Thursday, 11 December 2008

edge play

The discussion earlier about paid sex - here - got me thinking about edge play. Edge play may mean different things to different people. Here I want to talk though about play that is consensual but potentially harmful, dangerous or illegal.

Where it is truly fully consensual then I do not want to be seem to be judging but ... well I suppose I do have some problems - especially as we are talking of relationships where such power is given to another.

To make a decision to harm someone? To make them do something illegal? To instruct them to undertake a task that was potentially very dangerous? This harm could also be psychological or emotional as well as physical - and such situations are even more difficult to judge. Is it possible to trust any person enough to allow them to have such power? But it is consensual ...

There are also levels of risk I suppose. I know couples and individuals who enjoy breath play. A sub friend is drawn to this and did some research on it. It seems there is no way of undertaking it that is not dangerous and potentially life threatening. Yet she is still drawn to it and I think will have a go. Another sub friend has recently written on her blog about trying it and enjoying it. I genuinely do not judge any of these people. They have measured the risks involved, take what precautions they can and are having fun. So should I not feel as non-judgemental about all kinds of edge play?

A couple of sub friends have been worried about permanent damage to their breasts due to punishments from Doms which caused lumps that they were worried could be cancer. Both were fortunate in that the lumps were not - but they were very worried for a while. I'm sure neither of them planned for this when they indulged in the play. So whose responsibility was it to ensure the play was safe?

I am very queasy and do not like blood so I personally find blood play or needle play difficult - but I know there are readers of this blog who gain satisfaction and fufillment from it. At what stage does it become dangerous or harmful?

If a sub is seriously harmed emotionally, psychologically or physically by her Dom then I think that is wrong even if it is consensual. I believe a Dom has a resonsibility to care for his sub and keep her safe. That to me is a fundamental part of the deal when power is exchanged.

But what counts as "serious harm"? And am I just being a wimp?


Pygar said...

I think I would like to be the first to comment on my own post!

More thoughts are coming to mind as I read it through for typos ...

A close friend is a keen rock climber. It is a dangerous sport. So most of the time he takes every precaution that he can using all the proper safety equipment. It is still dangerous. Sometimes though he solos - that is he climbs without a rope. The adrenalin rush from the added danger gives him much more pleasure.

Should I judge him for this activity? There are plenty of people who engage in similar activities every day. Perhaps some bdsm play gives participants exactly the same kind of adrenalin rush and pleasure.

But the difference in the danger of the climber is that nobody made him do it. Whereas in a D/s situation it is surely different?

But in edge play too it might be argued that as long as it is consensual then what is the difference?

So I am still confused and undecided!


Anonymous said...

A truly challenging topic, I too considered the extreme sport angle and came to the same conclusion that they are largely done solo and you are not ordered to do it.

If we apply the age old adage safe/sane/consensual then both parties agreeing to it have only met one of the three criteria. By plan edge play is already playing with the safe and the sane...well not for me to judge for anybody other than myself.

We do not involve edge play in a physical sense, no blood, needles, breath play (my slave is highly asthmatic and this would surely send us to the hospital) but we do involve a form of psychological play that challenges are marriage and who we are.

I don't pretend to have an answer to this post and most unusual for me I am not sure I have an opinion either but I want to add to the question. Is there less thought to edge play safety given if that play is in the mind?

Anonymous said...

I think it's extremely short sighted to leave responsibility to just one person in a relationship. In a sub forum that I moderate I tell the subs there to educate themselves on what it is that their Dominant may ask of them. This way they can ask questions and voice concerns about the task ahead; to put their mind at ease or at least have an idea of what is involved with it. The more they know and the more they share their thoughts on it, the better the Dominant can make decisions for the play involved.

The responsibility of safety should be equally on both shoulders of the Dominant and the sub. However, at the end of the day the decision is in the Dominant's hand as to when or how it is going to be played out. They better know what they are doing first though! If I knew a risk that they were not aware of associated with a type of edge play, then it would be my responsibility to make it aware to them. As such the Dominant should make all risks aware that they know of beforehand to the sub. For any fall out both parties should take responsibility. Just because the Dom is in charge does not mean the sub has no say in what is going on.

