Sorry for my late entry into this thread. BrigidsDaughter sent me over here because she said I might be able to help out, as I'm most certainly the kinkier of the two of us. So you know where I'm coming from, I'm a Dominant sadist adrenaline junkie. I'm not a "professional" by any stretch of the imagination, but I have had one long term BDSM relationship, as well as done more then my fair share of homework. I also have some rather strong views on the topic, but I'll get into those as we go. Also, these are my views and not representative of this house or it's other members.
I use the term "vanillia" in regards to "average". I have never met someone who didn't like something "kinky" in the bedroom. So "vanillia" for me is someone who likes perhaps a little light play along the lines of hair pulling, scratching, or even dirty talking. Nothing most people would consider kinky, and the use of the term is in no way a show of disrespect. Vanillia is one of the most popular ice cream flavors, and everyone is entitled to whatever toppings they like on it. I just happen to prefer something else. My something else is no better or worse. Just different.
Now, what kind of pleasure can one get from masochistic play? Well, from what I've read it has a lot to do with brain chemicals. When hurt the brain releases endorphins to help deal with the pain. They cause a feeling of well being when the body is under exercise, stress, pain, excitement, orgasm, or love. Yep, that same stuff that gives you that high during NRE is the same stuff that's released during pain play. Now what people don't often see is that during masocist play, the person doing the beating works their way up to the heavier stuff. Start off light to build up the release of those endorphins, and as they get flowing work their way up from there to cause the release of more and more of those sweet little chemicals. Some people are okay with starting harder then others. It's a matter of learning limits, both for starting and where to build up with. Everyone has a limit, it's just a matter of finding where it is.
Now note that in above there was no mention of sadism or D/s. I know a few masochists that are not into D/s play, at least in a traditional way. I also know a few that have non-sadist partners who, because it pleases the other half, have learned how to "beat" the masochist half.
Now on to submission! Now I'll admit as a dominant I don't totally understand the appeal of submission 100%. I mean, I can understand it on an intellectual level, but I'll never just get it like some people do. However I do have several submissive friends and had many many long talks about this topic. What it boils down to is the reason people submit to another is deeply personal. Some do it because they enjoy the feeling of having someone stronger then them over them, some do it because they get off of it in the bedroom, some do it simply because it feels natural.
I've seen talk of BDSM relationships come up on the thread so I'm going to touch on my perspective on those as well. They are relationships. All relationships, even BDSM ones revolve around communication and, often, a little give and take from both sides. Only in Total Power Exchange relationships does it go one way (and I have very strong, negative views on those 97% of the time). Communication is also a key part of play, no matter the type.
Communication is VITAL to anything BDSM related. I can not stress this enough. From expectations, to limits, to turn-ons, to kinks, to the safe-word. All of it needs to be communicated and understood. Communication getting to know each other. Communication during play (especially early in the relationship). Post play communication. Communication between sessions. All of it is vital to keeping it alive and moving in a positive and healthy direction. Of course, the same could be said of any relationship, but in my experience BDSM acts as a forge for emotions, amplifying them and honing them to an edge, so communication in my mind is a lot more vital.
Of course, that's just scratching the surface of it all, and from the side I don't personally do. I'm not a masochist, nor am I a submissive, but I've done homework and I hope it helped even a little. Don't be afraid to ask anything. Only by learning do we improve understanding. I'll leave off with some final, short thoughts.
The submissive holds the ultimate power. The power of No. In a healthy BDSM relationship if the submissive says no, that's where it stops.
It's not about abuse, it's about love. The love two people share when they give fully and completely of themselves to the other person.