Art by Kott0n_K4ndy

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MTSR #7: What Has Its Gots in Its Pocketses?

(Originally posted on FetLife way back in 2011)

Toys! Everyone loves to talk about toys, right? Now I know you've all thought it. You're out somewhere play-friendly, and someone brings out a particularly delicious-looking flogger, or nipple torture device, or puppy-shaped hood, and you desperately want to know: What other wonderful things do they have in there?

Gee. Well, my toybag has a couple of floggers. They're very basic things. My nipple torture devices are called “clothespins”, and I have no leather hoods. (I do have a couple of gags, though) Mostly, my bags has a lot of rope, and string, and ribbon, and teeny bits of leather, and some other small pokey and smackey and inserty and vibratey things. I'm disgustingly low-tech. In fact, I'm willing to bet that between Shopper's Drug Mart and Canadian Tire, you could find 95% of what I use for play (or at least the materials to make them.)

I also have some other things in there, things that you might not have thought of adding to your ever-increasing play materials collection. They're --please insert gasp of surprise here-- safety ranger type things. And just to get you thinking about what you could or should be including in your own bags, I'm going to take you on a virtual tour of some of them.

  • Condoms and lots of lube: “But Mad, you don't have a penis, why do you need condoms?” Well, I will tell you, random naysayer type person. I'm a feminist and so believe that anyone who is even considering engaging in sex with a penis (on either end) should carry their own condoms. But that's not the main reason I carry them. If I wrap up any insertable toys that I might like to use on someone in a condom, then I know that should I choose to also play with someone else, or enjoy that same toy myself, I'm not doing any unwanted sharing of bodily fluids. And lube is a must, especially for toys that are ... larger ... than the average, or that are going to be inserted where the more traditional sun don't shine. Don't underestimate the power of lube!

  • First Aid Kit: Seems obvious, right? I mean, we're often engaging in a lot of hurting each other, deliberately! I'm always surprised to see that people who are deliberately beating each other to happy pulps don't carry so much as a bandaid with them. One thing that I always add to a kit if I get a commercially prepared one is a tube of Polysporin burn ointment. It's an antiseptic, but it also has a topical painkiller that's really nice for unintentional surface scrapes or rope burn and a million other little owies.

  • EMT/Bandage Scissors: These are special scissors that are smooth, rounded and curved upward on the bottom half, so that they can slide underneath clothes without hurting the skin if they need to be cut off in an emergency. I call them my bondage scissors. I never do any type of bondage without having hem within easy and immediate reach. Really, if there is an emergency that required someone being cut out of ropes _right friggin now_, I'm not gonna want to worry about whether my quite probably shaking hands are going to cause extra damage while I'm cutting the rope. Love the bondage scissors. Another Shopper's find, by the way, in their first aid section.
  • Individually wrapped, snack sized chocolate bars: Hersheys, to be specific. (No real reason, I just like Hershey.) You'd think that if you're doing a lot of play, the top is going to be the one who gets really, really tired, right? I mean, it's her arm doing all the flogging, after all! In intense scenes, the bottom is going through much, much more of a workout, believe it or not, even if shes just lying there all tied up being beaten on. The human body is a crazy miraculous thing, and it has some pretty cool defense mechanisms to stressors (like getting hit!) Endorphins flood the system, which gives her some lovely temporary endurance and a happy, glowy feeling. This is good ,because it will make her come back for more! But it also has consequences. When the play slows, and things come to an end, the happy neurotransmitters fade out, too, and that leaves some deficits. (This is what people often refer to as 'sub drop', but I usually just call it 'crashing'.) When you're in the 'high' part, your body will forget to tell you that you're thirsty or hungry, and your body will be burning fuel at a higher rate at the same time. So it can leave you a bit dehydrated, and with low blood sugar. If your bottom has got a teeny bit of a tremor, this is probably the case. Thus, my chocolates. They've got instant access sugar, melt quickly in your mouth, last forever in the package, and really, who doesn't love chocolate?

  • A microfleece blanket: This doesn't need to be microfleece, of course, I just love them because they're soft, and cuddly, pack up really small and keep you insanely warm. When someone is in one of those lovely crashes described above, they also lose heat really fast. So be a nice top, and give her lots of aftercare, including yummy blankie cuddles, okay?

