Scarves, and Play Parties

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August 1995

by William A. Henkin, Ph.D.

Copyright © 1995 by William A. Henkin

<Q> I've heard that I shouldn't use ties, scarves, and stockings for bondage, but I've never found out why. Can you tell me?

<A> Yes. Knots made in silk and nylon – the usual materials for all the items you mention, as well as for pantyhose, some bathrobe belts, and other pieces of lingerie – tighten far and fast when they're pulled on, so they quickly start to cut off circulation at the same time they become impossible to untie. These materials also tend to tighten down into themselves when you pull on them; like the handles on plastic grocery bags when the bags are full of very heavy items, they become so narrow that they effectively become a single string, and so thin they may not only cut off circulation, they can even slice through the skin. It's dangerous to use leather laces and cords for immobilization for the same reasons: they are so narrow they can cut skin and interfere with circulation. In addition, leather shrinks when wet, as leather laces might on a sweating bottom, and wet knots in leather cord can be virtually impossible to untie when they dry.

When doing bondage with rope or any other kind of flexible material, always have a snub-nosed safety, medical, or EMT scissors close at hand so you can cut your subject free fast in an emergency. No equipment is more important than a person, and it's always better to lose some material than to endanger someone's safety.

* * * * *

<Q> How do you negotiate at an SM play party?

<A> The principal difference between negotiating at a play party and negotiating anywhere else is that at a play party you pretty well know that the person with whom you're talking likes or wants to play. At least the person knows that the purpose of the party isn't just to raise money for the PTA, which eliminates the need to hint at your desires, or to listen for subtle conversational nuances that might give you a clue about his or her interests, or to fumble around for euphemisms designed to keep calm the blood pressures of other people within earshot. Negotiating at a party can, therefore, be substantially less anxiety-provoking than negotiating in most other venues when it comes time to pop the particular question on your mind: if you ask, "Do you want to whip me?" or "How'dja like to kiss my boots?" at least you're operating within the general social framework of the setting.

The second difference is that at a play party you're more likely to have a successful scene based in SM, or sensation, than in DS, or mental control, and you can negotiate with that probability in mind. I don't say you can't have a successful DS scene at a party: certainly you can, and many people do. But unless you and your partner know each other well, or one of you is a very happy exhibitionist, the public, social energy of a party is rarely conducive to the kind of intense, intimate focus most Dominance and Submission games require. Many physical acts, on the other hand, such as whipping or bondage, frequently do not require the bottom to surrender his or her sense of emotional control in the same way; as a result they are often relatively easier for sensitive bottoms to play in front of others.

Otherwise, the procedure for a successful negotiation is much the same at a party as it is anywhere else. Know what you need, know what you want, know your limits, know what you bring to the party, negotiate in straight time, and include at least one straight time check-in after your scene. Tell the truth when you negotiate, keep the agreements you negotiate, know enough about what you're doing that you can play safely whether you're a top or a bottom, and play only with people who have agreed to play with you.

Oh, yes: and enjoy yourself.

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