Kevin Sussy/Photography Editor According to this year’s results from the Pipe Dream’s sex survey, 33.7 percent of students have experimented with bondage — a 12.7 percent increase since 2014.
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“Yeah, you like that?”

It’s 10 a.m. and Red can’t help but giggle, giving me dirty-talk advice in the middle of a dining hall.

Red, a Binghamton University underclassman and a former bondage instructor, is a dominant, or dom — one of the many roles one can play in the realm of kink, fetish and BDSM. In most BDSM relationships, like the ones Red looks for, the other partner is a submissive, or sub.

Red discovered the world of kink at 15, the same age when he lost his virginity.

“I think I got into it out of a natural evolution of things,” he said.

This natural evolution started when Red found erotic literature online, mainly on Tumblr and literotica.com. Eventually, Red, who preferred to remain anonymous, wrote his own erotica. Through his writing, he discovered his dominant sexual self.

“For me, dominance is more about command,” he said. “It’s more about me taking the lead.”

Red analogizes his role with that of ballroom dancers — one dancer leads, choreographing the next steps, while the other follows.

“It’s putting a path forward and having your partner follow you,” Red said.

According to the results of Pipe Dream’s annual sex survey, more students have been experimenting with kink each year. In 2014, only 21 percent of respondents had experimented with bondage. That percentage has been growing steadily in the four surveys conducted since. Our survey this year revealed 33.7 percent of students — a 12.7 percent increase in three years.

It’s not only BU students who are getting more into kink. Red says that BDSM has become so prevalent in our culture that most people are willing to talk about it.

“I’m honestly more surprised when people aren’t into kink at all than [when they] are,” Red said.

Last week, T-Mobile debuted a BDSM-themed advertisement during the Super Bowl. The ad, starring actress-comedian Kristen Schaal, depicts a Verizon customer asking a representative from the phone company how he’s going to “punish” her for going over her data limit.

John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, tweeted the ad with the hashtag “#TheSafeWordIsUnlimited.”

“If they’re running Super Bowl commercials about domination and submission, I guess it’s been de-stigmatized a little,” Red said.

It isn’t difficult to attribute the increasing cultural conscience of kink to the success of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” franchise. Since its debut in 2011, the Random House-published book series has sold over 100 million copies.

Despite its financial success, “50 Shades” has sparked a plethora of controversy over what many call an unhealthy relationship between now-famous fictional couple Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. In addition to the countless personal testaments to the problems in the series, there was even research conducted about the so-called BDSM aspects of the series.

In 2013, the Journal of Women’s Health published a study from Ohio State University that showed the relationship depicted in “50 Shades” to be in-line with definition of interpersonal violence.

Red further explained the problematic nature of the sexual encounters in “50 Shades.” He said that in a real BDSM relationship, there is almost an “oxymoron” of dominance — the submissive is the one to truly call the shots.

“The submissive is the person who sets the boundaries, the barriers,” Red said. “If there’s a line, you cannot cross it. With the relationship in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ there is none of that.”

A 2015 article by Emma Green for “The Atlantic,” titled “Consent Isn’t Enough: The Troubling Sex of ‘Fifty Shades,’” analyzes the abusive nature of the relationship.

“As images of Ana being beaten by Christian become the new normal for what’s considered erotic, they raise questions about what it means to ‘consent’ to sex,” Green wrote. “Clearly, consent is necessary; but is it sufficient?”

Later, Green expresses the ultimate concern: “If anything has the power to shape sexual norms, this does.”

However, fear not: “50 Shades” is a far cry away from being the only option for erotic literature. Thanks to the internet, any and all kinds of writing are accessible. Red said to look at sites like literotica.com, as well as to explore Tumblr. But, he heavily advises that people interested in BDSM steer clear of misleading porn.

“The good, healthy, substantial porn that you can find is few and far between,” Red said.

Elizabeth Alexis, Student Association representative for SHADES and a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience, said that students who are interested in exploring what they’re into should look into on-campus communities.

Alexis used to attend meetings of the Binghamton Kinksters, a low-profile group of BU students who enjoy kink. The group meets monthly at CyberCafe West in Downtown Binghamton, renting out a private room for privacy. It’s not a sex club, Alexis said, but rather a place for socializing and making friends.

Sarah Walsh, a REACH intern and a sophomore majoring in English, said that despite these online forums and clubs, the general public doesn’t understand kink.

“There is a lot of negative stereotyping and connotation that goes along with the BDSM and kink community,” Walsh said. “It’s important to remember that as long as it’s safe and consensual, there’s really nothing to worry about.”

Walsh isn’t alone in her emphasis of the importance of consent and safety. Alexis said that before engaging in any kind of kinky behavior, you must have clear boundaries set with your partner.

“There’s a lot of people who say that they’re this and that, but they’re not really interested in your safety, they’re only interested in their pleasure,” Alexis said.

Red echoed this concern for consent, expressing the necessity for respect, which comes from clear and open communication before (and during) sex of any kind.

“It’s nothing but abuse if there’s no respect between two partners,” Red said. “Don’t engage if they don’t respect you.”