Monday, May 30, 2016

I Like to Be Tied Up

It’s not that I thought the transition from fantasy kink to real life kink would be easy, it’s that I didn’t think about it at all. After years of hoovering novels about kink and thinking about it all the time, it was a big deal for me to show up in person to real events. That seemed like the big hurdle.

At the time, I identified as a submissive. I didn’t really know the difference between submissive and bottom. I didn’t know a lot of other words. I knew I was into bondage and pain. I didn’t know that it was possible to be into only one of those, or both, or neither, or other things altogether.

I think part of the problem was the novels I’d read. In those books, the narrative focus was often on making a woman admit she was submissive. That seemed to mean gets-wet-when-ordered-around. I don’t recall coming across novels that told a story about a submissive woman painstakingly defining the nuances of her identity, though perhaps they exist. In most of what I read, tops defined the identities of submissives for them.

I could write a long, long essay, and probably also a novel, about my relationship to the word submissive alone.

The Many Note Challenge got me thinking about something that seems much simpler than that on the surface: trying to tell people you’re into rope.

For the challenge, I showed a variety of moods, a lot of different ways rope might feel to two people who are playing with it. That points to a problem I experienced when trying to move from fantasy kink to real life kink. At first, I thought all I needed to tell people was, “I want to be tied up.”

It felt that way at first, especially when I was bursting with enthusiasm and it seemed like any way of being tied up would be great with me. I just had a bottomless (haha) urge to have someone put rope on me.

Over time, though, I started to notice dissonances when I talked to other people who liked to be tied up.


Here are some examples of questions that point to possible distinctions:

Do you like to be tied up to look pretty?

Do you like to be tied up to feel athletic?

Do you like to be tied up in a way that’s uncomfortable?

Do you like for sexual things to happen after you’re tied up?

Do you like for painful things to happen after you’re tied up?

Are painful things sexual to you?

Does being tied up put you into a particular mood? (Do you feel helpless, silly, excited, sleepy, etc?)

Do you like to be tied up in a way that challenges you?

Do you like to be tied up in a way that comforts you?

Are there shapes/ties that feel particularly good to your body? That feel particularly bad to your body?


I could go on and on.

Of course, the questions I just wrote are from a bottom’s perspective. I have much less experience topping, but I do have a little. Here are some top-perspective questions I can think of, even with that limited background, that reveal similar shades in what’s interesting to different people:

Do you like to tie people up as an end in itself?

Do you like to tie people up as a means to some other end?

Do you like to tie up someone who is very obedient about it?

Do you enjoy a battle of wills with the person you’re tying up?

Do you focus on creating particular designs with your rope?

Do you enjoy when the person you’re tying up reacts in particular ways?

Do you like to institute protocol around tying someone up?

Does tying someone up put you in a particular mood? (Do you feel powerful, nervous, serious, giggly, etc?)


I’m sure people could add to either set of questions.

The point I’m making is that even if people’s interests sound similar on the surface (i.e. “We both like to be tied up!”), there can be a lot of difference in what that means to them, or what they like about those activities.

In the kink community, it took me years before I could articulate that, and before I learned to ask questions like what I listed above and have discussions around them. (Otherwise, it’s possible to end up in situations when you’re wondering when the hell the sexy part is going to start as a top painstakingly ties decorative rope all over your body, while for them the experience is about giving you a gift and crafting a lovely piece for you to wear… Or thousands of other mismatched situations.)

As a writer, I think this incredible multiplicity is really good news. One of the main things I took away from the Many Note Challenge was that I could probably have kept going for weeks, writing dozens of vastly different vignettes around the same simple box tie. Even of the six I wrote, two grabbed me enough that they made me want to expand them into larger stories.

If I introduced just a shade more variation—say, putting three characters there instead of two—I could write dozens more. There’s so much to explore.

And every time we, as writers, get into subtleties about who the people we’re writing about are and why they’re engaging in these particular acts, we’re creating more ways that people can possibly identify with our work. One of my favorite things as an erotica reader is finding a description of a mood I’ve felt but never quite articulated, or of a mood I’d like to try to feel.

So, here’s to many notes!

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