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I Love BDSM reviewed by Of Sex and Love

By Adriana Ravenlust, originally posted on Of Sex and Love

 

From my experiences with Ayzad’s books, I would struggle to adequately do him justice as an author. I jumped into the deep end with the first book I read by him BDSM: A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism that’s an encyclopedic wealth of information for those who are really into BDSM and knowledge in general. But that tome would be intimidating for someone who either isn’t sure about their interest or even the topic in general. Ayzad’s newest book, I Love BDSM falls on the other end of the spectrum. Ayzad kept this book fairly brief at just 124 pages, some of which include photos or illustrations, and his adoration for BDSM shines through. Both of these things make the book approachable. Further lending to the accessibility is the conversational tone he uses.

While other books teach technical skills, and BDSM: A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism is certainly one of them, I Love BDSM focuses more on how BDSM can be personally fulfilling and rewarding within relationships. That angle can be appealing to those who might be dipping a toe in the water and wondering why they are–or anyone else is–attracted to the idea of erotic power exchange. I think the bold title of this book and the tone Ayzad uses in it both emphasize that BDSM can be a positive in someone’s life.

It’s reasonable that someone who first stumbles upon BDSM through Fifty Shades of Grey or some other media that’s not entirely realistic might decide to further research and happen upon I Love BDSM. For this, this book is a great introduction, not just for the aforementioned reasons but for the way it spells out the definition of BDSM while emphasizing that the images some people conjure of BDSM are devoid of context or downright wrong. Ayzad makes a poignant argument that the same happens with vanilla sex all the time, and we should be wary not to do the same with BDSM. As he says,

The only trick is to remember that the basis of any relationship – even the most casual ones – is always people.

While not about technical skills, I Love BDSM does not gloss over the potential risks and need to proceed safely. It discusses negotiation and safe words, for example.  But this section, like all of them in the book, is short, and I worry that some might read only this book and think it’s enough before diving in fully. This isn’t to say anything against Ayzad or his book; some people just always bite off more than they can chew.

After safety, the book includes a section on finding partners both online and off before dedicating a chapter each to bondage, domination and discipline, submission, and sensory exploration. Ayzad opted to move away from “sadism” and “masochism” for this book. I think the effect may be more inviting and less intimidating for someone who is unfamiliar with BDSM, and it’s actually a great descriptor for many activities enjoyed by kinksters. Still, it did throw me for a loop to see the acronym changed up.

Each chapter includes brief descriptions of the people, tools, and skills that might be involved in the specific activity. For example, Ayzard illustrates basic ties in the chapter on bondage and the desired traits of a submissive in that respective chapter. It’s all enough to give an idea and perhaps leave the reader wanting more without droning on. By the time I Love BDSM nears completion, Ayzad assumes that the reader will be ready to try their first not-super-intense scene. Presumably, the reader has gotten that far and feels the same, even if they’re not sure whether this whole BDSM thing is for them.

By now, it might be apparent that I struggled to read this book as someone who might just be coming to terms with the idea of BDSM or their interest in it. I want something meatier, with more science (Ayzad hasn’t ignored research on BDSM; it’s just scant). I Love BDSM isn’t that book but, of course, it’s not intended to be. This is the book that you read before you set out to engage in BDSM in your relationship or local community. You might (read: should) pick up a few more books before you get to that point. And if you stick with it, you might eventually find more Ayzad books on your proverbial shelf.

I’ve also considered how this BDSM primer stands out from other similar books. As Kinky as You Wanna Be: Your Guide to Safe, Sane and Smart BDSM comes to mind; although, these two are far from the only examples in the genre. One way in which Ayzad makes a name for himself is through his real-life experience as a BDSM practitioner and a member–and leader–of his local community. It can seem a little old-school when so much information is available for free online that one doesn’t necessarily need to seek out community to learn.

But Ayzad reminds the reader that not all of that information is accurate. Community can provide safety and hands-on knowledge that would otherwise be missed. Whether someone lives in a city with a thriving community or, like myself, would need to travel for hours to find one, certainly impacts how applicable certain information is, of course.

Another notable difference is the inclusion of black-and-white photos. I could go either way on them, but it probably lends to the air of approachability that Ayzad was going for. The illustrations of different knots/ties are useful, however, but the links to Ayzad’s videos are even more useful. This brings me to my next point.

I Love BDSM feels like it’s only meant to be a digital book. Some passages are highlighted in pink that matches the heart on the cover. Furthermore, Ayzad includes links to other resources, including illustrative videos and articles on his website. This puts additional information at the reader’s fingertips, but I would have preferred footnotes or a list, which would make it easier to see them all at a glance at the end of the book. The link icons make the book a bit messier than I prefer, and you might not realize how helpful they are if you focus on reading rather than clicking them.

Similarly, while Ayzad links to a section of recommended books on his site, I would have found it easier for him to list a few in I Love BDSM.

Finally, because so many of the links go to Ayzad’s own website, it feels a little self-promotional. Of course, there are many helpful articles, and it’s one way to ensure the links remain relevant, but I can’t but wonder if it could have been done differently. Something just a bit more refined or including some other resources, perhaps?

So where does that leave us? I Love BDSM would be ideal for someone who has never read any books about BDSM, but they should remember to broaden their educational horizons beyond this one title (and that’s true for anyone interested in BDSM). It’s a good introduction but less useful as a resource for those who are more knowledgeable and experienced unless they want an easy read to recommend to newbies.

There isn’t much to lose by purchasing this book, however.  Even if it doesn’t introduce much new content, I Love BDSM costs less than $6 on Amazon.

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