Answer from Dr. Locker
S&M is also known as S/M and S and M. Although it’s no surprise that leather, handcuffs, whips, chains, and pain may come to mind when S/M is mentioned (because it does sometimes involve those things), underneath it all, S/M is really about power. S/M is about an exchange of power in which one partner agrees to be dominant over the one who agrees to be submissive for the sexual relationship, and sometimes in other aspects of their relationship.
The biggest buzzwords involved with S/M are not whips, chains, and pain. They are safe, sane, and consensual. In fact, the expression, “safe, sane, and consensual,” has been adopted as a slogan by the S/M community as a means of educating the general public about the fact that S/M activities can and should be just that.
About 5 to 10 percent of the general public is aroused by S/M activities. However, according to the Kinsey Report, a higher percentage, about 26 percent of the general public, frequently have an erotic response to being bitten. Biting (or scratching) might not be considered full S/M, but it still goes to show that more people than you might expect are aroused by some pain.
Roles are integral to an S/M relationship, and they allow power to be delegated and enacted by the participants. The roles that are assumed during S/M are the roles of who will be in charge and who will follow the commands. The “S” in S/M stands for sadist, and the “M” stands for masochist. Other terms for the sadist are master or mistress, dominant, or most commonly, top. Other terms for masochist are slave, submissive, or most commonly, bottom. The top (dominant partner) in an S/M relationship, is passionate about taking control of exactly what is, and is not, going to occur during the sexual experience. The bottom (submissive partner) consents to allowing the top to take control, and in fact derives great pleasure from relinquishing control. A male or female can play either role, and while in some relationships these roles remain steadfast, they could also be fluid and changeable.
Once a couple determines who’s the top and who’s the bottom, they then figure out which S/M behaviors they might like to experience. Most people consider spanking and restraint to be basic forms of S/M. An increased practice of spanking may lead to using whips, chains, paddles, cat-o’-nine-tails (a special S/M toy that looks like a bunch of small whips tied together) or even a horseback-riding crop. Some people may also get into scratching, pinching, hair pulling, or anything else they can think of. Similarly, if restraint interests them, they may start by holding their partner’s hands above his or her head during sex. If this is enjoyable to them, they may move on to tying up their partner using scarves, ropes, handcuffs, or chains, and also using blindfolds.
Another part of S/M for some people is verbal humiliation, which means that the top says derogatory, cruel, or degrading things to the bottom. If people choose to practice verbal humiliation, it may go on at the same time as any other S/M behavior.
When people practice S/M, sometimes they engage in intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, masturbation, or mutual masturbation, and sometimes they just engage in S/M behaviors without having sex. Sometimes they have sex after the S/M behaviors are finished. It’s all a matter of personal desires, and it could vary with each encounter.
If you are going to get involved with S/M, you really must read more about it, or go to an S/M support group to get instruction about the basics. No one should ever try to spank, hit, restrain, or in any other way practice a physical aspect of S/M without COMPLETE CONSENT, and even more importantly, without complete understanding of exactly how to do it safely without causing any harm.
Copyright © Dr. Sari Locker www.sarilocker.com