Most of us are probably familiar with the fetish play etiquette term ‘Safe, Sane and Consensual’, and most of us probably try to live our sex lives by it. I’m more of the Risk-Aware Consensual Kink crowd myself, but even so there are some unspoken rules—things that are generally accepted as being a bad idea even if they aren't totally out of the park. And at some point, I've broken most of them.


Sometimes these encounters worked out well, and sometimes they didn't. I don’t regret very many of them, though—even if one or two were mostly of value as learning experiences.

Fetish Play Etiquette Rule #1: Be Very Careful About Permanent Marks


I once had an extremely impromptu and highly intoxicated one-night-stand with a man I’d never met before and never saw again. One of the things this involved was him holding a knife blade first in a candle flame and then to my skin. This was about seven years ago now, and I still have a few visible scars - one on my chest and a couple on my stomach.We had neither discussed nor intended on permanent marking; it actually hadn't occurred to either of us that this would be the effect. It certainly wasn't a part of our negotiations, which were mostly just me drunkenly hitting on him all night with increasing obviousness till I was finally blunt enough that he got the message (and then, thankfully, returned my enthusiasm). That encounter wasn't an important emotional experience for either of us, or anything.But you know what? I really rather like those scars. That was probably the best one-night-stand I've yet had, and they feel like little secret badges of kinky honour to me as a sub. I’d happily carry them around with me for a lot longer - and if I ever see him again, I hope he’ll be a bit quietly pleased too.

Fetish Play Etiquette Rule #2: Don’t Use Toys With More Than One Person


break the rules no regretOne of my closest friends has a pretty incredible kink arsenal. Whatever you’re interested in trying, he’s probably got one - straightjackets, violet wands, vacbeds, sensory deprivation hoods, thigh cuffs, genitorture devices, anything you might ever want to hit anyone with and pretty much everything else besides. It’s an amazing collection. Mostly, the things in that collection have been used with all kinds of people. Both he and his partner use them with anyone they play with, and they’re also the hosts of our play parties - meaning that they've been used by all kinds of people on all kinds of other people in all manner of situations. I've never entirely understood the objection here, as fetish play etiquette seems to eschew this kind of sharing. Some things, of course, are about hygiene (all of their plugs and vibes are kept separately and are a lot less widely-used; I have had a variety of people’s vibes used on me, but of course one must be a lot more careful and be very certain to clean things thoroughly) but floggers or whatever—I promise, guys, you’ll be fine.

Fetish Play Etiquette Rule #3: Choose Your Implements Wisely


Speaking of breaking fetish play etiquette, my ex-girlfriend once fucked me with a sword—and I don’t mean the hilt. It wasn't a particularly sharp sword, but it was certainly a full-size solid metal blade and while she was of course extremely careful it sure as hell hurt like a bitch. That’s probably a slightly extreme example, but there are various things that we’re told not to use that are honestly fine in practice so long as you don’t behave like an idiot: cable ties and duct tape are the canonical examples. Everyone says you mustn't use coloured candles in wax play, but the truth is the plain ones just hurt less—so long as you’re geared up for a bit of an extra kick you’ll be fine. There’s a lot to be gained from going with the flow and using what you have to hand - you just need to take care.(The same goes for beeswax-paraffin blend candles. This does not apply to scented or pure beeswax candles, though—those actually are dangerous, don’t go there. And for the love of god, never use a gel candle in “wax” play. Third degree burns are a likelihood.)

Fetish Play Etiquette Rule #4: Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate


I once went home with someone who chatted me up at a bus stop at two in the morning. The sex we had was surprisingly and intensely kinky, and followed very little discussion of our respective proclivities. I’m not claiming that this was a wise or advisable life choice: I was putting myself in an extremely vulnerable position, it could have gone horribly wrong, and general fetish play etiquette says we should talk everything over before and after an encounter. But it was also incredible, and while I don’t think I’d do it again I've never regretted it for a second.

Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to genre fiction, social justice and M.A.C lipstick. Follow her on her website or @see_abi_write.

 
© Paul Maguire / Dollar Photo Club and Chanel Beck über Flickr with CC BY 2.0 license

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