Adventures of Pleasure: Conceptualising Consensual Bondage, Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sadism and Masochism as a Form of Adult Play

Emma Turley, Surya Monro, Nigel King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper will illustrate how the consensual sexual practice of bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism (BDSM) can be interpreted as a form of adult play. Terminology and language used by BDSM practitioners frequently drawn from imagery of play, fun and games and narratives around BDSM-related activities are reflective of this. Drawing upon empirical data along with various psychological and sociological theoretical perspectives, this paper will explore the conceptualisation of consensual BDSM as a form of adult erotic play. Vygotsky proposed that fantasy play is a tool used by children for the purpose of liberating themselves from situational constraints, thus enabling them to explore thoughts, behaviours and emotions that would not otherwise be possible. The current paper argues that this function of fantasy can be applied to adult practitioners of BDSM, and advances this argument by theorising that consensual BDSM is a form of socio-dramatic play for adults, which serves an erotic and/or pleasurable purpose. Play enables experimentation with creativity, language, physical nuances and social roles and conventions; this paper argues that engaging in BDSM allows similar experimentation with gender, social non-conventions and physical and psychological sensations, and proposes that this kind of adult play is signified by an erotic element. Taken from a wider study into the lived experience of consensual BDSM, data were collected via nine in-depth, semi-structured interviews with self-identified BDSM practitioners in the United Kingdom recruited using a snowball sample, and analysed using the template approach within an interpretive phenomenological framework, as described by Merleau-Ponty, M. [(1945/1962). The phenomenology of percepetion (C Smith, trans.). London: Routledge]. The participant experiences elicited in the research reveal commonalities between their engagement as adults in BDSM and typical features of socio-dramatic play in children, such as the role of imagination, the creation and maintenance of a separate reality and a sense of fun.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-334
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Play
Volume6
Issue number3
Early online date19 Oct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Fingerprint

Social Role
phenomenology
language
technical language
creativity
experience
emotion
narrative
gender
interview
imagination

Cite this

@article{f61ffecb8217493480c5777fd3579a72,
title = "Adventures of Pleasure: Conceptualising Consensual Bondage, Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sadism and Masochism as a Form of Adult Play",
abstract = "This paper will illustrate how the consensual sexual practice of bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism (BDSM) can be interpreted as a form of adult play. Terminology and language used by BDSM practitioners frequently drawn from imagery of play, fun and games and narratives around BDSM-related activities are reflective of this. Drawing upon empirical data along with various psychological and sociological theoretical perspectives, this paper will explore the conceptualisation of consensual BDSM as a form of adult erotic play. Vygotsky proposed that fantasy play is a tool used by children for the purpose of liberating themselves from situational constraints, thus enabling them to explore thoughts, behaviours and emotions that would not otherwise be possible. The current paper argues that this function of fantasy can be applied to adult practitioners of BDSM, and advances this argument by theorising that consensual BDSM is a form of socio-dramatic play for adults, which serves an erotic and/or pleasurable purpose. Play enables experimentation with creativity, language, physical nuances and social roles and conventions; this paper argues that engaging in BDSM allows similar experimentation with gender, social non-conventions and physical and psychological sensations, and proposes that this kind of adult play is signified by an erotic element. Taken from a wider study into the lived experience of consensual BDSM, data were collected via nine in-depth, semi-structured interviews with self-identified BDSM practitioners in the United Kingdom recruited using a snowball sample, and analysed using the template approach within an interpretive phenomenological framework, as described by Merleau-Ponty, M. [(1945/1962). The phenomenology of percepetion (C Smith, trans.). London: Routledge]. The participant experiences elicited in the research reveal commonalities between their engagement as adults in BDSM and typical features of socio-dramatic play in children, such as the role of imagination, the creation and maintenance of a separate reality and a sense of fun.",
keywords = "Play, BDSM, Adulthood, Phenomenology, Vygotsky, Socio-dramatic",
author = "Emma Turley and Surya Monro and Nigel King",
year = "2017",
doi = "10.1080/21594937.2017.1382984",
language = "English",
volume = "6",
pages = "324--334",
journal = "International Journal of Play",
issn = "2159-4937",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Adventures of Pleasure: Conceptualising Consensual Bondage, Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sadism and Masochism as a Form of Adult Play

