Which are the differences between Domestic Discipline and BDSM?

How is Loving Domestic Discipline different from BDSM? Are they just different names for the same thing? This article will explore the differences between Domestic Discipline (hereafter referred to as DD) and Bondage & Discipline, Sadism & Masochism (known as BDSM).

You must not mistake this article for an attempt to say that DD is BETTER than BDSM, or that BDSM is somehow bad or wrong. We are interested in the differences between the two practices, but that does not mean that DD is better than BDSM or vice versa. It just means that they are different.

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Why do we need to differentiate between DD and BDSM?

What is the point? The reason we need to distinguish between DD and BDSM is because it will help us understand more clearly what DD really is and what it isn’t. So the purpose is to understand DD, not to criticize or find fault with BDSM. A clearer understanding of DD will help to promote DD and to create greater understanding and acceptance of the DD lifestyle, rather than seeing it as an aberration with psychiatric or criminal overtones.

In the case of BDSM, it was seen as a mental illness for a long time, and it is only in relatively recent times that it has been withdrawn from the list of textbook definitions of psychiatric sexual perversions, which included much more serious things like pedophilia. Understanding of BDSM has helped it move from being a mental illness to something that is categorized as a relatively normal example of ‘human sexual behavior’.

By understanding where DD fits into the scheme of things, it is easier for people to understand why DD is not just kinky sex and also why DD has nothing to do with domestic violence either.

Sexuality

The first difference between BDSM and DD is that BDSM tends to have a more sexual focus, while DD tends to have a more non-sexual approach. There are plenty of people who may disagree with this difference, because many DD couples end up having sex after the woman is disciplined.

This make-up sex or reconnection sex is not really the goal of DD, whereas the main focus of BDSM is sex or sexual enjoyment, even if a BDSM session does not necessarily always involve penetrative sex of any kind. The classic DD scenario is where spanking is used as a technique to modify a woman’s behavior. Some DD couples may also practice erotic spanking, but this is usually kept entirely separate from spanking for discipline purposes. So the typical DD spanking does not involve sexual activity.

Discipline

The next major difference between BDSM and DD is that the actual discipline situation (called a “scene” in BDSM) is generally artificial or contrived. A BDSM couple pretends that one of them has done something naughty and needs to be ‘punished’ for it, or they pretend that one of them is a harem slave and the other is her master and owner who ‘needs’ to tie her up for some imaginary reason, or that the woman is an 18th century traveller ‘captured’ by a ‘pirate’ who ties her up and ravishes her.

In DD, however, the reason for a discipline spanking is real. The woman has broken a rule that the couple has previously agreed upon – she has been disrespectful (to herself, to her HOH or to others), dishonest (ditto) or disobedient.

For this, she needs to be disciplined according to the agreement between her and her HOH (Head of Household), her husband. She is disciplined for a real life misdemeanor, not for an imaginary one. And if there had been no misdemeanor, she would not receive a domestic discipline for it. If she were spanked for other reasons, this might be an erotic spanking which might serve as a light introduction to sex, but a discipline spanking would occur only for a genuine reason.

This even includes a Maintenance Discipline, whose purpose is to maintain a woman’s positive attitude and good behavior, amongst other things. The need to maintain her good attitude and behavior is a genuine need, not an imaginary or a contrived one. It is not because she has been kidnapped by an evil duke and thrown into his dungeon that she is being spanked. It is because her continued good behavior is required in real life.

Some people who have practiced BDSM for a number of years, often beginning in their twenties, find that the sexual side of BDSM gradually loses interest, but their need for real discipline increases over time. There are some DD people who have come from BDSM because they feel a need for discipline beyond any immediate sexual gratification for themselves or the other person, and because they need to feel that the discipline is real, not imaginary.

Another proof of this difference is that in BDSM, couples often have a ‘safeword’, which is a word that the woman will use if she feels that she cannot take any more pain, or bondage, or if she feels like her circulation has been cut off because she has been tied too tightly, or because she can’t breathe properly, etc.

