Illustration of an online BDSM site
Will you find your soulmate through an online BDSM site? Only one way to find out. Image: Priyanka Paul
Sex

How a Small-Town Sub Discovered BDSM in the Big City

“It’s easy to be labelled as easy, slut, creepy, victim, or battered.”
July 9, 2018, 10:30am

This July, we’re heating things up with Sex-Rated: The VICE Guide to Sex in India. Come with us as we dive deep into Indian sexuality, as well as cherry-pick some of the best videos and stories about sex from VICE around the world. Read more here.

Websites like Collarspace , Kink.com and ALT provide online avenues for many urban Indians to get into BDSM . However, people interested in bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism and masochism have to navigate many social hurdles before finding their offline communities. Once they do, it’s still a challenge to find the right sexual partners. We spoke to a 34-year-old consultant on gender and social media in Delhi about how she found her way to BDSM.

Advertisement

I grew up in a Tier 3 city, in a fairly lower middle-income family. I came to Delhi when I was 22 and stayed with relatives. I joined a call centre. A colleague referred me to a porn site, probably thinking that I would masturbate and stop longing for my ex (I was breaking up with my long-distance partner). She didn’t say exactly that, because we don’t talk about sex and masturbation in India. But I got the message.

I didn’t have my own computer, laptop or internet connection. So I went to a cyber café. That was my first time ever seeing porn. My friend didn’t know that I had never had sex before. Clicking link after link, I stumbled on international BDSM sites. When I saw women tied up, being flogged and bullwhipped, with needles in their breasts but still smiling, I freaked out. I paid my bill and left. For a week, I stopped myself from looking at this stuff.

But I kept thinking. I started researching, reading and asking questions on Yahoo Chat Rooms. I didn’t know what to look for. I didn’t believe those people were real. Eventually I discovered an entirely new world.

The problem was, I was talking to people online who were a part of the BDSM world, but I had no one to share my thoughts with, especially once I was back in my home town. It was around this time that I was diagnosed with depression. For five years, I was confident that no Indian scene existed. It was only in 2009 that a foreign online friend told me that it did.

Advertisement

That year, when I went to my first meeting of BDSM practitioners, organised via an online forum for kink in Delhi, I was one of only three women and everyone wanted to play with me. In the years since, I have learnt that you determine your own limits. There are hundred of kinks. I know, for example, I won’t ever indulge in any kind of pee play. Since the first time I played, in 2010, I have played with more than 70 partners. Now I know what I like and what I don’t like.

I’m submissive and an emotional masochist. These mental bits are fairly complicated, and there are different gradations. Tops and Bottoms are simpler—the most a top does after an intense play session is give aftercare. Dom-Sub is about who controls, it’s more mental. Master-Slave is about how much control is given.

Finding a partner is like looking for a needle in the haystack. In our community, references are important. Women tell each other who they've “played”—had sex or role-played—with and who they consider safe; who won’t violate limits. The first time I played, it was with a man my friends told me was safe. We experimented with pain and pushed a few limits—though I don’t want to get into details. But the nudity in itself, and the fact that there was pain involved, led to humiliation, which I hadn’t anticipated. Humiliation is a kink, but when you are new and haven’t experimented much, it can lead to a lot of confusion. You begin to think, “He says he loves me, so how can he do this to me?”

It is difficult for Indians to talk about sex in general. Add to this the fact that I’m looking for physical pain, bondage, and indulging in behaviour that was long classified as pathological. It becomes easy to be labeled as easy, slut, creepy, victim, or battered. But there are boundaries. If a partner calls me a slut, it’s a huge turn on for me. But if the same partner calls me a fat, ugly slut, then it’s no longer humiliation. It’s derogatory and damaging to my self-esteem.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that—at least for me—BDSM can also be about fairly subtle behaviour. For example, let’s say that if you’re a Dom and I’m a Sub, every time we go out for pizza I am supposed to offer the first piece to you. Can anyone else guess what’s going on? No. But for me, it’s really sexual. I can’t tell you how arousing this can be.

Follow Maroosha Muzaffar on Twitter .