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The practice of BDSM role-play or play, as is it is commonly termed, is normally carried out in private or secret gatherings.
Practitioners who wish to identify themselves to other likeminded folk normally use the discreet symbol, shown below, which is often in the form of a button badge or perhaps a new age style piece of jewellery and so unrecognised by the public at large.
It is highly recommended that those wishing to practice BDSM acquaint themselves with the guidelines that have grown out of years of practice by the BDSM community.
These codes are meant to promote safety, hygiene, respect and care of the practitioners.
This is a massive topic and one that we could discuss for days on end, without reaching the end.
Firstly, although it may be obvious, BDSM is the use of bondage / discipline (B and D), domination / submission (D and S), sadism / masochism (S and M) in order to achieve some degree of pleasure.
Some folk think this is odd as in any one of these acts, if taken out of context and without the willingness of both parties, would be regarded as repugnant.
However, as the participants are willing, with the view to obtaining mutual pleasure, their activities are regarded as informed, consensual and essentially, although risky, acceptable.
There are many references dating back to the 9th Century BC when ritual whippings / beatings, commonly called flagellation, were practised; once more proving that there is very little new in our world.
Moving on to the 6th Century BC, drawings of two Roman men whipping a woman, for sexual pleasure, have been found in the Italian city of Tarquinia. Further evidence of flagellation is found in Roman poetry from the 1st and 2nd Century AD.
Documented text from the 3rd and 4th Century also reveals men and women voluntarily being beaten or whipped either as part of foreplay or an alternative means of sexual gratification.
The act of whipping or beating is quite well documented in one of the first and most famous sexual pleasure guides, the Kama Sutra, too. Here it is described as part of foreplay, along with pinching, spanking and biting as means of inflicting a joyous amount of pain.
The text is clear that these acts should only be performed with the agreement of both parties as not everyone feels the same about it.
There are many references, worldwide, to this beating and whipping for sexual pleasure throughout the centuries.
Regardless of the number of prior references, it has been suggested that the basis of the modern BDSM was formed from the medieval period's servitude, while other think that, in western culture, the acts of flagellation in the brothels of the 18th Century.
A third suggestion is that it was the Native Americans, who through their rituals, were the founding fathers of BDSM.
Slowly over the centuries, these acts have gained wider acceptance through the dismissal of taboos and in today's open society have become part of mainstream life, being depicted in films, advertising etc.
It has to be wondered what the Marquis of de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who have lent their names to this popular pastime / movement, would think of it all.