  • Bendy straws: I might have mentioned a few times that I like rope. If I haven't, I do! I love rope, and tying people up, especially pretty girls. Sigh. Well, since I don't like my bottoms dehydrating on my, I like to keep them well cough watered. And let me tell you, it's kind of hard to drink when you're tied to the stripper pole with your arms behind you and doing some weird splits type thing. So, I always pack bend straws. I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to find water where I'm playing, but especially if you're at a play party at someone's private dungeon, there's never a guarantee of straws. If you're into humiliation, I suggest using Princes Power Puff bendy straws to feed your butcher bottoms. What's that? I'm evil? Well, thank you!
I have a lot more things in my bag, especially when I'm packing it for more specific play, but what I need and what you need are not going to be exactly the same, because I'm never going to play exactly like you. I hope, though, that this has got you thinking about some things that you should have, but have never considered. If you want more ideas, most of the better “Beginner's guide to BDSM” type books have some nice lists of things to pack. Check them out!

-Mad the Safety Ranger has left the building.

Friday, December 2, 2011

MTSR # 6 : Consent is Sexy!

Last year,  I was tucked into a textbook, doing some research in the campus Women's Centre because, well, they have the comfiest couches on campus. A rather scruffy looking hippie boy who I later learned was named Matt came in shortly after I did and handed me a pamphlet titled “Consent is Sexy.” Apparently, he had booked the space for a workshop of the same name, due to start in 30 minutes, and did I want to attend? Well, let me tell you. There was no way in hell I was going to give up my spot on the comfy couch, so I said “Sure, why not?”

Now Matt had obviously put a lot of time, research and effort into his presentation but an hour of inanity followed. The basic premise of the presentation was that if your partner does not explicitly tell you before and frequently during sex that he or she wants or still wants to be having sex with you, then it is rape. This was followed by a fun-filled interactive game of “How someone might be telling you 'no'.” Ironically, in our tiny little pocket of subculture, many of the above mentioned ways to say no usually mean “NOW we're having a good time!” (note: “Ow! Fuck, that hurts!” is only green when you're kinky, otherwise it's a sign that you're doing it wrong.)

To be clear, I think that it's a Very Good Thing that we know when someone is telling us that they don't want us to fuck them. Seriously, all this stuff that we do is so much sexier when we have a willing victim (erm, I mean, partner). What upset me about the presentation was how sex negative the whole thing was. For a talk entitled 'consent is sexy', it made consent seem very, very unsexy. There were, according to the workshop, many many ways to say 'no' to sex, but only one way (verbally, explicitly, and immediately before the act) to say yes. And in case you're wondering, the answer to my question “So, are you saying that negotiated nonconsent has no place in a healthy sexual relationship?” was a resounding “no.”

I find is extremely sad that in a culture where communication is quite literally global, immediate, and far far easier than it has ever been in the history of the human race, people seem to have forgotten how to do it. For God's sake, talk to your partner, or your potential partner. Negotiating a scene doesn't have to mean sitting down with a list and a contract and quibbling over every little bit. Sit, and chat about what turns you on, and what really really doesn't. Be sure to mention which of these things is fantasy, and which you actually *do* want to become reality. Tell each other naughty stories, play 20 questions, have a round of truth or dare! Communication is body language, tone, inflection, gestures, all of these things at once. And be honest about reading these things in other people, if you're not sure what they meant, ask. And remember that we all make mistakes. If things go poorly because you misread your partner, stop, take a breath and talk about it. Don't get angry, or defensive, or even worse, offensive. That just takes all the fun out of it, and damnit, I like fun!

Consent, in and of itself, however, is useless. Ask the ethics board at your local hospital. In order to really consent to something, you need to know what it is that you're consenting to. For the vanilla crowd to which the 'sexy' workshop was geared, this means things like knowing that your partner is HIV positive, your girlfriend being honest when she tells you that she's on the pill, and knowing the risks of STI transmission that you're taking by fucking her without a condom on.

