Doesn’t that hurt?

“We have to be careful so you don’t get hurt while you’re being flogged!”

One of the inspirations for this blog came from an experience I had with one of my partners late this past Summer.

With the ligament damage in my shoulder, I have both limited range of motion as well as specific positions which I cannot hold for any real length of time without a great deal of pain. You know Da Vinci’s Vitruve Luc Viatour? The straight out position hurts my left shoulder a bit, and I can’t hold it for more than a minute or two. I can’t do the ‘up’ position, as I literally cannot voluntarily raise my left arm the 15° or so. Needless to say, this made certain activities a bit difficult … such as being tied to a tree while standing up. My Goddess and I were doing just that, she tying me to a tree while standing up that is, and being very careful about it so that my position wouldn’t strain my shoulder. It was then that the somewhat absurd nature of this situation came to me: she was being very careful not to make my shoulder hurt while tying me up so she could flog me!

Certain questions inevitably come up when you’re discussing kink, especially with people who are only familiar with the topic from popular media¹. I don’t want to cover them here since general kink isn’t really the topic of this blog, but one question in particular is germane to kink and disability: “if you’re already hurting, why would you want more pain?”² Honestly, that’s a pretty fair question and one which even many of us in the kink community ponder sometimes. Also, like most ‘opinion’ based questions, I can only answer this from my point of view, but mostly kink, even bdsm, isn’t about injury, even if pain is involved in the play. In the situation described above, the flogging was certainly going to hurt, but it’s a different sort of pain. I would certainly be feeling it for a while, but not because I’d pulled a muscle or further damaged a joint. To put it a different way, I don’t get aroused when I stub my toe, even if it’s on a spanking bench in a dungeon!

It’s probably not an intuitive thought, but for many of us pain play can actually help alleviate pain from other conditions! I know quite a few people who suffer from fibromyalgia, yet enjoy impact play. They say that it actually helps them deal with the pain from the fibro. I know that my own play helps me with my issues, both immediately and over a few days afterwards. I think the immediate effect is from good, old-fashioned endorphins and longer term is most likely from the stretching and exercise of the play, just as for any good “workout!” (Only a lot more fun, of course.) Also like you might do for an exercise workout, we’re careful about what we do and how we do it. If we know something is an issue, such as my shoulder, we take precautions to not make it worse.

Putting thoughts into practice

Like most restrictions, these are the kinds of things you should be talking about with your partner(s) before a scene begins or as the conditions of your body changes if you’re in a longer term relationship. If it’s not a constant, then do become aware of the signs so you can plan accordingly before a scene starts. In many ways, this is no different than basic negotiation over any other specific actions in which you might engage, although perhaps a bit more variable. While I write this mostly from the perspective of a bottom, it’s important to note that tops should also be aware of and active in this process. I know that when my shoulder is at its worst, I’d have a difficult time swinging a flogger with any real force or (even worse) accuracy. (I guess it’s a really good thing I’m right handed.) For the record, I know of at least one top who recommends a good warm up stretch before flogging!

While I don’t intend this blog to be an S&M101 lecture, a large part of this activity is knowing your play partner and watching for signs that they’re overdoing it. Speaking from experience, it’s easy for someone who’s blissed out and in subspace to not really notice when they’re putting more strain on that joint than they should. Safewords, and I’m aware that not everyone uses them, are for when you are aware something is an issue. An even better situation is when the top directs the playtime such that it’s never an issue in the first place. (Although realistically, that’s not always possible; we’re all only human.)

I was kinky long before my body decided to supply me with the occasional (or not-so-occasional) non-consensual pain.  I’m not going to stop my kinky play anymore than I’m going to stop geocaching or swimming, although I am going to do things differently than I might have done them 15 years ago. I enjoy this enough that I am more than willing to work around my restrictions and I have partners that respect me and my limitations too.

Now if only I could find the right safeword to use on my joints!

1 – Such as a badly-written series of books by an author who admits a complete lack of real knowledge on the subject of kink or BDSM.

2 – This also completely sets aside kink which involves no pain play at all, of course, but if your kink is petticoats, you’re probably not asking / being asked that question!