Woman shocked by couple’s erotic tastes
Q . My husband and I were out with friends who brought along a couple new to us (all in our early 40s).
The wife was very attractive, smart, and sexy. In midconversation, her husband suddenly teased her, saying she also had “other fascinating interests.”
She immediately shot back, “I should punish you for that … but no, men like to be punished too much.” They both laughed and changed the subject.
I’m very curious about what they meant. My husband said he thinks they might be into sex practices like bondage, which shocked me.
I can’t imagine such an independent-minded woman wanting to be tied up. I couldn’t even read “Fifty Shades of Grey!” Is that kind of sex more common than I realize?
A. I’ll start with a common definition from Wikipedia so we’re on the same page: BDSM is a variety of often erotic practices or role-playing involving bondage and discipline; dominant and submissive; sadism and masochism; female dominance; and more.
The Urban Dictionary describes BDSM thusly: A physical, psychological, and usually sexual power-roleplay with consensual participants.
Variations on this theme include spanking, whipping, being tied to bedposts, etc. One website that discusses this, adds a warning: “While a healthy BDSM relationship is consensual and not abusive, the practices are often misunderstood and if not careful, may result in abuse instead.”
Past BDSM discussions in this column have stressed there’s usually a “safe” word known to the partners. If one of them uses that word — which can be as simple and direct as “no” — the particular practice must stop.
A Psychology Today article published in 1999, and reviewed again in 2016, claimed that “one in 10 of us” have experimented with sado-masochism.
It’s most popular among educated, middle- and upper-middle-class men and women, according to psychologists and ethnographers who’ve studied the phenomenon, the article stated. That one-in-10 estimate may’ve changed by now.
Whether this is enough information to satisfy your curiosity likely depends on whether you’re also curious about what erotic pleasures or discomforts these activities provide the participants. However, since you’ve raised the topic in an advice column, here’s my fairly consistent take on sexual practices:
Whatever you and a partner do by mutual consent that does not involve or exploit children or unwilling participants and is not dangerous to your health and emotional well-being is your business.
Feedback regarding the guy suggesting breast augmentation surgery to his girlfriend (May 6):
Reader: “Yes, he was inconsiderate and disrespectful of his partner. However, do I feel sorry for her? No, because women as easily make fun of men’s penises.
“I’ve seen wives do it to their husbands in front of people. Girls discuss it in front of guys and aren’t kind about it.
“When it happens to a guy, people look at their reaction as a male-ego thing. But when it happens to a lady, it’s rebuked as a self-esteem or body-image issue.
“Same thing when you hear about women and weight issues and how they’re judged by men and society.
“Do women ever apologize for being attracted to tall men or apologize for making fun of short men? I’m short and have been teased by women a lot for it without any apology.”
Ellie: We’re agreed against disrespect, whatever the body part.