Some Facts About S/M
S/M is not an aberration. S/M is a sexual orientation that is found in a significant percentage of the population. Surveys have listed S/M behavior by as much as 7 to 14 % of the population, with interests at up to 50% of the population. To see the prevalence, just look at the public's interest in movies, books, and other artistic expressions with S/M as the dominant theme. After all, Hollywood would not invest money if there was not a large interest. Historically, S/M behavior was listed as a psychological problem, as was masturbation and homosexuality. Today, however, these various orientations are not considered a problem unless the person with the lovemap is unhappy about their interests.
S/M is not new. S/M activities have been performed by many religions and cultures. Early Christian mystics used it (flails and hair shirts, oh my.) Native Americans continue to use it for vision quests. Fakirs from India use it. That same energy can be used for spiritual journeys, sexual ecstasy, or personal bliss.
S/M is not fetishism. Fetishism substitutes an object for relationship. S/M can very much involve relationship. In fact, because of the requirements for trust and good communication, to even participate in S/M with another calls for the development of good relationship skills.
S/M is erotic psychodrama. The exchange of power in S/M is a framework for risk taking and for trusting. The shared reality created by S/M gives the participants the permission to explore their erotic fantasies. S/M has often been referred to as high-tech sex. The experience is incomparable.
S/M does not feel like what it looks like. In the model of the popular press, the dominant or sadist does as he/she wishs, without regard to the needs of the submissive or masochist. In practice, it is the submissive or masochist that has the final say. APEX teaches the needs for good communications up front, the use of "safe" words that will stop the action if the submissive ever feels the event is not working, and a time of communications after the event so that both parties can learn and so that the next time will be even better.
S/M is not especiafl y dangerous. Some S/M activities are more athletic than others. For more strenuous activities the individuals should be in good physical shape, just as for any other sport. For most S/M activities the players must know what they are doing. The shared education and experience of other players can be invaluable.
S/M is not sexist. Sexism tries to impose dominant-submissive roles according to gender. In S/M roles are chosen according to our inner feelings. S/M is honest, shared eroticism which includes men and women who prefer either or both roles.
Sometimes S/M is done in a brief scene with a stranger. Sometimes it is a full time relationship. Usually S/M is done in negotiated episodes (or scenes) between people who know and like one another.
S/M is not repressed anger or covert hatred. Actually it isimpossible to do good S/M with someone you do not like.
S/M takes a lot of energy, preparation, time, and attention. Most practitioners do a lot more of "vanilla" (i.e. non S/M) sex than they do S/M.
S/M is as much an attitude as it is action. When traveling, the dominant may wish to drive the car in order to be in control and express their power; or the submissive may wish to drive the car as an expression of taking care of their dominant. Who's in charge is far fiom obvious. It is a dance involving both parties.
S/M people come from all walks of life. Some come from abusive backgrounds and practicing S/M can be part of their healing. Some come from healthy families and are looking for self fulfillment. Some identify as "liters', having S/M fantasies from their earliest memories. Still others are new to the concept and felt a connection when they tried it. S/M people come from all genders and oricntations. As a result, S/M groups have been on the forefront of establishing common ground between heterosexuals, gays, and lesbians.
S/M people are everywhere. There are national organizations, such as the National Leather Association. There are local chapters of the NLA in many states. There are many independent local organizations supporting people in the S/M life-style. These local organizations have different charters and purposes. APEX is one such local organization whose charter includes individuals of all genders, gender orientations, and all associated fetishes. Every year some of these organizations put on local and national conferences and conventions. Some of these conventions may have only a hundred or so attendees. Others have thousands. Like any convention, there are meetings discussing a variety of topics, as well as a vendors' exhibit area with the S/M life-style equipment and literature of the available for purchase. To attend one of these conventions is to truly know that we are not alone.