from the


These topic heading were originally
starting points for informal group discussion
in a college course on Human Sexuality.

"EROTIC BONDAGE - 12 Talking Points"


a1 Pure Instincts = knowing your own mind - listening to your instinctive preferences.
a2 What's in a Name? = words like 'bondage' & 'erotic' mean different things to different people.
a3 Political Correctitude = discusses perceptions of what should and should not be allowed.
a4 Surrender of Self = degrees of consent - the right to choose - sexual self-determination
a5 Mutual Consent = further subtleties of willing surrender or being forced to submit.
a6 Safety Factors = the very broad subject of safely when game-playing or meeting strangers.
a7 Consensual Non-consent = even more thoughts on limits and agreeing to 'no limits.
a8 Mind Games = psychological pressures added to physical restraint game-playing = Mind-fucks.
a9 Is Bondage S&M? = questions vocabulary & syntax - recognises distinction and overlaps.
10 Is Bondage a Fetish? = challenges general perceptions and misconceptions.
11 Corruption Through Information = dangers & values of making info. more widely available.
12 Serious Sadism = makes distinctions between game-playing and real-life harm to others.

INTRODUCTION: physical restraint as an acceptable/pleasurable pastime.

College courses on Human Sexuality are flourishing around the world. Why? Because many people are looking for answers to social and emotional problems which too often result from the stresses of life today. Simplistic religion does not provide enough answers for a lot of these people, and although many Humanities courses seem to be anti-religion, in reality they are just anti-dogma; admitting that man's awareness of human psychology has advanced slightly in the past two thousand years.

Exploring the complexities of human sexuality and the dangers of suppression of natural instincts does not mean that Human Sexuality courses argue for total self-indulgence. As with all education, the aim is to encourage responsible use of knowledge rather than allow mis-information to support politico/religious control. Reliable information is the key to all understanding - so a clearer picture of WHAT, WHY and HOW people do what they do is the only defence against misconceptions and prejudice.

Jim Stewart Dec '93

(Editor's note August 2012 - Information within these texts has not been updated. Several magazines mentioned are now out-of-print. Some are available on-line. More information on request)#

I'm a simple soul but I know what I like. I arrived at it without any outside help, having wasted too much time along the way denying my instinctive preferences. No one ever seduced or corrupted me. My preferences I now realise have been with me since early childhood, when I climbed into my fathers tall heavy gardening boots and systematically tied myself to a drainpipe with washing line. That was at the age of about six. I still remember the event, and now trust my instincts and distrust dogma, specially when its purpose is to control by deliberately inducing guilt ... specifically about (dare one utter the words) sexual gratification!

My personal moral creed is more along the lines of "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you" rather than "Thou shalt not". This isn't self-indulgence, it's protection of the inner-self. After forty-five years of knowing my own erotic preferences I'm happy to say I have never, in pursuit of self-fulfilment, made anybody seriously unhappy or forced them to do anything they didn't want to do ... which is more than might be said for a lot of people who like to tell us how to live our lives.
Instinctive attraction towards one or more aspects of what for the moment we'll call Erotic Bondage emerges in only a small percentage of the population ... and of this percentage, many manage to sublimate or repress these instincts. Whether this makes them better people or easy to live with, who can say. I'm not a psychologist but it certainly seems to me from statistics that more crimes are committed by sexually unsatisfied people than sexually fulfilled ones.

Back to the subject of natural inclinations towards tying-up games: too many people arrive at them independently for them not to be somehow natural. Perhaps it could be a specific gene ... but so perhaps could the seed of homosexuality ... so what! ... so is having red hair. My point is (I knew I'd get around to it eventually) if anybody reading these notes has thoughts, fantasies, fears or attractions concerning physical restraint of man by woman, woman by man, woman by woman or man by man ... "It's better out than in" as my old Granny used to say. I'm not advocating that you should rush out and try it, necessarily ... but I am suggesting you get your thoughts on the subject into perspective in the light of the rest of these TALKING POINTS.

