Monday, November 19, 2012

BDSM guest author Candace Blevins



Many thanks to Laurie for asking me to post a little about safety and BDSM today!

At first glance, safety may seem a bit boring. We want adventure, adrenaline, and fun! Right?
Well, yeah, but if you don’t play safe, you can end up injured, or worse; and that’s not fun, at all. We’re aiming for good hurt, not bad.

I've been in the lifestyle well over 20 years, so it’s easy for me to discern when an activity in a fiction book is safe, or merely there for the fantasy aspects. I’m usually good with both, but there are people who worry about someone new to the scene getting hurt by trying something they read.

I write scenes as realistic as possible, while still holding onto the fantasy. I include some safety details here and there, like the fire extinguisher under the table during the wax play scene, and the quick release clips restraining her so he can get her up and away quickly, if necessary.  However, I’m not writing a how-to manual, and I don’t include every safety detail. If you’re going to do something in one of my books, please look it up, do some research, maybe even find a group on Fetlife discussing the activity and ask questions –– please don’t try it without first learning the pros and cons.

Most people with an interest in BDSM are familiar with the term SSC, which means an activity should be Safe, Sane, and Consensual. Heavy players, like the characters in my books, often abandon SSC in favor of RACK –– Risk Aware Consensual Kink. RACK means both parties acknowledge the risk in a particular activity, but have done their research and are comfortable with the level of risk involved. This also gets rid of the whole “sane” argument, which can be so subjective: one person’s idea of crazy might be another’s ordinary kink.

I’ll briefly run down a list of things I frequently see in books and videos, and list the inherent dangers:


Vaginal sex after anal sex:  There are bacteria in the colon that shouldn't go into the vagina. Oral sex isn't exactly safe after anal either, but it’s a lot safer, as your saliva has enzymes that can battle the bacteria. Your girlie parts, however, have no defenses, and introducing fecal bacteria puts you at risk of serious infection, the inability to bear future children, and worse. If you watch porn and observe this activity, you should know the actresses have had a series of enemas before the shoot, to be sure they’re clean. Unless you’re willing to spend the better part of the day repeatedly flushing yourself until everything coming out runs clear, it’s best to either end in the ass, have him use a condom in the ass so he can take it off (or change to a clean one), or have him wash up in between.

Impact Play:  There are places on the body safe to strike, and places most certainly not safe to strike. The bottom is generally safe unless someone has nerve damage or back problems, and the lower back should be avoided because of the kidneys and sacrum. The backs of the thighs are usually okay, but you can’t go too low or you risk damaging the attachments around the knees. The upper back can be safe for some implements, like a soft flogger or even a small flexible cane, if handled correctly –– but other implements, like an inflexible paddle, could cause serious damage. The front of the body has even more danger zones.

Breath Play:  Holding the throat the wrong way can cause almost instant death. Blocking someone’s mouth and nose (or throat, from the inside) is much safer, but there are still, obviously, a lot of dangers. I won't try to go through all of the risks and perils here; do your own research, and be very, very, very, careful, should you choose to either restrict someone’s air, or allow someone else to restrict yours. It can be done safely, my husband and I regularly play with this, but I’m also a swimmer who regularly stays under water for long periods, and he’s well versed in what my body can handle, and how to read my body language.

Kneeling :  This one isn’t usually a danger for most twenty-somethings, but I’m in my forties and if I kneel on a hard surface for more than about thirty seconds, I’m going to be hurting for days –– and it won’t be a good hurt. I can kneel on a cushioned surface for up to about five minutes before my kneecaps move up and stop working. So, we’ll call this one more about realism than safety, but you’ll note my books always have the Dom moving the submissive to a soft surface before requiring she kneel.

Bondage:  Limbs falling asleep is not a laughing matter. I’d rather take a hundred cane strokes than be restrained with my arms over my head for twenty minutes, as the cane strokes would hurt less. Bondage should be done with wide straps or rope or whatever, as a thin material is more likely to cut off circulation. The Top should be able to fit at least one finger easily between bondage and skin. You also never leave someone alone when restrained or caged –– what if the house caught fire? Or you get in a wreck and don’t make it back to release them? Or you’re in a hotel and a roach decides to crawl over them to investigate while you run across the street to buy some more condoms?  You also have to be sure they don’t fall and injure themselves while their arms are tied behind their back. There isn’t room for me to go over all of the safety precautions, but I implore you to do your research, and listen to your partner if they are uncomfortable. Serious players sometimes get off on uncomfortable bondage, but they know what they’re doing and have taken many safety precautions to make it safe.

