Let’s get into it… Bondage, Dominance, Sadism, and Masochism. You commonly know it as BDSM, and the exploration of it is popular in college. It’s understandable, you’ve finally gotten away from living under the same roof as your parents and finally have the freedom to explore all your deep questions and desires regarding sex.. At such a sex-positive school like Tulane, the right resources for support and safe-sex products are around every corner, making exploration much easier than in the “real world.” Many people feel like it’s better to experiment with getting freaky in the comfort of a dorm room, knowing you can escape to your bestie’s room if things get a little too kinky for your liking. All of this being said, how much do you really know about safe practices of BDSM, and are you really even into it?

BDSM’s origins are thought to predate history, but historians have found images from the 5th century BCE that depict pretty familiar illustrations of sex acts. Ancient humans utilized flagellation, or beating, in ritual sex acts, which obviously carried on into our current age. The BDSM movement has always been considered to be something pretty taboo and often has been frowned upon in pop culture and history as a whole. However, more people take inspiration from BDSM sex acts than the majority of the population is willing to acknowledge. Whether you think you’re pretty kinky or generally pretty vanilla, most sexually active college students will get proposed with some sort of BDSM related sex act at some point in their four year experience. Something as small as consented choking your partner is considered to be sado-masochistic, and in the BDSM family. Whatever you call whatever it is that you’re doing, it’s important to do a check-in with yourself, and your partner, on what actually brings you joy. Though BDSM has a long history, it doesn’t mean that everything is necessarily safe, nor pleasurable for all parties involved. You can seriously harm yourself and your partner if you don’t take the time to seriously consider what turns you on and ensure proper consent.

Let’s start with choking. As explained Dr. Paul Joannides in his book “Guide to Getting it On” (the holy grail of everything sex related…), choking has its origins in a long history of erotic asphyxiation, which is extremely dangerous. Most medical professionals and trained sex therapists highly frown upon erotic asphyxiation, the act of pleasuring oneself or being pleasured while being suffocated or strangled. As pleasurable as it may be to you, it is one of the easiest ways to seriously injure yourself or your partner, potentially leading to death. Seriously. On top of that, many young people’s views of sex have been tainted from the porn industry, which has glamorized rough sex and forms of choking that can be genuinely harmful to the partners involved.

I could get into a rant about the many negative effects of the porn industry and how it has normalized a misogynistic view of male pleasure, trumping the things that actually make women wet…but I’ll save that for another time. In the case of choking, participants are one thin line away from blocking airways and ending the fun for everyone. That being said, even though it’s dangerous…people like it. I know my article isn’t going to stop anyone from doing whatever gets them off, so I’ve done you the favor of linking an article that can explain how to choke safely. The biggest takeaway from all of them is that you need a safeword with your partner.Whether you want to go for the basic “Stop” or something more exciting like “Hakuna Matata,” safe words protect you and your partner from serious harm and ruining the sexual experience for both parties. The concept of a safeword could be considered the holy grail of consensual sex, and if sex isnt consensual, it shouldnt be happening. Use one, they only add to the fun.

I won’t get too deep into all the different BDSM practices that you could engage in, but I will offer some more advice regarding kinky sex. Whether it’s choking or something as intense as pouring hot wax onto your partner, you should always feel comfortable communicating what you do and don’t like. BDSM practices are never something you should feel pressured into doing. In most cases, your own personal health and safety can be put at risk, and you need to be able to stop whenever you feel like you’ve pushed past your comfort zone.

It is okay to tell your partner that they have gone too far, even if it’s something you feel like isn’t “that intense.” If your partner likes spanking you, and you don’t like to be spanked, don’t do it. This can seem scary, because sex is a large part of romantic and physical, relationships, but you should feel safe at all times with your partner. If the person you are having sex with scares you out of being honest about your comfort zones, they probably aren’t someone you should be intimate with.

Sex needs to be pleasurable for both parties involved, and should never put one person’s pleasure over the other’s emotional and physical safety. Trust and communication are some of the most important things in a sexual relationship, and it is expected that your partner will always respect your boundaries. If you are in a relationship in which you feel unsafe, trapped, or like your boundaries are not being valued, you can contact organizations like Planned Parenthood NOLA ((504) 897-9200) or even SAPHE, the Sexual Aggretion Peer Hotline and Education, (504-654-9543) for support.

So how do you discover what you like? Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, many people in our age group have learned the majority of what they know about sex from porn. Now I know I said I wouldn’t go on a rant about porn, but here is the harsh truth: porn is fake. All the BDSM stuff you see in porn isn’t an accurate reflection of what real people probably enjoy. Those people are paid actors, and they will often quite literally do whatever it is the director (yes, most porn is directed!) wants them to do. Still, porn can often be a starting point for college kids to figure out their kinks.

Other forms of media, like movies, tv, and music, are extremely helpful in one’s journey with discovering their sexual desires. I know I was a ten year old when Rihanna’s “S&M” came out, and I didn’t understand how chains and whips could excite anyone, but that song is damn sexy at 20 years old. I’m not saying consuming any of this media will help you figure it all out, but they might be good places to start.

An even better way of exploring your desires is with your partner. As I said before, sex is all about both people involved, so if you are in a relationship, it can be very beneficial to discover kinks that are mutually enjoyed. Start experimenting with whatever might turn you on, and always use a safe word as I mentioned. It’s also important to acknowledge that as much as you or your partner might like something, that is not an invitation to take it to an extreme. For example, if your partner likes spanking, that isn’t a green light to slap them, whip them, or inflict other forms of intense pain on them without their consent. No matter what it is that you like, always consider your partner’s feelings and ask them before you do it. Even if you’ve done it before, check in. BDSM and sex are intimate, emotional acts that can cause serious trauma and pain if done incorrectly. Sex should be fun, but be smart. Now go get kinky! Or don’t. You do you boo.

Features Image Via Magdalena Saliba.

About Magdalena Saliba

Magdalena is a staff writer for Sex and the Crescent City, as well as a member of the photo and graphic design teams. She’s a sophomore double majoring in Art History and Studio Art. She loves shopping for cool pants, watching The Sopranos over and over again, and making pasta from scratch.

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Magdalena is a staff writer for Sex and the Crescent City, as well as a member of the photo and graphic design teams. She’s a sophomore double majoring in Art History and Studio Art. She loves shopping for cool pants, watching The Sopranos over and over again, and making pasta from scratch.