In our little corner of sexcapade-ville, things get a little more complicated. A lot of the time, a bottom won't want to know that the top they're playing with will flog them for exactly 15 minutes before moving on to the paddle, then the crop, and for a little break, will be rubbing ice cubes down her back, then invading her with Big Giant Big Boy Buttplug while she kneels in a vat of rice pudding. It ruins the surprise. But she still has the right to be able to consent to playing with MrPuddingTop, and part of that consent is being informed. Not of what exactly he is going to do, but definitely a range of things that he might do (If her hard limit is anything involving rice products, she's in for a nasty surprise!)

The key to all aspects of this consent is communication. Getting to know your play partners, from them, and from other people who've played with them is a big part of it. The other part is learning what risks are inherent in what you're going to do. This applies to the top and to the bottom. The only way that either of you are truly going to be able to consent to whatever fun play you have planned, or are hoping for is if you know what could possibly happen if you do it. I know, whenever I climb onto my bike there's a chance I might crash, that when I step into a sparring ring I might get pummelled and wind up with a concussion. I know these things, but I choose to do them anyway. I wear a helmet, an a mouthguard, so that *if* those things happen, the damage is minimal, but I accept them as risks of the activities that I choose to do.

This is the reason that I chose to write these articles. Not to tell people not to do any of the lovely kinky things that they might want to try. Instead, just let me sleep a little easier knowing that when you do choose to do them, you choose with your eyes open to the risks involved, and maybe with a bit of knowledge about how they can be minimized. If I've done that for you, then my work is done here, and that, my friends, is very, very sexy.

-Mad the Safety Ranger out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

MTSR #5: Cleanliness is Next to Hawtliness

Once upon a very long time ago, I was asked a question about a “proper” way to clean toys. Yay for questions! While “my way” is by no means the only or best way to minimize the risks of accidentally giving your play partners 'extra bonuses' when you play, in my not-at-all humble opinion the best way involves either getting new toys for each person you play with, or having an autoclave in your kitchen. If you don't happen to be made of that much money, feel free to try my way, if you like. I won't even charge you a user's fee.

A brief little blurb about pathogens, since this is obviously what we're trying not to pass on (I suppose it's __possible__ that pregnancy can occur by sharing a flogger in some very intimate ways, but I'm going to let someone else talk about ways of preventing that, okay?) Most (not all! Hep C, for example, can live all safe and happy on surfaces for up to four frigging days!) but most pathogens do not survive for very long outside their host body _unless_, and pay close attention here because this is the point of this paragraph, they have some small part of that body to keep them all safe and cozy and warm. That small part is usually a bodily fluid like blood, or mucus, or semen, etc... Think of that fluid as acting like the little bag of aquarium water you bring a goldfish home in, except that it's a bag for chlamydia instead.

The goal when you're cleaning toys that might break skin or otherwise come into contact with broken skin or other high risk areas is actually two mini-goals: We want to remove and/or kill off all the pathogens that we can, and then we want to make the area as toxic and inhospitable for whatever sneaky little buggers we might have missed so that they too will die a horrible, horrible death.

Now, I'm a bit lazy, so if, say, I want to use an insertable on more than one person, I'll generally just wrap it up in a condom. Otherwise, my method for cleaning toys is as follows:

1. Wash it down with a foaming, mild antibacterial soap. I like Softsoap antibacterial. If there are nooks or crannies in it, consider using a fingernail brush to get into the hideyholes. Rinse or wipe down well.

2. Spray or wipe down with a 10% peroxide solution.

3. Let dry completely. Yes, Virginia, this is a separate step. Allowing the peroxide to evaporate is the way to make sure it's done it's job. If we remember our little terrifying lesson from the first paragraph, the longer the better here.  Like, as in, days longer.

4. Rinse well or wipe down with baby wipes to remove any residue that could irritate the skin. Please note that this is my step _#4_, baby wipes alone do not come anywhere near a safe enough cleaning method for toys that could potentially create fluid exchange.

Ta-da! That's it! I deliberately didn't say that this is a way to sterilize your toys. Nothing short of that kitchen autoclave I mentioned above really is. But I've done quite a bit of research, and this is the method that stuck with me as a good balance between being pretty dang effective and also fairly easy to do.

“But Mad!” you say, “Some of the toys that I want to clean are leather! Won't the peroxide dry out my leather and make it all yukky and cracky?”