It's hard to say what can be considered serious harm, for some play it can be very apparent beforehand while others the impact may not be noticed until afterwards. Once it again it comes down to trust and communication.

I don't pay too much mind to people who are into edgeplay as I'm not all that interested in it and tend to keep the squick factor to myself. If that is what they want to do, I would hope they are adult enough to be aware of the risks associated with it and take the pre-cautions needed. Pretty much each to their own.


David said...

It is the Dominant/Top's primary responsibility to ensure the play was safe. But a sub who feels uncomfortable should have the right, and has the obligation to speak up.

If you are a wimp, you have my company.

Tristan said...

My position is quite plain. I can't imagine wanting to harm the pet in any way that may take my enjoyment of her from me.

It's a pretty one sided point of view on this discussion, everyone talks about the sub's rights, but it's also my responsibility to manage her body's condition. We are talking about potentially killing or permanently damaging a person here, and on purpose.

The pet has offered her body to me as a plaything, so I play. If I decide she should not breathe, then I run a huge risk that she may not ever breathe again. It took me a LONG time to find her, that sort of silliness is unthinkable to me.

First I would be guilt ridden beyond all hope of recovery. Causing damage, or even death, to such a rare thing is so incredibly idiotic I could never reconcile it with the limited enjoyment the act may have brought to me.

Secondly, as I said, she's a rare and wonderful thing. Any play that I have with her is, sadly, still her choice. I may get rough, ok I will get rough, with her but if I overstep, if I frighten her beyond her ability to cope with it, I would lose the trust she has in me. From that point forward all of our play would be tainted and measured.

I agree that some things seem exotic and charged with adventure. I still think the dom needs to be in control and look at the long term result of anything that happens to the sub. If nearly killing one is a charged turn on, write a friken story about it and play a mind game with the result. It usually works quite well.

Can any dom say that finding a real, honest sub that trusts them completely is an easy and everyday occurrence?

These are still relationships. You have a responsibility to be careful when the lifestyle you lead is both violent and intense. If you want to go fall off a cliff by yourself for fun, that's one thing, but even then, you would be denying your sub the pleasure of your domination. Poor thing would be lost and may end up with that other dom, you know, that one. The one that keeps telling her he will "dominant" her in the emails on fetlife. Can you live with that?

Meh, maybe I AM a whimp, I look both ways before crossing the street, too. I still have a lot of fun with the pet and would hate to limit that enjoyment for any reason.

Anonymous said...

A very interesting post! We like bloodsports and part of what we enjoy and get off on IS the risk involved. We're aware of the dangers, I have a medical background so I'm well aware gangerous it can be and yet we still do it and enjoy it anyway. Why? It's fun and erotic to us. The pleasure we get from it outweighs the risk involved in doing it. Some people go sky-diving and we play around with needles and razor blades, it's all the same because both give an adrenaline rush.


Pygar said...

Thank you Sir J for reminding me of the safe and sane as well as the consensual. I suppose in edge play the safe is being put slightly to one side as might happen in extreme sports. Perhaps it is the "sane" aspect that we need to consider - but how do we decide what is sane in this context?

John has just written a comment on my post about Domestic abuse analysing the difference between D/s and domestic violence being analogous to the difference between mysticism and schizophrenia. I represent his views badly so I recommend you visit the link to read his own words!

You say, Sir J, that you do not involve yourselves in physical edge play - but do in an psychological sense. I think in answer to your question that sometimes less thought is given to safety if edge play is in the mind. I think too that can be very dangerous. I have some concerns for a sub I know where I think the play is edge play - but it is psychologically and emotionally dangerous rather than physically or legally - though there are occasionally legal aspects to it such as displays in public.

When you say you are playing with your own relationship ... surely that is a risky form of edge play in some ways?

I am pleased emdie that the subs who visit your forum receive such good advice. However there is a difference from discussing issues on a forum and being in the real situation with a Dom who is trying to stretch your limits. It is good to have someone to refer to in such cases - but in an ideal world shouldn't the Dom be the person to provide the support alongside the challenge? I know we don't live in an ideal world and many subs may feel they are questioning their Master if they discuss such issues with others - and have already failed if they need to do so.

I agree in the main with all you say about trust and communication and responsibility in principle - but I suppose I worry about the practice in individual relationships.

