Research

What’s the Difference between Rough Sex and BDSM?

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Bar graph showing percentage of college students who categorize certain activities as rough sex. Choking and hair pulling were most popular.

Spanking, hair pulling, slapping, spitting—these are just some of the activities that a lot of people consider to be part of rough sex. But these acts also fall squarely under the umbrella of BDSM. So is there a difference between rough sex and BDSM? If so, what is it? And if there isn’t, then why don’t more people simply call rough sex BDSM?

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The Clit Is Key

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If you spend more than a few minutes perusing various sex subreddits, you will inevitably encounter posts from men and women wondering why their female partners or they themselves cannot orgasm from PIV alone. I’ve responded to my fair share of such posts to explain that the clit is there for a reason, but these attempts at education often fall on deaf ears.

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