Honestly, peroxide will dry out leather, and this will lead to it becoming damaged, but if I had a leather singletail that had drawn blood I'd still do all the steps listed above to it, *despite* it being made of leather. That being said, as soon as the peroxide evaporated, I'd be all over that whip to reverse the damage I might have done to it. For me, that would mean a nice lathering with saddle soap (the Dove bar of leather soaps) and a finish up with some leather conditioner. It's worth it to me to make sure I'm not adding any special treats to my partner's play experience.

If I may for a very quick moment before I leave you today return to my chlamydia-in-vaginal-fluid-as-goldfish-in-bag-of-aquarium-water analogy, goldfish may live for a while in there, but at least it's not as long as they would if you brought them home and put them in your nice, big aquarium with food and a filter and maybe a cute little pirate ship at the bottom. If you're on the fence, and wondering whether you need to go through my 4 steps of superhawt cleanliness, consider how long it's going to be before that toy is going to be used on someone else. If it never is, then leave that blood drop caked on there for all I care, use it as a badge of honour! If the answer's in two weeks, then maybe wiping it down carefully and hanging it out to dry is enough. If it's going to touch someone else later tonight, you bet your ass that you should do all 4 steps. And also know that even those may not be enough.   That is if, of course, if you want my learned advice. If not, then why are you reading this article anyway?

Yours in squeaky clean hawt kinkiness until next time,

Mad the Safety Ranger

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

MTSR 4.5: Dealing With Disclosure (RE: BDSM and Abuse)

I had the pleasure of checking out a new blog for the first time the other day and was gratified to see that the first post I came across was an advice piece, discussing what you could do if someone you know is being abused in a BDSM context. The author described what he would do, and has done, as a response to a disclosure. The gist of it seemed to me to be that he would get a written record of the events, verify that it can legally be classified as abuse, check to see if any other people have claimed that this person has assaulted or abused them, and if so, whether or not they have pressed charges against him or her. If he could find corroboration for the victim’s claims that they have been abused, then publicly (within his local scene) he would state his concerns about this person’s potentially abusive behaviour.

 The goal, as far as I can tell, is to keep people in your kinky community safe from potentially abusive behaviour, and to ensure that no one is unwittingly exposed to someone that you know has been abusive in the past. I am, of course, all in favour of not tolerating abusive behaviour, and of not hiding or protecting people who behave in this completely unacceptable fashion. You can find the original post here

It has me mightily conflicted. In fact, it had me thinking pretty hard about whether or not I want to reply at all. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am far too fond of the sound of my own voice, and the look of my own written words, so clearly the impulse to stay mum on the subject has been overruled! Here’s why the choice was a tricky one, though:
   I am glad that someone is discussing “breaking the silence” when it comes to abusive situations in BDSM relationships.  (I won’t get into what constitutes abuse in a BDSM context here, but if you’d like to see my opinion, feel free to take a gander at my post on the matter) The absolute WORST thing that we as a kinky community can do is to pretend that abuse just doesn’t ever happen here. I am glad that this post is up, and hope that it gets people thinking about what we can do to make sure that we have zero tolerance for abuse in our midst.