The word Bondage means different things to different people. For a member of a Biblical tribe and a medieval surf it meant two distinctly different kinds of control situation. The word is old, the meaning keeps shifting ... but a bond is and always has been a contract of some sort. A modern-day Stock Broker and Shakespeare's Shylock would both regard it as something mutually agreed between responsible people: a deal freely entered into.

Today bondage is a blanket term used to describe a wide variety of different activities and fantasies all of which involve physical restraint to a greater or lesser degree. The wide range of different games involving a change in the balance of power achieved through physical means (rather than purely emotional or psychological strength), deserves some clearer distinctions. A roll of cellotape by the bedside, a fully equipped dungeon in the basement or an elegant stainless steel chastity belt worn under an Evening Dress to the opera are distinctively different games. Can they be lumped together as 'Bondage'? Perhaps so - perhaps no.

Certainly the concept of mutual agreement needs to be emphasise. At whatever level of game playing, physical restraint of anybody against their will is a crime in anybody's book. The popular misconception that all 'Bondage and S&M' is imposed on unwilling victims or indulged in by sad individuals needs to be exploded. As a step towards this a few more precise words in the general vocabulary would help to clarify the picture. 'Power Exchange' is a term worth considering for a physical handicap willingly accepted by a stronger partner to give the less physically powerful partner an advantage. This can open doors to all sorts of erotic and sexual possibilities which otherwise might be short-circuited by the stronger's ability to reassert control at any time.

Particularly because the word 'Bondage' in the tabloid press carries with it implications of unwilling involvement and Politically Incorrect behaviour ... clearer definitions based on real knowledge need to be discussed, explained and explored.
Consent is obviously the key.

Anybody who risks discussing Bondage in public can expect to touch a few raw nerves ... and Political Correctness is the flavour of the decade.
But, firstly, let me explain to those of you who don't already know ... for the past 20 years I have been making bondage equipment. I've always been a practical sort of person, so I made what I couldn't afford to buy ... not that much was available commercially at that time anyway. The development of a hobby into a business is often dangerous. It's like living in a candy store. But, over the years, I have retained my original enthusiasms.

So, back to POLITICAL CORRECTITUDE and a commercial Erotic Bondage equipment catalogue: Let's take a quick look at the main areas of political sensitivity:-

No photos of women appear in the current FETTERS "European" or USA catalogues despite the fact that a lot of women like to buy our products. Is this discrimination? Showing pictures of women physically restrained is a much more politically sensitive issue than showing men. Violence against women is a serious reality, and I take real life social and domestic violence very seriously. In the past when FETTERS was targeted (we think unreasonably) by a 'WOMEN AGAINST VIOLENCE TO WOMEN' group in the USA, we changed our focus to only men in bondage. We introduced the slogan 'Serious Toys for Serious Boys' ... which caused howls of outrage from Politically Correct women who love to play with FETTERS toys and don't see why they the hell they shouldn't. We can't win on this one.

Offering for sale products specially designed to restrain has been criticise as making the means available. Rope, chain or rusty wire are easily available to people intent on committing criminal acts; adhesive tape, chain and padlocks abound in the real world, folks. Availability of the paraphernalia of Erotic Bondage from so many commercial sources only goes to prove that such games are enjoyed by many more people than the disapprovers of such games care to admit.

Is to describe relationships which include apparent physical force likely to encourage domestic or social violence? Many experienced game-players claim the opposite; that mutually agreeable exchanges of pretended force or violence help to defuse antisocial inclinations. Psychodrama and Group Therapy courses confirm that repressed emotions are often at the root of social violence. However, critics insist that availability of any information on positive aspects of the subject is dangerous. However, to more open-minded thinkers, the implications of suppressing information or denying such a basic right of the individual to choose for him/herself in such personal matters are very sinister.

Sexually oriented contact clubs and information networks of any kind are inevitably reported by the media as being 'Vice Rings' and subjected to undue police attention. Because the games we're discussing here should NEVER BE PLAYED BY STRANGERS, organised opportunities for like-minded people to make contact offer valuable safeguards. Networking helps to identify potentially irresponsible game-players ... and word soon gets around. Gatherings of mutual interest groups offer a learning experience ... and I'm not talking orgy time. Discussion and demonstration programs help to identify dangerous practices. In my not so humble opinion, sensibly run social contact clubs should be encouraged rather than driven deeper underground.

