The Uninitiated

How most people see rope bondage, and how wrong they are

I spent the first 40 years of my life afraid to tell anyone that I liked the idea of tying a woman up. It turned out that my fears were justified. Someone very close to me said, “I don’t even know who you are,” when they learned about my interests. Of course I got over my fear: but I still encounter negative reactions from people on a regular basis. This most often happens with people who have no experience with rope bondage. Fortunately however, there are people who are willing to try something new and want to give ropes a try. Most often I hear from these people that the experience was nothing like they thought it would be – they were pleasantly surprised.

When I hear how much they enjoyed it I go back in my head to an experience I had once where I had been playing with someone new and it was one of their first experiences with rope. We were lying together afterwards and the experience seemed so healing, therapeutic and connective that I actually did a mental double take. Isn’t rope bondage a weird thing that is only practiced by people on the margins of society? The dichotomy really struck me. I realized then that these positive experiences are probably accessible to a large portion of society – if they would only allow themselves.

It’s not unlike acupressure, or deep tissue massage. People who go to the gym or run also are going for the endorphin high, in a sanctioned way. Even piercings and tattoos have become commonplace. It’s all about social context.

I recently learned about a massage therapist in Santa Cruz who offers hybrid bondage-massage services. It was only a matter of time. Apparently her credentials as a body worker are impressive. She has just decided to take an evolutionary step and combine the two types of ‘body work.’ It makes complete sense. The one time I had a Thai massage I nearly yelled out a safeword – it hurt that much.

I have had the pleasure of providing the first rope experience for dozens of people. Uniformly people like it and are glad they did it. There is, however, a trust element, especially for women. I like to point out that when you drive on the freeway you are trusting your life to complete strangers and usually don’t even give it a second thought. We all have seen Pulp Fiction or CSI and have been conditioned to think that people who are into bondage all have chain saws. The media does a particularly bad job of portraying kink. Plus in our culture it is taboo to talk about sex, let alone non-traditional sexual activities.

Once people get past the trust issue, they still need to learn how to let go enough to make it work. People will engage in all manners of avoidance behavior – looking around a lot, talking, or just not being able to relax and flow with things. I tell people that they should close their eyes, or stop talking or just relax and let it happen. It usually works.

I have taught classes at Burning Man and in the city. In the city the classes are usually at play spaces or dungeons. People who are curious can be easily put off by this. At Burning Man – where people are inclined to be more open minded – hundreds of people will attend classes. I believe this is largely because the activity has been de-stigmatized. In fact, classes at Burning Man often fill to overflowing and people have to be turned away. After talking to many of these people, it becomes clear that they would never have gone to a class back home. Yet, they all are thrilled with what they learned.

Rope bondage is accessible to most people, but the biggest obstacles are the people themselves and their preconceived notions. It’s a shame, and one by one people can be won over. Certainly the books that are coming out now are making it easier for people to learn and try new things. I heard that one of the largest vendors of bondage rope does most of his business in smaller cities in the Midwest and around the country – not in Baghdad by the Bay (SF) where you might think. This shows that people are venturing and trying new things, if only behind their bedroom door.

I am encouraged and think that more and more people will come to appreciate the aesthetic, physical, and sensual pleasures of rope bondage. If you are on the fence, I suggest you read up and find quality resources for information. Go slow and let the journey be the experience. You are in good company; people have been doing kinky stuff with rope for thousands of years.

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