bdsm history?

Discussion in 'General BDSM discussions' started by nsdnq, Feb 15, 2012.

  1. nsdnq

    nsdnq New Member

    anyone know when it was first recorded?

    I'm obviously not talking actual sex slavery, but when a sub actually volunteered of their own free will.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2012
  2. That goes far far back.. Inca's, Egyptians, Greeks, it's been everywhere by those where opted voluntarily... That will take some research! LOL
     
  3. Smallest

    Smallest Moderator

    Pretty much as long as there's been sex, there've been elements of BDSM. If you're looking for a specific text or something, I don't know
     
  4. master jey

    master jey Moderator

    Roman empire? Caligula?
    Ancient japan maybe?
    Sodom? :D
     
  5. sebastian

    sebastian Active Member

    This is a huge question. Murals in Pompeii that depict religious initiation seem to include flagellation of the initiate, and it's often thought to be the earliest formal evidence for what we might consider pain play, but in a religious and not explicitly sexual context. Pain play in a religious context also figured in medieval Christianity (monastic flagellation), Hinduism (yogis on beds of nails and so on), Islam (the Shiite festival of Ashurra, which features ritual cutting), and Native American worship (the Sun Dance).

    Voluntary slavery goes back to at least the Romans, where Christians were occasionally recorded as selling themselves into slavery in order to raise money to redeem prisoners of war. But this is true slavery, not BDSM slavery, so I wouldn't really consider it part of the history of BDSM. However, voluntary submission to a higher authority was a fundamental part of medieval monasticism (monks submit to the authority of their abbot). Given that monasticism also involved pain play, and frequently involved illicit homosexual sex, I'm inclined to argue that the first true BDSM submissives were probably medieval monks, although they wouldn't have seen themselves as doing BDSM in our sense.

    The cult of courtly love, in which a knight submits to the authority of his lady, has overtones of submissiveness for sexual reasons, and I know of at least one medieval poem in which a knight undergoes ridiculous sexual torture (being stripped naked, tied to a bed, and having a cat dropped on his back) in order to have sex with a noblewoman and her female servant (the poem is a parody of more traditional chivalric literature, in which a knight undergoes dangers to prove his love for his lady). In the poem that established Sir Lancelot as a member of Arthurian society, Lancelot wins Guenevere's forgiveness by agreeing to lose a joust in a humiliating fashion until she is satisfied that he is sorry.

    By the 18th century, we begin to find evidence of pain play for sexual pleasure. London at the time had homosexual and heterosexual 'whipping brothels', where men went to be whipped for sexual pleasure. The bottoms in this practice are, essentially, subs, although whether they saw submissiveness as part of their sexual practice is not clear. And 19th century English deviants engaged in pain play such as whipping and spanking; it's recorded in those infamous Anonymous Victorian novels. The French referred to whipping and spanking as 'the English Vice' (and in fact, in modern French, 'le methode Anglais' is sometimes slang for BDSM. The early 19th century madam Theresa Berkley may be the first dominatrix (called a 'governess') that we know anything substantial about; she is known for creating special frames for flogging, including the Berkley Horse, a predecessor to the St Andrew's Cross in function, but not in form.

    Late 17th/early 18th century French pornographic novels contain descriptions of spanking and whipping for explicitly sexual purposes. In one case, the novel parodies religious flagellation with sexual flagellation, in which a submissive girl is whipped by a monk into a state of ecstasy that she believes is religious but which is actually sexual. The monk thrusts his 'relic' into her vagina and orgasms. The whole scene is witnessed by the narrator, and in fact voyeurism plays a major role in this genre. And of course, the infamous Marquis de Sade, writing around the time of the French Revolution, was interested in both the philosophical and sexual elements of sexual domination. His writings got him imprisoned in the Bastille. In his case, however, he was not interested in voluntary submission; his novel Justine helped lend his name to Sadism. Masochism derives its name from Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch, a 19th century Austrian novelist whose Venus in Furs explores themes of sexual submission and pain play. But neither of these men seem to conceive of a reciprocal relationship between dom and sub; Justine is a victim, not a voluntary sub, and Wanda in Venus exploits her sub contemptuously, until she herself meets a man she wishes to submit to. Her sub, however, enters the relationship voluntarily, essentially teaching her how to enslave him.

    The true modern history of BDSM really begins after WWII, when soldiers returning home from the war sought to recreate the all-male society they had experienced during the war. This society was a rough mixture of homosexual sex, an exclusively male social environment, a rigid social hierarchy (doms and subs mirroring military ranks), an element of risk and danger (pain play, anonymous sex in public places, motorcycle riding etc), the wearing of leather clothing (partly inspired by army motorcycle uniforms as well as Nazi uniforms), and an environment that allowed them to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. Over the 50s and 60s, this slowly evolved into the gay leather subculture, with its strong elements of BDSM (another branch of this phenomenon spawned the biker gang movement). By the late 70s, the gay BDSM scene had begun to attract the attention of straight men and women who were seeking some of the same things that the gay veterans were seeking. Some gay leathermen were willing to train male and female heterosexuals in the systems they had developed, so that the straight BDSM scene largely evolved out of the gay leather scene.

    There is, however, a separate European strand of BDSM that reportedly developed out of late 19th/early 20th century culture, with its emphasis on strong social hierarchies and physical discipline (aristocrats and servants, the prevalence of things like caning). I don't know much about this European BDSM matrix, but I'd guess it really emerged in the 1880s or so. It may, however, extend back to the 18th century.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2012
  6. master jey

    master jey Moderator

    It was really interesting Sebby especially post WWII I never knew about that
    thank you :)
     
  7. sebastian

    sebastian Active Member

    You're welcome. I've done a fair amount of reading on the subject, particularly on the history of the leather scene. The straight side of things, unsurprisingly, hasn't attracted my interest as much.
     

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