BDSM has shown me there’s more in life than just missionary and cowgirl.
I’m starring at a wall of dildos in every length, girth and color you can imagine. I’m seriously questioning who the hell is fitting that large of an object in any orifice of their body. If I turn around I’m faced with nipple tassels, edible lube and Ben Wa balls. I happen to be right off Interstate I-80 in Newton, Iowa at the Lion’s Den, an “adult superstore.” Being that this was my first visit to a sex store of this magnitude—I’ve only ever perused the back department of Spencer’s and giggled at the penis shaped macaroni and cheese—I had no idea where to begin. So I started with gaping like a fool and avoiding eye contact with other customers and workers.
I’m here because I want to get kinky—or at least attempt to.
With my boyfriend in tow, we’re aspiring to try our hand (or should I say bodies) at BDSM to see what all the hype is surrounding the type of sex life Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele have in the Fifty Shades of Grey series. I’m a pretty basic girl when it comes to sex, and don’t get me wrong, that works great for me, but if a culture like this is spreading like mad there has to be something special about it. And I wanted to find out just what.
Of course, unless you’ve been living as a monk in Nepal, you’ve heard of the Fifty Shades of Grey series—and even then a copy probably got snuck into the monastery. It has topped best-seller lists around the world, selling over 125 million copies worldwide. The series depicts erotic romance, featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM). Although the books (and films) have been widely successful in pop culture, there’s debate over whether the stories are representative of real BDSM practices.
The Guardian interviewed real life BDSM enthusiasts to see what they thought of the film’s depiction. The real life enthusiasts weren’t too impressed. “I was shocked by how awful the film was. Ridiculous, really. The sex scenes were so vanilla. It didn’t look particularly kinky to me,” said Emily Sarah, a fetish model and performer. Possibly to the surprise of many, Sarah found the film vanilla; a term used within the BDSM community to describe sexual activity that does not involve BDSM play.
Real Life Kink
With this disconnect between the film and the real life culture, I found it more useful to understand what regular, everyday kink looks like. Susan Wright, founder of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, defined what kink meant to her in an interview with the Des Moines Register. “It’s about stimulating other parts of the body and the mind and the heart,” she said. “… For some people, it’s not a sexual thing at all. It’s a spiritual response, a cathartic response. For other people, it’s an endorphin rush, like a runner’s high. For other people, though, it’s sex and how they have sex.”
While this article with The Des Moines Register was very useful and informative, it took a while to find online information about BDSM that wasn’t, well, frightening. Google searching phrases like “dominatrix near me,” and “BDSM for beginners” took me deep down a rabbit hole of sketchy online group chats and erotic photos of women being tied up. Not quite what I was looking for. I’m still waiting for Facebook to pick up the analytics from my searches to customize my ads. There’s a bit of a difference between Victoria’s Secret and erotic bondage ads—especially if someone decides to look over your shoulder while you’re scrolling through your feed.
It took a decent amount of digging, and rewording of my searches to find helpful information on BDSM; a BDSM for Beginners would have been great.
From Vanilla to Everything But The…
For someone who has been having very tame, rom-com style, vanilla sex all her life, my research on what BDSM really is did not calm my nerves for what I needed to do. The two conflicting stories of what the Fifty Shades series presents, and what the community describes for realistic BDSM left me a little uncertain of what to incorporate into my sex life. I wanted to try things that were considered to be inside the realm of BDSM, but I also found the craze surrounding the kink in Fifty Shades to be compelling. With my boyfriend in agreement to basically have a ton of sex for a week or two, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try a little bit of everything (Okay, well my vagina got sore after a while, so it did hurt a little).
We kept it pretty simple the first night; my boyfriend tied my hands together to the bed frame with a tie. Then he pulled my shirt up so that it would cover my eyes and prevent me from seeing anything. This may sound pretty sexy, but in reality, I couldn’t stop giggling the whole time.
Just as things were heating up, we decided to cool off with some ice cubes.
