastes. Before applying a tag, make sure it is appropriate. If the subject of the label rejects it, then the better part of discretion requires avoiding its use.


An existing relationship is not an impediment.

People form defined unions as a matter of principle, not morals or law. These bonds should allow them to act within the lifestyle between themselves. Being involved in BDSM does not by default open them to “any” relationship or activity andy more than in the vanilla world.


Many people in the BDSM community are, in fact, monogamous. I would say a more substantial portion of the BDSM community is polyamorous. There is a difference between a couple exploring including a lifestyle partner and extending their committed relationship or by mutual consent, including casual players, to being viewed as individuals “prey” upon or “poach.”  A good guiding “principle” is if someone is already in a relationship, look to ones who are not; it saves on a plethora of problems and complications.


There is nothing wrong with asking any lifestyle partner to be mine.

Lifestyle relationships are built on trust, even more so than most vanilla relationships. There is always an underlying aspect of danger, pain, or risk too many of the activities involved. This trust has to be earned by all parties to the relationship, not something casually formed. Even sharing a partner with others requires the partner to trust your choices and to vet external agents. The idea of tying a sub in a bathroom in a truck stop for truckers to use as they wish makes for good fiction but would have law enforcement crash the scene quickly. So not very real. Casual encounters with lifestyle participants to become play partners are like asking that the person who sits behind you in math class will be your wife. Why would you give a near-stranger such a high level of intimate knowledge of or control or subservience over your most private activities?


Dominants expect others to hit on their submissive.

Dominants, in general, are very proud individuals and prefer that their relationship is respected. Encroaching their relationships is an insult or challenge to their authority and must be met without and forgiveness.  Some like to flaunt their property and relish in the attention others pay to their property, but like most vanilla relationships, jealousy is a genuine factor on many occasions. In comparison, others are neither jealous nor fearful but hate the insulting intrusion into their domain. The best way to petition a submissive, which you desire or like, is simply asking the dominant for permission first. The show of respect allows them to make a choice.

Submissive like references as a “whore,” “slut,” and “cunt.”

While it is common in much of the play to use these terms, it is not the same as what individuals like. The submissive may well desire respect and only want these terms used during activities or find the term offensive even if the activities denote the handle. These terms are very much a part of the humiliation and degradation aspects of the lifestyle, and those into this want to engage in name-calling; others do not. Regardless, however, most submissive prefer their partners are the ones using these labels. A stranger using these labels merely denotes an utter lack of respect.


One can treat submissive in any manner

One of the worse misconceptions is that abuse is a part of the lifestyle and required for submissives. The dilemma is that most masochists are also submissives, and many times the concepts get blended. NOT all submissives are a masochist; many do not have a high pain threshold, and a significant number do not like pain as part of their activities. A considerable portion is “pain-sluts” who feel exhilaration for pain and find it almost an alternate form of ecstasy. Submissive giving up control does not make them unworthy of but rather due respect for enabling Dominants to explore their part of the power dynamic.