THE SENSUAL WORLD OF S/M

Welcome to the wonderful world of S/M. If you are new to S/M, you will
undoubtedly be pleasantly surprised at what you are going to read. S/M
is fun! If it's not, you're doing something wrong. And that is the
approach this book takes.

If you're not so new to S/M, this book will most likely validate what
you already know. And that's valuable too.

Erotic fantasy is a playground for grownups. When a child plays there
is no end to what their imagination can create. A box becomes a
playhouse, a wagon becomes a racecar, and a stuffed animal a ferocious
dragon. Inside every adult is a child who also loves to play. If you
combine that childlike desire to play with the adult sex drive, you
have a limitless fantasy life that can keep you and your partner
deeply satisfied.

Imagine the possibilities!

And that's what this book is about -- possibilities. It's about you
and your partner creating endless possibilities in your erotic life.
In order to do this you must always remember one thing -- there's no
such thing as a bad fantasy. That doesn't mean you should actually do
everything in your fantasies. It just means that there's nothing wrong
with thinking them.

Of course, many of your fantasies can be realized.

This book concentrates on those fantasies involving S/M. Not sure what S/M
is? Well, read on.


WHAT IS S/M, ANYWAY?

The term "S/M" (or S&M, both are commonly used) is not an entirely
accurate name for the type of sexuality we are exploring here. The
abbreviation S/M is derived from the word "sadomasochism," which means
the deriving of enjoyment from the infliction and/or receiving of
pain. However, the term S/M, as it is now commonly used, has come to
encompass a very wide range of erotic activities that do not
necessarily involve pain at all. Indeed, it is probably accurate to
say that the majority of people into S/M do not enjoy pain, per se.

If pain is not the key element of S/M play, then what is? What makes
one erotic encounter S/M and another not? The answer is power. The
component that seems to be part of all S/M play is not any particular
kind of physical activity, but rather the fact that there is an
exchange of power between the partners.

Sometimes this power exchange is very dramatic and other times it is
more subtle. The degree of power exchange is not important so long as
the experience is enjoyed. If an exchange of power, to whatever
extent, takes place, the encounter can be considered S/M in nature.

Let's examine some power exchanges that might be incorporated into
one's erotic fantasy life (remember, these are fantasies, not
necessarily reality).

* Two partners sign a two week long erotic slavery contract. For a
week one partner must be completely devoted to the erotic needs of
the other. At the end of
the first week, the roles reverse and the pampered one now
becomes slave to the other.

* A spouse leaves a note for their partner to be read upon arriving
home from work. It orders them to shower, prepare the bed, dim the
lights, and be waiting naked in bed for the spouse's arrival.
* A police officer pulls over a traffic violator. In order for the
driver to get out of the ticket, he must perform some wonderful
sexual act. (Which of course, they enjoy immensely.)
* A lover allows their partner to tie them down on their bed and
tickle them mercilessly.
* A doctor makes a patient submit to a very "thorough" examination.
(Who knows where those hands might go?)
* A severe figure dressed in black leather commands a large
collections of slaves. Luckily, their partner is one of them. (So
what if there are really no other slaves. Remember, imagination
has no bounds.)
* A strict school teacher administers a severe spanking to a
misbehaving student.
* A partner wears a thin chain around their neck that is fastened
with a lock, symbolizing their submission and love for their
partner. The chain is worn under clothing and is only seen by the
two partners in private. The other partner, of course, has the
only key.
* One partner has abducted the other and is keeping them bound with
ropes on their bed. The captive strains to get free.

We could go on and on. If two people care about each other and engage
their erotic imaginations, there's no telling what wonderful S/M
scenarios they can dream up. That's so much of the fun.

Remember, the fantasies above are just that -- fantasies. What might
be appealing in an erotic fantasy might be appalling in actuality.

This broader definition of S/M as an exchange of power greatly expands
the classically accepted definition and thereby includes a great many
people who may not previously have considered themselves into S/M. A
common example is that many people are into physical restraint
(bondage) as an erotic outlet. Bondage would not be considered a part
of S/M as classically defined, but bondage enthusiasts have long been
considered an integral part of the S/M community. Actually, even
traditional missionary position sex can move into the realm of S/M if
the partners have exchanged power with each other.

In the next chapter you will read how some people might exchange power
in various kinds of S/M situations.


S/M AS LOVEMAKING

Yes, S/M play is lovemaking. That's a strange concept for many new to
the S/M scene. But it's always true. Even if the partners don't know
each other very well, their S/M play is a way to express love. As
Henry Havelock Ellis, a pioneering writer and researcher of S/M,
wrote:

"The masochist desires to experience pain, but he generally desires
that it should be inflicted with love; the sadist desires to inflict
pain, but in some cases, if not in most, he desires that it should
be felt as love."