Again, neither one of us could take this seriously, but we tried our best. The premise of the ice cubes is to have your partner take the ice in their mouth and drop icy kisses all across your body. So, as I lay tied and blindfolded on my bed, I waited in anticipation of what was coming. And, actually, it wasn’t that bad. Nothing too stimulating or earth shattering, but kind of nice. The only moment when the touches of ice made me suck in my breath was once it made it down to my lower regions, but even then I was feeling ok about the whole deal.
Lions and Dildos and Flogs, Oh My!
While the light bondage and goose bumps from the chill of the ice was a lovely first try at kink, we needed more intensity. And by more intensity I mean something along the lines of a flog or paddle. This is how we landed in the Lion’s Den surrounded by sex dolls, dildos and purple fuzzy handcuffs. I can honestly say I have never seen such a wide selection of fake penises in my life. We slowly made our way around the store, ogling at all products, exchanging confused and alarmed looks, and making a number of inappropriate jokes.
After the cashier had already asked us twice if we needed help with anything, which I politely declined due to the fact that I was beyond overwhelmed, we made it to the bondage/fetish section of the store. As expected, there was a section dedicated to toys used in the Fifty Shades movies right next to the other bondage and fetish items. I took a quick look at them but swiftly saw they were way beyond my price range, so I stuck with the generic ropes and flogs.
After a lot of contemplation and pacing back and forth, my boyfriend and I left with Ben Wa balls and a two-in-one feather tickler and flogger. The Ben Wa balls are used in the Fifty Shades book (I’ll go into full detail on these later) and of course we had to get some good flogging into our “play” time, but a more vanilla version that involves gentle feather dusting as well.
We’re now well equipped with the tools to really heat things up. First up are the Ben Wa balls, these are for women and they are inserted into the vagina. There are two balls connected on a cord that also has a long loop on one end for retrieval. When the balls are in place, slight movements of the hips or thighs should cause them to roll or make contact with one another, producing a pleasant vibration.
Sticking a foreign object up my vagina is not necessarily my idea of a sexy time, especially when a lot of sources give you tips on how to get them out if they become stuck. In full preparation to bear down and push them out if needed, my boyfriend helps me insert the balls. They’re of a normal size so the insertion is nothing frightening. Once they’re in I start to wiggle around. I stand up, sit down, and move my hips and butt back and forth. Nothing. My boyfriend rubs and massages my thighs and butt to see if they’ll move around. Nada.
A little disappointed, we remove the Ben Wa balls (which come out with ease, thank the Lord). Hopefully some flogging will cause a little more excitement.
My boyfriend starts out nice and easy with the feather tickler along my sides, which is effective due to the fact that I am intensely ticklish. Then—when I least expected it—he’d use the flog end. The flog we bought was small so each slap with the tails/thongs left behind a mere sting that quickly went away. The tails of the flog actually felt nice when slowly dragged across my body, and just as soon as I would calm down after a slap and enjoy the gentle touch, my boyfriend would coil back for another light flogging (it was merely a flick of the wrist, and kind of annoying to me, which was hilarious to my boyfriend). Although I still felt pretty foolish and way out of my element, the whole act felt fun and sort of mischievous. It made me understand the excitement of doing something people consider to be so taboo.
I have to say after my experience with BDSM and all the research I did into the subject, I have a better understanding and appreciation for the culture and those that participate in it. Here’s the big ‘but:’ I highly doubt I will continue any further endeavors into this lifestyle. Through most of my experience with BDSM I felt uncomfortable, silly, and that I wanted my vanilla sex back. I do believe this experience helped spice things up between my boyfriend and I for a couple weeks, and if we ever get too used to the taste of our normal sex, we now have some tricks up our sleeves.
I’m convinced BDSM is not for everyone, and I’m also convinced that whether it is for you or not, that’s ok. If you like to tie people up, enjoy the sting of a flog, or like to have your nipples clamped than that’s your prerogative. People shouldn’t feel judged for doing what they like. I, on the other hand, just so happen to enjoy my less aggressive, somewhat lovey-dovey sex. And I think that’s just fine too.