I say alternative lifestyles, because that is what BDSM really is to me. An alternative lifestyle.
It's not for everyone and there are different levels. The one thing I want to stress is that I feel is important is Safe, Sane and Consensual.
There are different interpretations of BDSM and what it means and that's fine. There is no hard fast rule. I view BDSM in my books are more of the light side, Bondage and Discipline with Dominate and Submissive.
Since I write the lighter side of BDSM, I still needed to learn about the lifestyle. I did that by reading. Not only other erotic romance book where BDSM played a part, but how-to-books and I also talked with people in the lifestyle.
Talking with people is the hardest part for my because I'm an introvert, I'm not good in social situations. It does help when people are friendly and I've never met friendlier people than those in the kink communities.
They welcomed me to their ranks, we willing to talk to me and help me understand the community itself. This is no easy feat, and I'm still learning. With each discussion, each book I read and every conversation.
Some will say there are hard and fast rules, but really there aren't. What is consensual between you and your partner is it.
What BDSM is not, is abuse. I know some will argue with that and okay argue all you want. Remember SSC - Safe, Sane, Consensual. Abuse happens everywhere, no more in the kink community than in the regular society. You have idiots everywhere, but that's just how things go.
Just because a woman wants to be spanked doesn't mean she wants to be beaten black and blue. The same goes for a man.
There is something about giving up control to another person that is so freeing. Letting out the emotions you've bottled up in front of someone who will not judge you is freeing and is good for one's emotional health.
I'm not saying you need to go out and explore BDSM, if its not your thing, that's fine. I'm asking that you keep an open mind and understand for other's it's a lifestyle they embrace. They shouldn't be ridiculed or threatened because of it.