The Good of BDSM

'What Good Is It?'
by Dr. Richard A. Sprott
April 2007


A few months ago, at the San Francisco Leathermen’s Discussion Group, 40+ men gathered to explore our opinions and experiences about how a BDSM scene could be good for us – what are the benefits we get from having risky, edgy, sexy play.

I believe it is important that we begin to articulate what might be good about BDSM. We should not just articulate what is “safe, sane and consensual” or what is “risk aware consensual kink” and what are the differences between BDSM play and abuse. These are important to talk about, but we shouldn’t stop with that. In a more positive, less defensive stance we should articulate what benefits we get out of flogging, spanking, temporary piercing, pup play, Master/slave, bondage, etc.

In light of the good that comes from voicing one’s experience and one’s hopes, we started a discussion. I hope you add your own thoughts to this collection. Here are some of the thoughts that we shared with each other at that LDG event:

BDSM gives you a better sense of perspective – about power, about sensation, about the limits of the body. We learn the difference between power and force.

BDSM allows us to access the dark side of our personalities, validates that the more aggressive, confrontational, unsocialized, kinky side has a place as important as any other aspect of our selves – so it doesn’t leak out in unconscious, unhealthy, unproductive ways.

BDSM teaches us better negotiation and communication skills. It allows us to learn our limits and boundaries. BDSM teaches us about trust. It teaches us how to articulate and pursue our desires.

BDSM allows us to give up or stop that constant inner monologue, that self-monitoring, and gives us a “vacation” from the self. It allows us to set aside certain parts of the self and develop other parts.

BDSM is fun. It feels good. That is an end, a good, in itself and doesn’t need any further justification.

Any one of these insights and claims can be explored and discussed at length. As a list, this is a good start, but it certainly is not complete or exhaustive. And each statement is begging for dialogue, exploration, and substance to back it up.

Let me know what you think, what you have experienced, what you have learned by doing BDSM.

Dr. Richard A. Sprott is a developmental psychologist and active in the leather community of the San Francisco Bay Area. He is San Francisco Leather Daddy XXIII, serves on the board of the Leathermen's Discussion Group, and is Executive Director of CARAS - Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities at He can be reached at

Article © 2007, by Dr. Richard A. Sprott, all rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission.
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