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Pretty Tied Up: What Do Metal and BDSM Have in Common?

Posted by on July 15, 2019 at 7:07 am

Who would have thought that metal and BDSM had so much in common? Both are subcultures living and breathing away from the prying eyes of mainstreams conservatives or those who ‘fit in well’. Both are dark and scary from the outside but extremely liberating from the inside. A light metalhead chat reveals just how much people who are into metal music feel a strong sense of belonging and identification with the metal culture, just like BDSM practitioners feel very attached to their community. Below, we discuss the similarities between BDSM and metal and shed light on some often overlooked differences.

What is BDSM?

BDSM is a subculture that enforces discipline and submission through sexual acts. It is a sexual culture so most of the things related to BDSM take place behind closed doors, away from the public eye. People who are into BDSM meet in special clubs in the hopes of getting to know others who are into the same kind of kink. Contrary to popular belief, BDSM doesn’t have to be violent and it certainly doesn’t have to be extreme. In can include a leather corset and a little open-palm spanking.

From Underground Outcasts to Personal Liberation

Culturally speaking, BDSM has plenty of things in common with the metal music scene. First of all, people who like metal are social outcasts who generally don’t fit in with society, much like practitioners of BDSM. Second of all, BDSM and metal fans share a similar kind of fashion sense and wear plenty of extreme, dark clothing that stands out from the crowd. Last but not least, both cultures celebrate the individual as a whole on their own terms, and encourage a strong identity that is to a lesser degree related to the group.

Just like BDSM, metal is alternative and different from our mainstream society. It’s outsider music that expresses anger and rage with the aim to bring about concrete change. It is pretty destructive but also transformative, and it’s the exact opposite of anything passive and pretty. The metal culture is best analyzed at a live show as there are rules, codes of conduct, and rituals that everyone seems to follow, much like in BDSM. The mosh pit is where it all happens. Jumping and shoving is performed in a ceremonial fashion and more often than not leaves the participants with bloody noses or bruised shoulders.

Common Denominator: Consensual Violence

Metal is quite violent and proud of it. A mosh pit is not an unruly mob though. It is an exemplar of well-organized violence with clear guidelines and regulations, one that results in a joyful release of all the anger and energy. BDSM doesn’t necessarily have to be violent but even if it gets a little fierce, consent is always a big deal. With metal, you don’t have to step into the pit at a concert, but if you do, you know people will try to hurt each other, which is just another form of consensual violence similar to dominating another person in private.

Worlds Apart: Vanilla Sex

Violence, fashion and the music itself are what brings metal and BDSM together, but there is a point where these two cultures part ways never to cross them again. Simply put, there is no power exchange in the metal culture. The fans enter the pit to conquer it and engage in violent behavior, and there is absolutely no room there for a submissive. Also, in BDSM sexual roles and norms are put to the test in every scene and among most couples, while metal is predominantly straight instead of kinky. Metalheads pride themselves on being liberal, but it’s the BDSM practitioners that are far kinkier when it comes to sex.

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