Shhhh David and Tristan about the possibility of us being "wimps"! We'll lose all credibility with the subs on here!!!! But thanks!

And Tristan I hope we all agree about the responsibility of Doms. You are right too that it is very special to find a real and honest sub who trusts one completely. She is to be cherished.

And thank you especially Rose for giving your perspective of play that some might describe as edge play. I think you highlight the attraction of edge play to many when you say that you get off on it because of the dangers rather than despite them.


Tristan said...

Ok no more talk of whimps. I read my comment again and still agree with myself (ha) but I would like to point out as well a certain ... Urge

Escalation is a big concern. I know how much I enjoy the flogging and I might have a little worry in the back of my mind that one day i might be that guy on the news

It would be easy to get lost if I were to drop my guard

Anonymous said...

Pygar, the forum's focus is on educating subs about the D/s BDSM lifestyle and to offer emotional support if needed.

There is a constant reminder that the Dominant has the final say in the relationship and for the sub to talk to their Dominant about their concern. No one is there to undermine relationships or the authority of a submissive's Dom.

At most what is offered is individual perspective's from personal experiences and ideas given of what to expect. At times it is reassurance that they will not be displeasing to their Master/Mistress etc. for bringing the concern to their attention in the first place. Usually it is the submissive's new to the lifetyle who need this.

In my opinion (others may disagree) a sub hasn't failed their Master when they are seeking to improve themselves on some level, be it for receiving an encouraging word from another submissive in a task ahead or just needing a place to get their emotional bearings in place before presenting a concern to their Dom in a respectful manner.


Pygar said...

I suppose Tristan that escalation is a related and important issue. It has previously been commented on this blog that if a Master is to control a sub he must first be in control of himself. So please don't "drop your guard". I wonder if you are concerned that it could happen then perhaps it may be important to have a safe-word system in place?

I hope emdie that nothing I said came across as critical of your forum. It sounds like a very valuable resource for subs. If you would like me to place a link to it on this blog then I would be very happy to do so. I agree that a sub hasn't failed if she needs reassurance. I was perhaps thinking of a personal experience where a sub was having difficulties in complying but blamed herself, feeling she had failed rather than sharing her difficulties with me. It is why I have emphasised the importance of communication elsewhere on this blog. I also feel it is important for subs to sometimes have others who understand who they can turn to. I have even occasionally received such requests for support myself since starting this blog!


selkie said...

Edge play is ...well can be, frightening. which of course is half its appeal. I struggled myself with whether or not it is rational and/or open to criticism.

In the end, have come to the conclusin, adults, rational (at least ostensibly) have a right to engage in whatever play they desire - given that it is consenaul. There are a LOT of things out there that make me shudder ... and yes, I worry a great deal about some of the "play" I see becuase I believe implicitly it can and will cause long-term damage - but bottom line, not my call to make if BOTH parties are considered rational and willing.

safe, sane, consenual? Perhas according to a lot of standards, NOT safe, NOT sane; regardless, as long as thinking, functioning individual choose it willingful and with intent, they are entitled.

I like breath play, incidentally - oddly too as I have a "thing" about breathing. D. has written a couple of blogs on it at different times. He goes for CPR training at least twice a year- considers it an essential need if you engage in risk play - particularly breath play. He also recommends very quick access to a defribulator - as even seconds without oxygen to a brain can damage it irreparably...

I've never been rendered unconscious mind you; the dominant MUST be confident he CAN stay in control - no matter what the level of arousal or excitement - if you doubt your ability to do so- DO NOT ENGAGE IN EDGE PLAY....

Pygar said...

Thank you for your sensible and very sane advice Selkie. I hope readers take note.

You suggest that it is not for you to criticise if both parties are rational and willing. Part of me wonders though whether it should be stronger than just "willing" given the power imbalance of such relationships. For instance is "willing", having been persuaded against earlier better judgement by a powerful Dom, enough? How about "enthusiastic"? Or am I being a wimp again?


selkie said...


not wimp - not at all - just caring and that is commendable and a good thing to see with the plethora of naricissim elsewhere on the web!

