bettie page 2 wide d2fd9bd44b744f6f04c972af723ae8f34dd777b2 s800 c85

BDSM 101: A Safe, Consensual (And Fun) Guide

by BUST Magazine

In BUST’s column, sexologist Dr. Carol Queen takes on getting rough in bed.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for five months. We both have healthy libidos, and our sex is pretty steamy, but I’d like to spice it up a bit. I know he likes it rough, and he talks dirty to me when I go down on him. My only trouble is feeling comfortable talking — and acting — rough back. It feels too contrived. I want to turn him on and am open to being dominant, but I’m not sure how to start. Any suggestions for building BDSM confidence?

– Kinky Conundrum

Yes, indeed! But first, let me ask whether he’s sent you messages, overt or not, that he’d welcome being the recipient of the rough stuff. BDSM isn’t like oral sex, where it’s often expected and welcome for each partner to do it to the other. Some kinksters just want to be top or bottom (that is, be the do-er, or the do-ee) whereas others switch roles sometimes or all the time.

There are a few “temperature-taking” acts you can try before bringing it up—a little spank when he’s on top or experimenting with holding his wrists down when you’re on top—but BDSM play shouldn’t be sprung on an unsuspecting partner. Be very attentive to his responses and stop immediately if he expresses discomfort. 

 “Real” BDSM is negotiated, with each person saying what they’d like and wouldn’t like, and the all-important might like, which in turn requires you to figure out under what circumstances that maybe might become a yes. Play often begins with an acknowledgement that a scene is beginning and ending; it may involve a marker like a collar to indicate when you’re in “scene space.” The scene generally includes the use of a safe word, which is a word that, when you hear it, causes you to stop and make sure your partner is OK. (“Stop!” is a bad safe word — that can be so much fun to yell.) 

Two good resources are The Sexually Dominant Woman by Lady Green (aka Janet W. Hardy), and Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns by Philip Miller and Molly Devon. Each one has lots of basic info, and you’ll want a sense of what activities might require more research to be safe. That means no zip ties a la Fifty Shades of Grey. (Bondage is sexy, but nerve damage isn’t!) 

Another element to think about is your dominant persona. If you figure out what sort of domme you are, it’s way easier to be dominant. Are you regal, bitchy, a mommy, or the professional in the corner office? Are you a dominatrix or a drill sergeant? This affects the kind of things you’d ask for, the kind of language you use, and maybe even what you wear. 

Depending on where you live, there might be classes about this set of skills, too. Have fun growing into your dominance!

Carol Queen’s latest book (written with Shar Rednour) is The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone

Got a sex or relationship question you need answered? Submit it here.

Top photo: Bettie Page, 1950s

More from BUST

Everything You Need To Know About Yoni Eggs And Crystal Dildos

How To Introduce Sex Toys In A Queer-On-Hetero Relationship

My Fiancé Suddenly Became Disabled — What Can We Do For Our Sex Life?

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.