On Bondage

The more I talk to people about the kink and BDSM world, the more I realize how many people do not see this world the way I do. For some reason I was never cursed with feeling shame nor did I ever find my desires abnormal. I guess my parents didn’t do enough to make me feel bad about my body while I was growing up.

The desire to be tied up, liking certain types of pain, engaging in conscious power structures in relationships, being pansexual, always just felt natural to me. I was lucky in that I connected to both the LGBT and the kink communities early in my teens. This meant I was surrounded by people who fought for the right of others to be who they were when it came to gender and sexual orientations and sexuality in general. Not everyone is so lucky.

Today I want to talk about the “B” in BDSM. I like bondage. I understand that many people see images of bondage and have certain perceptions about what is going on in the scene. From what people have told me, many people see a woman tied up as a sign of male control and domination. They tend to view the actions that happen in the scene as something being forced on the woman. There is also a perception that there is a level of degradation involved in bondage scenes.

For me, and in my experience, none of those things are necessarily involved in bondage. Yes, they can be and are for some people, but not for me. For me, being bound creates a space for me to fully relax, to fully submit, and to fully focus on me. In that way bondage is very freeing for me.

Let me distinguish between two types of bondage. The first is bondage as art, most often this is shibari. The other type of bondage is more practical, less of an art form. I have practiced both, but prefer practical rope.

Shibari

Shibari tree

Image by: Garth Knight ©

Shibari is the art of Japanese rope typing. This type of rope involves intricate ties and knots done for beauty more than practicality. Oftentimes the subject is suspended as part of the tie. There is an art and ceremony to shibari that I enjoy. However, for me it is not erotic.

I have participated as the subject of shibari ties. The masters I have worked with who practice shibari create scenes that are meditative to me. Often there is dimmed light or the room is lit by candlelight. Music plays in the background but is not overwhelming. We involve a lot of protocol in these scenes: I dress or undress as instructed, I begin by kneeling and waiting for the master to enter, I keep my eyes averted from his, he positions me and I hold the positions for extended periods of time. I couple this with yogic breathing and I clear my mind. The end result is that being tied for a shibari tie is a period of meditation for me.

As with any meditation, the shibari process is grounding and centering to me. I may kneel for half an hour or more, breathing and letting extraneous thoughts leave my mind. I become very aware of being in my body. As the master binds me, I center and relax. Like yoga and meditation, there is nothing sexual about being tied like this for me. I enjoy the pictures of the end results and find beauty in them, but the scene itself is not sexual.

Practical Rope

The bondage I enjoy is more practical. Ropes, leather cuffs, paracord, chains or other things are used to bind me into positions that would otherwise be difficult to maintain for an extended period. In these scenes I am bound to secure me into a position and allow a level of comfort, but there is no great artistry in the binding. Things like circulation and protection of my joints is considered, as is access to certain parts of my body, but the beauty of the rope work is not the focus of the scene.

Practical bondage is the type of bondage familiar to most people. Most of us have seen someone handcuffed to a bedpost or someone tied to a bed using the widely available mattress bondage set with Velcro cuffs. This type of bondage is usually someone’s introduction to kink. It was mine… but it is not the be all end all of kink.

I am not bound as part of a scene very often. Most of the D-types I play with prefer the discipline of submission without bondage. Many of the scenes I participate in I do so without any form of restraint. Part of the appeal of this for both me and the D-type is that with each action and each moment of the scene, my submission is by choice. When I continue to submit, I reaffirm that my D-type is my focus and it is my desire to please him. It is a form of self-discipline to continue with the scene and it reaffirms that I desire to be with the D-type.

However, in scenes where I am unbound, I must consciously choose to continue with the scene throughout. As a scene progresses and my pain tolerance fatigues it becomes more difficult to continue. My reactions become exaggerated and I need more time between strikes or touches before I can take another one. The reality is that in a scene where I am unbound I tend to end the scene before I completely fatigue or reach a point of catharsis.

When I am bound, I get to concentrate just on me. I make one choice to submit at the point where I agree to be bound. After that, I only have to speak or make a choice if I need to end the scene before my D-type is ready. When I am bound I submit to more intense play and can reach catharsis in a way that is not possible if I am completely free.

I will request to be bound in certain circumstances. Sometimes I desire more intense play or I want a scene to be about my needs and desires and not have to concentrate on another person. In these cases my D-type will bind me and carry out the scene we have negotiated. This allows my D-type to push me to another level of submission or to release stress and tension in a way that is not possible in other circumstances.

I have a difficult time expressing intense emotions. I do not normally yell or scream. I do not cry particularly easily. These emotions get pent up inside me. There is something very cleansing about being able to yell and scream. For me, getting tied up and put through an intense impact scene allows these things to come out of me in a healthy manner. When I am finished, there is a level of peace and relaxation I experience that I cannot reproduce with any other activity.

Bondage also signals an increased level of trust for me. I do not let most people bind me. I don’t trust most people enough to notice if I need to be freed suddenly, I know most people don’t know about joint stress and circulation considerations to allow them to bind me. Agreeing to be bound, especially in a situation where we are alone requires a good amount of trust in that person.

My Reality vs. Perception

Bondage for me is a place of trust and release and focus on my needs. While I understand how outsiders can see a bondage scene and assume I am being forced to do things against my will, that has never been the case. Yes, occasionally I will ask to be bound so that I can be pushed through an experience that would be very difficult to submit too. However, in those instances I have negotiated the scene, discussed my needs and desire for the scene with my D-type and discussed possible triggers during the scene that would require stopping early. Like many people, occasionally I start something then began to rethink my decision. Even bound I have the option to stop a scene with a safe word. However, being bound reduces my probability of using a safe word and allows me to push further into an experience.

My bondage is not everyone’s bondage. I have friends who enjoy being bound and then engaging in humiliation. I know people who enjoy being bound and allowing their D-type to run a scene that has minimal negotiation and they do not know what is coming. That is their dynamic.

It’s important for outsiders to remember that bondage has many meanings and dynamic for people. There is no “one size fits all” bondage. Additionally, for those interested in engaging in bondage, please do a bit a research. You can really harm someone with a bad bondage scene. At a minimum, if you are using any rope or fabric, invest in safety scissors and have them available during the scene. Learn about circulation and pressure points. Talk to the person being bound about injuries and physical limitations. Take a few classes.

Bondage can be amazing. For me it is freeing and grounding. I get a lot out of it. This is something I have figured out after years of practice and experimentation with people who are trained and skilled in this area. It might be for you, it might not. Reserve judgment until you have tried it a few times!

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