WHAT DOES ‘ROUGH’ IN ROUGH SEX MEAN?

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It’s indisputable that after the introduction of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise; the semi-erotic soft porn love story between a sexually ignorant student and a pervy good-looking millionaire with latent mummy-issues, the interest in rough kinky sex rose to new heights. Many husbands and partners were faced with women who, after reading the eponymous trilogy of books or watching the movie, welcomed them home with leather lingerie, candy whips and furry manacles. Honestly, I don’t think they complained.

But apart from using bondage as a hopeful plot to revive a sexually-flagging marriage, or as a way of adding new spice to the relationship, what exactly constitutes rough sex?

Surfing and reading various articles on the net, the definitions seem to range from hair pulling and erotic butt slapping to getting tied up, light (or more forceful) whipping, nipple-clamping, and even choking. What most people can’t seem to understand however, is that BDSM – an umbrella term for bondage, dominance, submission and masochism – is not just a sexual preference which has to do with physical experiences and sensations. This catch phrase in fact denotes first and foremost a number of role-playing games, meaning that the participant makes believe that they are subservient to their dominant partner, perhaps being ‘punished’ for previous misdemeanours, having to perform certain ‘tasks’ for the partner’s pleasure, being ‘forced’ – in the most kinky but consensual use of the term – to wear certain clothing, etc. This set of interpersonal relations can serve to, for example, balance out a relationship where in real life one partner has to be more dominant than the other, maybe because of their job or role in society. This would, conversely perhaps, encourage certain people to feel the need to experience emotions of subservience or dominance during sexual play, since this would not be prevalent in their daily lives. Or maybe not.

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The important thing, of course, is for these relations to take place between consenting adults, who are aware of the fantasy they are enacting, as well as willing to stop whenever the other person feels uncomfortable. Clear parameters must be discussed beforehand. Most individuals who prefer to practice this kind of sexual intercourse also concoct a safe word or password to signify that the other partner must stop whenever this is uttered. Some people, as in Fifty Shades of Grey, even construct and sign contracts defining the parameters of the sexual relationship.

A fixation on black leather, handcuffs, whips, chains and collars does not make one automatically a BDSM connoisseur. This particular subculture in fact is quite complicated and has many subtypes when it comes to physical, emotional, mental and behavioural motivations and needs. Whether one practices any of these subtypes in the long-term or just as a way to explore one’s sexuality, it’s important to know exactly what one’s partner understands with their personal definition of BDSM, rough sex or any other term used. This saves time and prevents any funny moments or unwelcome surprises. As always, it’s important to inform one’s partner of any prevalent health issues which might impact on the relationship.

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In the end, like everything else, rough sex is relative. It means different things to different people. BDSM, masochism, dominance – these are all terms which are usually met with sniggers and knowing looks of derision, or even revulsion. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting in order to become aware of your personal tastes, or to be more knowledgeable about what you and your partner prefer when it comes to intimacy, especially since it could also bring you closer to each other as a couple. In such intimate moments, as in normal daily life, respect and honesty are a top priority. Whether you are having sex with a long-term partner, or starting to get to know someone new, these two maxims are never wrong and should always be adhered to.