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"Fifty Shades of Denver’s BDSM Scene"

on Sunday, 09 April 2017. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

By Nicholas Thomas

While the 50 Shades Trilogy has brought the mysterious world of BDSM (Bondage – Domination – Sadism – Masochism) into the mainstream, it has been highly criticized for not authentically representing the community. With a look into Denver’s BDSM scene, the true nature of the community began to separate from its pop-culture depiction.

 

Some of the earliest writings about BDSM came from Marquis De Sade, who was also the first recorded person to write about sadism, the tendency to derive pleasure from inflicting pain on others. Leopold von Sacher-Masoch frequently wrote about deriving pleasure from pain and the term masochism was coined by Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing in reference to him. Both author’s literature was erotic and frowned upon in their communities.

 

Dr. Kat Martinez, Women’s Studies professor at MSU Denver, conducted BDSM research as part of her dissertation work and has been involved with the community since 2009.

 

The BDSM community is nothing new to the United States. Martinez explained that it started to make its way to the States shortly after World War II and may have been in connection with the LGBTQ movement.

 

Many “vanilla,” or people that partake in normative sexual acts, are unaware of this history and often relate their knowledge of BDSM to books, pornography or movies, which can be quite misleading.

 

Saskia Davies, a dungeon owner and headmistress at Pavlovia Denver, said that many people who come to events or clubs for the first time have little background information. She explained that when people enter her club it is important for them to be knowledgeable because every experience with BDSM is different and as such, there is always a risk factor.

 

Misconceptions about the community are commonplace and can be found in pop culture depictions. One misconception that Davies often encounters comes straight from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, in which a leather-clad gimp waits eagerly in a corner for a ball-gagged Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames. “It’s very expensive to keep a pet like that. If they’re not working you have to feed them and talk about their medical needs. So no, we don’t actually keep geeks in our basement,” said Davies.

 

Members of the community do not necessarily spend their time actively living and participating in the BDSM lifestyle. At the bank or grocery store, you would never know the difference. Sometimes, Davies explained, you can tell when somebody is new, because they may feel the need to prove their dominance by leading someone around on a leash everywhere they go.

 

“The more confident people are with anything in their lives the less need they have to prove to anybody else,” said Davies. “The quiet ones are the ones you really have to watch out for. Sometimes the ones who are there just to gain others’ attention may be there for the wrong reason. It is very important to keep strong communication with your partner.”

 

BDSM culture relies greatly on trust and boundaries. An aspect of trust is the willing power exchange between partners.

 

“Submissives are not just doormats waiting for someone to tell them what to do. If we don’t start out with everything we negotiate as equals and remember at all times that we are equals and have respect for each other it really doesn’t work,” said Davies. A submissive is defined as someone who is willing to conform to the authority or will of others. On the flip side, a dominant exercises authority or influence. ...

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