This is part 4. of my ABC’s of BDsM series. In each post, I will break down one letter of the BDsM acronym to delve deeper into what practices and preferences make up the world of BDsM. This is by no means a definitive discussion of BDsM, but is rather intended to be a primer for interested beginners.
M is for Masochism
Masochism is when a person derives pleasure or enjoyment from pain. This pain may be physical, emotional or psychological. Masochism is the flipside of the S/m coin, the opposite of sadism. Even though these two practices are opposite and complimentary, that doesn’t mean that a single person can’t enjoy both masochism and sadism. There are lots of people who enjoy both halves of the S & M pie, but usually they tend to prefer one over the other.
Masochism may show it’s face in a huge range of BDsM scenes. It often goes hand-in-hand with bondage and discipline, as well as other types of play including:
- Impact play, where the submissive party is hit or struck with paddles, floggers, hands, canes, whips, crops and a variety of other impact tools.
- Humiliation play, where the submissive party is forced to dress in clothing that they find embarrassing, may be called names or is made to perform actions that they find degrading.
- Play piercing, where needles are inserted into the top layers of skin.
- Primal play such as chasing, biting and scratching.
- Torture play, in which the submissive is subjected to physical torture, often while bound. This may include breast and nipple torture and cock and ball torture.
- Hair pulling
- Breath play, where the submissive is choked or smothered
- Erotic trampling, where the bottom is stepped and trodden on.
- Forniphilia, or human furniture. Submissives may be required to act as tables, footstools or other furniture.
- Medical play scenes.
- Electro-sex play, through the use of a violet wand or tens unit.
- Fire and ice play, including scenes involving fire wands, wax and ice cubes.
To a person who has not explored the world of BDsM, or who cringes at the idea of being in any kind of pain, the thought of intentionally submitting to painful treatment may seem absurd. Why on earth would anybody want to subject themselves to such play, and how could you possibly enjoy it? The reasons why masochism is so thrilling are as varied as the people who practice it. Some of the most common reasons for exploring masochistic tendencies may include:
- Feeling a rush or natural high from pain. Pain triggers the release of endorphins in the body, which in turn may cause feelings of euphoria, relaxation and pleasure.
- Wanting to explore physical and emotional limits. Some masochists liken their practice to endurance running or weightlifting, in that they are fascinated to see how much their body can take and explore and expand limitations.
- A desire to own one’s pain and learn to cope with it.
- Enjoying being at the mercy of another person.
- Wanting to expand trust in a relationship.
- Getting a thrill from intense sensation.
- Using intense sensations such as impact, heat or pain to stimulate certain parts of the body, making them more sensitive to gentle touch later on.
I very firmly identify as a masochist. I find pain erotic and I’ve definitely experienced that natural high after being flogged, spanked or tortured. I also enjoy pushing my personal limits to see how much I can withstand. In this way, I find things like impact play or wax play almost meditative. Although they do hurt, I try to relax into the sensations, noting them and breathing through the pain until I get to that place of bliss beyond. I liken it to running and yoga, both things that I enjoy immensely. With all of these things, to get to the benefits and euphoria, you have to first push through a barrier of pain and resistance.
It’s extremely important to note that not all pain will trigger a pleasurable response in a person with masochistic tendencies. I don’t feel sexy after stubbing my toe or being humiliated by a stranger in public. As with any BDsM play, it’s vital that the activity is safe, sane and consensual. The pain should be inflicted in a controlled environment, after lengthy negotiations about needs, wants and limitations. It’s extremely important that both parties trust one another so that both feel safe to explore and enjoy themselves. It’s also vital that play progresses gradually. With things like impact play, you can’t just start flogging the living daylights out of a submissive. You have to warm up with gentle taps, slowly ramping up the intensity. Proper preparation makes it a lot more likely that you will both enjoy your scene, and increases the chances that you’ll want to do it again.
As well as proper preparation before a scene, aftercare is especially vital in scenes that explore masochism. Pain can bring up all sorts of emotional stickiness, and you need to be prepared to devote the time needed to work through those feelings if they happen to bubble to the surface. The rush of endorphins and adrenaline involved with pain and fear can result in an emotional crash called Subdrop when those chemicals subside. Subdrop is a fascinating and important topic, and one that I will talk about more in future posts. Proper aftercare can help bring the submissive back to earth and limit the impact of drop. Additionally, physical aftercare, such as tending to bruises and cuts, helps to make sure that the bottom is healthy and happy. Aftercare is really important to foster trust between play partners and reassure everyone involved that they are loved, respected and cared for.
Masochism is a fascinating practice, and one that shows up in a variety of different BDsM scenes. It can be a gateway to pleasure and freedom for some, even though it might seem scary to others.
Fascinated by masochism? You might like to read the other posts in this series”
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading my ABC’s of BDsM. If any of these posts have raised any questions for you, or if there is anything you’d like to learn more about, please feel free to get in touch.