Bondage 101—Part 1: Bondage Basics

Saturday, February 6, 2010
By Domina Doll

Photos of mine: Fatale Femmes Fotography

Bondage Basics

Most people have experienced basic bondage in one way or another.  Whether it is your lover simply holding down your wrists while having sex, using a blindfold, or tying you to the bed with silks, bondage is not as taboo as it once was.

The term “Bondage” describes the practice of restraining for pleasure.  Bondage, while kinky for some, is only another type of sexual expression for many couples or play partners, even in vanilla relationships.

Visual Aesthetics

Photos of mine from Fatale Femmes Fotography

Bondage is a living art form with a strong historical bond to the aesthetics of artistic expression.  Like many aspects of the s/m subculture from fetish wear to the art of wielding of a whip, bondage has a unique visual appeal that is just as important as its practical purpose, which is to restrain.  A bound body has all the aesthetic design qualities of other modes of art in which the body becomes the canvas for the rope.  The bound body creates the form, accentuated by the intricate weave of rope that creates line and contrast, the two uniting to create a sublime and sensual symmetry.

The Marriage of Form with Function

Photos of mine from Fatale Femmes Fotography

As a visual manifestation of sexuality, bondage has many practical purposes, which is first and foremost to render the bound person powerless.  Bondage makes one vulnerable, allowing one to submit, to cross barriers and abandon inhibitions.  To some, this form of bondage places emphasis on the journey itself, on the means rather than the end.  Bondage is used for the sake of bondage alone, and not to prepare one for other forms of s/m.  It is employed to create a sense of stillness and time, to allow the bound one to submerge themselves within the mind and become introspective.

Other forms of bondage, however, include traditional sadomasochistic practises, with emphasis on pain, suffering, humiliation, and/or erotic stimulation which often accompany techniques like breast and genital torture, sensation play, the use of clamps, flogging and corporal punishment.  This form of bondage not only acts as a restraint against movement, but also heightens erotic sensation through the sense of touch.

Communication, Negotiation and Safe Words

Photos of mine from Fatale Femmes Fotography

But, before you jump right in to getting tied up, there are a few things you should know about bondage safety.  Communication is very important.  While I enjoy having my hands held down during sex, I would possibly freak out if someone bound me up, being very claustrophobic.  And, although I have allowed people to bind my wrists for practice in bondage workshops, it was with the knowledge that if I panicked, they’d untie me right away.

So make sure you communication your desires with your partner(s), as well as negotiate the type of bondage you are willing to try, the length of the session, and give yourself or your partner a safe word if they need for any reason to get out of their predicament.  It is also important to be able to untie or remove the binds very quickly in case someone does panic or the bondage starts to restrict blood flow or becomes potentially dangerous.  For that reason using slipknots when tying is useful, keeping the key to your handcuffs handy is important, and having safety scissors on hand is imperative for safety.

Bondage Safety

Photos of mine from Fatale Femmes Fotography

  • Always have safety scissors on hand in case of an emergency.
  • Learn as much as you can about a bondage technique before trying it.  Read, watch, practise and f possible get an experienced mentor to show you the ropes.  If you can’t go to a workshop, then buy some good books like The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage by Midori or Two Knotty Boys Showing You the Ropes.
  • Learn where the basic pulse points are located on the wrists, upper-inner thigh and throat and avoid crossing these with direct pressure from the ropes.
  • Ropes should fit snugly, but not too tight so as to avoid serious injury from loss of blood supply to the bound part.  You should be able to slip one to two fingers under the ropes.
  • Never bind rope around the front of someone’s throat.
  • Never leave someone bound alone.  Skin should be constantly observed for numbness, coldness, and discoloration as circulation decreases.
  • Test new bondage techniques for 10 to 15 minutes before trying longer time limits.
  • Agree upon a safeword before you begin.
  • Negotiate limits and only allow someone you know and trust to bind you.
  • Avoid severe or deep percussion play during breast bondage to avoid damage.
  • Avoid placing pressure on the Brachial Plexus nerve which runs along the back near the scapula (shoulder blade).

Stay tuned for next week for Bondage 101—Part 2 Bondage Toys

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