Art by Kott0n_K4ndy

Sunday, March 6, 2011

MTSR #3: Bondage, Beautiful Bondage

Rope Dojo Kit (incl. bandage scissors) from

Yes, she’s back: the big, reflective orange vest in the middle of all that luscious leather. And again, I am going to ask all those fabulously experienced folks in our lovely community to, just for a short while, remove the “well of course! We know all this already!” hats, and instead please help me indulge those among us who might not by commenting helpfully and filling in any gaps that I might have left in my new rant.

Today, I want to talk about bondage! Hooray!

Specifically, I want to talk about positional, or situational bondage. Being somehow physically restrained or having movement restricted by a bondage medium like rope, chains, cuffs, and other things that make me drool like Pavlov’s newest inductee. While merely decorative bondage (like that big muscle dom with the rope bracers, or that cute little thing in the hareem girl outfit made entirely out of small individual gold chains) is gorgeous to look at, it’s not the topic of today’s article and you can’t make me write about it, so there!

Bondage is so much a part of our kinky lifestyle that it gets its own freakin’ letter in our acronym. Even many vanilla folks reluctantly agree that getting tied up to your headboard for sex is … well, okay. It’s kinda hot.

And because it’s more passive than other forms of kinky play, like cutting or wax dripping or flogging, it has this lovely aura of benign charm. It’s hot, it spices up the love life, and it’s (seemingly) safe. So it’s a very common starting point for people who want to slowly ease themselves into this crazy sexy stuff that we do.

Unfortunately because of its alluringly comforting fa├žade, it’s also something that we are more likely to try, on our own with our partners, in the solitude of our own bedrooms, without seeking out any further information or training on the matter. How hard is it to tie a knot, right? That was absolutely the case for my long ago teenaged self (though I suppose it was mostly other people’s bedrooms.) Primarily, this column is for those of you who might possibly fall into this category now or in the near future.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should become uber Shibari (Japanese style bondage art) experts before tying your boy/girlfriend up to the bed for fun sex. I’m not even saying that this is a bad place to start, or that you shouldn’t do it! Anyone who’s seen the amount of rope in my toybag would know that that was extremely hypocritical of me. All I ask is that you are aware of the risks of what you’re doing, and therefore you’re capable of dealing with those risks, before you try it. And that, my dear kinky friends, is what you will be, at least to some extent, if you do me the honour of reading the rest of my admittedly long-winded article.

So. You went to the hardware/sex store, or your Halloween box, or your tie drawer, and you have the goods. Now you want to tie you lovely naked lover up. What should you know before you start? Well, a couple of things.

Let’s start with the wrists. As any slightly kink-flavoured porn will tell you, the wrists are the most common areas to be tied up. (Actually, if you look closely it's not the wrist joint, but the area of the forearm just above, which we'll call the wrist for simplicity's sake.) And porn wouldn’t lie to me, would it? Wrists, though, are also pulse points (places where, because the blood vessels are so close to the surface of the skin, it’s easy to take someone’s pulse.) This makes them a place to look out for. Because if you think of it, if you can feel the blood vessel with your fingers, they’re not protected by any muscle groups, and you can also easily cut off that circulation. Of course, we don’t want that! I don’t know about you, but trips to the ER for an emergency amputation of a dead hand is a hard limit for me!

So, should we never tie up the wrists? Well, that wouldn’t be much fun! Instead, let’s just make sure that while being tied up the hands don’t get permanently damaged, in three easy steps:

1) prevention
2) monitoring and
3) response readiness!

1. We can prevent injury to the wrists by making sure that whatever is binding them isn’t too tight. There’s a rule in rope bondage called the “two finger rule”. If you can’t fit two fingers between the wrist and the rope, then the rope is too tight. The same applies to cuffs and chains, and anything else. Now, this means that there should always be a two-finger space between the wrist and bondage, so make sure that if you’re using rope, that its tied off in such a way that if you pull on it, it doesn’t get any tighter. (You can try this out on yourself before you do it on your partner!).

We also want to protect the pulse points, since these are the places most likely to cut off circulation. So if, for example, you were tying the wrists together, tie them with the insides of the wrists are facing each other, so that the pressure points of the bondage (when in doubt, check to see where the rope marks the skin if you strain against it) are NOT the pulse points. Never should the rope or chain or whatever be biting into the vulnerable part of the wrists, always the backs. This same advice applies to all the other pulse points (inside of elbows and knees, the sides of the neck, and the spot where the inside of the thighs meets the groin) as well as the airway. In fact, anything that goes around the neck should put pressure ONLY on the very back of the neck, nowhere else. Since the head contains the brain, we really want to make sure we don’t cut off circulation or oxygen, even for a few seconds.

