Northwestern Nookie: BDSM and Free Condoms
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    These ripped up bits of paper are one reader’s visual expression of what an orgasm feels like. Photo by Sara Weston / North by Northwestern.

    We’re Rigo and Sara, two of SHAPE’s newest members, here to answer your questions about sex. We aim to create a space for students to learn and become more comfortable talking about sex by allowing you to submit questions without your names or email addresses attached. We believe there’s no wrong way to have sex; nobody should be judged on their sexual lifestyle, but everyone should consider being safe towards one’s self and one’s partner. So ask us anything!

    What does BDSM stand for?

    Sara: BDSM is a three-part acronym. BD stands for bondage and discipline. Bondage involves things like ropes, blindfolds, handcuffs and masks, while discipline makes use of paddles, flogs and whips. Very few of these things involve pain. A large majority of whips and flogs are designed to produce sensation without lasting pain or bruises. Popular handcuffs are made of nylon. Bondage is one of the most common forms of non-vanilla sex. A lot of couples will blindfold each other or lightly tie one another up.

    DS stands for dominance and submission. For the most part, one person in a couple will be a “dom” or “top” while the other will be a “sub” or “bottom” (Please note: the terms top and bottom are used differently by gay men). Some couples take on these roles only for a short time, but it’s possible for couples to live these roles 24/7. Some subs wear collars or leashes. Not everything in this kind of relationship is sexual: a dom might order his or her sub to perform embarrassing or degrading tasks.

    SM stands for sadism and masochism. This is what most people think of when they hear BDSM. Sadists like to inflict pain on people, while masochists enjoy pain. The whips and paddles used here are, obviously, different from those used in bondage and discipline. Sadists and masochists can also delve into more extreme things like blood play, though this is hardly a general case.

    Rigo: Knowing how to be safe with this type of play is very important. When people think of BDSM, they usually come up with images of whips, handcuffs and leather masks, and because things like this are a typical part of BDSM play, you need to be extremely careful.  All one has to do is remember the letters “SSC.”

    Safe: Ensuring that whatever activity you’re partaking in doesn’t harm yourself or your partner in any serious way.
    Sane: Not going over the edge and looking for blood when participating with your partner.  In other words, don’t explicitly try to drown your partners or light them on fire when getting intimate.
    Consensual: As always, make sure whatever actions you and your partner get involved with are okay with the both of you (and anyone else who’s lucky enough to be a part of the action).

    Although most couples are fine with SSC, there are some people who do enjoy pain and gain pleasure from it.  If you want to be more extreme with activities like blood play, you might want to follow Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK).

    BDSM activities are becoming a lot more mainstream than they were before.  The ideas of bonding or blindfolding have been popularized in many different types of porn and movies, introducing it into the eye of the public.  Although some have the wrong idea of non-normative sex, everyday more and more people are accepting these sex acts. We’ve reached the point where mass amounts of people get together to share kink stories and products. So if you’re curious but worried about what people may think about you, then you should look into different types of playing in different ways on a private basis.

    So look for us this Saturday — come talk to us about sex, tell us how we can improve this column in the future, get free condoms and free hugs. And to all of our readers: Thanks for a great quarter!

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