This article was originally written for express magazine online in June 2011. It was written for those without much rope experience. All photos (so far as I can recall) were taken by Kiana at various workshops and play parties.
It’s marvellously versatile, rope. Sure, you can use it for securing the load on your trailer, but it’s a hell of a lot more exciting winding it around limbs, across skin, and creating patterns that you know can stay impressed on flesh for hours later.
Yes, I get tied up with rope – and I quite enjoy doing the tying as well!
If the only rope you’re familiar with is rough scratchy nylon from the hardware store, I don’t blame you for being a tad incredulous. But different rope has different purposes, and only some is suitable – not to mention safe – for bondage.
In my wardrobe I have a bag that’s gradually become stuffed with chained rope – all of which has been used at one time or another. I have fat white mariners rope, which is a little impractical for bondage, but oh so pretty wrapped around my belly and legs. There’s a long length of heavy hemp rope which I stretched and conditioned myself, perfect for karadas (body rope harnesses). Soft cotton rope that started life as curtain sash cord, used for gags, cuffs, and for tying most effectively to bedheads. Dyed cotton rope. Narrow kangaroo thong. Hemp string.
Kept with my rope are safety shears, because there’s always a possibility that the person tied up needs to be released immediately. While I’ve never had to use them for that purpose, I would never play without them handy. A big part of BDSM is being safe, sane and consensual – and a big part of safe is being able to get a person free swiftly if necessary.
Not everyone can see the appeal of rope. That’s just fine – not everyone has to like the same things! But I like it for a number of reasons. For the feeling of constriction as it tightens around me. For the control that the person doing the tying can exert – making a rope harness with a handle at the back, or knotting a crotch rope so it presses in just the right spot. The obvious one – for creating the kind of bondage that leaves a person vulnerable to wicked teasing, tickling, and tormenting as they are helpless in their bindings. But it also appeals because of the sense of power that I have when wearing it.
You’d think that power would be in the hands of the person doing the rope bondage, not the person receiving it. And you’d be right – at least the obvious kind of power. But being the one to wear it also has a power, which is harder to define.
Have you ever gone out wearing no underwear? Or to a supermarket with a vibrator tucked into your knickers? Wearing rope is a little like that. Knowledge that you’re societally transgressive, that you’re experiencing something not everyone has the opportunity to. Knowing that there are knots and bights wrapped across you, hidden beneath clothing. Going to the mall wrapped just so, and knowing that no one but my partner was aware was an amazingly hot experience, and one with no need to shock unconsenting passers-by, either.
So yes, I love playing with rope. It’s an experience unlike any other. Why not give it a go yourself, sometime?