Why Do We Do This?

The reasons why people explore BDSM are as diverse as the people you will find in the Scene, and the types of erotic play in which they engage.  Some enjoy exploring different fantasies, emotions and personae in erotic role-play; others are drawn to more sensual and physical elements, both sublime and intense.  Some are aroused by aggression, fear, or embarrassment.  Some enjoy the ritual and structure of much BDSM play, or share a deep trust and intimacy with their dominant or submissive partner.

There are some biological components behind the attraction to BDSM play.  First, the same center of the brain responsible for sexual arousal – the limbic system – is also the seat for aggression and fear.  All three states can produce similar physiological effects: increased heart rate, flushing, changes in sensory perception, etc.  Another element involves sensations of pain and pleasure, which follow intertwined neural pathways.  Lastly, many propose that, just as people have different tastes in food – some preferring spicy and others mild, for example – so people have different erotic tastes. It is these biological elements which further convinces many that kink is a form of sexual/affectional orientation, as valid as the diversity of gender-based attraction orientations currently recognized.

Many kinksters will point to the fact that pleasure and pain, arousal and aversion, are often dependent upon context.  A long-distance runner may continue running even when her muscles are aching, all to attain the goal of finishing a race; yet that same person would stop and quit if her muscles ached because she was engaged in some unpleasant task.  Similarly a submissive male would not tolerate being slapped in the face by a total stranger, but may deeply desire having his dominant partner do so under the right conditions and context.