The short answer to whether all Sadists are safe, sane and consensual is… no.
A Sadist enjoys inflicting physical or emotional pain or discomfort. His partner being a masochist may affect his pleasure, or it may not.
There is actually a wide spectrum of Sadists, from those who are skilled pain inflictors but can take it or leave it on one end, to abusive and extreme sadists on the other extreme.
There are four forensic classifications:
Class I: Has urges, but doesn’t act out sexual fantasies.
Class II: Acts on sadistic urges with consenting sexual partners (masochists or otherwise).
Class III: Acts on sadistic urges with non-consenting victims, but doesn’t seriously injure or kill. May coincide with sadist sexual type rapists.
Class IV: Only acts with non-consenting victims and will seriously injure or kill them.
The difference between I-II and III-IV is consent, and most, hopefully all, Sadists you meet will be in the sweet spot of Class II.
It’s important to understand that Sadism is a drive that is not necessarily connected to mutual pleasure. Sadists are aroused by inflicting pain, not by whether or not their partner is enjoying it.
If you’re meeting or playing with a Sadist for the first time, put all your safety checklists into overdrive. Really. There are some creepy characters in the BDSM scene, but most are not dangerous, so you might have got away with sloppy first meeting protocols in the past, but you should assume that you will not walk away from a meeting with a Class IV Sadist. I don’t mean that you should live in fear. Nobody should need to do that. But switch on all your sensors and exercise all your common sense. If something doesn’t feel right, it quite often isn’t.
BUT I’M A MASOCHIST WHO WANTS THE SCENE TO BE OUTSIDE OF MY CONTROL
Healthy sadomasochism involves the planned, controlled application of pain or humiliation, and that’s probably what you want. Abuse is about hurting. You might think you want that, but you probably don’t, and things can very quickly spiral out of control.
We talked a bit about the cognitive tussle between fantasy and reality in our article on Fearplay.
Let’s take the controversial topic of “rape” as an example. This could be:
• A personal fantasy.
• An interactive fantasy.
A personal fantasy would be a masturbation fantasy; lying in bed and fantasising about being raped in a back alley for example. Then you cum, get up, pour a drink and turn the TV on. The fantasy ends and can be switched off.
An interactive fantasy is something which 2 people explore together where one forces the other through something. They know the person, so it remains a fantasy and it is safe. But, the fantasy ends when the Dominant decides that it does.
In reality, rape would be unquestionably horrendous for anyone and it’s not BDSM. BDSM is always consensual.
So, from the submissives point of view:
• A personal fantasy is safe and controlled by the submissive.
• An interactive fantasy is safe but controlled by the Dominant.
• A real rape is not safe and the rapist holds the control.
This can lead to grave errors in judgement and communication, particularly during negotiation. When you are not in a situation where you are experiencing something, you can only imagine it (as a personal fantasy). It seems easier to handle, because you can turn it on and off at will.
As long as we recognise we are safe, the adrenaline rush and various other responses to fear are something that many people naturally derive pleasure from.
In abusive situations there is no safe word. There is no “safe”.
If you’re a hardcore masochist or serious pain-pig, that doesn’t mean you want to meet a Class III or Class IV Sadist. It doesn’t matter what it looks like in your fantasies, it’s going to end badly in reality.
What you DO want is to meet a Class II Sadist who is good at what they do.