The challenge of definitions

This dailydot article entitled ‘What is BDSM‘ will probably not contain anything particularly new or interesting to regular readers. However, one part did catch my eye…

In The New Topping Book, co-author Janet W. Hardy describes BDSM as “an activity in which the participants eroticize sensations or emotions that would be unpleasant in a non-erotic context.”

I’ve never seen that definition before, and my first instinct was to say that it couldn’t possibly be true. BDSM is packed with sexy fun, so surely that must include activities that are pleasant in a non-erotic context. But the more I thought about it, the more I struggled to come up with some good examples to invalidate the definition.

Certainly, the kinky things I enjoy wouldn’t be fun in a non-erotic context. If I’m being whipped, pierced, bound, beaten, suffocated, bitten or burnt then it’s either a great play session or I’ve been kidnapped by a serial killer. There’s not a lot of room in between. Even for non-masochistic stuff, it’s hard to think of a good example that contradicts the definition. Things like foot worship, humiliation, CFNM, blackmail and service are no fun without an erotic context. And things like fetishistic outfits, anal penetration, chastity play and tease and denial are inherently inseparable from eroticism.  So what’s left?

The only thing I can suggest are splooshing and looning. They seem like they could be both non-sexual fun for some people and hot sexy times for others. But while they’re definitely kinks, I’m not sure they count as BDSM. So I think that means the definition stands. Unless anyone out there can come up with an activity that breaks it?

Here’s a lady enjoying both a cake and anilingus. That’s definitely kinky, but is it BDSM? And while cake can be non-erotic, can the same be said for eating it while getting your bottom polished?

Author: paltego

See the 'about' page if you really want to know about me.

3 thoughts on “The challenge of definitions”

  1. I’d posit that anything D/s-ey that isn’t directly play-orientated is generally not unpleasant. That is, if they just mean Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, Masochism, then I’m hard-pushed to find examples that *aren’t* unpleasant in a non-erotic context (though one could argue that a decent ‘tucking into bed’ is a form of bondage :P).

    But anything service orientated or simply ‘doing what someone tells you’ or ‘working to please your dominant’, none of that stuff is inherently unpleasant.

    Ferns

    1. I did think about about the service side of D/s and the idea of tasks when writing the post, but originally had chores and drudgery work in mind, which seemed inherently unpleasant. But on second thoughts you may well be right here, there are some things that aren’t inherently unpleasant but that could also be done in a working to please your dominant style.

      For example, I actually like planning trips, or cooking a meal or figuring out coordination for a really great night out. I happily do those in a non-erotic and non-D/s context, but doing them for a dominant would be an extra level of enjoyment. So the D/s in those cases adds an erotic frisson, but doesn’t inherently change something from unpleasant to pleasant.

      I knew my smart and brilliant readers would come through with something! Thanks for the comment and thought. Hope you’re doing well Ferns.

      -paltego

  2. Children do this all the time. For example, playing cops and robbers. The bad guys then pretend to be tied up and have to sit in a chair for a few seconds as “punishment.” They also take turns pretend to be pets such as dogs and cats, to be leashed around, or be hugged and cared for by their “owners.”

    It’s fascinating observing them negotiating roles and limits so everyone can equally have fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *