Gags and Hoods


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ASK THE THERAPIST

March 1994

by William A. Henkin, Ph.D.

Copyright © 1994 by William A. Henkin

<Q> What does being gagged and hooded do for you?

<A> Depends in part on whether I'm Top or bottom. Gagging the bottom obviously prevents her from talking, which can be useful either if the bottom has a loose mouth or if the Top simply wants to assert her rights by demonstrating that she can take something away from the bottom that most people take for granted most of the time. If the gag has other overtones – if it's a bit attached to a bridle or a head harness, for example, or if it's a dildo – it makes a more exact and, often, heavier statement about the nature of the Top's control over the bottom. Some gags are designed to keep the mouth open, rather than to block it. These enable the Top to force whatever she chooses into the bottom's mouth without having to contend with a lot of oral resistance. Like other gags with specific attributes, these kinds also emphasize both the fact and the nature of the Top's control.

When worn by a bottom, a hood is a kind of bondage; it has the potential to do everything a gag does and more, simply because the control provided by a hood is greater and more complete than the control provided by a gag – or, indeed, by a head harness. In addition, because it reduces sensory input (to the eyes, the mouth, the nose, and/or the facial skin especially, though rather less to the ears unless accompanied by earplugs) it minimizes the bottom's need to interact with the outside world. As a result she may be free to drift mentally, which can be a very liberating experience, or she may be unusually available to concentrate her attention precisely where the Top wants her to place it. A hood that only restricts one or two senses enhances input to all the other senses. Therefore, the Top who wants her bottom's mouth and nose to be especially keen for some reason might use earplugs along with a hood that covers her eyes and ears.

The corollary to the control a Top may feel by hooding her bottom is the security and sense of being contained the hooded bottom may feel. In this regard some bottoms feel that a hood is like a cocoon: since it prevents other people from reading their facial expressions, they feel safe, protected, and relatively free from scrutiny. Such bottoms may lose some of their inhibitions when they're hooded in a sort of throw-back to the childhood game of peekaboo, but since babies seem to enjoy and understand peekaboo long before they can think rationally about its implications, the whole process of believing that one can't be seen because her face can't be seen may itself be a throwback to some primitive survival mechanism.

Whether worn by a Top or a bottom a hood objectifies and depersonalizes the wearer, rather the way a mask or those reflective sunglasses the CHP bikers occasionally still sport can do. Or think of executioners. In some sorts of scenes – terror or interrogation, for instance – the effect on the bottom of a hood on a Top can be tremendous: the facial cover automatically confers a kind of anonymity onto the Top, so both Top and bottom may feel the Top has more license in her behavior than she usually does.

Finally, for people who sport those kinds of fetishes, whether Tops or bottoms, the smell of leather or rubber can be a turn-on not to be disparaged. Now that you have my opinion, go out and try a few gags and hoods – on yourself and on someone else. See what being gagged and hooded does for you.


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