Heavy Play, Safe Play

red flogger

After a series of articles that were aimed primarily at newbies, we will address the concerns of those of you who want to be heavy players. Often times you meet on forums like FetLife or at local dungeons – or even here! — and both of you click because you have the need for heavy play. And, of course, you both want it to be safe.

Many heavy players eschew the safe word; understandably so. But I would suggest some initial play – no matter how heavy – with a safe word and/or safe signal. Remember, one person’s medium play can be another’s heavy. So, in order to facilitate successful heavy play, I propose a process that has worked for many in this lifestyle.

The Process

There is a tendency to evaluate whether a player is safe or unsafe based solely on whether he/she has caused any injury during play. Although this is a very good yardstick, it can also be claimed that safe play is not simply the absence of harm. It is the total approach that should, in and of itself, be safe. Contradictory, you say. Then, let me explain. If you were driving a car at 100 miles an hour during rush hour, you might not get into an accident. Yet, that would be considered “unsafe driving” – no matter what the outcome. Similarly, if a Dominant ignores basic safety precautions – such as having a topical antibiotic on hand during a play piercing or not allowing a safe word during his/her initial sessions with a given submissive – this would still be “unsafe play,” regardless of the result.
Safety – especially for heavy players where the risk is greatest — is a process. Granted, I have seen Dominants flail away with abandon on first meeting. Again, this might not cause any damage. But, in my opinion, why the rush to mega-markings right off the bat? Going slowly is not the mark of a weak Dominant; in fact, quite the opposite. Safe play means understanding the submissive; knowing how easily he/she bruises and how much pain the submissive can reasonably be expected to take. Sometimes it is the submissive who talks with bravado: “I have never safed”, “I can take anything”, or “I am the ultimate pain slut.” But, as we had stated earlier, one person’s medium can be another person’s heavy. Safe play, as I see it, is not going as hard as you can right away. The Dom/me should always go at a slower speed when first scening with a submissive. After all, why risk getting a ticket for unsafe scening?!

You Can’t Read Minds

No matter how hard people try, it is next to impossible to read minds. Books, yes… minds, no. So, whether you are a Dom/me or sub, don’t attempt it. Communicate the old fashion way, talk! For example, as a heavy player, don’t just flail away and rely on the sub’s safe word or safe signal while you are first using one. From time to time, lean over and ask whether the sub is alert and OK. Kind of like the fight referee after a knockdown. Remember, a sub in subspace is often unable to hear or even feel much. Ask. After all you can’t read minds – least of all that of a sub that is lost in space!

From the sub’s point of view, if the Dom/me says he/she is experienced, don’t just leave it at that. Tell him/her your hard limits (even the heaviest of players have hard limits), make sure he/she will respect your safe word and communicate. (Again, if the Dom/me says “no safe words” right out of the box, be wary.) And, don’t expect him/her to read your mind, or vice-versa. As I see it, it is only “topping from the bottom” during the scene; before the scene it is simply negotiating. And, if there is superb communication before play, then the sub will not have to top from the bottom!

An Old Guard Tradition

Although much of the history of the “Old Guard Leather Societies” is debatable, there is one “tradition” I have heard of that makes sense to me. That is where the Dom/me, should he/she draw blood on an implement, is required to give that toy to the submissive. It makes sense if you think about it. It not only has a great safety aspect to it, but it also seems to have a nice ring to it. Even if you are not “old guard,” and chances are you aren’t, presenting the bloodied knife or flogger to the submissive is a nice custom, with some fine safety implications thrown in.
Overall, safety is a habit you get into — especially for the heaviest of players.

By BaadMaster
After a ten year run as head writer for the legendary bondage.com, and an equally long run as the host of the hit internet show “Baadmaster’s Dungeon,” we are pleased to welcome the one and only Baadmaster to KinkWeekly. His thoughts about all things BDSM will now appear regularly on these pages. From the mental aspects of D/s to the nuts and bolts of S&M play, Baadmaster will cover every facet of this ever expanding lifestyle.

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