They are huddled on two couches pushed together, with one blanket covering all four of them. After missing the first 15 minutes or so, I appear in the room at the time of an integral scene. It’s integral because it acts as a catalyst for the storyline, even though instantly I can tell that they’re not watching this movie for the plot.
The movie is the first of a trilogy; Fifty Shades of Grey. The scene I walked in on is the one where Anastasia and Christian have their meet-cute, when she interviews him for the college newspaper.
When I say this scene is a catalyst for the plot, what I really mean is that it precedes the controversial sex scenes, depicting BDSM. Understandably, the first journalistic sin is to use this particular movie as an introduction to an article about BDSM, but how many others like it can you name from mainstream media?
The reason for referencing the film is because I can tell that my girlfriends weren’t watching for the plot, but for the sex scenes. There’s a certain curiosity that envelopes this topic and what I’ve realised is that people do want to know more about BDSM – whether they’ll admit it or not.
Fast forward to three weeks ago, when I’m scrambling to find sources to talk to me about the subject for this very article. After a social media call-out that just resulted in people mockingly nominating their friends, one Instagram user wanted to know more about why I was doing this. After talking for while I asked a simple question, and unbeknownst to me, the interview had already begun:
“Would you like to remain anonymous?”
The sources were a lesbian couple who describe BDSM as something that “brought us closer together”. They kindly agreed to answer my intrusive questions about their sex life and relationship dynamics. With the prospect of a face-to-face interview out of the question, we devised a simple metric as to how they’d answer these questions while maintaining anonymity. They reply to my emailed questions as A and B, so I don’t know who’s who. We had set our boundaries, which funnily enough was one of the first topics that arose throughout our discussion; boundaries.
A: “We have spoken numerous times about our boundaries and what we are and aren’t willing to try. I think it’s important to remember that this isn’t a once-off conversation, but one that couples should keep having. Once a week, we ask each other are we satisfied, if there’s anything that could be improved, if there’s something we don’t like and so on.”
B: “These conversations are necessary because that’s how we both are kept satisfied and in the loop. I think we are both kinky people and are willing to try anything once, this way it works because we want to please the other and as long as it always remains 50/50, we’re good.”
This couple sees the act as a lifestyle, not just a sexual preference. A uses it to suppress the trivial stressors of day-to-day life, whereas this is B’s first time giving BDSM a proper go in a relationship.
A: “I enjoy implementing it into daily life. Whether that’s her telling me to have my hair in braids, or what underwear to wear, I love pleasing her and being good for her. The key to a good relationship is a good sex life, open communication, and honesty. Thankfully we have all three of these things.”
B: “This is my first ever relationship where I’ve explored this side of me. Before, I had toyed with the idea of BDSM but never fully got into it until now. I think in general life, no one would ever guess that I am into BDSM. I remember my girlfriend telling me when we first got together, she was convinced I was vanilla. Trust me, I’m anything but. There’s just something about seeing her squirm underneath me and do as I say, it fulfils me completely.”
On the topic of squirming, they also revealed the sub-categories of BDSM that they partake in. Among them were role-playing, sadism, genital torture, and breath play. Offering more information about the last two sub-categories, they said:
A: “I enjoy it (genital torture) whereas B doesn’t really. She likes inflicting it because it makes everything so much more sensitive. She just enjoys using me.”
She continued by talking about breath play, saying: “My whole life being in her hands and surrendering to her feels completely natural. B says that she likes her air being the only air that I can breathe.”
B had the most information to offer regarding sadism, saying: “We both genuinely enjoy inflicting pain on each other, me probably more so. We like giving and receiving it, something about getting hit heightens sensitivity at that time and makes everything feel more intense. I love marking her, so people can tell she’s taken.” A concurred, she likes it too.
So why does this dynamic work so well for them? To start, A is “naturally submissive”, whereas B is more dominant, something that A describes as “the perfect mix - we practise it in a very healthy way. It works because we both get what we want and what we need.”
She continued: “Also, aftercare is vital. Every time after sex, we cuddle, talk to each other, and ask if one another is feeling okay. When you are into BDSM, it can be very intense, and these check-ins are key. The last thing you want is for your partner to feel like a toy that’s thrown to the side when it’s had its use.
“There is a fine line in BDSM when you are a couple, you must take these things into consideration. To build trust to engage in BDSM, you must feel comfortable around the person entirely.”
Both A and B maintain that engaging in BDSM has changed their relationship for the better. Now, they trust each other completely, having a mutual understanding that BDSM isn’t something that’s done to someone, but rather something both partners engage in together.
Even though the exact roles and interests of each partner remain unknown to me, it doesn’t really matter. After researching for this article and having seen the scope of Irish people interested in BDSM, I realise that A and B can be anyone.
The layer of anonymity for this article didn’t hinder anything, it served the piece better. Despite being faceless, this couple represent the reality of what goes on behind closed doors around the country. Something felt good about getting to see what goes on behind these closed doors, especially when those doors are covered in leather and latex.