We have all heard of “bondage” in sexuality culture – and books like Fifty Shades of Grey have brought bondage and discipline (almost) into the mainstream. It conjures up images of black leather, wrist cuffs, and spanking paddles. And for some of us (many in fact) who are not part of that scene, a little buzz of curiosity.
So lets clear a few things up: bondage only means restraint and it comes in a wide array of forms. It doesn’t require or need to cause pain and it most certainly shouldn’t be abusive.
Lots of people like the idea of being restrained, especially when having sex, or as part of foreplay. Giving up control can be a powerful aphrodisiac for men and women and can totally change the experience of sex and of a relationship. Too often we see sex as a physical act with orgasm as the goal – there is nothing wrong with that (good honest sex is my stock in trade and I love it), but it is only one part of the story of sexuality and sticking just to that may leave us missing out on interesting, exciting, and enjoyable experiences.
The first thing that you must have if you are going to explore bondage (or any fetish that takes you outside of your normal boundaries) is trust in the person you are doing it with. Trust is what lets you explore and have confidence that things won’t go too far, that limits will be respected, and when you say “enough” that your partner will respect your wishes.
Bondage comes in many different forms and like most things cerebral and emotional it “means” different things to different people. I would like to just introduce some basics here to give you a taste of some of the different styles of bondage.
The logical starting point is handcuffs (like a policeman might carry). They are virtually a cliche, but they are packed with symbolism and can be a (cheap) simple and effective way of restraining someone. Don’t forget that bondage is (mostly) about how it makes you (and your partner) feel, so the symbolism and cultural meaning in things like handcuffs can be a very big part of the experience. Also we can usually get away with having a pair of handcuffs in the bedside table (people can usually laugh that off), but it might be a little harder to explain cuffed spreader bars …
More advanced bondage of limbs comes from wrist and ankle cuffs. I won’t begin to try to explain the variety of products available out there, there is simply too much. The bottom line though is that wrist and ankle cuffs are great for serious players. They can look sexy, feel good, provide serious entertainment and pleasure through the ritual of buckles and clasps, and they are safe and easy to work with allowing for fast release of restraint when desired.
Rope is probably the oldest method of bondage and the shear variety of materials and techniques is overwhelming. As a rock climber and sailer I have a natural affinity for rope, so of all of the methods of bondage, I would have to say that it is the one that appeals most to me. I have recently been introduced (via the Xplore Sydney Festival) to the Japanese style of rope bondage called Shibari. As with most things Japanese Shibari has become a highly ritualised, formalised and studied art. I have read that it was derived from techniques used by Samuri to restrain captives.
Shibari goes beyond just restraint and makes binding the human body a work or art and beauty. Shibari requires significant time and effort to learn as a practitioner to be able to do it well and safely (this is a very important aspect of Shibari), especially for advanced work like this suspension piece shown to the left.
Ultimately bondage – however you practice it – is about having challenging yourself and your partner, exploring your boundaries, and most of all having fun. It can also be a good gateway to the fetish community, giving you the chance to discover a whole new world of erotic experiences and people.
If you are curious about bondage, then let me know. I would be happy to chat about it, or if you are feeling brave to make some light restraint a part of our date.