While often stylized simply as S&M, or called ‘sadomasochism’, sadism and masochism are actually intrinsically different but connected forms of sexual enjoyment surrounding the idea of giving and receiving pain. Sadists enjoy the giving of pain, often for sexual purposes, while masochists enjoy the art of having pain inflicted upon themselves, yet again, often for sexual purposes. Many often switch between being sadists and masochists, therefore fans of sado/maso as a whole, and enjoy the role of both giving and receiving pain, often at different times and with different people.
While the term ‘sadomasochism’ is often used to describe people both formally and within informal chats who act maliciously, often within the criminal and legal realm. However, it is also more modernly understood as a mere sexual interest, and doesn’t mean that someone is without empathy but instead enjoys providing pain outside of sexual spaces. Within S&M, a wide range of sexual acts are explored and enjoyed both by sadists and masochists, often for different ends. For example, consensual torture is often utilized for the enjoyment of people inflicting and receiving the pain, such as through erotic tickling, spanking, ball, breast or clit torture. It is also common for ass torture to be utilized, using speculums or large dildos, plugs or anal beads in order to cause extreme physical, and therefore emotional, discomfort. Check out Sex Toys for a Masochist if you need some more ideas. While this may sound extreme, consent remains an important element of every S&M relationship, and is held in high stead by all those within the community. In fact, the community has a strong presence of self-policing, and will often make great effort to educate those both inside and outside of the community about what is safe and acceptable.
WHERE DOES S&M COME FROM
While what we know as sadomasochism has ultimately developed and evolved throughout time, S&M isn’t a modern relationship phenomenon. Instead, the use of pain to enjoy sex has been achieved throughout humankind as far back as ancient communities in Indian, Egyptian, and Arab cultures. Scholars have suggested that certain old Egyptian love songs and drawings could be inferred to discuss pain within sex and the desire to be subjugated by a sexual partner.
The official terms we use today came from the studies of German psychiatrist Richard von Kraft-Ebing, who defined the notion of “masochism.” With the help of Sigmund Freud, a well-known psychoanalyst and a colleague of Kraft-Ebing’s, he created the definition of “sadism.” He combined the two terms into the generally understood term of “sadomasochism,” often abbreviated into S&M. Check out “Speaking BDSM” for descriptions of more commonly used BDSM terms today. Through their studies, they found that while many believed themselves entirely sadistic or entirely masochistic in sexual realms, some believed themselves “switches.” This term is utilized in dominant and submissive relationships, meaning they feel most comfortable switching between the two identities depending on their mood and who they are being sexual with. Over time, many of the observations that Freud made have been picked apart. However, the general definitions he helped to create still stand firm formally and in informal chats, and while they were perhaps founded on misconceptions, they have been misconceptions that have continued to be prevalent in more vanilla communities too. In fact, such illusions have also crossed over into the legal aspects of sadomasochism. While consent is obviously a crucial and essential element of S&M relationships, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some individuals out here who will abuse the format of their relationship and cause pain beyond the scope that is healthy for S&M relationships. In these cases, the law disregards the basis of S&M relationships and argues that you cannot consent to extreme bodily harm or death.
In more modern times, many people, primarily those in vanilla relationships, have been educated on S&M relationships through the writing and creating of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise by E.L. James, which, despite being both a popular book and film series, is disliked by those within the actual S&M community. Many have said in chat forums that it grossly misrepresents the core values and behavior of S&M relationships and could even be seen as a dangerous franchise for vanilla couples. It represents them wrongly and perpetuates harmful depictions of such a relationship that could spur others to act wrongfully within their uneducated S&M relationships.
WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE PAIN?
There is no one true answer when asking why people enjoy sadomasochistic relationships. For some, it is merely an exciting and enjoyable means of having sex and forming attachments. They want the physical and emotional pain and discomfort it brings them. For others, it is the form of power and control that most excite them, as powerplay is a fundamental part of any kinky relationship, whether they are the one who is exerting control and dominance over another or if they are instead enjoying a sense of freedom and helplessness by being submissive at the whim of their sadistic dominant. As a submissive, winning the approval of their dominant can often create a sense of emotional pleasure that only heightens the physical, and the feeling of being looked after and told what to do alleviates any pressure of having to advocate or decide things for themselves. Instead, being told what to do can make them feel safe and protected, which is often why kink relationships turn to age play.
Just because someone enjoys inflicting or receiving pain or discomfort doesn’t mean they enjoy all forms of pain and discomfort. In fact, many masochists and sadists discuss on S&M forums how they want only specific pain and discomfort and will have hard limits about what they do and do not enjoy. For example, some may enjoy spanking while others dislike it, instead enjoying tickling. There are many different ways of providing and receiving pain, and just because someone enjoys it in some manner doesn’t mean they want all aspects and experiences of pain. It is always important to check in with your partner after more aggressive BDSM experiences.
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