Identifying as a submissive and/or masochist has become less stigmatized over the last decade amongst sex-positive and BDSM advocate communities, but even within that bubble, many of us wrestle with feeling lonely, confused and misunderstood. The resources available, while growing by the day, are still few and far between outside of those sex-positive circles and into the cold, harsh vanilla world.
The lack of recognition, validation and tender acceptance from those who can’t relate and happen to be the leading authorities within the mental health community, can leave us feeling ashamed or broken for desiring something so unorthodox.
Those perspectives make the need for sex-positive communities and friendships, far more vital to our mental health and well-being than accepting any disempowering labels at face value. Sadomasochism is understandably, a particularly heightened target for misunderstanding, fear and judgement. In most mental health literature, the labels “disorder” and “perversion” are still thrown around far too often, without a more thorough and compassionate evaluation of the subject.
Unhealthy, or perhaps more accurately unconscious/mindless sadism and masochism, which lacks a foundation of love, self-trust, compassion and respect, can indeed be the breeding ground of much unwanted pain and manipulation. But in failing to offer masochists or sadists education on how to constructively channel their desires, accept their unconventional inner design, and integrate their nature in harmony with self-respect and boundaries, more problems are created than solved.
Embracing that we can have firm boundaries, self-trust and self-respect, particularly as a submissive masochist is the comfort our bruised, lonely hearts are often longing for. We can remind ourselves of our sovereign right as humans to deeply know ourselves and then make choices that are in alignment with our personal truth and integrity, even when that goes against what society may deem normal, or even “healthy”. Admittedly, it’s a rather scary and challenging form of liberation to say the least.
The more comfortable we get with our own submissive or masochistic nature, the more effectively we can defend and protect ourselves – physically and emotionally – from those who might abuse or manipulate the power exchange dynamic crafted in a BDSM lifestyle. Or for those who may not feel pulled into the depths of BDSM as a reality, but still find themselves drawn to relationships with heavy themes of mind games, extreme obsession, power and control, or physical intensity, this perspective is still beneficial.
Through offering ourselves acceptance and love, amidst our complex desires, we can ensure that we have our own back through whatever relationships, experiences or situations we choose to partake in. When our internal code of empowerment and alignment with our true identity and heartfelt desires is triggering for others who don’t relate, it becomes vital we seek validation from within and not solely from those voices around us. Listening to loved ones who care and taking their opinions with a grain of salt is one thing, but collapsing into repressing or shaming our truth is another.
Nurturing an intimate and loving relationship with ourselves will be mirrored in any relationship in our lives, whether that relationship is vanilla or BDSM-colored, but there is extra care needed in perceivably “darker” or BDSM-related one’s.
ShrimpTeeth.com offers a great index of definitions and resources to help inform and support healthy, mindful, respectful sexual expression. Two of the terms frequently used in the BDSM community that submissive masochists should be aware of, if you’re not already, are RACK and SSC. ShrimpTeeth’s definitions of those are:
Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK): a term used in the BDSM community that permits potentially risky sexual activities as long as they are performed in a consensual manner. The philosophy holds that the participants are informed of the risk involved in the kinky sex act and all parties agree to continue. It is extremely important to set these sorts of boundaries when engaging in alternative sex to ensure everyone’s safety.
Safe, Sane, and Consensual (SSC): a foundational principle in BDSM. It stipulates that all participants are aware of what they're doing, performing it in a safe manner, and agree to be participating. SSC is especially important when engaging in potentially risky alternative forms of sex but are great principles to inform any type of sexual activity.
The more we educate, support and share, the more we normalize and destigmatize a lifestyle choice, identity and innate inner-wiring that has been drenched in shame for generations. The more we accept, nurture and love ourselves from within, including our sadomasochistic and/or submissive/Dominant desires, the more we will live in harmony with those parts and express them in consensual, conscious practices.
Those qualities within us run amuck and cause more harm than good when we allow outdated or short-sighted, patriarchal views on BDSM to drown us in guilt, shame or anxiety. This only supports unhealthy BDSM relationships or practices, and does nothing to heal the inner wounds or trauma that many sadomasochists suffer from.
As we get up close and personal with our own masochistic or submissive nature, admitting to ourselves the depths of truth that lie in the shadows, leaving nothing unattended or taboo, we reclaim our right to make empowered choices that serve our health and happiness. Understanding that just because you may have masochistic or submissive desires or thoughts, it does not make you unhealthy, fucked up or weak, is viscerally liberating.
Then we can shift our focus to addressing any trauma-based emotional masochism roots within that may have grown out of the shame and guilt we’ve battled from that space of unconditional love, acceptance and gentleness. This keeps us from falling prey to those who might take advantage of our soft submissive masochistic nature, physically or emotionally abusing our desires, whilst we feel powerless to escape.
It may take a lifetime to deeply navigate the dark, tumultuous waters of our submissive masochistic nature, but not exploring it’s depths would be a far more devastating and painful act of self-betrayal, don’t ya think?
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