bdsmhistory2

There is a common wrong understanding that BDSM lifestyle is something new to the society and for many, another sign that our society is going the wrong way. There is also another wrong understanding that BDSM is something started by or with Marquis De Sade and his “sick” books. I thought is about time for everyone to understand that BDSM is something maybe as old as the first human society and now a modern disorder as many would like to believe. For sure as I analyzed before, it is not a disorder at all but only a sign of a human brain that operates in different ways and as I believe on higher levels as I described in this post. But here you will find some historical references that will help you understand how old this lifestyle is.

Before I go deep into history references I would like to speak about modern BDSM and a danger to twist the lifestyle in the years to come. For many years, decades or centuries if you like, this is a lifestyle that was well hidden from the public, a very personal lifestyle and underground in modern terms but then it came the porn industry to start spreading the idea of it. If you have watched the BDSM porn of the 90’s and the one of our days you will see a huge difference of perspective. Even if those watching this porn start to grow in numbers those admitting it were few same as with the erotic novels related to the  BDSM lifestyle were well hidden in secret places. All of a sudden we had the phenomenon of the 50 shades of Grey (and disgrace or shame), making a huge hit in sales and now we are expecting even to hit the Cinemas in a couple of years. If you read this, you have to realise one fact. The BDSM lifestyle has nothing to do with what the porn industry show you and the 50 shades is only a book describing the perspective of a college bratt who takes a journey into something that can not understand what it is.

BDSM is a lifestyle where people are fond of power exchange and that is ALL!! Some love to control and others to be controlled!! It might be described another human hunger for power on a personal level and the sadomasochism is only a small part of this. Now that I made this clear I will take you back to the days of Marquis De Sade. No one can deny that his work was the reason that BDSM became well known at the first place in such level that the term sadism originates by him. For many historians he was just a monster with a huge psychological disorder and the word sick is not enough to describe him. Maybe he was or maybe he was not. My argument is not related to what he did but if he was the only one. Sadism as an act of sexual expression was there all the time, mainly within the close circles of the higher class and usually by taking advantage of the lower classes of that era. They had by right the privilege to do what ever they wanted and no one would be in place to accuse them of anything since that would be a threat to their social place as individuals same as a ruling class.

In that years, not very differently than in our years, the ruling class had a twist of representing the righteous or the “virtuous” of civilization. Even the word Aristocrat and Aristocracy are words that define exactly this. These are words of Greek origin and the meaning is the one who holds the excellent (noble) or the excellent (noble) that comes from the power. As you will find from wiki ” The term “aristocracy” (ἀριστοκρατία) was first given in Athens to young citizens (the men of the ruling class) who led armies from the front line. Because military bravery was highly regarded as a virtue in ancient Greece, it was assumed that the armies were being led by “the best”. From the ancient Greeks, the term passed on to the European Middle Ages for a similar hereditary class of military leaders often referred to as the “nobility”. As in Greece, this was a class of privileged men and women whose familial connections to the regional armies allowed them to present themselves as the most “noble” or “best”.” Also from wiki ” The term aristocracy derives from the Greek ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratia), ἄριστος (aristos) “excellent,” and κράτος (kratos) power”.  Anything that would be possible to hurt that image was a potential threat to be eliminated at once even if that could include an assassination.

So what was the main issue with De Sade? He dared to bring forth all these that was happening within the noble class and actually at the beginning without care to hide his actions and later to record them through his novels. He became a threat to the ruling class he was representing. Some claim his sexuality was influenced by his uncle who was a priest. We read from his biography “He once beat the French prince so severely that he was sent to the south of France to stay with his uncle, an abbot of the church. During his stay, while he was 6 years old, his uncle introduced him to debauchery”.

Now you can understand why I believe and claim that BDSM is not something that started with De Sade but only became public by him. His books are just a novel description of what was happening for many years (or centuries before him) well hidden. One main difference though between the BDSM of our days and the old years is the anticipation that has to be consensual and not forced. It is an act of mutual agreement, respect and understanding. But is it De Sade the first ever reference to painful activities for sexual pleasure?