Specialised social clubs are expensive and urban centres far apart ... and there are a lot of people out there in the wilderness. Why are publications which carry sexually explicit Contact Ads such a sensitive subject for The Establishment? Out-of-date laws which regulate postage in Britain are currently exploited by politically motivated 'pseudo-moralists'. The 'Obscene Publications' squad and Customs and Excise department are systematically increasing their power-base in Britain, and there seems to be a nameless organised force behind their workings. If Political Correctness is more than an empty sham in the new Europe, the British Establishment's general attitude to adult sexuality should be swiftly brought into line.

(June 1997) Since writing the above:
Development of the Internet and World Wide Web has been targeted as a medium The Establishment is determined to control. Recently, ex-Prime Minister Thatcher once again threw her weight against freedom of information or individual choice. She has specifically named S&M as something to be purged from the Internet, at the same time omitting to mention the massive range of Neo-Nazi material gaining popularity on World Wide Web. In the USA it is currently believed that more pornography is placed on Internet by the Religious Right and CIA than by genuine 'Pornographers'. Scare tactics are, as before the 'Spanner' trial, threatening to clear the way to further erosion of the rights of the individual.

Power Exchange games very often attract people who in everyday life are decision-makers. Willing surrender of responsibility by inviting control makes an ideal leisure activity, even if sustaining that power exchange requires enforcement. The degree to which power is surrendered is usually negotiated in advance, establishing parameters of the changed physical/emotional/dramatic relationship.
Too precise a game-plan may lead to only token surrender of power. A broader range of acceptable alternatives agreed in advance gives the controller more freedom to surprise, challenge and sustain the altered state; making the exchange more fulfilling for both parties. Giving yourself into the power of someone else not only removes responsibility, the lack of choice creates its own sense of freedom. Many people feel free to indulge in behaviour which would be unacceptable to them if they were free to choose. Barriers can be crossed when you have chosen to allow limitations to be imposed. Is that a paradox?

However physically challenging the action may become this surrender is also therapeutic. "A change is as good as a rest" as my old Granny used to say. (Little did my old Gran know she'd end up in a debate about Bondage!). Permitting or inviting someone else's control inevitably remains a matter of degree. Pre-agreed limits and exclusions may be flexible but must be respected rather than grudgingly agreed to. As in all games there are rules. It should also be remembered that 'Altered States' achieved through Restrictive Practices often include emotional and social as well as purely physical temporary changes. These changes allow a wide range of alternatives to be explored. It is a complex area of inter-personal communication which can add depth to any relationship ... and the objective should always remain mutual satisfaction or stimulation.

Disapproval of so-called 'Bondage' activities is too often based on the idea that personal freedom is at risk. In spite of the fact that willing surrender of personal liberty is what attracts most people to Power Exchange games, the disapprovers often use apparent removal of choice as an excuse for their prejudice. Paradoxically, these folks are happy to insist that their personal opinions on the subject should be imposed on everybody else ... preferably by Law! So, this subject of Mutual Consent is of prime importance to existing and would-be game-players.

The actual legal situation of anyone who enjoys physical restraint and power exchange games is discussed elsewhere. Here and now, the ethics of different sorts of control and counter-control games is all that concern us. Unfortunately, the arguments recently used to criminalise specific aspects of S&M game-playing in Britain have created far more danger than they have prevented.
By refusing to recognise Mutual Consent as an essential factor in certain (maybe extreme) S&M activities, they have clouded a previously clear legally accepted line. Consent or lack of consent is what so many social, domestic, sexual disputes hinge upon.

Players of S&M games no longer have the protection of the law in Britain if any such game ceases to be mutually consensual ... because the activity they were involved in now might technically be a crime. Incidentally, this new definition of an existing law eroded the personal rights of thousands of individuals on the say-so of one man without reference to Parliament. A highly questionable situation which the Law Lords subsequently failed to tackle head on. (I'll now hop off my soapbox).