Sensory Deprivation:  Governments have long used Sensory Dep to drive prisoners bat-shit crazy and break them to their will. One should be a little careful when taking away site alone, or hearing alone –– but you have to jump to ultra careful if you take both. Start with less than three or four minutes, and make sure you’re touching the person the whole time. Work your way up gradually, learn the danger signs to watch for, and talk about how the bottom felt, extensively, before you try it again. Humans are grounded in a reality that requires sensory input for orientation. Take away that orientation without the proper safety protocols in place, and you risk serious mental damage. Done correctly, sensory deprivation is amazing; done incorrectly... not so much.

Blindfolds:  Using a regular blindfold for an extended period of time puts pressure on the eyeballs, which usually affects the person’s vision short term, and has the possibility of affecting it long term, or even permanently. Never use a tight blindfold with pressure on the eyeballs, make sure it’s loose. Even with loose pressure, if you want to blindfold your partner longer than ten or fifteen minutes,  buy one of the specialty blindfolds that don’t apply pressure to the eyes, or use a full face hood that’s loose over the eye area, or make your own blindfold by painting the outside of a pair of comfortable swim goggles with non-toxic paint.
Safeword: Davenport by Candace Blevins
 Safewords: Davenport and Chiffon by Candace Blevins
I’m not bringing up some obviously dangerous activities, like needle playknife playelectricity, and chemical play. Neither do I have the time or space to bring up every seemingly safe activity that’s strife with dangers if you don't learn what can go wrong, like clothespins, or leading your partner around on a leash, or denying someone permission to use the restroom.

Just know when you’re reading a fictional book and something turns you on, it’s important to research the activity –– in depth –– before trying it. My characters play on the edge, and often have to take many safety precautions for the types of activities that turn them on. For me, personally, the negotiation of a scene is part of the foreplay, so I frequently have them discuss the safety. But not always.

I explore intense electrical play in the two Davenport books, but the Dom works with electricity for a living, and knows what he’s doing. He also has the submissive hooked up to a variety of medical monitoring equipment when he pushes her limits, so he can keep an eye on her stats. The impact play in these books is taken to possibly dangerous levels, but I never discuss what the Doms do to keep hematomas and fat necrosis at bay. Again, it’s fiction, and I only include the safety stuff if it’s sexy to do so, or if I think the reader needs to see the submissive double-checking, so they don’t think she’s TSTL.

It’s hit or miss when I read other authors, too. I’m not even sure some authors are aware of safety issues, as I’ve ready some books with activities that would cripple, or even kill, the submissive. The scene may be hot, and may be great fantasy material, but I feel it’s important people realize it isn’t something to actually attempt on another human being.

Do you have a pet peeve when you read BDSM?  Is there something you regularly encounter in fiction that you don’t feel is safe, so it’s a turn-off instead of a turn-on?
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Candace can be found on the web at CandaceBlevins.com and  


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4 comments:

  1. My biggest peeve (and I've only come across it a few times)is leaving someone in bondage alone or in a cage alone. Just for the reasons you mentioned, this is such a huge NO for me that it's not only a turn-off, but it pulls me out of the story and makes me not want to finish it.

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  2. I couldn't agree more. Because there are so many ertic books out that have bdsm type aspects to them, there might be a few more people out there wanting to see what all the fuss is about. But always remember not to do anything with a stranger and always make sure you're with someone you trust.

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  3. Autumn, I know a couple in real life who once considered it acceptable, under RACK, for him to chain her into a room (eight foot chain) with locks, so she couldn't leave the room. He'd go to work with her chained! (and leave her only a chamber pot) He now leaves a key, but it's sealed in an envelope, and he's signed over the seal, so he'll know if she's pulled it out. I'm so glad they came to their senses.

    Mary -- excellent point. I highly recommend new submissives find a BDSM club they like, or a regular play party, for just this reason. Others in the lifestyle can warn you away from known dangerous players, and you're safer playing where you know a safeword will be enforced.

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  4. What an excellent choice to blog about! It's tough when you're writing 'erotic' romance and yet want to plaster warning 'not for beginners' stickers all over the pages. I think you hit a lovely compromise. And I loved Safeword: Matte, BTW. :-)

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