Is rope bondage only a men’s game? Of course not, argues Stella Harris. Here she explains why.
 

Rope bondage misconceptions

The prevailing norm in public play is men in the Top or Dominant role while women are expected to be the bottoms or the submissives. However, the women that I spoke to have their own take on roles.

"In private, I don't believe there is any real difference between a female or male rope top," explains The Soulless Ginger. "The practice of Shibari itself is very personal and individual. In it's simplest form, Shibari is a top, a bottom, and the rope. Any variables in dynamic, roles, intentions, participants, gender etc. only matter to the individuals involved.

"It's not until we enter the public arena that these factors outside of ourselves begin to have relevance. Then we're dealing with normative social influence. Males make up the majority of tops in both the BDSM and Rope communities, and this lends itself to the perception of patriarchy and gender bias.”
 

Women as owned objects: from fashion to porn

The discourse on women as public property is wide and varied -and is no different in rope bondage. Because kink is just another slice of society, this attitude bleeds into the scene. And it doesn't only come up when women are topping in scenes involving rope bondage. Many venues and parties have to stress only touching with consent and even with this listed in the party rules and sometimes posted on the walls, men need reminding.

“Being a female rope top is hard, and if one more person makes a joke about how that's because we do it in heels and corsets I'll scream," says CindyLouWho. "Rigging in those things is hard, but what's really hard about being a female rope top is how no one takes you seriously. It seems that no matter what you do, people assume you're there to get naked.”
 

Inappropriate assumptions in rope bondage

I was once playing with a male partner who was also a switch: we did a rope bondage scene in the main room where I was stripped down to panties in the stocks and he was flogging me. We had a small, respectful audience. A little later that evening I had him tied to the interrogation chair and as we were beginning our scene a man came into the room, put his hand on my hip and said: “I liked it better when you were naked.” What would make him feel like that was appropriate?
 

Rope bondage in action: one woman ties another up across a table

Lady in waiting...
 

Safe spaces apply in rope bondage too

All of us who frequent and create sex-positive spaces need to recognize that simply calling something a safe space doesn’t make it so. Party organizers, Dungeon Monitors, and members of the community all need to be aware of the prevalence of this behavior and work to prevent it before any more players are made to feel unwelcome. It shouldn’t be our job to educate the ignorant one person at a time, but if we don’t do it who will?
 

The rope bondage community's diversity is its strength

We can all learn from each other if there are a variety of voices to be heard. But if we let things distill down to ‘one true way’ of thinking there will be no new ideas put forward.

But it’s not all gloom and doom, The Soulless Ginger also notes: “Honestly, I haven't experienced any of that [bias] first hand as a female rope top. If anything, those gender biases have been to my advantage and helped to create more opportunities for myself and my partner to perform and present in the public scene.

"My journey in rope bondage has been facilitated by the over-arching perceptions of a female's role in Shibari both as a bottom and a top. Are there challenges and benefits of being a female rope top? Yes. Do they matter? Only in the way we let them."
 

Rope bondage is perfect for female skills

If as a female rope top we’re looked at as a novelty we can use that attention to our advantage and work to change minds. Even if the initial interest comes from less than ideal motivation, in the end, those watching may see that women can be just as skilled as men. Maybe even more-so. The nature of rope bondage is that it requires close, intimate contact and attention to detail. Skills that are typically attributed to women. So even those with a gender bias should lose their own argument. I

I'm contrary by nature and being told I can’t do something is great motivation. I find myself eager to improve my own rope bondage skills and tie in public as much to buck the norm as for my own pleasure.

 

Stella Harris is an author, educator, and coach who focuses on sex, kink, and intimacy. Through her writing and teaching she explores the complex world of love and lust and strives to help people explore their sexuality safely and free of shame. You can learn more about Stella on her website,www.stellaharris.net or follow her on Twitter @stellaerotica

 

Where have you encountered sexism and misconceptions about gender roles on the kink scene? Let us know by starting a new thread in the Fetish.com forum.

 

BDSM Forum. Join the  discussion | Fetish.com

© zhagunov_a / Dollar Photo Club and Clarence Risher via Flickr with CC BY-SA 2.0 licence


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TwistedBinds

Posted

There are lots of great female riggers RopeBoi , Nina Russ to name a few.

At Anatomie Studio and it is common to find female riggers and male models and the reverse as well. The idea that only male tie is really bad and ignores/demeans  the dynamic the partners have.

Also, anyone butting in to "help" shows an amazing disrespect for both the rigger and model.

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Posted

excellent post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector don't realize this. You must proceed your writing. I'm sure, you have a huge readers' base already!

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[…] The vanilla world often sees kinky fun as hetero- and male-centered. A quick glance around any fetish gathering or online forum proves this to be entirely inaccurate, but since when has the truth got in the way of a good gossip? From the UBM to Secret Diary of a Call Girl, the vast, heady experiences of women in BDSM are regularly reduced to prostitution and coercion. In fact the majority of us got here through our own passions and desires; there are just as many female party goers at events and munches are also a good gender mix. It’s frustrating enough to be represented like this in mainstream media if you’re a straight woman, but the thriving lesbian S&M community is virtually invisible. Women love to be in control and instigate the action as much as men – don’t underestimate us kinky women. […]

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[…] Rope Bondage: "Chicks can do that?" […]

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