In DD, the use of a safeword is not really necessary, because DD does not normally involve ropes and chains to restrain the spanked woman, and because the spanking is usually restricted to the bottom only, and because the striking implement is usually only the hand, belt or paddle, unlike BDSM where all kinds of fearsome whips can be used on various parts of the body. Also, a safeword is basically contrary to the entire practice of DD, because the woman cannot be allowed to stop her own discipline. It must continue until it has been proven effective – she is in tears, or she is repentant, or both.

Temporary or Permanent?

A third difference between BDSM and DD is that submission in BDSM is usually temporary, whereas in DD it tends to be a more permanent and ongoing type of submission. In BDSM, the state of submission for the woman may last only as long as the ‘scene’ that is being played out, after which the couple may return to their normal, everyday roles and relationship.

But in DD, the woman is required to submit to a discipline whenever she has been dishonest, disobedient or disrespectful. Although a couple can always renegotiate a DD agreement at any time, except when the woman is being disciplined or is about to be disciplined, she is basically subject to the requirement that she submit to discipline at any hour of the day. This is not meant to be like Damocles’ sword hanging over her head – it is more along the lines of wanting real limits to her behavior and wanting real consequences for misbehavior. These limits are rules agreed on by the couple and the consequences are a good spanking for misbehavior.

The only exception to the distinction between BDSM and DD requiring either temporary or permanent submission is the typical BDSM ‘Master/slave’ relationship, where the woman acts like a ‘slave’ to her male partner, who is her ‘master.’ This is a kind of permanent submission, except that it is an illusory one, since the woman was not really ‘bought’ in a slave market and her husband does not really possess the right to ‘sell’ her. And if she wants to leave, she can.

So although it seems permanent like DD, it is still relatively contrived and therefore not as real as a DD arrangement. This is not to deny or diminish the powerful relationship that men and women who live in a Master/slave situation actually have, by the way.

Privacy

A fourth difference between BDSM and DD is that BDSM ‘scenes’ are sometimes (or even often) exhibitionistic, whereas DD disciplines are almost always private. BDSM practitioners often get together for a meeting or a party where various people allow themselves to be publicly whipped or tied up in intricate bondage arrangements.

This activity will often feed into various exhibitionistic tendencies, rather than cater to disciplinary needs or exigencies. There is nothing wrong with this, but the observation must be made so that a distinction can be drawn with DD.

Domestic Discipline, however, will usually take place in the privacy of a couple’s home and in the absence of any onlookers. This is because most couples see DD as a personal and private thing – something that only the man and the woman need know about, because it relates to their relationship and to them as individuals, not to the needs of a group of friends or even strangers.

The real and genuine nature of a discipline in DD usually mean that the woman is not in a mood to have her discipline witnessed by others. When her attitude is in need of adjustment, that adjustment is better carried out in private than in public. DD also creates a powerful connection between the man and the woman which most couples prefer to experience in privacy, since it does not involve third parties.

The type of relationship

A fifth difference between BDSM and DD is that often the relationship between BDSM practitioners may be temporary or casual, whereas classic DD can really only take place in a steady, committed relationship or marriage. In BDSM parties or meetings (known as “munches”) a participant may be tied or whipped etc by another participant whom they have never even met before and whose only connection is the immediate BDSM ‘scene’ they are both involved in.

It is also possible to have a BDSM situation take place between two people who have just met each other that night and who are using various BDSM techniques and equipment as part of their immediate and temporary sexual relationship. Not all BDSM practitioners are aficionados of casual sex or even casual whipping – many BDSM people live in deeply committed, monogamous relationships.

But all the same, temporary and casual BDSM is still BDSM. On the other hand, you cannot really have DD without a committed, long term relationship. A woman needs a man who knows her well enough to actually set meaningful limits for her that help her to grow and develop as a human being. If a man has just met her for a one night stand, how can he know what kind of limits or consequences she needs in her life? They need to know each other for a reasonable amount of time, so that her negative behaviors can gradually come to light and can be dealt with via DD disciplines such as spanking. The idea of ‘casual’ DD is a contradiction in terms.

