The History of BDSM.

Mar 30, 2021

BDSM, the acronym that stands for the sexual acts of bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism, is just now beginning to gain widespread popularity. 

We read about it online, we see it in popular movies, we maybe even hear about it from a close friend. But what may seem new to you is actually an age-old aspect of sex

The history of BDSM is one that is long and engraved in time, and although BDSM has changed and certain stigmas surrounding it have ebbed and flowed, understanding this history is a great way to bring yourself closer to your sexuality if BDSM is something that you practice or wish to practice. 

When and Where did the History of BDSM Begin?

Ancient Mesopotamia is one of the first known advanced human civilizations, and it is where our first records of BDSM originate from. If you have no idea where Ancient Mesopotamia was located, it was in the Middle East near Iraq should you view it on a modern map. 

These records span all the way back to circa 3100 BC. So long ago, in fact, that this is when and where writing itself was first brought about, allowing humans to, for the first time without pictures, record bits of our history by using the written word. 

So yes, BDSM is as old as writing. Make you feel young yet?

Writing was brand new, and some of the first written stories often involve sex, as sex was a huge part of ancient culture. 

These stories more than not maintained themes of BDSM, showcasing the first suggestions that bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism were taking place nearly 12,000 years ago. 

 

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The First Records of BDSM

The initial stores and records of BDSM usually always involve goddesses or gods. 

One of the most notable is the story of Inanna. Inanna, sometimes also called Ishtar, is the goddess of passion and fertility, the two main reasons we have sex; to fulfill a passion and to reproduce. 

The stories of Inanna tell of her whipping her constituents into a pure and wild sexual frenzy. Their moans of pleasure were simultaneous to their moans of pain, the introduction to the ideas of finding sexual joy through the act of feeling hurt. 

Inanna was the feminist of all feminists, as she worshipped her own vagina, and other stories tell of her forcing the men to bow down to her in a state of submission, oftentimes forcing them to wear women’s clothing or placing them in the euphoric state of both pain and joy. 

Although Mesopotamia would eventually fall, the beginnings of BDSM stayed, and this wildfire of sex continued to spread throughout the world. 

BDSM in Ancient Greece and Rome

Ancient Greece is one of the next locations with an integrated history of BDSM. 

It was called ‘flagellation’, a term that is still used today and defined by the dictionary as “flogging or beating, either as a religious discipline or for sexual gratification”. 

Flagellation was ritualistic in Ancient Greece, and it was extremely common. So yes, as much as we can thank Ancient Greece for the beginnings of our science and philosophy, we can also thank it for continuing to cater and evolve the lifestyle of BDSM. 

Some cults, for example, would use this flogging and beating as a right into their cult, having the priestesses (that’s right, not the priest!) whip the young men while worshipping the goddess Artemis Orthia. 

There was even a Tomb of Whipping in Greece, decorated with images of two males flogging a woman, where people would go to be punished for pleasure. 

Ideals behind sex and BDSM in Italy were also very similar. 

Sex was in, and if you look into the history hard enough, you’ll realize that BDSM has always been around. Romans held sex to similar ideals as those in Ancient Greece, as orgies happened on the regular, and often practiced forms of BDSM, their gods, and works of literature pointing to extremes of sexuality. 

There existed a Tomb of Flogging, dedicated to Dionysus, a god associated with debauchery, the excessive indulgence in sexual pleasures; where those could go to find sexual pleasure in their pain by being whipped and dominated. 

BDSM was taken very seriously, and it went beyond just a ‘type of sex’ in the age-old days. BDSM was sacred, and often the forms of it (especially whipping) were seen as ritualistic and associated with their gods and goddesses, showcasing to this day the respect that should be maintained surrounding this act.

 

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BDSM in America

Now that good ol’ Christopher Columbus decided to paddle over to the Americas, so have joined the ideas and values of BDSM. 

But from initial colonization to now, BDSM (and sex in general) had to go through some rather tough times. Europe was all about sex, producing some of the finest erotic works known to man, but that didn’t seem to translate all the way across the sea. 

Sex transitioned into what people thought should be a male-dominated act only carried out for reproduction and religious purposes, as the idea that falling for your desires will land you a reservation in hell. 

Women were oppressed, men were ironically sexual, and BDSM was shied away from, as stigmas surrounding sex continued to grow in strength and support. 

It was until really the later 2,000s that BDSM became somewhat of a household term. People started sharing their love for BDSM, you could discover it in books or in movies, and it made people realize that “Hey! I’m not the only one who enjoys this!”.

So finally, hundreds of years later, sex is being normalized, and the culture of BDSM can continue to progress as it should. There’s an entire lifestyle within this form of sex, and the community is one that is strong and supportive. 

By understanding the history of BDSM, you can further see that sex is and always will be a driving force of humanity, and you should use this history to understand and appreciate the views you have surrounding sex. 

Because just when you thought the idea of being whipped for fun sounded weird, you come to find out that if you lived in Greece you would simply walk on up to the Tomb of Flogging for all your whipping pleasures, like a drive-thru of BDSM.

So if any aspect of BDSM is something you wish to pursue, then just know that it is also an integrated aspect of humanity, and by doing so you will learn things about yourself and about this world that are otherwise unattainable. So here’s to making sure the continuation of the history of BDSM is nothing but positive past this point!

 

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