Returning to agreement between those involved in such games: Every partnership whether permanent or transitory must arrive at its own mutually acceptable set of ground-rules. For this, as already discussed, vocabulary needs to be precise. An ability to communicate private, perhaps painfully personal needs is something two people are wise to establish. Opportunity to explore, sample, share and evaluate experiences are what give this field of activity it's astonishing diversity. Two people able to discuss and evaluate after an experiment can create a real bond. By building on previous shared experiences, new initiatives can be risked, new heights can be reached. We are not talking addictive progression. We're talking a growing sense of shared responsibility, sensitivity, trust, ... in a word, mutuality.

This topic demands far more space than most proceeding TALKING POINTS.
However intense or elaborate physical restraint situations become, alertness, sensitivity and know-how on the part of the person in control are essential. When anybody is restrained, constant monitoring is usually advisable .... but there are no absolutes. I have learned never to say never. To leave someone alone totally helpless can be part of the trip for both players. Of course there are risks in leaving someone overwhelmingly incapacitated, unable to communicate. Frankly, if it's staged properly they don't know whether they're alone or not. Maybe slamming the street door is enough to convince some people they've been abandoned and the house may catch fire or their controller may get run over by a truck. But for experienced game-players such bluffs don't work; you need to know that the bitch or bastard really has left you to whatever fate may befall. From a safe and sane (a favourite S&M/Bondage catch-phrase) point of view, that is a high risk situation. But for some people the risk is part of the thrill ... and is it any riskier than bungee jumping?

The best advice is to build on experience. Familiarity with the play-partner's style needs to be as close as regular tennis opponents. Awareness of the physical and emotional limits of the willing 'victim' is necessary. In addition, in most cases it's reassuring if the controller has physically experienced the things he/she is now doing. There's no substitute for personal experience; the effect of various positions and materials, the physical/mental progression of various immobilisations, the bodily responses during an elaborately structured scenario usually have to be felt to be fully appreciated. All risks should be calculated risks; guesses should be educated guesses.

Possible safeguards and emergency measures are too numerous to list here. There are a few books available from around the world but, absurdly enough, most of them are suppressed in Britain ... banned without trial or hearing by nameless individuals in the Customs and Excise department with the encouragement of the Obscene Publications squad. (Whoops, I must watch my blood pressure.). Most safety measures are plain common sense. Any scene that goes sour could land both parties in serious trouble so responsibility is certainly the name of the game. Everything written in this publication assumes both mutual consent to all activities and a shared sense of responsibility. Simple precautions can avoid 90% of potential dangers. These are listed in David Stein's valuable compendium of safety advice.

Physical restraint and S&M games are usually no more dangerous than any other body contact sport; they can occasionally result in bumps and bruises, aches and pains the morning after. Near misses with circulation, breathing or balance cannot be totally avoided. Also, like in any other active sport there are rules which are framed to protect the players. Again these rules are published in magazines such as 'DUNGEONMASTER', 'BOUND AND 'GAGGED' and 'SandMUTOPIA GUARDIAN', all of which are banned in Britain. I guess to even recommend you to buy them direct from the USA is technically to commit a crime. The list of safety factors is simple to learn. Yes, a degree of risk can be the spice of life to some people, but scrupulous observation of all safety precautions can ensure that both parties in a challenging 'Scene' can survive to enjoy and build on the experience.

Now here's a sophisticated extension of a topic to blow the minds of the Politically Correct. In a nut shell ... a lot of people attracted to power exchange games wish to surrender ALL responsibilities. However, behind most do-your-worst invitations the ground rules have already been established. Even when the most extreme sounding kidnap or (dare one say) rape fantasies are discussed, certain mutually agreed limitations are implicit in the planning.

It's commonly accepted that physical restraint encounters shouldn't happen between strangers. Getting to know someone socially or through a personal recommendation or seeing them in action at a club demo provides an essential safety barrier. The thrill of not knowing what is going to happen is fine, but in reality it's fraught with danger. Without ground-rules any 'No limits' encounter can fail for a lot of unexpected reasons. In the early stages of 'Mutual Consent' encounters general likes-and-dislikes are exchanged, specific physical imitations or emotional no-go areas are identified. When inviting someone to totally remove all choice from you ... the ALL is already qualified.

