Aug 07, 2017

I had kinky sex long before I knew that what I was doing had a name. I enjoyed being tied up, slapped, spanked and face fucked when I didn't know what BDSM stood for, probably before I had even heard the word. In case you're wondering, I'll spare you the google search: BDSM is an overlapping combination of the abbreviations Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS) and Sadism and Masochism (SM). Basically, it is an umbrella term for a variety of sexual and/or erotic practices beyond vanilla sex, usually involving pain and power exchange.

Although I didn't need words to explore sexuality outside the limits of the norm, my escapades were overshadowed by shame and fear. Furthermore, establishing an ethical and consensual base without even being able to name what was happening was challenging, to say the least.

I don't think I'm alone here; many people, probably much more than you'd think, and definitely more than the mainstream media portrays, fancy playing kinky, but not all of them are comfortable talking openly about it. Non-normative sexual behavior is socially stigmatized and structurally discriminated, thus hindering honest and healthy communication between sexual partners on the subject. This is generally bad but becomes particularly urgent when you are venturing into physically and emotionally higher-risk scenarios. Before you are blindfolded, tied up or gagged, you really should consider discussing borders with your partner, as by that point it might be too late to do so properly.

Any means that open a dialogue on sexuality in the public sphere is to be encouraged, so I won't argue against the positive impact that Fifty Shades of Grey topping best-seller lists had for the social acceptance of a conversation around the topic of beating the shit out of your partner. I will argue however that erotic literature is fiction, and just as you wouldn't consider learning how to drive by watching Fast & Furious, you might want to check other sources of information for your kink education.

Two of my favorite books on the subject are THE NEW BOTTOMING BOOK and THE NEW TOPPING BOOK by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy, who are among the best authors when it comes to sexual education. Although they provide lists of how-to books, they are not technical books themselves, meaning they will not teach you bondage knots or any other techniques that you should surely learn about before engaging in concrete practices requiring those skills. Instead, they offer a practical introduction to the psychology and ethics of BDSM play. The authors' approach to the topic comes from an honest and relatable place, as they are both very experienced players. They define BDSM not as an abnormality but as a component of sexuality in all humans and respectfully acknowledge the diversity in its expression. They are also aware and inclusive of the different sexual orientations and relationship forms players might have. The Bottoming/Topping books propose a deep understanding of the complexity of power play and suggest concrete practical advice on how to create a safe space for you and your partners to enjoy it fully. They argue that when it comes to sexuality, you as a consenting adult are responsible for taking care of yourself and others when engaging sexually. Plus, the books have a light and joyous tone even while handling difficult topics, and they include short erotic narratives of personal experiences which can be very inspiring. Regardless of whether you're just curious or an experienced player, I recommend adding these two to your library. Or, better yet: leave them on top of your partner's night table as an ice breaker.

Category: Sex 101
Paulita Pappel
Paulita Pappel
Paulita Pappel is a performer, director and producer. A feminist pornographer. A lover. She is the founder of

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