Anatomy and Aesthetics
“So I told her, yeah I’m into that rough stuff.”
When someone is trying to tell me that they are into kink, and they call it “that rough stuff” it gives me an inkling of what experience level they are on. It’s the same when someone tells me, “I know what I’m doing. I go to the fetish ball every year.” Oh do you now? That is like telling me that you’re an expert dancer because you let someone twirl you around for a few hours at the end of the year dance.
So I listen to this guy’s story about his last kinky episode. “I mean, I’ll let you choke me if that’s your thing, but this chick pressed so hard that I started coughing up blood. And we were like, ‘oh shit!’”
First of all, I love any story that includes “and we were all like oh shit” just because I get a small amount of sadistic pleasure listening to idiots regale us all with their Homeric tales of stupidity. But um yeah hello - playing with intense sensations - let alone something like breath control - can be really dangerous. Seriously. There is some foundational information you need in order to be “risk aware” when you play with kink, and just because it’s the “basic” shit you’ve seen a million times in porn doesn’t mean that there aren’t serious risks involved. That rope might look aesthetically beautiful, but unless you know some anatomy, that pretty rope bondage might end in irrecoverable nerve damage to your appendages.
Secondly, the “rough stuff” is balanced with Care. What that Care looks like differs from person to person and scene to scene, but that’s always been the difference for me when I play with partners who have studied sadomasochism as a discipline and art, and those are just fucking around in the bedroom.
Lifehacker.com came out with a handy dandy “pain chart” to help people understand what kind of pain is involved when they are deciding what part of their body to poke with a needle 80 times a minute. Completely reasonable research to do before engaging in intense sensations like that. However, there are a lot of people who dabble in kink play without the slightest knowledge of human anatomy and what kind of damage (or pleasure?) they might be inflicting. That being the case, how can they honestly claim that they are aware of all the risks? Or that what they are doing is safe, sane, or consensual? And isn’t that the mantra we are all chanting?
It pains me to see handcuffs on the cover of the most popular kink smut on the bookshelf right now because there are about a dozen ways to restrain someone that are safer. There are important veins in your wrists that do not do well with tight bands of metal cutting against them. Jay Wiseman spends about 13 pages in his SM 101 book explaining why you might want to rethink handcuffs, and about a dozen better ways of restraining someone.
There are similar diagrams that show the important anatomy that you need to know before you start wailing away at someone with a cat o'nine. Interesting to note that the areas of the body most sensitive to pain shown on the the tattoo pain chart don’t match the areas most vulnerable to damage on the BDSM safety chart. For example, if one of your blows lands above the ass and slightly to one side - you could cause damage to kidneys, causing your partner to urinate blood. But there’s no problem if that’s where you want to finish off your butterfly tramp stamp.
Or, like my friend’s experience with breath control, if you were to apply too much pressure to someone’s windpipe, you could bruise their esophagus and make it really uncomfortable for them to breathe. Or you could kill them. So you know, just a heads up.
People are starting to appreciate the aesthetics of kink. Tumblr is full up on kinky smut (oh you didn’t know?). But unless you’re super conscientious person naturally, or unless you’re a geek for kink, its a little more work to learn the anatomy and psychology someone needs to understand in order to really play by the safe, sane and consensual creed.
The good news is that there are places you can go to learn. Fetish balls are fun, but most major cities have some access to groups that provide workshops on how to administer those intense sensations. It’s kind of like getting dance lessons before the big event. I tell you all the secrets behind finding the right groups in people in “How to Munch” and “A Second Helping.”
You’ll be fine, newb. Just to be sure that you’re not accidentally going to smash anyone’s toes - or trachea.