Even when putting oneself at real risk is the main attraction (and in my opinion every individual should be free to decide to what extent that risk is worth taking) most people instinctively calculate the amount of real risk involved. Awareness of risk doesn't necessarily dampen enthusiasm for it ... or we would have no fire fighters, police force, lifeboat crews or Pot-holers. Modern life is dangerously short on risk-taking opportunities ... which is perhaps why so many young people are turning to Social Crime.
No one is suggesting that organised risk-taking via S&M and Bondage Fantasy Enactment games is the answer to otherwise predictable lives. But, consenting to surrender consent should be an acceptable concept ... as long as information is available to limit the implicit dangers. I'm not making radical recommendations here, I am facing the indisputable fact that elaborate Role Playing fantasy enactment scenarios with virtually no specified limits are happening in clubs and private bedrooms in many parts of the world every day. Believe me they are. If you were allowed to read "DRUMMER" magazine or "BOUND & GAGGED" or "MASSAD" you would have more information on which to base your own opinions.

To provide a total removal of choice experience for somebody can be more dangerous for the giver than the receiver. The responsibility of making a dream come true is fraught with unexpected pitfalls. Just as it's impossible to please somebody unless you have some indication of what they like ... most of us don't know if we will really enjoy something we've fantasised about until it happens for real. Occasionally dreams have a way of turning into nightmares, so if someone invites a "No Limits" experience and it's more than he/she bargained for, it's up to the controller to try to recognise the signs. BUT in a situation where the "victim" also wants the luxury of being able to resist, complain, scream for help if allowed, get angry ... the controller of the scene has to double guess and sometimes triple guess a manipulative "bottom".

During what might seem to be a ruthless forced control scene, sensitivity to the delicate balance between the demands of the fantasy scenario and the actual mental/physical state of the willingly helpless victim (especially if he/she is efficiently immobilised and gagged) is essential. For the controller of such a scene to sustain the energy and atmosphere, improvising while following a pre-determined plan; anticipating needs while monitoring changes in emotional climate; deciding whether to push the scene ahead or ease up temporarily ... is a tightrope. The responsibilities of the controller, whether male or female combines the roles of stage manager, director, scriptwriter, lover and GOD.
Even token surrender of ALL choice is a subject for any couple to explore in detail before jumping off the high diving board. It's advisable to have first played together in the shallows.

Several of our TALKING POINTS so far have discussed turning fantasies into reality. Mind Games rely more on distorting reality in the mind of the controlled/restrained person. For example, to threaten some helpless soul with something they specifically don't want ... although you have no intention of doing it to them ... but you convince them that you will. That's a simple "Mind Fuck", to use the charming American term. A more sustained mind-blowing trip can be as elaborate as actually carrying out a physical kidnap scenario involving four well-rehearsed accomplices, two motorbikes and a pickup truck ... and keeping the scenario developing for anything from four to 24 hours. That takes good judgement of your "victim's" needs and mindset ... plus good casting, sustained Role Playing and efficient Stage Management. Pure theatre. (See chapter on Kidnap Fantasies in 'SO I LIKE TO GET TIED UP - SO WHAT!?'in 'Publications').

Mind Games are often improvised and don't always need elaborate planning. To get somebody willingly helpless for an afternoon of comfortable mutual fun ... and then within their hearing pick up the phone and invite a couple of friends over, suggesting they "Bring that little black box". That can give the hapless helpless an hour of anxiety, apprehension, anger or frustration waiting for the doorbell to ring ... even if you had your finger on the phone cut-out while apparently making the call.
Again everything is a matter of degree. If the bond between two game players is strong enough and their mutual taste is for very intense scenes, a mind manipulation experiment can generate real desperation, fury and anxiety. Such an experience may not be erotically pleasurable at the time but, like a lot of painful and seemingly extreme SM/Bondage happenings, they are survived rather than enjoyed at the time. Then, in retrospect, they can fuel a stimulating fantasy for many months to follow. Of course, such intensity is not everybody's cup-of-tea.

