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50 Shades of BS - How to tell the Difference Between Kink and Abuse

Most of us who work or volunteer here at Scarleteen are bookworms, and are also really interested in following popular culture to see what's happening, especially in terms of frank conversations about sex, sexuality, desire and fantasies. When a lot of people started talking about 50 Shades of Grey, we started paying attention. And when a bunch of media outlets started falling over each other to either hail the book for making BDSM mainstream and celebrating female sexuality or condemn it for those same reasons, we got curious.

As a woman who often enjoys being sexually submissive and as someone who has moved in kink circles, I set out many times to start reading the book, but shied away from it again and again. BDSM, in all its variations and manifestations, has a pretty bad rep: a lot of the time when we meet characters in books or on TV who engage in BDSM, they are either leather-clad outsiders (who are also often involved in sex work - think Lady Heather from CSI Las Vegas), or de

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Is something wrong with me because I like BDSM? Can I like it and still be a feminist?

alice42 asks:

For as long as I can remember, I have been turned on my imagining my own pain and humiliation. I am going out with someone for the first time now, and we've been together for almost eight months. Recently we've started experimenting with very mild SM-type things--tying each other up, biting, spanking. I love it, and so does he. But is this normal? Should I be worried that this turns me on more than anything else we've done together? Is there something wrong with me? (I've never been abused). And can I still be a feminist if I get off on being dominated by men?

Is this just about BDSM fantasy, or is he paying for a dominatrix?

Beantowngal07 asks:

I recently stumbled upon some disturbing web sites that my boyfriend had been looking at on the internet. Mostly they were in regards to BDSM and submission. I am not a prude, and porn does not bother me, the thing that bothered me the most was that the most frequently visited sites were for dominatrixes in our area who perform these acts for money. There was not much about sex, but I am worried that my boyfriend is engaged in these activities. I am not a prude, and would love to act out fantasies with him, but I would be heartbroken to discover he had or is currently visiting any of these people. Especially since he would be paying for it. I don't know how to go about discussing this with him. We have a healthy sex life, but he never wants to try anything new. Had he discussed this with me I would be open into role playing these fantasies. I don't know what to do...any advice PLEASE!!

Rape fantasy or domination and submission desires?

Nunya asks:

I am 24 and a sexually active woman. I have a fantasy that I have told no one about because its embarassing. I keep having fantasies about being held down and forced to have sex. It really turns me on too. Is this normal? (No I have never been raped or molested, so its not some pshychlogical thing comin out.) I want to ask my boyfriend to do a roleplay with me about forcing himself on me but I don't want him to think I am a psycho nutball. Would this be safe and healthy as long as we made up something, a codeword like "reindeer" or something so that if I got scared or it got to rough one of us could say the code word and we stop? Do other people have this fantasy or am I really a psycho nutball?

Working the Kinks Out

A lot of false assumptions are often made when people are talking about BDSM. Let's start with a little glossary to be sure we're all on the same page.

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