Ellis died in 1939, so his views of S/M were relatively crude. He did
not yet see the broader definition of S/M that we embrace today. If he
were still alive he would undoubtedly refer to the concept of "power
exchange" rather than "pain." Still, the gist of his quote is clear.
S/M is motivated by love. S/M is lovemaking.


SAFE, SANE AND CONSENSUAL -- THE S/M CREDO

S/M has had a bad rap for a long time. Some of this is due to those
few individuals who partake in improper erotic behavior and call it
S/M. But most of the bad rap stems from ignorance. In an effort to
eradicate this ignorance, both among the public at large and in their
own ranks, the S/M community has adopted a credo by which it lives and
plays -- safe, sane and consensual. In other words, if it's not safe,
if it's not sane, and if it's not consensual, it's not S/M. Any
activity that does not meet these criteria is denounced by responsible
members of the S/M community. And those people who violate this credo
are shunned and avoided by others in the community.

What is safe? Here are some basic S/M safety guidelines:
* Do not exchange dangerous body fluids with your partners. In other
words, safe sex or no sex.
* Get to know your partner as well as possible before you play. The
intimacy required for enjoyable S/M experiences usually requires a
good deal of trust between partners. This doesn't happen right
away. Get to know each other.
* Never try to do something that you're not ready for. Certain kinds
of S/M encounters require a proficient level of technical skill.
Get the necessary knowledge first. Reading this book is a good
first step.
* Always be aware of the health and physical safety of everyone
concerned. Exchanging health and medical information is a good
idea. A CPR and first aid class might be helpful.
* Is your S/M play contributing in any way to a person's negative
self-image? It should not. S/M play should build a person up, not
break them down.

In short, do whatever is necessary to ensure that the experience will
be a safe one. Safety is so important that an entire chapter is
devoted to it later in this book.

What is sane? Sane is a relative term. Many people think people into
S/M are not sane simply because of this interest. Being sane, as we
mean it here, is about using your best judgment. Does it seem "sane"
to you personally? Trust your gut feelings and intuition. Sometimes we
think only with our genitals, and that can be dangerous. When in
doubt, don't.

Sanity also means that those people involved are not under the excess
influence of drugs or alcohol. Safety often goes right out the window
when someone is high.

It's better to wait until everyone has complete control of their
faculties before pursuing any S/M play.

What is consensual? Everyone involved in the S/M situation must
consent to all that is transpiring. No exceptions. This also means
that everyone has the ability to communicate clearly during the play
and that all communications are heeded. Anything that is done against
someone's will is an act of rape. And rape is not S/M. Rape is
violent, criminal and abhorrent to any responsible person in the S/M
community.

As with so many things, there's a lot to consider when pursuing S/M.
Knowing the safe, sane and consensual credo allows you to quickly
assess situations without remembering long lists of do's and don'ts.
Just think to yourself, "is this safe, sane and consensual?" If it is,
then go for it. If it's not, make it so or don't do it.


ADD FUN TO THE S/M CREDO

When the S/M community adopted the safe, sane and consensual credo, I
was overjoyed. It serves its purpose well. But I've always thought it
lacked one thing -- fun.

S/M is supposed to be fun. If it weren't, why would anyone do it. So I
want to add the word "fun" to the credo. So now, ask yourself "is this
safe, sane, consensual and fun?" By doing so, you'll ensure yourself
not only safe experiences, but fun and fulfilling ones as well.


WHY DO PEOPLE ENJOY S/M?

The only honest answer to this question is "no one knows," although
many people have their opinions. Sexuality researchers have been
struggling with finding
answers to why people enjoy the erotic pleasures they do, but most
answers are merely educated theories.

And is it really important to know why you enjoy something? Is it
necessary to know why you like chocolate ice cream better than
vanilla? Of course not. You simply accept it and enjoy your favorite
flavor. So it is with sexuality.

Your sexuality is your own business. As long as what you do is safe,
sane, and consensual, it's just fine.

Also remember that a sizable percentage of the population enjoys S/M
play. You are not alone.


MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT S/M

S/M play is fueled by fantasies. The goal of S/M is to turn those
fantasies into a safe, sane, consensual and fun reality. Often
someone's fantasy may appear as something quite different to an
outsider. For example, what if you stumbled onto a movie set without
noticing any of the lights, cameras, or crew. If you then saw two
actors fighting angrily with fists flying, you would assume you had
stumbled onto a real fight. You would have no way of knowing that it
was not real. This is what it is like when someone not knowledgeable
about S/M hears about or sees an S/M situation. They immediately
assume the reality in front of them, not the fantasy it represents.
This is the main reason there are so many misconceptions about S/M.

Here are just a few of those misconceptions:
* S/M is a violent act. No act done with love and caring can be
considered violent. And what perpetrator of violence takes the
time to consider the safety and enjoyment of the other person? S/M
is not violence. It
is another way to make love.
* S/M is unsafe. S/M is anything but unsafe. By definition, S/M must
be safe or it's not S/M. Responsible S/M players always make sure
the experience is a safe one.
* S/M is demeaning to women.First of all, the assumption here is
that women are always in the submissive role in S/M, and that is
just not so. Men and women appear to favor dominant and submissive
roles equally. Actually, most enjoy both at one time or another.
It may seem that men are always the more dominant when one looks
to the S/M pornographic magazines, but that is only because such
magazines cater mostly to heterosexual men -- they are the ones
who buy most such pornography -- not because the magazines reflect
life as it really is.

Secondly, the hidden assumption in this misconception is that
submission is somehow demeaning. Nothing could be further
from the truth. A dominant/submissive relationship is a
carefully negotiated, safe, and caring exchange between
partners. Is it demeaning when you care so much for
someone that you want to make their fantasies come true?
Of course not.

A person cannot be demeaned when they are being loved and
cared for. S/M is not demeaning to women (or men).

* S/M is about pain. An erotic encounter can have absolutely no pain
whatsoever and be considered S/M.
S/M is not about pain. It is about a loving and caring power
exchange between partners. Forget the word pain and
replace it with the word "sensation."

* S/M cannot be part of a healthy relationship. Since S/M is just
another way to make love, it is at its best when it is done within
the context of a loving, caring relationship.

There are many more misconceptions about S/M than those listed above.
As people become more educated, attitudes will hopefully change. These
new perceptions will make it much easier for those wishing to enjoy
S/M play to accept it as a healthy expression of their sexuality.


THE S/M SCENE

When two or more people have an S/M erotic encounter, it is called a
"scene." A more precise definition of what a scene is would be:

A combination of mental, physical and/or environmental components,
with an exchange of power as a key element, that mix in such a way
as to produce a satisfying erotic experience for all participants.

A scene can be as short as five minutes or as long as a weekend. Some
last longer. Regardless of its length, if it meets the above
definition, it's a scene.

Scenes don't just begin when you walk into the bedroom. Scenes can
happen anywhere and they can begin long before the "action" starts and
end long after the action
ends. After all, the focus of much S/M play is the mind, not the
genitals. Sex may, or may not, be part of a scene. That means that the
two people sitting next to you in a restaurant might be in the middle
of an S/M scene and you wouldn't know it. Isn't that fun to think
about?

A scene is your own erotic theater, where you create your own fantasy
world. No two scenes are ever the same. That's one of the great joys
in the S/M experience.

Let's see what just a few of the erotic possibilities are by sharing
the experiences of some couples in the next chapter.

Copyright 1992 by Race Bannon. Please see the rights notice.



"Intelligent publications for erotic adventurers"

BOOKS

Learning The Ropes: A Basic Guide to Safe and Fun S/M Lovemaking
by Race Bannon. The classic introduction to S/M.

My Private Life: Real Experiences of a Dominant Woman
by Mistress Nan.A fascinating insight into the life of an
erotically dominant woman.

Leathersex: A Guide for the Curious Outsider and the Serious Player
byJoseph W. Bean. An acclaimed guide for beginners and the more
experienced.

Beneath The Skins: The New Spirit and Politics of the Kink Community
byIvo Dommnguez, Jr. Defining and understanding the community.

The Master's Manual: A Handbook of Erotic Dominance
by Jack Rinella.Sexual dominance explored.

Ties That Bind: The SM/Leather/Fetish Erotic Style -- Issues,
Commentariesand Advice
by Guy Baldwin. Wisdom for all in the scene.

The Leather Contest Guide: A Handbook for Promoters, Contestants,
Judgesand Titleholders
by Guy Baldwin. The only book on the subject.

OTHER PUBLICATIONS

The S/M Resources Guide
compiled by Race Bannon. The best collection ofresources for
those interested in S/M.

How To Make Rope Restraints
by Race Bannon. Why spend lots of moneywhen you can easily make
these inexpensive and versatile restraints.

Copyright 1995 Race Bannon.