Revenge and retribution can also stem from a successful Mind Fuck if the two protagonists enjoy Role Reversal. In many catch-as-catch-can relationships, to pay back with interest is the name of the game. Suspense is another factor: As any good film maker will tell you, suspense often comes from what you think might happen but are not quite sure when or how it's going to happen. Sustaining the game on that level requires creative imagination and energy. To jump somebody you like through a series of difficult hoops using mainly mental manipulation provides a wonderful world of alternatives for the creative (sadistic?) mind. And the receiver of the treatment can end up more drained than at the end of a physical sex marathon. However, for a partner to be in control of the sexual as well as mental merry-go-round on such a trip can be an experience to remember.

Many people would say "Yes", some would say "Who cares?". DeSade and Masoch between them left us a legacy of different ideas and images. Today their published works are only marginally influential. People who do make the effort to explore them either find their ideas distasteful or disturbingly attractive; either a turn-on or a turn-off. Whichever way, the names of this unlikely duo have been combined to form a dangerously imprecise blanket term for a wide variety of tastes, fantasies and everyday activities which do not figure in the writings of either man. In reality most of their writing falls outside our strict parameters of MUTUAL CONSENT.

So, to get back to our topic, in my experience many people who are attracted to tying-up situations are not necessarily turned-on by the entire range of what are conventionally called S&M activities such as pain, humiliation and rough sex. These can be totally absent from a devoted Bondage Enthusiast's list of preferences. Also, everything is a matter of degree ... which reinforces my point that distinctions need to be clear if game-players are to communicate their likes and dislikes successfully ... and if "outsiders" are to understand the subtle distinctions within the subject ... particularly regarding CONSENSUAL NON-CONSENT.

I'm sometimes accused of making distinctions where none exist. Of course there are overlaps at all levels of SM/Bondage (as it's generally lumped together). But one quite clear distinction is interesting to explore: People who like to be restrained as a prelude to experiencing something else often have a different mindset to those who like to be wrapped, strapped, chained, encased or isolated as a challenging or luxurious end in itself. No better or worse, no righter or wronger ... just different. Many FETTERS customers have confessed to me that they are "Into Bondage but not into S&M". They're almost apologetic about it. Where do they pick up this inference that if you're into one you have to be into a whole range of other games? Perhaps it's our constant stringing together of S'n M'n Bondage?
Restraint need not necessarily be uncomfortable ... or, deliberately, it can be an elaborate progressive physical endurance test. Even so, are either of these S&M trips? Escaping from restraints can be exhausting and exhilarating. Failure to escape can lead to painful threatened consequences which are stimulating to anticipate or worth making a more painful effort to avoid. "Pink Cloud" physical restraint situations allow the mind to luxuriate isolated from the real world if there are no uncomfortable pressure points. Bags and sacks and hoods and helmets allow the imagination to float free. Sensory deprivation which removes sounds and sight and sense of touch soon opens up pathways to intensified sensual responses. Changes in air flow, temperature or position effected from outside, beyond the control of the receiver can be a serious experience of powerlessness ... and an enjoyable Power Trip for the controller.

People who aren't instinctively aware of the potential of physical restraint as an end in itself ask what the 'Bondage Top' gets out of it. The elaborate processes of wrapping, strapping, cocooning, controlling, adjusting, intensifying, slackening, provoking or reassuring are like playing a sensitive musical instrument. The erotic potential of sensitising and de-sensitizing, isolating and surprising, infuriating and calming offers a vast landscape of creative self-indulgence for the person controlling a physical restraint trip for a willing subject (a better word than Victim).

Masochism in its traditional meaning might apply to the recipient but hedonist may be a more accurate description, because the sole intention is towards pleasure even if the pleasure comes through discomfort, pain or helplessness. The controller may have a sadistic streak or just a wicked sense of humour, or be a voyeuristic sensualist. Also, the sense of power can be a trip in itself ... while, after a session, the demand for creative energy plus the responsibility can leave the controller as drained as the physically challenged recipient!