2. Monitoring is hopefully pretty self-explanatory. As super sexy as the thought of typing up your sweetie and leaving them locked in a closest to whimper and panic is, I can’t really recommend it. Even if the original position that you tied them in is perfectly safe for him or her to stay in for hours on end, all that delicious struggling could very well change that situation very fast. So, unfortunately, monitoring is fairly essential in a bondage situation.

Since we’re using wrists for our example, let’s go on with them. We can monitor in many ways. We can get the bottom to tell use how their wrists feel. Do they have pins and needles in their fingers, do they still have full sensation? Don’t be content, though, to rely entirely on your bottom’s verbal updates. Sometimes, a bottom will not want a scene to end, or feel pushy mentioning anything without prompting, so they won’t always tell you if something is wrong. Also, there’s a sensation that rope bondage enthusiasts like to call “flying” that’s something akin to subspace, that a bottom occasionally reaches which is a sort of blissful out-of-it state, that sometimes short-circuits their ability to self-monitor. Flying is nummy, but you need to make extra sure you’re watching your bottom closely if they go on a little trip there. So, check independently, too. Have them squeeze your hand, have they lost a lot of grip strength? That’s a sign that the hand has too little circulation, and needs to be loosened or released immediately. Ditto if the fingers turn blue or purple, or extremely cold.

3. Now, what to do if things go bad? Quite simply, we make sure that there is an easy way out of that situation before it turns awful. For example, if you’re playing with police style cuffs, always make sure you know where the key is, and that it’s easy to get to and use. Also, check out your cuffs beforehand. It’s illegal to sell police style cuffs in Canada that don’t have a safety catch that lets you undo them even without the key, so check to see if yours are of that type. It should be a tiny little lever-thingie right near the keyhole.

If instead you’re playing with rope, always make sure that you keep a pair of bandage scissors (you can get them in the first aid section at a drug store) handy that are strong enough to cut the rope you’re using quickly, and can get in between the skin and the rope binding it to cut the rope. However, with rope, you have another ally: cunning preplanning. Learn how to tie your partner up so that you don’t have to spend 30 minutes untying them to get to their wrists. Tie them up in small connected parcels that can be loosened and undone independently of each other, and you will lose far less rope to emergency cut-outs. And saving rope is virtue, didn’t you know?

Also, call me a worrywart, and a doomsayer, and anything else you want, but please do me one simple little favour. If you are playing all alone with your partner in your comfy bedroom (hold on, let me enjoy this delicious image for a second). Sorry, if you’re playing all alone with your partner, and you think that there might arise a situation in which your partner simply can’t get out of the bondage you put them in themselves, no matter how much they wiggle or squirm or struggle, please make sure that should the very worst happen they have someone within screaming for help range, or a phone that they can access, so that someone else can help them out if for whatever reason you can’t.

Now, the above covers most types of bondage situations that you’re likely to come across. One final thing to note however, is that every potential problem listed above is compounded and made far more urgent if suspension is involved. Now I myself don’t practice suspension bondage, and refuse to until I can get someone far more experienced than I am to teach me how to do it properly. While I recommend the same, I ask that if you don’t take that advice, you proceed very, very carefully. A person’s bodyweight pulling down on any point of bondage makes it potentially very dangerous, and cutting off airway and circulation can happen much faster, not to mention the fact that if you don’t do it right, the bottom can fall and injure themselves that way (if they’re lucky and escape the ropes/chains altogether instead of having them tangle around say… his or her neck).

I’ve now told you some bad things to look out for in the wonderful world of bondage. Hopefully this doesn’t stop you from surfing the internet and hitting Canadian Tire (Canada's answer to Home Depot) for your play nights; that would be a shame. But if, and this is unfortunate, the risks have turned you off playing with bondage at least for the moment, consider this rope and chain free solution: Have your bottom lean over the side of the bench, or lie flat on the bed, or stand or kneel exactly where you want them for whatever nefarious deeds you plan on enacting on them. Then, lean in close to their ear, and whisper, in your domliest voice: “Do. Not. Move. A muscle. Until I say you can.” Trust me on this one, in some ways this is the cruelest, and hawtest type of bondage that exists, and it’s far safer, too! (Physically, at least…)

Until next week, Mad the Safety Ranger Out.