That being said, if someone in my local area disclosed to me that they felt that they were being abused in their current BDSM relationship, I would do none of the things listed in the post above. Not. A. One.  Now, I’m not saying that what I would do is the “right” thing, and I’m certainly not saying that the approach detailed in this post is wrong.  Not by a long shot. What I think I can do, though, is to offer my perspective as a woman, a feminist, a switch, and someone with a background in sexual assault and domestic violence activism and crisis intervention.
        Author’s note: During the course of this article, I will be using the feminine pronoun to refer to the person disclosing during the rest of this post. This is not because I think that men cannot be victims of abuse. It is mostly for ease of communication, and partly because statistically speaking, women are five times more likely to be a victim of dating violence or sexual assault than men are. I will be using the masculine pronoun for the abuser. Again, while statistics are on my side, (98% in this case!) I don’t discount that women can also be abusers. Consider this a single example, not a generalization,  if you would be so kind.
                     My personal  philosophy, when hearing a disclosure of assault or abuse, is not to question whether or not they are lying, or whether or not it is legally classifiable as abuse.  If someone is choosing to tell me about their experience, I choose to take her account at face value. Chances are good that I am the first person that she has told, and undoubtedly my reaction will affect how or if she chooses to disclose to other people. I have the luxury of not being in any way shape or form involved in the criminal justice system. I don’t need any corroborating evidence, I don’t need to decide whether her treatment is harassment (a civil rights violation) or assault (a criminal offense). Because I am free of all that, I can simply be someone who will listen—really listen— to her. If I do nothing else but I’m able to convey to her the messages “I believe you,” and “it’s not your fault,” then I will have done enough.  If you think those things are self-evident, then consider how many times you’ve heard statements like “she’s just mad because he dumped her, so she’s lying about him to get even.” Or “If things were so bad, why didn’t she just leave?” or “if she hadn’t gotten drunk, or worn those clothes, then she wouldn’t have gotten raped.” We live in a culture of victim blaming, and slut shaming, and that isn’t even ACCOUNTING for the stigma that people who practice BDSM face from society at large and law enforcement in particular.
      I have mentioned that I’m a switch. As a switch, I have my “toppy” moments, and especially in those moments I’m not immune to what I like to call “White Knight-itis.” I’ve had impulses that have ranged from wanting to show up on his doorstep with a baseball bat, through whisking her away right then and there to somewhere he can never find her or hurt her, to shouting his name from every kinky rooftop I can find so that no one falls for his shit ever again. In other words, I’ve wanted to sweep in, take control, and save the day. It’s very, very tempting, but I never do.
     You see, abuse is all about power. Not the delightful game of power exchange, freely offered and respectfully taken, but about forcibly and non-consensually changing the situation until the abuser has all the power and the abused has none. And for her to begin to really, truly heal, she needs to wrest that power back. That doesn’t come from my swooping in and saving the day.  That comes from her swooping in and saving her own day.

 With this in mind I deliberately push all white-knightly impulses away and instead I create an empowering environment for her to work in. I will help her determine what her options are, but I deliberately do not offer an opinion about which option she should take. The ONLY time that I will break that rule I set for myself is if she or someone else is in imminent, serious danger, if I think that she will seriously hurt herself, or if this situation is actively endangering a child. Those are deal breakers and I will intervene if she won’t take definitive action. Period. Fortunately I haven’t yet encountered any of those situations. I’m up-front about the fact that those are my exceptions, though— my “hard limits,” so to speak.

If she is considering reporting the abuse to the police, I will try and help her understand what the process will be like, and what she will have to do. If she think that it is important for members of the local community to be warned about his behaviour (especially likely if she knows that he has hurt others), then I will help her come up with a plan of action. The key, for me, is to show her that she has options, and choices, and to help empower her to take the actions that she feels are the right ones for her at that particular point in time. As much as good tops can seem psychic at times, no one will ever know what is right for her better than she does. And as much as I can feel concerned about others who might fall prey to the same thing, this is not my story to share, and at this particular moment, the person who is most important is the person I’m talking to. I choose not to take any steps to protect others at the expense of taking away what precious little power she feels she has left.

That being said, I’m not a robot, and I can’t promise not to actively cheer (with virtual pom-poms) if she decides to take steps to make sure the bastard is locked up or banned from of ClubKinkyHawtSexiness for life! The key word, though, is choose. She has to choose it. This is her story, and her battle, and I will not fight it for her. That is *my* choice, and it’s a personal one. If someone discloses to you, then you will have to make your own choices about how to handle it, but hopefully I’ve helped you see that there are more ways than one for you to do so.

Mad the Safety Ranger Out.

Friday, September 30, 2011

MTSR #4: Know The Difference -- BDSM vs. Abuse

 I was given an opportunity a few months ago to attend a week-long set of online seminars on domestic violence and abuse in the Leather/BDSM/Kinky/Fetish (I'm just going to use BDSM from now on, for short) community. What I heard there persuaded me to change somewhat the focus of this article. Most people attending were able to describe different types of abuse, and how they might manifest in a relationship. But a surprising number seemed to think that there was a very fine line between consensual power exchange and abuse, and many were unsure and/or unwilling to say even generally where that line was. I heard things like “something that would be seen as heavy abuse in a vanilla relationship could be just mild abuse in a BDSM one” and “but if someone has already agreed to submit to a dom, then it's not really abuse at all, is it?” Seriously? Mild abuse? Is that like “mostly dead” or “a little bit pregnant?”

