• Alexandra Gold

Embodying BDSM

Embodying BDSM: The Five Senses of Kink


Every individual experiences sex in a unique way. And for those who practice BDSM, these varying sensations may be heavily personified by one’s physical body and the changes it undergoes during a scenesensations that cannot be found in everyday life. Kink participation presents the opportunity for new bodily experiences to be explored, and with such novel experiences may come a profound sense of liberation.


From smells, to sounds, to sensations on the skin, BDSM presents unique multisensory experiences. For example, says Emma L. Turley in ‘Like Nothing I’ve Ever Felt Before’: Understanding Consensual BDSM As Embodied Experience, “different spanking implements can impose different sensations upon the recipient, as can the various types of application of pain to the skin.” For such impact play, floggers, crops, and whips lead to a variety of different pains. And for sensation playinvolving the enhancement or deprivation of certain sensesthe multisensory nature of BDSM is heightened. Using ice cubes or hot wax, prickly pinwheels, and even edible lube or massage lotion may evoke parts of the five senses that may never be experienced outside of a scene.


One participant in Turley’s study, Kim, a dom (sic), said, in regards to the unique corporeal sensation of wearing leather:


‘It just signifies sex and power to me. Totally. I don’t know why I always go to leather over anything else ... I quite like the tightness of latex and how it looks, but with leather ... there’s just something about the texture ... the roughness of one side and smoothness on the other. It’s tough and I feel tough when I wear it. It’s the smell of it and the way it moves when I’m wearing it, it doesn’t mould to me and I don’t mould to anyone when I’m in that position of power ... I just associate it with being respected and being in control.’

Kim’s experiences with kink are often grounded in corporeality. Materials like leather, latex, or rubber lead to a unique awareness of the skin, and the body. These are not sensations that are commonly found in day to day life, but rather, experiences special to her kinks.


The analysis conducted by Turley in ‘Like Nothing I’ve Ever Felt Before’: Understanding Consensual BDSM As Embodied Experience,“ found that the experimental and experiential aspects of BDSM participation enable a discovery of new sensualities and bodily relations with the world and with each other.” There are unparalleled mental, emotional and physical discoveries that occur during a scene. No singular body experiences the same sensations as any other body, and BDSM is a vehicle unlike any other for new perceptions of physicality.


In this space of exploration, removed from the stressors of the outside world, embodying BDSM may mean embodying a new sense of self. The experimental and experiential aspects of BDSM participation enable the discovery of new sensualities and bodily relations with the world and with each other.

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