Issue 17: Playing Safe
by Summer Teodosio
Photos by Madison Grayman
You’ve picked your partner. You’ve negotiated your scene. You’ve chosen your safeword. But did you ask yourself the most important question?
“Am I going to physically survive what I just signed myself up for?”
If your answer is no, you aren’t alone. Among the male subs I interviewed the consensus is that when they were first starting out it was “balls to the wall.”
“I simply plunged straight in, still young, naive, and reckless,” Christopher (Khoisan Fisher in SL) says about his early days as a sub. This common, but extremely dangerous, practice doesn’t take into account STDs, beating or caning injuries, HIV, bacteria on play toys, being restrained until circulation is inhibited, and a multitude of other health risks. For instance, one sub told me that he contracted a UTI from a denial regimen of five months with a Domme who actually forgot she had him on it.
Consider play partner medical issues before engaging in a scene. Those people with asthma, diabetes, fibromyalgia, or joint problems have special needs as far as a scene goes. Obviously asthmatics cannot be gagged in case of an attack. Their chest constricts and they can’t breathe.
“I have asthma,” said submissive Heather Steampunk. “I couldn’t be gagged in a way I can’t breathe, because that is an instant panic for me; if you do not tell your Domme that, it’s going to be an issue.”
Rope play according to the Open Minded Health website (http://openmindedhealth.com), is tricky. Don’t restrain diabetics as circulation is already an issue. Never bind someone’s neck or joints. Airways get restricted and joints suffer permanent damage. Watch for tingling or burning sensations, rope burn (how you going to explain that at the office?), or a faint feeling if you are standing (could lead to a bad fall). Always have a good sharp pair of scissors on hand to release someone who is in distress. Never leave anyone alone who is bound.
Gagging must be carefully managed. The gagged person could vomit and lose his air supply. The nose could be clogged. Lack of oxygen to the brain only takes 5 minutes for someone to die. Brain cells begin to die immediately after the oxygen supply disappears. Warning signs are bluish skin, pale skin, or cold temperature.
Never play when drinking alcohol or using mind altering drugs. Both parties can sort of be “checked out” and not mindful of personal safety as the senses are dimmed. Someone could turn up the next day with a aching or torn bum or vagina that requires a trip to the hospital.
Speaking of alcohol, wipe down all of your play toys with rubbing alcohol before and after use.
I spoke with experienced Domme, Miss Destiny Teardrop, who was adamant on several points. Communication is the number one priority for both parties to engage in BEFORE any play commences. She always discusses with boys “ their fantasy and their experience, to establish the difference between the two – and there often is a vast difference.” Establish ground rules, discuss what will be happening during a scene, discuss likes and dislikes, establish a safe word, share what your former experiences have been, and above all establish trust between play partners.
Of course, having sex without a condom is a NO-NO. A vagina or rectum could have small tears or openings in which any number of sexually transmitted diseases could enter the bloodstream. Take care of yourself and your partner and never ever go “bareback.” Lubricant can ease the way and the experience will be just as enjoyable. Remember, your partner may not even know what his or her HIV, STD, or hepatitis status is.
Dr. Gloria Brame, the author of Come Hither: A Commonsense Guide to Kinky Sex, has some hard and fast rules she encourages all of us to use:
1. Educate yourself. There are many books about BDSM you can learn from and your local munch or local organizations often give demos on proper use of equipment.
2. Educate your partner. Watch videos together, read the same books, discuss ideas and techniques.
3. Know your limits as well as your partner’s (and respect them).
4. Know your equipment. For example, don’t try out a new whip before trying it on yourself. You will then be able to judge how hard to use it on a play partner.
(Editor’s note: See this issue’s 10 Questions for more from Dr. Brame.)
Now let’s talk about mental health. Both sexes stressed that when subs submit, they can come out of a scene on the other side feeling extremely vulnerable. Before- and aftercare is the name of the game.
“From a submissive perspective, the first, most important thing is emotional health,” Kai Moriarty said ”A huge part of the experience of submission is vulnerability.”
Beforecare can consist of explaining a planned scene to a sub, answering questions about limits, being clear on what both parties agree upon, and when it will stop. Aftercare is essential to all: a nice cuddle, a discussion about how the play progressed, reassurance that emotionally the sub is intact, and maybe a shared bowl of ice cream.
One more point on health and safety that touches on both physical and mental health: As Domme Lydia Yalin pointed out, some people equate D/s sex with violence. Know your partner and don’t put yourself in vulnerable situations with a stranger such as being tied or shackled. Keep yourself safe and well cared for and you will have a rewarding and fulfilling D/s experience.
Happy safe sane and healthy scening! And don’t come to me to pull that potato out of your ass.