Abuse can be present in any relationship, and the BDSM community is not magically immune to it. Men can be abused by their girlfriends and wives, tops can be abused by their bottoms, and vanilla folks can abuse their partners, too. Originally, that was going to be my focus, a slightly-tongue-in-cheek look at whether it might be better after all to pull a “Mysteriously Vanishing Mad” (named after me and my tendency to fall off the edge of the cyber-Earth from time to time.)

Instead, I want to take a bit of a look at some specific types of abuse and how consensual power exchange can resemble it, and then a look at how they're really not the same thing at all! I will call this section “Good Top / Bad Top” and will do my very best not to go too Dr. Seuss on you while doing it.

Abuse can take many forms, including physically striking, threats, namecalling, isolating and controlling. Oh, but wait a minute, I've done all of those things, and had them done to me, and wow- that was just a damn good kinky time! And lemme tell you something else, those damn good kinky times that I was talking about? Not abuse. So does that mean that as long as the people involved have already consented to power exchange in their relationship, nothing that they do to each other can actually be considered abuse? Don't be silly, if that were the case, I wouldn't need my “Bad Top” section, now would I?

Good Top/ Bad Top

Let's take a look at the different types of abuse,(Physical, Verbal/Emotional, Sexual, Neglect/Isolation, Financial and Spiritual) and then I'll try and give an example of how a healthy BDSM relationship can sometimes look like this on the outside but still be abuse free, and what a truly abusive similar situation might look like.

Physical Abuse:

Good Top, or GT, as I like to call him, is aware of his bottom's reactions and tolerances to pain, or is working slowly to discover them. He might push toward those limits but if so, is mindful of his bottom's reactions to that pushing, and is willing to stop if those start to become negative. He trusts his bottom to let him know, via safeword or some other means of communication, if she needs to stop play. He provides after care in a mutually decided upon manner, from water and cuddles and talk time, to a more formal chat later on, whichever style suits both people involved.

Bad Top, forevermore known as BT, might hurt to harm or to punish. He might hurt because he thrives off seeing his bottom in pain, or it might be just that he doesn't give any care or credence to his bottom's limits or feelings. BT has been known to dismiss his bottom as being a whiny baby or a just plain bad slave if she tells him that she is not enjoying or doesn't consent to his style of pain “play.” It's not uncommon for him to convince her that if she decided to complain to anyone in the BDSM community, she would never be able to get another top because she'd be labelled a “bad submissive.”

Verbal/Emotional Abuse:

GT is keyed in to how a bit of embarrassment can turn into huge amounts of hawtness for both her and her lucky bottom. (No kidding! Do you remember that night with the doggie collar and “bad dog” written on his side in grease pencil, dayum sexy! But I digress). She also knows that name-calling and humiliation play are tricky business, and she treats them with care. Because she and her bottom have open lines of communication, she is careful to try and pick scenarios that cause both embarrassment and arousal to her bottom, not ones that belittle his sense of self. The goal of the play (besides getting them both all sweaty and horny) is to build, not tear down, the bottom's self-esteem. Now, GT isn't psychic, and occasionally she might go too far, or get it wrong, but she trusts her bottom enough to ask him often for feedback when in a neutral and non-judgemental position, and to continue to keep his best interests in mind.

BT wants her bottom to feel emotionally dependent on her. To do this, she attacks the things he feels are most important to him, belittling and dismissing him. He is most definitely not turned on by this, but she might be too keyed in to her own arousal to notice. She doesn't care to get his feedback on the scene, or if she does, she doesn't think that it should affect the way she “plays.” Her bottom's sense of self and self-esteem continue to free-fall throughout the relationship, and she might even like that, since it gives her even more control over him.

