What is Professional BDSM?
Professional BDSM is a multi-faceted, ritualistic practice that occurs between consenting adults who wish to act out sexual or non-sexual fantasies that pertain specifically to the exchange of power and trust. BDSM sessions, also called scenes, can include physiological and psychological stimulation, role-play scenarios, costumes, make-believe, and objects that have certain meanings attached to them – otherwise known as fetish objects. All scenes involve a dominant and a submissive, also referred to as a top and a bottom, respectively, and usually involve two people, although scenes with multiple people can also occur. Professional scenes can last anywhere from one hour to multiples of hours or days and include negotiations beforehand to discuss boundaries, limits, safe words, and desires. Sessions should – but do not always – include aftercare. Aftercare is the intentional allotted time that occurs after the scene in order for the dominant to offer comfort, a space to process, and communication to the submissive. Many players consider aftercare to be the most important part of a scene. Most importantly, BDSM scenes are conducted in an environment in which players can allow any emotion to surface without feeling judged or shamed by the external constructs of mainstream society.
There are many different styles of BDSM. The type of play is dependent upon the emotional and physiological awareness of the dominant, his or her expertise, as well as the intentions set for the session – if any have been set at all. There are many practitioners who cater more to physical sensations in a session as opposed to psychological; there are practitioners who focus only on the psychological. My ideal style of play is a holistic approach that incorporates both physiological and psychological stimulation. For me, the exchange of trust and emotional intimacy are paramount. I prefer to use my sessions as safe spaces where people can build relationships, learn to express needs, explore their bodies and minds, learn about shame, and allow fears to exist without fighting, running, or freezing. Fighting, running, or freezing are also responses to trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and it is no mystery to practitioners in the community that BDSM can be used to help people work through PTSD.
Sensation play and sensory deprivation are huge components of BDSM. Some examples of tools that can be used for sensation play are crops, floggers, whips, clothespins, paddles, and neurological tools, such as the infamous Wartenburg wheel – a metal pinwheel with sharp points that spin on an axle, or the violet wand – a handheld device that administers static electricity to skin. Some examples of tools that are used for sensory deprivation are ropes, blindfolds, gags, earplugs, cages, and hoods. Sensation and sensory deprivation have functions in play, and either or both give the dominant more ability control what type of experience the submissive may have.