A Note About Initialisms

I've been warned that I should say what I mean and mean what I say.

Jin is not shy about letting me know when I’m not being accurate. He mentioned the other day that I should start being consistent in my use of either “S&M” or “BDSM” to describe our relationship. He hinted that I should have done a better job of researching both abbreviations so that I knew exactly what they meant before I used them.

“BDSM” is an initialism that stands for Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/submission, and Sadism/Masochism—six complex concepts encapsulated in four letters. I generally hate abbreviations, but I like how concentrated this one is.

“S&M” is an initialism that can stand for sadism and masochism. It is also sometimes used as a short form of “BDSM”. I prefer to use the term “BDSM” because my relationship with Jin incorporates many of the concepts that it stands for. Our relationship is more complex than the simple infliction of pain.

Bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, and pain are interrelated and complex concepts for me. I hope that by defining my terms here I can be clearer in posts going forward.

Bondage/Discipline

I have a love–hate relationship with discipline. It makes me feel vulnerable in a way that other aspects of BDSM do not. When Jin disciplines me, I feel powerless and completely exposed. It’s scary and frustrating to feel that I don’t have any control. At the same time, I want to let go, to experience that feeling of vulnerability fully.

Aftercare helps me turn the vulnerability that I feel during BDSM play into a positive emotion. I close my eyes and feel Jin stroke my hair, and the shock of being punished is put into perspective.

Dominance/submission

I gave Jin the power and control in this relationship. It was a gift with no expectations, no strings attached, for as long as this relationship lasts.

Obedience isn’t easy for me. It requires a conscious suspension of my desire to argue, my desire to question, and my desire to disbelieve. I have to work at being obedient, but when I stop fighting and obey I get an intense feeling of serenity.

Sadism/Masochism

Pain makes me feel quiet and very submissive. I stop thinking complex thoughts and focus instead on not bursting into tears. I begin to wonder how much longer I can take it, then I feel Jin’s hand on my back. In that moment of hurt and comfort, he is my lifeline, and I’ll do what he says without asking why.


I’m still experimenting with what BDSM means to me. Learning enough language around BDSM concepts to describe my feelings is an important part of that.

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