Orientation

Another major difference between BDSM and DD is that BDSM is process-oriented while DD is goal-oriented. BDSM is all about the process – the process of tying up a woman with ropes or chains, the process of striking her body with different whips at different rhythms, the pseudo-medieval design of the mock dungeon where all this takes place. The only goals in BDSM are associated with the process – for the woman, the experience of something called “sub-space”, a dreamy mood of submission experienced during a BDSM scene.

The basic purpose of BDSM is essentially to tie someone up and whip them, just for the sake of it.

DD, on the other hand, is almost entirely goal-oriented.

The whole physical discipline side of DD is focused on the goal of improving the woman’s behavior and attitude. It is not focused on the spanking, because the spanking only exists to help her correct her own behavior and attitude. It is basically an educational tool, not an end in itself. Spanking is a consequence for her bad behavior or her bad attitude. Aside from the corrective or preventative aspect of discipline in DD, there is no other reason for it. Non-corrective or non-preventative discipline in DD would simply be called erotic spanking, because then its only goal would be the spanking itself. But in normal DD, the focus in on the goal, not the process.

The restraint…

A final difference between BDSM and DD is that restraint in BDSM tends to be external while in DD it tends to be internal. The ropes, handcuffs and chains of classical BDSM are simple, external restraints designed to restrict the free movement of the person being tied up. This may be for the sake of bondage alone or for other reasons – tying someone up so that they feel helpless, or so that they can be ravished, or so that they can be whipped. Whatever the purpose, it is accomplished through external physical restraints.

For most BDSM people, bondage without physical restraints would simply not be bondage – you can’t have imaginary ropes, cuffs or chains.

In DD, however, physical restraints are very rare, because most restraints are internal. The woman who is made to stand in the corner for half an hour after being spanked is not tied up to prevent her running away. She is simply told that she must stand in the corner until she is told she can leave. If she disobeys, she faces the prospect of another spanking to discipline her for her disobedience.

The same thing occurs with a woman who voluntarily enters a DD agreement with her man. Her agreement is voluntary, but she agrees to be bound by it if she misbehaves. She agrees to accept his decision about her misbehavior and she agrees to accept the spanking that she will receive from him, even though she may not actually want it at the time.

Of course it may often be necessary for the man to hold her in place so that she does not struggle or wriggle too much during her spanking, and it may even be necessary for him to force her over his lap so that he can discipline her, in spite of her resistance. But normally a woman will submit to a spanking because she has already agreed to a system of limits and consequences for her behavior.

Although she may instinctively want to run away from the pain of her spanking, or to avoid the humbling experience of standing in the corner for thirty minutes with her reddened, burning bottom on display, she restrains herself because she wants the emotional reassurance of a firm but loving structure in her life and in her relationship with her man. This restraint comes from within her, not from external ropes or chains.

Conclusion

So now that this exploration of some of the differences between BDSM and DD is over, it is important to restate that this is not meant to be a condemnation of BDSM practices or practitioners. It is simply a means of telling the two apart, because they are quite different and should not be confused. Just because spanking may occur in both BDSM and DD does not mean that they are the same thing. A politician and a preacher may both use a microphone, but their use of it is often worlds apart.

2 thoughts on “Which are the differences between Domestic Discipline and BDSM?

  1. Hello, Clint.

    After reading this article I must say that, while you did not mean to, your assessment of BDSM in comparison to Domestic Discipline was biased in favor of the latter. At the same time, the article paints a very bland, almost silly, picture of the BDSM Lifestyle and Scene. I can say that with authority being that I have been with the BDSM Lifestyle for going on thirty-one years.

    When I have a moment, I shall go down this list to address those parts that were in error.

    Personally, I know that there are more parallels between Domestic Discipline and BDSM than differences. I just wish people would focus on that rather than play the game of “Who is Better”.

    1. Loki,

      I like your comment! Please take the time and address the parts which thought were wrong – I’m looking forward to the discussion!

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