The well-known and so highly regarded Kama Sutra describes four different kinds of hitting during lovemaking but also, strangely enough, the allowed regions of the human body to target and different kinds of joyful “cries of pain” . The collection of historic texts related to sensuous experiences explicitly emphasizes that impact play, biting and pinching during sexual activities should only be performed consensually since only some women consider such behavior to be joyful. From this perspective the Kama Sutra can be considered as one of the first written resources dealing with sadomasochistic activities and safety rules. Further texts with sadomasochistic connotation appear worldwide during the following centuries on a regular basis and maybe it is hard to make a reference to every and each of them. It is though a fact that the years before De Sade publish his books, there were a lot more who did the same but they only failed to be such a great “hit”.

I believe it is now a lot more clear that humans, in any civilization practised and experimented with pain as a way to achieve higher levels of pleasure that otherwise it is impossible to reach. How common is between the vanilla women to claim that they had sex with a man who was big enough to give them pain because of his size but they actually liked it? What was that they liked exactly? Pain? Are they masochists? It was the effects of pain to their body that made them like it not the pain alone.

BDSM as a lifestyle as we know it in our days is indeed something new. It is organised (and still the community try to organise it more effectively) under some common guidelines of what is accepted and what is not, there are some common sense rules placed to protect everyone and the fact that porn or novels tend to transform it into a trend is really scary. As I believe this is a lifestyle not for everyone and mostly we are into it because we followed the call of our nature not because some marketing “guru” placed some seeds into our brains.

I will give you two more historical reference to show you how old is the culture of Domination and submission in a sexual way not matter if that is just power exchange, bondage or sadomasochism. One of the oldest graphical proofs of sadomasochistic activities is found in the Etruscan Tomb of the Whipping near Tarquinia, which dates to the fifth century BC! Inside the tomb there is fresco which portrays two men who flagellate a woman with a cane and a hand during an erotic situation. Another reference related to flagellation is to be found in the sixth book of the Satires of the ancient Roman Poet Juvenal (1st–2nd century A.D.), further reference can be found in Petronius’s Satyricon where a delinquent is whipped for sexual arousal. Anecdotal narratives related to humans who have had themselves voluntary bound, flagellated or whipped as a substitute for sex or as part of foreplay reach back to the third and fourth century.

As far as the Japanese bondage culture, this is a research I have not yet finish but my early findings indicate that it is completely wrong the perception of a deep in centuries bondage culture though fetishism seems to be a lot stronger in their culture but not in the form of BDSM. As an erotic art, bondage in Japan is no older that 200 years in comparison to the western civilization. Japanese rope bondage as an erotic art for going back to only the late 1800’s or early 1900’s widely known as Shibari though this word is more a westernised Japanese one.  Shibari, more correctly known as Kinbaku is an ancient Japanese artistic form of rope bondage that has many styles and uses. In Shibari (the action of tying someone up) the rope artist (Master in  BDSM terms) creates almost geometric shapes that contrast with the female body’s natural curves and recesses. The submissive is like a canvas to the hands of a skilful rope Master.

So please, for those who do not hold the knowledge, do not try to convince us that our lifestyle is something “new”, something as a mental disorder of the modern years, something that derives from the sick De Sade and we are freaks. For those in marketing business I want to let them know that before deciding that we need to dress up as clones to enter a club, before they decide they need to make us look as twisted in order to convince us to buy their products, RESPECT that you are dealing with the expression of human sexuality long before they even existed.  For all of you who want to point fingers or take advantage of our sexuality, please before you do or say anything try to learn first the one thing that we all as a community live by. The rule of RESPECT!

3 thoughts on “BDSM history. A research in the human sexuality and the BDSM culture

  1. I enjoy this piece and am currently working on research along the same lines. Would love to compare notes with you. May I email you in the near future? Thank you.

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