Sexual Abuse

This one's a tough one. A lot of TPE (Total Power Exchange) relationships include some type of idea that the top can initiate sex with the bottom even if the bottom “isn't in the mood.” A lot of times, both partners find this thought very sexy (very VERY sexy!), but does that mean that sexual assault can't happen in a TPE relationship? This is another case where we can't just look at the act itself, but we have to look at the reasons behind it. In this case, what is the reason for the bottom to submit to the sexual advances if she's not in the mood? GT's bottom freely submits, and chooses to, knowing that she has the power to end the play at any time but chooses not to. BT can't get that type of submission because it's never freely given. He might impose himself on her through physical force, or simply through fear that if she doesn't comply something horrible (and nonconsensual) will happen to her, ranging from him leaving her forever, to killing her or someone she cares about. Kind of lacks the finesse of power exchange, doesn't it? More like power I'll take what you won't give me by force thankyouverymuch.


There's a huge difference between telling your bottom that he can't go to the movies with his buddies tonight because he still hadn't finished his list of chores you gave him, and telling him he can't answer his sister's panicked phone message that she thinks she's having a miscarriage. Top and bottom can negotiate how much control the top has in the bottom's life, but GT's bottom trusts that his top will keep his best interests and priorities in mind.

GT wants a relationship with a happy, healthy, sane and well-adjusted bottom, and knows how important a support structure of family and friends are to maintain that. She would never demand that he abandon them completely, (though she might curb his tendency to be at Cousin Bertie's beck and call, who makes her bottom so mad he pukes for hours after talking to him.)

BT knows that the more isolated and alone her bottom is, the more he will be completely dependent on her. She will be continually trying to find ways to keep family and friends away from him.

Financial Abuse

BT has complete control over the finances in the relationship. He makes her hand over all her paycheques and not a cent gets spent without his approval. If his bottom can't even get bus fare without his approval, how can she ever leave him, right?

GT might have a (consented-to) agreement that says the exact same thing: the Top controls all the finances in the relationship. In reality, though, the money remains accessible by both members of the relationship, and it is up to the bottom to choose to only do with it what her top decides. It then becomes up to GT to make sure that the money gets used in a responsible manner, that bills get paid and the bottom's well-being is being looked after, and any remaining funds (originating from the bottom) are put into a savings for the bottom or some other agreed-upon fund, not the top's pocket to spend on a shiny new leather jacket.

Spiritual Abuse

BT might attack or belittle her bottom's spiritual beliefs, or insist that he follow her own church or even a cult. This is way not cool.

GT doesn't even go near that shit. A person's spirituality is part of their core system of beliefs and is not open to negotiation. Nope, never. (Did I remember to say that is way not cool?)

I hope this helps clear a little of the mystery away between what is abuse and what is just us kinky folk being kinky. To me, there really isn't any type of fine line, the difference is there, and it's huge. Like, pink elephant in the room huge. You might have noticed a common theme present in all the “Good Top” examples that was markedly lacking in the Bad Top's. It's all about three things: respect, trust, and communication, and if those babies aren't there, then your BDSM relationship is in the toilet anyway. Sorry to have had to be the one to break it to ya.

If you feel that you are in an abusive relationship, (and keep in mind that you are the only one who can tell this, no one else can tell you for you) then there are people who are there for you and who can help. In Canada, is a great place to start, and if you're in the states, the National Leather Association's Domestic Violence Program has a fantastic amount of resources available to help you. Remember, abuse is against the law.

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.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

MTSR #2: Mmmm,.. Fluids!

I love bodily fluids. Boy, howdy!

Sadomasochists playing so hard that their shirts are drenched completely in sweat make me get all tingly.

Hard, straining cocks dripping pre-come is an image of many of my fantasies.

A sexy woman who’s so horny that she soaks not only through her underwear but right through her jeans, who wouldn't love to see that?

A pair of leatherboys who delight each other on first meeting by noticing that one is flagging yellow right and the other left, and decide to take a quick detour into a bathroom stall for a nice little golden shower getting-to-know-you private event–yummy!

That cute androgynous bottom so lost in the moment that he is beyond noticing the drool and snot pooling around the huge ball gag clamped firmly in his teeth makes everyone want him (or possibly want to be him.)

A hawt drag princess with a needle corset pulled so tightly that the blood from the wounds starts to stain the pretty ribbon laced in between them–any one of these is pretty much guaranteed to give me a metaphorical hard-on.

