It’s Friday afternoon, and you’ve taken your lunch break with some colleagues at your usual spot in the staff canteen. Conversations sway between the new guy in accounts and the prospect of a warm weekend. Your colleague mentions that if the weather stays true to its forecast, this weekend she and her partner will go to their first renaissance festival. They’ll be fully dressed in historic attire. It’s no cause for concern, maybe a raised eyebrow from one or two people, because after all, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

But just imagine if her weekend plans consisted of trying for the first time a fetish party?

How about casually mentioning trying a new flogger that she’s been eagerly waiting to use on her submissive partner? She’d be surrounded by open mouths and an awkward silence. Possibly someone might spit their drink out in a confused shock/laugh moment. Worst case scenario, someone could complain to HR for inappropriate behaviour.

After all, kink is just another hobby. Renaissance festivals include tightly laced corsets and role play too. But for many of us, we wouldn’t dare to share our leisure activities for fear of being shamed by our colleagues, friends and family.

Kink and BDSM are still heavily stigmatized, thanks to a serious lack of education and false assumptions.

This makes life pretty difficult for kinksters. Especially if you’re new to the community, the fear of being perceived as mentally disturbed, or just plain crazy, is real.

In a society which is more open and positive about sex than ever before, the stigma remains because people don’t truly understand what we do. This is strange, even after the success of the Fifty Shades book series.

The Wikipedia definition of Hobby (‘types of Hobbies’ makes me giggle when I think about BDSM – because you could apply them all in some way 😉 Go on take a look.

But lately and undoubtedly linked to the E. L. James novels, the community has attracted more positive interest and scientific research to back our claims that –

We are not crazy, just a bit kinky.

In 2016, the US National Library of Medicine investigated “Is BDSM a recreational leisure?” Results found that most BDSM experiences met leisure criteria. Participants reported that “most of the time or nearly always”, BDSM was associated with a sense of personal freedom:

(98.5%) pleasure or enjoyment
(90.7%) Sense of adventure
(90.8%) use of personal skills
(91.4%) relaxation or decreased stress
(90.6%) self-expression or exploration
(96.6%) positive emotions

I had the pleasure to connect with DJ Williams, Associate Professor of Sociology, Social Work, & Criminology; Idaho State University and Director of Research at the Center for Positive Sexuality (Los Angeles). DJ was heading up the study above and says:

“I do think the leisure science perspective adds a new dimension to understanding kink motivations and behaviors. While much of BDSM is clearly connected to eroticism and sexual preferences, other BDSM behaviors may be motivated by nonsexual factors. For example, some research shows that some BDSM participants identify as asexual, yet derive important benefits from participation. Leisure, of course, includes both sexual and nonsexual behaviors, though there are shared underlying benefits.“

BDSM seemed to function as primarily serious, rather than casual, leisure, but important statistical differences were observed based on specific BDSM identities.

DJ Williams elaborates for boldpleasures:

“The serious leisure perspective (SLP) classifies leisure activities according to a continuum from casual to serial leisure. Casual leisure is often spontaneous, playful, requires no special skill, while activities that are more serious require special skill, effort, perseverance, and is associated with a particular identity and ethos. Much of BDSM is likely skewed toward the serious side of the continuum, and BDSM identities associated with being in control of activities (i.e., dominants) reflect BDSM as more serious leisure compared to identities (i.e., submissives) that yield control.”

We now have a much better understanding of BDSM, Body Chemistry & Hormones. This allows us to better understand why kinky sex and BDSM is a scientific recipe for delight.

As long as consenting adults are enjoying and safely practising BDSM, why should we feel so ashamed to own up to our kinky hobbies? That’s why boldpleasures is committed to breaking down the boundaries and doing things differently.

At boldpleasures our mission is to ditch the shame and provide a kink education that’s available to those who seek it. This allows people to learn from mistakes and reap the rewards of shared experience and the power of knowledge.

Join our community of kink and BDSM hobbiests 😉

Sonja is a co-founder of boldpleasures. She's on a mission to free people to revel in their true sensuality by removing the stigma surrounding kink. Sonja writes about first steps, ditching the shame and how to combine kink and 'normal' family life. She's a mother of two and happily married.

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