New to BDSM? Need BDSM advice? Not to worry, author Stella Starlight's monthly advice column is here to explain things for you. This month, we look at the difference between edging and edge play.


Dear Stella,
I’m new to the fetish scene, and I hear a lot of terms thrown around that I don’t always understand. For example, I don’t understand the difference between edging and edge play. Can you clarify?
~On the Edge (play?) of my seat



Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 11.59.17-min.pngDear Edge of my seat,
Welcome to the Fetish.com community! You’re right, a lot of terms get thrown around without definitions. It’s great that you’re asking for clarity because it can be dangerous to agree to try something if you don’t know what you’re signing up for.  Despite the similar sounding names, edging and edge play describe very different things (although you can combine them - and I’ll explain that below.)
 

What is edging?

Edging, at its most basic, describes bringing yourself or a partner very close to orgasm and then stopping, only to begin again. This can go on for as long as you’d like. The resulting orgasm, when there finally is one, tends to be far more intense because of the amount of buildup and anticipation.

When done with a partner this can be one form of orgasm control, which is sometimes done in a kink context, as a way of playing with power. When playing with Dominance and submission, at times the submissive partner must ask for permission to orgasm.

As part of masturbation, edging can be a way to become more in touch with your arousal process and to fully enjoy the kinds of pleasure your body can experience. Rather than having a quickie, you can draw out the masturbation process and have a more intense experience. There are videos and audio recordings on the internet that can help with edging technique, by telling you when to start and stop touching yourself.
 

And edge play…?

Meanwhile, edge play refers to a whole class of kink activities that are especially risky - either emotionally, physically, or sometimes both. What counts as edge play isn’t a defined list, rather it’s whatever is edgy for the participants. Edge play typically includes breath play (anything that controls breathing,) knife play, blood play (needles, cutting, hooks, suspension etc.) and also taboo play like role-playing rape or other scenarios that can be psychologically triggering.

Because edge play can be so risky, it usually falls under RACK style play. Kink parties and events can often be divided into RACK or SSC categories. These designations came about to help differentiate consensual kink from abuse, and consent is an essential element of both.

 

Important safety terms for kinky activities

SSC stands for Safe, Sane, and Consensual. This term was coined in the 1980’s and was the BDSM standard for a couple of decades. More recently RACK, or Risk Aware Consensual Kink became an alternative, which acknowledges that kink is never really “safe.” Much like the trend towards the term “safer sex,” when discussing barrier use.

These days both terms are used, and you’ll often see one of them listed in a party’s rules or description. SSC parties tend to be a bit tamer - a common practice if the party is being held in a space that is open to the public, or a space that doubles as a bar or swingers club.

RACK parties are more commonly found in private homes or spaces that operate as a dungeon full time. In part because some RACK or edge play activities, like anything that draws blood, require a special setup. Venues need to have plastic tarps thrown down, and have sharps containers set out for blood play to be done responsibly.

 

Want to do both at once?

Many kink scenes involve a combination of activities. My personal favorite is bondage, plus impact, plus knife play, plus edging and orgasm control. Cycling through different activities can curate a scene that take both the top and the bottom on an emotional roller coaster, and a bit of edging or sexual touch is a nice way to break up something more harsh like a spanking. Shifting between pain and pleasure can make the sensations of both more acute.

Whatever you’re going to try, be sure to start slow and have a clear negotiation with your partner - if you have one - before you can begin. Taking control of someone’s orgasm, including your own, can be very emotional and vulnerable, and you might be surprised by the reactions it brings about. I’ve personally been brought to tears by edging and orgasm control on more than one occasion, so don’t underestimate this psychological tool!

 

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