BDSM offers us chains we can believe in

By Tiara Lin Source:Global Times Published: 2012-11-8 19:40:04


Illustration: Peter C. Espina
Illustration: Peter C. Espina

A foreign girlfriend of mine recently met a Chinese guy while speed dating. He is handsome, wealthy, sweet and caring and took her breath away. But he also had a dark, secret fetish: bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM).

Being a sadomasochist is hardly an accepted lifestyle in China. Many people who have such fetishes are dishonest with their partners, trying to suppress such erotic desires.

Many people look at BDSM as some kind of freakish or sick, cult-like obsession. But in some ways, the lines can be blurred between what is and isn't acceptable in couples' love lives.

Like it or not, all-controlling female dominatrixes and their submissive male servants are back in vogue. Erotic 1954 novel The Story of O by French author Pauline Réage, which tells the story of a woman's love, dominance and submission, was banned in the UK until 2000. But attitudes have clearly changed since such prudent times.

One only needs to look at the success of BDSM-filled romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey (2011) by British author E.L. James, which is part of series that has collectively sold 60 million copies worldwide and seduced countless women, to see the change.

Regardless of your marital status or sexuality, BDSM beckons many couples with its whips, chains, leather and latex. However, it is rarely discussed away from the bedroom, or basement for that matter.

My girlfriend's experience led me to wonder what other people are lured to the BDSM lifestyle. In the name of research, I decided to attend a weekend meeting of Beijing's very own BDSM community to satisfy my curiosity.

On a blizzard-hit Saturday afternoon, some 20 Chinese people gathered in a hutong bookstore's basement to share their BDSM thoughts and experiences.

To clear the air and quash any misconceptions, we all agreed there would be no actual sex. Instead, people sought to give each other education and support.

As I scanned the room, I observed people of all sizes, shapes and walks of life united by their passion for dominance and submission.

One middle-aged man told us that he had been practicing BDSM for six years. He was really into spanking, he confessed.

"In the [non-BDSM] 'vanilla world,' you need to negotiate with your partner to see what kind of pain they can take and what they can't," he advised.

We joked that if one day he found a BDSM magazine under his son's bed, he ought not to spank him.

"BDSM is not all about sex," he stressed. "Such relationships are likely to have a sexual element, but not always. Sex is not the final goal for me."

Again, for the purpose of research, I felt it was best to have some experience, albeit fully-clothed. The group's leader, a BDSM queen from Taiwan, tied me up and suspended me in the air. Was it scary? No. Painful? You bet.

But as the old saying goes: no pain, no gain.

Posted in: Twocents-Opinion

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