AU - Turley, Emma

AU - Monro, Surya

AU - King, Nigel

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - This paper will illustrate how the consensual sexual practice of bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism (BDSM) can be interpreted as a form of adult play. Terminology and language used by BDSM practitioners frequently drawn from imagery of play, fun and games and narratives around BDSM-related activities are reflective of this. Drawing upon empirical data along with various psychological and sociological theoretical perspectives, this paper will explore the conceptualisation of consensual BDSM as a form of adult erotic play. Vygotsky proposed that fantasy play is a tool used by children for the purpose of liberating themselves from situational constraints, thus enabling them to explore thoughts, behaviours and emotions that would not otherwise be possible. The current paper argues that this function of fantasy can be applied to adult practitioners of BDSM, and advances this argument by theorising that consensual BDSM is a form of socio-dramatic play for adults, which serves an erotic and/or pleasurable purpose. Play enables experimentation with creativity, language, physical nuances and social roles and conventions; this paper argues that engaging in BDSM allows similar experimentation with gender, social non-conventions and physical and psychological sensations, and proposes that this kind of adult play is signified by an erotic element. Taken from a wider study into the lived experience of consensual BDSM, data were collected via nine in-depth, semi-structured interviews with self-identified BDSM practitioners in the United Kingdom recruited using a snowball sample, and analysed using the template approach within an interpretive phenomenological framework, as described by Merleau-Ponty, M. [(1945/1962). The phenomenology of percepetion (C Smith, trans.). London: Routledge]. The participant experiences elicited in the research reveal commonalities between their engagement as adults in BDSM and typical features of socio-dramatic play in children, such as the role of imagination, the creation and maintenance of a separate reality and a sense of fun.

AB - This paper will illustrate how the consensual sexual practice of bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism (BDSM) can be interpreted as a form of adult play. Terminology and language used by BDSM practitioners frequently drawn from imagery of play, fun and games and narratives around BDSM-related activities are reflective of this. Drawing upon empirical data along with various psychological and sociological theoretical perspectives, this paper will explore the conceptualisation of consensual BDSM as a form of adult erotic play. Vygotsky proposed that fantasy play is a tool used by children for the purpose of liberating themselves from situational constraints, thus enabling them to explore thoughts, behaviours and emotions that would not otherwise be possible. The current paper argues that this function of fantasy can be applied to adult practitioners of BDSM, and advances this argument by theorising that consensual BDSM is a form of socio-dramatic play for adults, which serves an erotic and/or pleasurable purpose. Play enables experimentation with creativity, language, physical nuances and social roles and conventions; this paper argues that engaging in BDSM allows similar experimentation with gender, social non-conventions and physical and psychological sensations, and proposes that this kind of adult play is signified by an erotic element. Taken from a wider study into the lived experience of consensual BDSM, data were collected via nine in-depth, semi-structured interviews with self-identified BDSM practitioners in the United Kingdom recruited using a snowball sample, and analysed using the template approach within an interpretive phenomenological framework, as described by Merleau-Ponty, M. [(1945/1962). The phenomenology of percepetion (C Smith, trans.). London: Routledge]. The participant experiences elicited in the research reveal commonalities between their engagement as adults in BDSM and typical features of socio-dramatic play in children, such as the role of imagination, the creation and maintenance of a separate reality and a sense of fun.

KW - Play

KW - BDSM

KW - Adulthood

KW - Phenomenology

KW - Vygotsky

KW - Socio-dramatic

UR - http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rijp20/current

U2 - 10.1080/21594937.2017.1382984

DO - 10.1080/21594937.2017.1382984

M3 - Article

VL - 6

SP - 324

EP - 334

JO - International Journal of Play

JF - International Journal of Play

SN - 2159-4937

IS - 3

ER -