Going into a scene negotiation understanding not only what you risk in an activity, but actively preparing for things to go wrong is important. Sure, we aren’t required to do that, and some things carry smaller risks, but they say preparation is next to godliness, right? Something like that, anyhow.
The thing is, the first time you play with someone, everything may go exactly according to plan. No ropes pinched in places they shouldn’t have, no unexpected marks or wraparound from floggers, no issues with loss of circulation from cuffs or chains on a St. Andrew’s cross, just smooth sailing and a blissfully perfect scene.
The reality, unfortunately, is that often our brains think our bodies should be capable of much more than they may be. Particularly as we age, even things like standing chained in one place for a long time or something as simple as kneeling can lead to cramps and tingling extremities.
So, as I was saying, perhaps your pick-up play always goes smoothly. I think it’s unlikely, but I’m willing to concede that for the sake of argument. My more important point is the risk we accumulate with repeated play.
When you play with the same person long enough, the odds of something going wrong incrementally increase to 100%. We have tendencies to push boundaries, stretch for new heights, vary experiences. Not all of those experiences will be as we plan.
Now mind you, when I say something will go wrong, I want to be clear that it doesn’t have to be catastrophic to count. Having been with my partner for over two years, we have had many scenes which I would put into that category. The time early on when I was close to my period and we started impact at our usual level, or the time we tried to tie a harness while I was wearing crazy high heels and both ended up frustrated, or perhaps the time when I couldn’t find my headspace because it sounded like two girls were screaming a conversation next to me even though they were across the room so every impact just felt stingy and unpleasant, or even the time when we tripped a land mine and I ended up having a very unexpected panic attack.
I understood going in that things would happen. I accept that risk. At a recent negotiations class I attended, the presenter used an acronym I hadn’t heard, but found entirely appropriate after it was spoken. RASH: Risk Aware Shit Happens. I had to laugh, but it’s true.
I don’t blame my partner when things don’t go as planned. Unless he’s trying things which are extremely new to us, which we usually are careful to do in classes or other more controlled situation, moments of whoops aren’t about him being unskilled or careless, they are about Murphy’s Law. Sometimes things just go wrong. If we go into this thinking otherwise, we may place blame for unexpected incidents in unfair places, and that is one way community reputations can take some hard hits.
My partner and I do everything we can to plan for foreseeable accidents. Rope play for us always involves safety sheets. One of my dungeon necessities is a small first-aid kit with alcohol wipes, antibiotic ointment, cute bandaids of all sizes, and stickers for good patients. Funny enough, I’ve used it several times on other people who picked up scrapes and bruises from various activities, but never myself.
What a person might need to feel prepared may vary for everyone. The important part for each of us is not only accepting the risk we take, but also doing what we can to mitigate that risk.
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