Because I’m such a greedy fluids slut, many of the above delicious drippings are likely to show up in a scene in which I participate. And this means that I like to know exactly what risks I’m taking with any behaviours that involve said lovely fluids.

Let’s start with semen. You remember sex ed in school, right? Semen carries sperm, that can make babies. It can also carry little nasties that cause wonderful STIs like chlamydia, and AIDS, and hepatitis, and, and…

Well. D’uh. Fortunately, semen comes exclusively from the penis. And we all listened in sex ed (right?) so we know. We either keep little mister awesome in his rain jacket, or we choose to share his ..quirks…with all of his partners. We all know what constitutes high risk sex, low risk sex, risk free se…abstinence. We’ve heard it a million times before. For one-on-one vanilla sex at least. But them vanilla folks, they have no idea how marvellous the whole gamut of bodily fluids can be. Or how dangerous.

So, here are a few pointers for the rest of us, who like things a little more rocky road:

Let’s warm up with a nice, lovely, lower risk fluid, shall we? Urine: pee, piss golden showers, whatever you want to call it, it’s a huge turn-on to many, many people. Now, there’s this saying that’s going around. Oh, everyone knows you can share piss all you want, it’s sterile! This is a lovely example of everyone NOT knowing, but blindly repeating what they heard from someone else. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you are going to wrap your mouth around an unprotected cock and suck down either urine or semen, swallowing the pee is far safer.

The pH of urine is inhospitable to many microorganisms. One hugely positive note: there are no documented cases of HIV being transmitted through urine. (blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk being the virus’s carriers in the body) This does not mean that you should consider urine a stronger tasting version of Gatorade. Hepatitis B, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea can survive in small amounts in urine, as can the bacteria present in a urinary tract infection. Another thing to keep in mind, if you are the mind-expanding type: some drugs, particularly hallucinogens like peyote, can pass un-metabolized through the urine. So you might be getting an extra tasty surprise! Personally, I love piss play, and I think it’s a good, happy wholesome activity in which to participate. However, I like the idea of participating with a full knowledge of what I’m getting into. To quote the immortal G.I. Joe of my childhood: “Now you know. And knowing is half the battle!”

What about vaginal fluid? Apart from pregnancy, realize that it carries much the same risks as semen. It *can* carry viruses like Hep C, HIV, and other little nasties and especially if you have a cut in your mouth, it can pass those things on. Quick handy hint? If you don’t feel like taking those chances, a flavoured condom with the tip cut off and split up the side makes a tastier grapey (or chocolatey) alternative to saran wrap or a dental dam.

Okay, so. We’re warmed up now, right? Let’s move on to the heavy hitter: blood. As superhot as the vampy fantasy of digging your teeth into your lover’s neck until it oozes red, and licking off the drippage is, we all know that this is high-risk behaviour. Everyone knows what we are possibly taking into our body with that lovely coppery red. But what about situations when we might not know we’re trading that possibly deadliest of deadlies? Those sadomasochists among us like hurting each other. We beat and flog, and hit, and tie, and cut, and scratch, and bruise each other. And sometimes, just sometimes, we draw blood. Even worse- sometimes we don’t know we have.

There’s a convention followed by many with a taste for a bit of protocol that if you draw blood with a cane on someone, that the cane then belongs to them, and can be used on no one else. When we stop to think about it, we do care about sharing blood, and we don’t ever want to do it inadvertently. So my advice here is simple. Better to be safe than to be sorry. If you have an insertible that you’re using on more than one person, you put a condom on it, right? (and if you don’t –you should!) Well, if you have a toy that has a chance of drawing blood, whether or not you think you have, sterilize it as best you can between uses! Give it a good hard scrub, and then a once over with bleach or peroxide, and let it dry out for a few days between uses when feasible. And make sure that your needles go into a sharps container, not the trash can! (You can get these at any pharmacy that sells diabetes supplies, and they’ll even take it back to dispose of properly once it’s full – how’s that for service?).

This kinky stuff we do is risky, we know that, this is part of what makes it so damn sexy. But let’s be sure we know what those risks we’re taking are, so we can choose them with eyes wide open.

Mad the Safety Ranger Out.