BDSM and Personal Limits

By on September 14, 2009

Patrick CalifiaDear Patrick,

Does an agreement to engage in BDSM play also constitute an agreement to have sex? I recently had a date with a married couple, both dominant, who seemed just fine when we had a coffee date to set up some limits. I enjoyed the scene very much, but then, while I was still in bondage, the husband proceeded to try to remove my panties and get his hands in there. I told him no, repeatedly, and he laughed and said he liked a bit of resistance, but I was really being a pain. He bluntly told me that girls who like to get spanked, etc., always want to get off as well, and he’d never had any complaints.

His wife was watching the whole interaction, which confused me even more. If another woman is approving of what he’s saying, in the back of my head I guess I began to doubt my own limits. I stuck to my guns anyway and got out of there, but he was pretty angry with me. I basically grabbed my clothes and got dressed on the stairs on the way down. I don’t want a return engagement, but it seems pretty clear he is doing this to other girls. I am a relative newcomer to the fetish scene, and he seems to have quite a good reputation, which is one of the reasons why I agreed to do this with him in the first place. Ever since then I’ve felt quite dirty, as if I did something wrong, and I haven’t been eager to set up another play date. – Scamp

Dear Scamp,

It is my personal understanding that an agreement to get tied up, paddled, etc. is NOT permission to provide sex to the top, especially if the bottom is physically restrained. The law looks very dimly on that sort of thing. It’s called rape. And if you throw in all of the kinky sex, I have no doubt that a top who did this would find themselves in jeopardy of a jail sentence.

However, I also find that assumptions about whether every BDSM session will include sex vary a great deal from one community (or even circle of friends) to another. So I always recommend that you specifically mention genital sex when you negotiate. If you do not want to mix sex with SM, say so – and make sure the other person will be satisfied by an encounter with that limit. If you might agree, but want to have a separate conversation about it when the SM is done, that’s just fine. Some people require sexual stimulation to be able to enjoy SM play, and they need to mention this as well, to be sure the top is comfortable providing it.

This guy obviously enjoys pushing people’s limits and breaking them. Shame on his wife for standing by while another woman was subjected to this coercion! He probably gets away with it because his victims are frightened and ashamed. They say to themselves, “Nobody would believe I didn’t want sex after all the other things I’d done. He’s already established; I’m a nobody. Even if I told other people, they wouldn’t believe me or wouldn’t be able to stop him.”

When our community was smaller, we had some success with policing ourselves and ousting people who didn’t play nicely. (That had its own problems, as people were sometimes stigmatized just because others didn’t approve of their style of play.) Now, the community is so large and decentralized, it’s difficult to get consensus about a problem or deal with it.

This is why every novice should try to find a mentor, or at least a friend in the scene who is more experienced. You need at least one person you can tell about this who can advise you and comfort you. Of course you feel reluctant to make any other dates! This one was traumatic. I feel so angry when vulnerable people are exploited by egomaniacs who seem to lack a normal conscience.

I will also suggest that sometimes on the first date it is NOT a good idea to allow yourself to be placed in bondage that is so complete, you can’t get out of it. I know being genuinely helpless is a major turn-on for many of us. But you can consider that first date the top’s audition. People ought to have to prove they deserve your trust before you place your safety in their hands. Think about what sort of extra limits you might need in order to resume play. It’s okay to ask a trusted friend to be present in the next room, you know, as a sort of “spotter.” He had his wife—you should have had an advocate as well.

Please feel free to write again if you are having trouble getting over this. I can at least assure you that most tops would be horrified by behavior like this, and would never put their hands on you without permission. These people are not really BDSM players; their proclivities are ugly and beyond the pale. They are predators using BDSM style and language to conceal their real agenda.

This column is not intended to offer medical or legal advice. It is for educational and entertainment purposes only. If you need medical or legal advice, see a doctor or lawyer!

Do you have a question for Patrick?
Please feel free to leave your comments below or you can reach him at
patrick@skintwo.com

8 Comments

Dark

September 18, 2009 @ 13:00

Of course there is an inherent contradiction with first dates as you call it in a BDSM context. BDSM is about enacting some sort of scene, which as you note involves “planning” or to use the scene term – negotiating – a term which refers to people engaged in a discussion to “get something they want, and not get some something they don’t want as in the terms in conditions of a contract. I suppose that the first date can consist of the negotiations and then the scene to follow on.

This may be simple when the scene involves very specific actions, as in; being tied to a chair with dacron rope and gagged with a ball gagged and blindfolded naked for 45 minutes. But how many people want such specific things enacted? And how many what more freedom to “play” within much broader boundaries where everything simply cannot be negotiated. While sex is off the table sound easy, but would applying nipple clamps be sex? What if the the persons are sexually aroused from what they do and there is no specific genital contact? Is that not “sex”? Is S&M often understood as “sexual magic”?

There is a undoubtedly a lot of confusion the in the minds of people who play with “strangers” because they landscape consists of things which have vague and even contradictory meaning. Black is white, bondage is freedom, yes is no. It’s a world turned upside down…. most of the time. or enough of it to lack the consistency we need to navigate relationships. This is actually something embraced in the BDSM community – the turning of normal things on their head.

Alphax

September 16, 2009 @ 18:35

Very cool! A BDSMNOP advice column is very needed!

Madeline

September 15, 2009 @ 18:52

I look forward to future columns!

meardearna

September 15, 2009 @ 18:10

Thanks Patrick for answering this question that has always been on my mind, and with such clarity!

rod

September 15, 2009 @ 17:17

i think this column will be of great help to a lot of people especially those just getting into the scene and think it’s great that skintwo has taken the initiative.

Carrie Gray

September 15, 2009 @ 16:43

The assumption that BDSM scenes include sex is all too common, as a BDSM educator I often receive questions about how to separate sex and BDSM . Playing can produce a beautifully unique high all on it’s own, and playing just for the sake of play instead of using it as foreplay with sex as a goal can take you to some very exciting places physically and emotionally. When you do negotiate a scene remember to clarify with your play partner weather or not you are interested in having sex included as part of the scene.

Tim

September 15, 2009 @ 15:51

Patrick has been my favourite writer on BDSM for over 20 years. If I had to choose a few really useful things Skin Two has done, right at the top would be publishing and publicising his work.
Problems are real and serious, but Patrick’s blend of experience, empathy, common sense and humour is a shining light.
And you can get his books on amazon!

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