Monday, April 22, 2013

Pain and punishment...?

Do we enjoy pain play in BDSM because we feel the need to be punished…?

An innocuous question, and one that many people outside of serious BDSM play would assume to be correct. But, if you unpack that assumption, it is saying that BDSM centres around a feeling of guilt, of worthlessness and self-loathing.

We live in a world that already disparages us for being what we are, desiring what we do - one that has a distrust of those who walk outside the line, and a deeply ingrained sense of sin and guilt. If we let those ideas into our play - let them take root and poison our sexuality - then we become implicit in denigrating ourselves and our pleasures. We accept that we sin by our very nature, that we are worth less than others who are more 'pure', and that they have a right to treat us badly 'because we deserve it'.

Worst of all - in letting guilt and punishment into our play, we turn our play into a form of self-perpetuating self-hate - and transform our playmates into unwilling sadists and abusers.

I would say that BDSM - and pain-play in particular - can and should be something infinitely more empowering.


I like a little pain play in BDSM. A little nipple-teasing, a bit of CP or flogging: a judicious ramping-up of intensity and sensation that has you wincing and fidgeting just a little...

I like it for the same reasons that I like to feel the pain when I get tattooed: not because of the pain itself, but because I like how my body responds to pain when I relax and surrender to it.

The body's first response to pain is to release adrenaline: this speeds up our heart, dilates our pupils and heightens our awareness, bringing us into a highly aroused state ready to 'fight or flight' - but if we suppress that urge, tell ourselves that there is nothing to fear or escape from, then our body responds by releasing a second set of pain-killing chemicals and relaxants into the brain (the very chemicals that Opium mimics so powerfully). The more you relax under pain, the more of those chemicals the body pumps out - and the deeper the effect they have in lifting you away from the pain - and into heightened pleasure.

So, yeah, I like a little pain in BDSM play because of the the buzz I get when my endorphine levels climb sky high and I am wrapped in a warm glow of heightened awareness...

If you let it - Pain in play can teach you the wonders of your own body, and make your play more pleasurable.


But pain in play is not just a physical experience.

I also like pain in BDSM because it allows me to test myself against my own limits.

Many Tribal societies have a ritual that pushes the would-be warrior beyond their normal limits of endurance. That test provides a way for the warrior to prove that he has the necessary strength of body and Will - that He is a Man, in control of his body and his spirit, and therefore worthy of being a part of their society.

And in proving to society that he is a Man, he also proves it to himself - and learns that he is stronger than he could ever have imagined.

Pain within BDSM play has a similar role: it allows me to prove to myself and to my Top that I have the strength to endure and overcome discomfort in order to attain what I desire. That I am willing to submit and surrender to Him - that in submitting to His pain I will also submit to His pleasure.

It allows me to prove that I am a Man: a Man worthy of Him, and a Man worthy of our play.

Pain in play therefore teaches me that I am stronger than I thought - and leaves me feeling braver and Prouder than I was.


And I like Pain in BDSM because it takes me - US - to places beyond the ordinary.

Every Shaman endures an Initiatory ritual: one that puts them under enormous physical and emotional stress, and triggers both their body's endorphic response and tests their Will to push through into the other world. The ritual is both test and trigger to their power.

When done properly, pain in BDSM is the same: it becomes a door into submission, the key to our surrender - a transit through the magic of the body and into the spirit. As I transmute the pain into pleasure, I  open both myself and my Top so that we can touch each other in a way that encompasses and transcends body, mind and will.

And so, Pain in play takes our play beyond sex and into something infinitely deeper.


So why limit yourself to thinking that pain is about punishment? Why let yourself be so limited and negative about yourself, your Top, and your play?

Pain can be so much more than just a physical experience - it can be gateway and test, initiation and gateway. It can leave us more centred in who we are and what we are capable of. It marks us as Braves and warriors, shamans of the body and Spirit - and opens us up a whole new level of identity and experience.

Embrace pain - transform it from something negative - and it will in turn transform you.

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