A provocative title and, at this point in the proceedings, perhaps irrelevant. My dictionary defines a fetish as "An object superstitiously invested with divine, demonic or erotic power, and as such held in awe and usually worshipped" ... but it's not a very good dictionary. The word Fetishism gets "Erotic interest in some object intimately connected with a person adored". Where this puts bondage equipment or tying and being tied as a pleasurable pastime beats me (if you'll excuse the expression.).
Motorcycle boots and stiletto heels, leather corsets and latex bodysuits, army camouflage or sequins & feathers have recognised erotic connotations ... but are they Fetish Items? The Marquis DeSade preferred fur. Is it a case of ... whatever turns you on? The reason for including this slot is to explore the repeated suggestion that pleasure gained from physical restraint is in itself a fetish or "perversion". To some people the act of restraining or being restrained is a potent sexual stimulant. To others it's simply a way of redressing the balance of physical power during erotic games. Rope, chain, hospital strait-jacket or police handcuffs attract some people's attention whenever they see them. Many bondage enthusiasts admit to have had an unfocused attraction towards such images since early childhood. Are these, as I once heard an academic ask, "icons which excite the erotic psyche" or simply theatrical properties necessary to completing the picture for a personal fantasy scene? Role Play can demand detailed stage management. Bondage/SM scenarios are often, as I've said before, pure theatre ... symbolic, stylised; an exercise in escapism.

Perhaps the stereotype Dominatrix or Leather Master is a fetish object, but the reality behind the theatrical mask is often disarmingly human. The interaction is what matters. As fetish items, the tangible physical reality of most restraint equipment, whether metal or leather, won't allow you to get too far away from REAL. But however restricted or imprisoned your body is, the mind is free to make the experience whatever you want it to be. So, fetish objects may support your fantasies or intensify your imaginings.

Fetishism as a word is often used as a blunt instrument along with kinkiness, decadence, perversity and sexual deviance. There's perhaps a more precise word for any impulse which draws you to explore beyond the edges of so-called 'Normal' sexuality ... its INDIVIDUALITY. I say, enjoy it! And while we're putting names to things, there are times when the actual pursuit of control and counter-control games might reach a point where it could be called obsession. I personally believe in moderation in all things, but a good energetic enthusiasm can be called a passion ... and passion is good.

There is a false premise that if people don't get to hear about something they won't do it. That doesn't hold water. We've already discussed how a surprising number of people intuitively arrive at a liking for tying-up games before they've discussed it with anybody. Too many of them spend too long believing they're the only people in the world with erotic fantasies involving physical restraint. Most of what is available to read on the subject is ill-informed. If 'Repressionists' argue that availability of information will encourage people to try things they wouldn't otherwise try. The other side of that argument is that too many people instinctively drawn to it, already try it without sufficient information to do it safely. I've met several of the survivors.

Police files are full of 'Death by misadventure' cases. People don't need the FETTERS catalogue to buy washing line, luggage straps, padlocks or to play in mail sacks nicked from the Post Office. All have been used for self-indulgent purposes by people around the United Kingdom since Kingdom Come. I know this for a fact from the small percentage of people who have eventually found FETTERS and confessed to me their previous intuitive experiments.

If banned Erotic Bondage magazines corrupt it is because the banning infers that to enjoy such self-indulgences is kinky, perverted or deviant (as the tabloids like to put it). I just want to de-mystify it a bit. In doing so I may also de-glamourise it for the people who think it's trendy to be kinky. In my encounters with HUMAN SEXUALITY studies, very seldom do people who haven't already got a natural curiosity about it develop a sustained active interest. Either it's in you or it isn't. In my experience very few people can be persuaded to it unless they do it to please a partner. Can that be bad? As a bright young student in Michigan put it "There are How-to books on almost every subject under the sun, but you can't be into everything. You choose." Do How-to books seduce or corrupt?

Restrictive Practices aren't for everybody. But, if somebody has decided they want to find out more about the subject, is it wrong to help them towards an opportunity to meet with other people who are more knowledgeable on the subject? That is not corruption it's common sense. In terms of channelling natural urges, if you want to try Kickboxing or Judo you start by finding a qualified Master rather than just kicking the hell out of a friend and hoping you eventually get it right. In Martial Arts increased know-how and practised skills bring with them increased responsibility.

