FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Binds That Bond

We are swinging into Show Mode here at the Speakeasy, sorting the whips, untangling the chains, shining up the crosses and scrubbing the dildos in preparation for our pre-Bondage Ball Gala with the Broken Door LA, a benefit for the highly endangered Make-Love-Not-War bonobos, an evening of power exchange performance art and erotic B&D.

Don’t know B&D from an M&M? B&D stands for Bondage & Discipline. Bondage – “ligottage” en français – is the gentle art of tying up your partner, with anything from storm trooper style handcuffs to velvet ropes, from an old pair of nylons to the invisible shackles of your powerful mind over your partner’s malleable matter.

If you’re not “into” bondage, it might amaze you to know how many of your fellow humans are highly aroused by being bound, bonded, tied up, tied down, chained, lashed, shackled, restrained, restricted, controlled, confined, collared, caged, blindfolded, handcuffed, fastened, pierced, knotted, leashed, straitjacketed, stroked, spanked, squeezed or just held, with love.

What’s love got to do with it? What do bondage games have to do with our childhood, our hopes and fears, our guilt feelings, our animal nature, our puritanical society, our religious institutions, our culture, our politics, our destiny, the economy? What is the ecstasy of this agony? Is it dangerous? Is it healthy? Is it necessary? Restrain yourself, my darling reader, from jumping to stereotypical conclusions, as we go down into the dungeons of love, the lower depths of the erotic Theatre of the Mind.

Consensuality is the key to this delicate erotic art, the sensual science of restraint, the grown-up game of power exchange. As they say in the B&D community, all play must be “safe, sane and consensual.” This is what separates the Bondage Ball from Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Twin Towers Jail, where bondage is a terrible fact of everyday life, and totally unsafe, insane and nonconsensual.

Throughout human history, *bondage* has been, for the most part, practiced nonconsensually by criminals – bullies, kidnappers, terrorists – as well as government officials – sheriffs, police, military, prison guards – or a combination. All use brute force as well as controlling techniques to capture and keep their unwilling prisoners in bondage. I’ll never forget Max telling me on the Twin Tower’s phone that he had to “get down on (his) knees” because the deputies were coming through, as though these “noble arms of the law” were really medieval noblemen! If every inmate didn’t get down on his knees before these Dom/deputies, the whole cell block was punished. So the veterans taught the new prisoners to get down on their knees, fast, sometimes by kicking them in the shins. Talk about bondage & discipline…

Of course, being literally forced into bondage and tortured by the LA Sheriff’s Department is generally very depressing, destructive and not at all erotic. At least, it’s usually not erotic for the prisoners, unless they succumb to Stockholm syndrome, where victims actually fall in love with their captors as an emotional survival mechanism. It may well be erotic for the kidnappers and government agents, although they’ll never admit it, as the official purpose of their bondage games and torture is not to enhance excitement, but to overcome resistance and “get the job done,” whether holding the prisoner for ransom, bail, punishment or that grandiose euphemism “protection.”

It’s all rather dangerous and despicable, whether practiced by criminals, police or a combination. This is one reason to support or at least tolerate the exploration of consensual bondage and other BD/SM/Ds (short for Bondage & Discipline, Sado-Masochism and Dominance & Submission) games, where the general idea is to enhance excitement, not to overcome resistance. Channeling the natural violent impulses that course through all our veins into a relatively safe sort of “role-play” is one way to spice up the moveable feast of life.

But don’t sex and love thrive on freedom? Of course, freedom is the greatest aphrodisiac…but restraint is a close second. And it’s not all shackles and chains. Consider the common wedding ring, one of our great romantic symbols of human bondage, a band of gold that restrains the wearer’s sexual freedom. Bonding is a kind of bondage. Commitment is a kind of restraint. Love is a kind of silken rope that ties two people together. Simply being held tight and close in the arms of someone we adore is a kind of restraint we all enjoy. In a way, bondage games take the human bonding experience to the erotic outer limits.

The lust for power is easy to understand. But what about the desire for surrender? The ancient Taoist masters had a saying, “In yielding, there is strength.” In restraint, there can be freedom. If you’re a horny but guilt-ridden submissive, being tied up might allow you to relax and release, without feeling so guilty about the sex that you naturally enjoy. After all, what can you do? You’re all tied up! It’s not your fault. At least, you’re roleplaying that it’s not your fault. The idea of sexual pleasure without responsibility is a big reason many people are turned on by being restrained, being “forced” to surrender control.

