Master Are You?
A Master is a male dominant in the BDSM community. Typically, Masters exert ultimate control over their submissives, or slaves, who are submissive members of the community.
Although the terms used to describe these arrangements – Master and slave – make them sound like someone is being forced, this is not the case.
The Master/slave dynamic is a consensual agreement in which submissives choose to submit their freedom to their Masters. In return, their Masters are responsible for seeing to all of their slave’s needs and are also responsible for their safety.
The terms and limits of a Master and slave’s relationship may be solidified with a formal contract.
Although the Master/slave dynamic is a form of consensual roleplay or enacted as part of a committed submissive lifestyle, some view the imagery as problematic as a result of the historical context from which it arises
Consent from both parties is critical when engaging in BDSM practices. Implied consent isn’t enough. If you think that your partner agrees to participate in these activities and they don’t, you could potentially be charged with sexual assault.
To ensure that consent exists, talk with your partner before engaging in BDSM. Discuss what each of you would enjoy sexually, also sharing your limits or boundaries. This helps ensure that you both have a positive experience within your individual comfort zones.
Before engaging in a BDSM scene, talk with your partner about what you will and won’t do. Decide who will be dominant and who will be submissive, or if you will switch, and what type of play you will engage in. By negotiating this in advance, you’ll both know what to expect during the experience.
Research has found that BDSM participants enter an altered level of consciousness similar to the meditative state yoga practitioners experience or the marathoner’s “runner’s high.” It is commonly known these activities can benefit health by helping lower our levels of the hormone cortisol. Participation in BDSM may have the same effects.
For example, one series of studies found that partners in dominant roles had decreased cortisol levels after a BDSM session.3 Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” and may be associated with a range of health issues including high blood pressure, suppressed immunity, and insulin resistance.
Researchers have also determined that participating in successful sadomasochistic scenes increases the feeling of connectedness and intimacy with partners.3 While the exact reasons for this are not entirely clear, research has shown that doing novel things with romantic partners, rather than the same routine activities, increases intimacy.
This has been supported by looking at how the brain responds when doing something new. Brain scans of married couples reveal that sharing novel activities triggers the brain’s reward system and floods it with dopamine and other feel-good chemicals
- Remember that communication is critical. Before you even begin, you need to talk about your interests and boundaries. If you are engaging in something as part of a BDSM scene, it needs to be something that each partner has talked about—and agreed to—beforehand.
- Start slowly. Light BDSM practices are a good starting point for figuring out what you like and what you are comfortable with. Roleplaying sexy scenes or engaging in dirty talk, for example, can help you explore your fantasies.
- Set the scene. Engage all your senses when setting up a BDSM scene. Mood lighting, scented candles, soft music, and erotic clothing can all help create the right mood for your BDSM play.
- Have a safe word and don’t be afraid to use it. BDSM should be fun for everyone involved. So, if something isn’t working for you or is too much for you to handle, there’s no shame in saying so and trying something else.
More About Master
Depending on the nature of the relationship, the Master may control some to nearly every aspect of a slave’s life. For instance, in a 24/7 D/s relationship, Masters may decide when and how their submissives can speak, what they wear, and even when they can use the bathroom.
Of course, a slave must also submit to any and all of their Master’s sexual requests. This type of arrangement is known as total power exchange.
True Master and slave relationships in the BDSM community are similar to traditional marriages. These relationships are often long-term, and all parties enter into these relationships willingly and ready to commit to them.
Much like the wedding ring, a collar can be used as a symbol of a slave’s commitment to their Master. Some Masters and slaves may even choose to have a formal collaring ceremony to formalize their relationships.
A safe word is a predetermined word that a person can use when they reach a point where they are no longer comfortable and need to stop. Set your safe word in advance and share it with your partner. If either of you says your safe word during BDSM, all actions are to end immediately.
Some BDSM partners choose to follow a green-yellow-red system. Just like with a traffic light, green means go, yellow means slow down, and red means stop. Using this type of system allows you to communicate with your partner during BDSM, letting them know if you’re okay with the actions taking place or if they need to slow down or stop.
Benefits of BDSM
Recent studies devoted to understanding BDSM and its effects on the body have shown surprising results. Researchers have found that these practices may offer a number of health benefits.
Improved Mental Health
In one study, researchers looked at personality traits, relationship attachment styles, and the general well-being of individuals who engaged in BDSM.2 Contrary to many popular stereotypes, the study found that those who engaged in these sexual practices were actually, on average, better adjusted than their non-BDSM practicing counterparts.
History of BDSM
Mainstream culture often represents BDSM as reckless, dangerous, and unhealthy. Take Fifty Shades of Grey, for instance. Christian Grey’s reasons for enjoying kink stems from his childhood abuse.
Television crime dramas often portray fetishists as seedy, unethical lawbreakers. It isn’t just the media that frames BDSM this way.
Prior to the release of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013, participation
in fetishism and sadomasochism was actually considered a mental disorder by health professionals. Attitudes about kinky sex have shifted. Pop culture didn’t make kink the latest fad, however. Humans have always had a penchant for adventurous sex.
A 2005 Durex Global Sex Survey found that 20% of adults admitted to using some form of bondage during lovemaking.6 Even back in 1956, a Kinsey Institute Study revealed that 50% of people enjoyed erotic biting.7
We may not be having kinky sex much more than we always have, but we’re certainly talking about it more.
While BDSM can be fun and safe, it is important that you follow safety precautions. Always know how to safely use any clothing, gear, or toys that you want to try. Bondage and pain play,
for example, can cause injury if you aren’t careful or don’t use the equipment properly.