History proves that the banning of any pleasurable activity does not stop it happening. Usually, it just gets less safe and more expensive. Physical restraint games with or without erotic overtones may not be for everybody but they are as old as the hills. Society allows people to shin up mountain rock faces in the pouring rain, or play Rugby football in the winter mud with virtually no clothes on ... so if consenting adults choose to spend their weekends tying one another up for their mutual enjoyment ... I say don't knock it till you've tried it. But if people are tempted to try, then I particularly want them to do it safely and responsibly and only with consenting partners.

Everything discussed so far has seriously and genuinely insisted that MUTUAL CONSENT must be the basis of all activities considered here. Real sadism and real violence are a completely different issue. The darker side of human nature is a fact of life. Manifestations such as Nazi Death Camps and the Catholic Inquisition are history, but the same dark forces are noticeably at work today in Bosnia and the Middle East. Closer to home, evil (as Christians call it, and in the language of other major religions "The Negative") is manifest in many social areas.

Today, political ambition and religious self-righteousness are still used as excuses for sadistic, vicious and violent excesses. These range from Irish terrorists of both persuasions destroying Ireland, Christian Fundamentalists howling abuse and condoning murder outside abortion clinics ... down to the depths of the good citizens of Cade County, Virginia campaigning in the streets with placards proclaiming "Thank God for A.I.D.S.".

What I call Sadism is often a factor in Man's Inhumanity to Man ("People's Inhumanity to People" doesn't have the same ring to it but is more accurate). Many good people, in defending their deeply felt beliefs, have toppled over the edge and exercised emotional if not physical violence to others. The dark forces in human nature are close to the surface, and the smallest thing can trigger them unless we remain very conscious of the dangers. The urge to defend our opinions and our territories are natural. Defence too easily turns into attack.

My argument, in reviewing these disturbing natural tendencies is double edged:

1) There is innate violence/sadism in most of us.
2) To channel such impulses through controlled outlets is safer than bottling them up FOR SOME PEOPLE.

Most social violence is the result of frustration. Intelligent recognition of the forces at work is the only solution to many problems. Prohibition seldom works. Repression is a negative force. Bung up the spout of a steaming kettle and the lid will blow off! These are all facts of life not solutions. I'm offering no solutions to the ills of the world, to the frailty of human nature or the failure of organised religion to deal intelligently with so many forces they perceive as being evil.

In the context of this discussion I'm only interested in pointing out that people who MUTUALLY CONSENT to act out scenes of physical control and counter-control; who give or receive actual physical 'abuse' to a degree acceptable to themselves ... are less danger to themselves and other people than if they are prevented or inhibited. Arguments against prosecution of 'Victimless Crimes' have had a lot of media coverage recently. So why are they still given such high priority in over-stressed courts, with the victims of prosecutions filling up overfilled prisons at great expense to the Tax Payer? Can this be purely the result of lobbying by self-styled 'Do-gooders'? Today's social ills are too many and too extreme for police and politicians to waste valuable resources on interfering with the private bedroom activities of responsible individuals.

The current sweeping clampdown on sexually explicit literature may appear to be a move to curb social decay ... but it could also be seen as a convenient platform for desperate leaders of the political and religious Establishment. Police investigations into non-consensual abuse, corruption of minors and cruelty to animals I heartily endorse. But the constant linking of fetish related or SM activities with CHILD ABUSE and SEX WITH ANIMALS in the media seems to be a deliberately sustained manipulation of the truth.

On the topic of Personal Liberty I am aware that many new Personal Freedoms impinge upon other peoples personal freedom (for example over-amplified music). But in the privacy of the bedroom between consenting adults, I'm a firm believer that the line between self-indulgence and self-determination whether spiritual, moral or social surely rests on the benefit / harm ratio as perceived by the individuals involved. The responsibility of both law and politicians in such cases should be to ensure that other people MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS.

Enough already - end of Talking Points