As such, bondage can diminish male performance anxiety. After all, if you can’t move, you can’t perform, so what’s there to be anxious about? Some love to have the tables turned; the powerful CEO longs to be the helpless prisoner of his own secretary. Others love the physical struggle against the restraints, building a rush of adrenaline. Some men are much stronger than their partners, but still want a passionate exchange of physical power, and they enjoy being restrained so they can feel that rush of being overcome. Women also get aroused by that feeling of being overwhelmed; it can trigger a tremendously pleasurable release which is partly chemical, as a host of endorphins bubble up in the bloodstream to help the individual “combat” the pain.

Unfortunately, this causes many women and some men to allow themselves to be seriously hurt – both physically and mentally – by abusive partners. They would be better off developing a BD/SM/DS relationship that is “safe, sane and consensual” than just hooking up with another violent jerk of a lover. BD/SM/DS can lead the way out of such abusive, out-of-control relationships. Many couples can resolve their issues with rage and peacefully channel sadomasochistic impulses through playing responsible erotic bondage games together. It’s the Bonobo Way. Indeed, bonobos seem to play a kind of sexual dominance and submission game, where sometimes the loser rewards the victor with sex, and other times, the victor comforts the loser… with sex, which somehow seems to keep them from killing each other.

In human B&D, bondage is accompanied by “discipline.” The Mistress or Master is an erotic disciplinarian who “trains” the slave or submissive through rewards and punishments. There is often something rather ironic about this “training,” as many slaves enjoy their punishments so much that they never really “learn.” To a great extent, the Dominant partner is the one who must be “disciplined,” in order to keep things focused, fun, respectful and safe, even while wielding all that physical and mental power over his or her vulnerable, loving sub.

The joys of bondage often stem from childhood games of Cowboys and Indians, Perils of Pauline, Doctor and Patient, Soldier and Terrorist, Interrogator and Prisoner. And then there’s the all too real, often traumatic “game” of Bully and Victim. Childhood is a common source of BDSM desires in other ways. Some bondage lovers were very sick as children, confined to bed and strapped down for medical procedures, so they learned to associate restraint with love, health, comfort and attention.

Just being a child, restrained by your parents’ and teachers’ rules, is a form of bondage. Children and teenagers tend to feel sexual desires long before society says it’s “okay” to engage in sexual activity, making adolescence into an extended period of often agonizing restraint, the effects of which may linger for a lifetime in the form of kinky fetishes for bondage, spanking, humiliation and more.

There are so many reasons we are drawn to restraint, even as we yearn to be free. So, what about you?  How do the dynamics of freedom and restraint, power and surrender figure into your sexuality? Arousing images may spring to mind immediately.  Then again, you might strongly believe that all of this bondage stuff is perverse, subversive, dangerous, evil and even more wrong than bondage of the nonconsensual kind.

This doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy thinking about it. Indeed, people who are vociferously against consensual BD/SM/DS activities or the depiction of such activities – the puritanical preachers, prosecutors, pundits and other anti-sex police like the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force (formed during the Bush years, but still lurking in the U.S. Department of Justice) – are often unconsciously acting out a little bondage fantasy of their own, as they restrain or attempt to restrain people who are more open about it.

It’s all a game of Capture the Flag, ironic and kind of hilarious, except that often innocent people’s real lives are destroyed in the name of “decency” and restraint. That’s why we who are relatively free must continue to speak out against injustice, oppose nonconsensual bondage unless necessary to protect others, practice the Bonobo Way and celebrate “safe, sane and consensual” bondage with awesome balls like we’re having this weekend.

Dr. SUSAN BLOCK is a sex educator, cable TV personality, author of The 10 Commandments of Pleasure and hostess of Dr. Suzy’s Speakeasy. Commit Bloggamy with her at http://www.drsusanblock.com/blog/ Email her at liberties@blockbooks.com

More articles by:

Susan Block, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Suzy,” is an internationally renowned LA sex therapist and author, occasionally seen on HBO and other channels. Her newest book is The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure. Visit her at http://DrSusanBlock.com. For speaking engagements, call 310-568-0066. Email your comments to her at liberties@blockbooks.com and you will get a reply.

Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
Domenica Ghanem
Is Bush’s Legacy Really Much Different Than Trump’s?
Peter Certo
Let Us Argue Over Dead Presidents
Christopher Brauchli
Concentration Camps From Here to China
ANIS SHIVANI
The Progress of Fascism Over the Last Twenty Years
Steve Klinger
A Requiem for Donald Trump
Al Ronzoni
New Deals, From FDR’s to the Greens’
Gerald Scorse
America’s Rigged Tax Collection System
Louis Proyect
Praying the Gay Away
Rev. Theodore H. Lockhart
A Homily: the Lord Has a Controversy With His People?
David Yearsley
Bush Obsequies
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail