Our friend, previous Nerve coworker, and fellow writer Grant Stoddard recently hit us up for some insight for his Men’s Health article “Does She Deserve a Spanking?” This is how these things go: article writer asks you (the author of a book on the subject in question) a bunch of questions, you offer extensive insight out of the goodness of your heart (and in the hope of some decent publicity), and said article features one or two lines max of your long-winded brilliance. And so below, we’ve given you the unabridged version of our expertise. See which itty-bitty tidbits made the Men’s-Health cut (and compare our advice to other experts’) HERE.
GRANT: How do you introduce the idea of BDSM to a partner?
EM & LO: (a) Be direct, but build up slowly: “Have you ever tried X, Y and Z? Would you like to (again)?” whereby X, Y an Z are something like “tied up, blindfolded and maybe spanked” rather than something more hardcore, like “mummified, whipped and humiliated”. (b) reference Fifty Shades of Grey (“Have you read it? Did you like it? Which parts did you really like?” Etc.) and (c) doing it over a glass of wine helps!
What are some dos and don’ts of getting started with BDSM?
DO read a book on the subject. Not only will it fill you in on important technique and safety info, it’s a great way to figure out what you like and what you might want to try. Plus, reading a book in bed together is a great, mood-enhancing way to explore each other’s interests. (May we recommend “150 Shades of Play“?!)
DON’T believe everything you read in “Fifty Shades of Grey” — it’s great material for getting in the mood (that woman knows how to write a sex scene!) but it’s not always the best on instruction or safety tips (hello, cable ties for wrist restraints? No freakin’ way!).
How do you set the stage for BDSM play?
- Read kinky erotica together
- Get in costume, or at least something more provocative than usual
- Go shopping together for new toys and props
- Communicate, communicate, communicate your expectations and boundaries. Did we say “communicate”?
How do you engage in dominant/submissive play without feeling silly?
The best tip we have for beginners is to have the submissive wear a blindfold. Not only does it help them embrace the submissive role (not much you can contribute to the evening if you can’t see), but you’ll BOTH feel way less silly — especially the one doing the dominating, who won’t have to worry about how they look. But it’ll actually help both of you focus on the sensations, stay in character and avoid the nervous giggles (not that there’s anything wrong with getting having a sense of humor about sex).
What about safety?
Every act and toy has its own safety requirements — some require an entire book’s worth of research, or even a series of classes on the topic. At the very least, you owe it to yourself and your partner to familiarize yourself with the basic safety rules of whatever you’re dabbling in. Then, you’ve got to talk things through with your partner so you know how far you each want to go in terms of pain, role-playing, power plays, etc. And agreeing on a safeword is always a good idea — it lets you both lose yourself a little in the moment and not worry if you partner’s “no” means “oh god more” or “seriously, dude, no.”
Tell me some good reasons why a guy ought to explore BDSM activities with a partner…
When you’ve been in a long-term relationship for a while, you naturally lose some of the drama and suspense and unexpectedness that’s par for the course with new sexual relationships. BDSM is a way to regain some of that drama and surprise in you and your long-term partner’s sex life.
What might people be surprised to know about BDSM? What’s a common misperception?
You don’t have to have had a mama who didn’t love you enough as a kid to be into BDSM.
What’s an example of a good safeword to use? And a bad one?
GOOD: “Red Light” or something totally random like “Taco” (the word the Blaire Witch Project actors used to break out of character)
BAD: “Stop”, “No”, “Don’t” or anything that you might want to use in order to add to the drama of the scene. Also bad: anything too hard to remember or too multi-syllabic — if you’re about to pass out, you want to get the safeword out quickly.
In general terms, what’s the psychological appeal of each of the following five things? spanking/restraining/sensation play/role play/tease and denial…?
Spanking = endorphin rush from pain, humiliation, and/or just the fun of feeling like you’ve been very very naughty
Restraining = if you’re prone to feeling guilty during sex (e.g. thanks to a Catholic upbringing), being restrained frees you from any pro-active participation – iyou just have to lie back and take it (i.e. enjoy it)
Sensation play = wakes up nerve endings you might usually overlook
Role play = the equivalent fun of costume parties: you get to be somebody completely different for a night
Teasing = think about how turned on you were in high school when you were almost but not quite getting some
What is aftercare?
From our book: “Aftercare is the care given to a bottom by their top after a scene. This includes, but is not limited to: fetching them some water; warming them up with a blankie; soothing body parts with ice or creams (e.g. arnica cream), or heck, maybe even some ice cream; helping them get up, get to the bathroom, and/or get dressed (perhaps in a silky robe, e.g. from the Sussurra Collection—soothing and sensual); communicating with them (to make sure they had as much fun as they seemed to be having, and to ensure that the next go-around is even more to their liking); cuddling them; offering words of encouragement, emotional support, and/or high fives; giving them some quiet time and space to collect their thoughts or themselves (a room of their own, if you’re Christian Grey); making them breakfast (or having your maid serve breakfast, if you’re Grey).”
How can a man use the popularity of Fifty Shades series to have a better sex life/more fulfilling relationship?
Fifty Shades of Grey is a pretty good instruction book on what NOT to do: don’t use cable ties, tape or metal handcuffs as wrist restraints; don’t disrespect a woman’s wishes and privacy; don’t engage in kinky stuff is she’s not totally gung-ho about it; don’t do anything that actually leaves wounds; don’t be a stalker.