BDSM is the abbreviation for "Bondage, Discipline and Sado-Masochism". THAT phrase (the full name) usually sets off a knee-jerk reaction for people in the main-stream of society (American and otherwise).
Most people think of SM (sado-masochism) only from the "dom's" (dominant's perspective - the sadist. They think of the masochist as being a VICTIM, rather than a willing participant. At best, (they think) someone whose self-esteem is so low they'll do anything to get attention. At worst, (they think) someone who is literally being forced, raped and tortured against their will.
How far from the truth this is!
I've been to several BDSM/fetish group meetings (NOT orgies!..these are MEETINGS for people of all backgrounds with similar interests), as well as individual couple "interviews" with prospective "subs" (submissives). I've found a tremendous emphasis on the SSC credo: "Safe, Sane and Consensual" and careful verification of the prospective submissive's motivation and emotional state.
The people I know and those I've spoken to have a "safe word", which STOPS any activity INSTANTLY, until the submissive/masochist is ready to go on or decides to stop completely. The "safe word" is pointed out, so that all understand to STOP.
There's all kinds of various fetish activity: "pony play", "age play", bondage/discipline (which is not necessarily the same as S/M or sado-masochism) and many others.
That's enough for right now! It's getting LATE (early???)