This is part 2. 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.
D is for Discipline
Discipline refers to the use of rules to control behaviour and the consequences that may arise as a result of breaking these rules. In a BDsM context, discipline usually involves some form of power exchange between a dominant party (the person imposing the rules and doling out punishment) and a submissive party (the person adhering to the restrictions).
Discipline appears in the BDsM world in countless ways. It may be applied to a short-lived scene, or employed over a long period of time by people participating in Dominant/submissive relationships. The ways in which discipline is carried out varies widely across situations, but some of the more common uses of discipline include:
- “Punishment” role play scenes between an authority figure and a submissive party such as a teacher and a student.
- Rules or contracts between partners in long-term relationships to prune bad habits and foster beneficial behaviour.
- Protocol. Protocol is a huge topic all of it’s own, but it essentially boils down to codes of conduct for submissives, such as the correct way to sit, stand, kneel, serve drinks and perform other tasks. It is similar to etiquette and is usually employed either at home or at specific BDsM events.
- Orgasm control, where a submissive party is only permitted to orgasm with the permission of their dominant.
- Chastity play, where the submissive party is forbidden to engage in sexual contact with another person or to touch themselves sexually. This may involve the use of chastity devices.
- Training as part of pet play, slave training or service submission training.
Discipline overlaps heavily with the other aspects of BDsM, particularly sadism and masochism. I will talk more about these aspects in future posts. It is often the case that a sadistic dominant will impose difficult or impossible rules as an excuse to inflict pain or punishment upon their submissive. Discipline also plays a role in many common bondage scenes, and bondage may be used as a punishment when rules are broken.
Discipline commonly comes into play with couples who have a long term Dominant/submissive relationship or power exchange. In these types of relationship, the dominant party will set rules and standards of expected behaviour for the submissive. These rules will sometimes be put in place purely for the pleasure of the dominant, and may include restrictions on how the submissive may dress, how they will address the dominant, where they will sleep and tasks they must perform for the dominant. Other rules may be set in place to assist the submissive to learn a new skill or break a habit.
Consequences for breaking rules vary from mild to extreme depending on the type of relationship and the desires of the parties involved. Some common punishments include:
- Spanking, whipping or flogging
- bondage or restrictions of movement
- being made to sit in a corner
- writing lines
- forced orgasm
- Performing unpleasant chores such as washing the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush
- An apology.
There is a difference between punishments for play and punishments for behavioural training. In a play scene, punishments like spankings or bondage are more likely to be used, because these are things that the submissive party will find enjoyable. In the case where a dominant is training a submissive, punishments are more likely to be unpleasant, because they are intended to be something that the submissive will wish to avoid.
Why do people enjoy discipline? Well, as I mentioned earlier, discipline fits very neatly with sadism and masochism, two of the other branches of BDsM. Discipline is a perfect pretext for punishments such as canings and spankings, as well as humiliation play. Discipline is a wonderful tool for learning and improving the self. Many people enjoy controlling the behaviour of others or being controlled and following orders. Some find it freeing to have a set of rules in place, so have someone else make those choices for them and to know that all they have to do it follow the rules. The desire to please is a strong part of the pull towards discipline, whether that means being proud of your own achievements or earning praise from your master or dominant.
As with any BDsM play or practice, discipline should be carried out in a safe, sane and consensual way. Some specific considerations include the following:
- Rules and punishments should always be carefully negotiated. Both parties should discuss the reasons for a rule and any objections should be talked through.
- Rule sheets and contracts should be reviewed from time to time. I know many people in D/s relationships who have a set date every month to review their rules and discuss what is working, what is not, remove rules that have become obsolete and add new rules.
- It may be worthwhile giving each new rule a trial period before it becomes a part of your formal rule agreement (if you have one). This helps to identify any practical issues that may not become immediately obvious.
- Don’t try to add too many rules at once. This can become overwhelming and untenable.
- Punishments should be unpleasant, but they should never injure or traumatize a submissive.
- Don’t make rules that will negatively impinge upon employment, family commitments or personal health.
- Communicate. Often, openly and honestly.
Discipline is a huge topic, and not one that I can cover in a single blog post. If there are any specific questions you have, please feel free to get in touch with me and I will attempt to answer them in future posts.
Next time, I’ll be delving into the practice of Sadism.