I tend to agree that certain "play" (such a misnomer when describing certain activities, n'est pas?) one cannot help but abhor - I've written before on this - I implicitly believe that some of the more extreme forms of edge play are engaged in due to damaged psyches (and frankly, some of the individuals who engage it, have agreed with me) - BUT, I keep coming back to whether people have the "right" - and I am very very hesitant to start dictating to anyone - therein lies madness and a form of censorhip that I detest. (who indeed will guard the guardians? have to look up the exact quote, but believe Socretes mused on that centuries ago).

And ultimately, as a submissive, I MUST take responsiblity for myself as well - and if I truly feel uncomfortable or unhappy or cannot tolerate the edge play my dominant wishes, then I MUST exercise my right to say NO and leave.

I've never been comfortable (either) with the submissive as helpless.

Anonymous said...


I am sure the emotional games my girl and I play are risky and I don't consider us the category of people who have not thought about it and made a rational decision. But of course doesn’t everyone think that about themselves. We monitor, we discuss, we forgive and like so many others we risk.

Anonymous said...

Disclaimer… I have to confess to not having read all of the responses all the way through. My apologies if I am repeating what another has pointed out.

A couple of things come to mind right off the bat.

A)Do we judge? No. The idea of judgment should be saved for purposefully and premeditatedly doing long term harm… as opposed to these risky games some of us play. If the Dom does engage in purposeful and premeditated harm then he has engaged in a criminal activity and judgment is appropriate.

B)Ultimately, we are all responsible for our own well being. A sub might hand over power to her Dom but she still has the power to say no, and regardless her level of trust if her common sense or gut says “no” then she has a responsibility to herself to follow that inner voice. If her Dom threatens her with casting her aside… well, then he wasn’t anyone she should be with anyway.

C)It is my guess that the vast majority of those reading this blog get behind the wheel of a car everyday. I can’t speak for the statistics in the UK, but I know here in the States you are far more likely to die in a car accident than you are in many other activities (i.e., flying). An educated guess leads me to believe that in reality the risks are far more controlled and emergency measures thought out for those engaging in edge play, than for most of us getting behind the wheel every morning.

Having said all that… Maitre insists on baby steps. He is what we call in the States “a first responder” you know, the folks who show up at the car accident first. He is well trained in emergency medicine and has seen way too much to take anything bordering on edge play lightly. Will we eventually? My guess is yes, but to what extent I don’t know. Then again all of my edges are psychological.

Thank you for another compelling post Pygar!

Pygar said...

Thank you gain Selkie - and especially for your kind words. I don't want to start dictating to anyone - but I think it is helpful for everyone involved to think about the moral issues related to these actions. You are of course right that sub missives must take responsibility too - that "submissive" does not equate with "helpless". However I think Doms have a special responsibility and should think about such issues carefully.

Sir J - you have clearly thought carefully and discussed the risks involved in your play. I hope you have fun! - But take care.

Thanks again Bettenoir for your very careful analysis. Responisbility has I think been a recurring theme.

You re right too that we take risks every day in our vanilla lives. They are usually measured risks that we try to keep low. I think in the main that in those situations we tend to risk harm to ourselves rather than to others - but I suppose carrying passengers in a car would count as creating a risk for others.

I think the level of risk in relation to the circumstances is key - and only the people involved can make their own responsible decisions.

You are fortunate that Maitre is a "first responder" and are in good hands. But what skills are needed if any inadvertent damage is psychological?


Anonymous said...


I beg to differ on the car issue. I was driving happily along the other day and came across a car accident during lunch hour traffic; 3 cars, one of which was flipped. There were many people affected by someone's decision to push a light, talk on a cell phone or whatever. Everyday when you get behind the wheel of a car you are putting your life in the hands of other drivers...people you don't even know, let alone would think to trust with our lives. OK... enough of that soap box :D

You said >But what skills are needed if any inadvertent damage is psychological?

This is an excellent question. We talk along these lines often as my edges are psychological and I love to dance on them. I long to go to places of insecurity and emotional pain so that I can once again come home to his warmth and love. So that I can experience that feeling that it was not reality, that reality is his unconditional love for me. But what happens when things go awry? Good question. One we haven't satisfactorily answered and so have not taken me to dance on the edge of that knife.

Thank you so much for your compelling and thoughtful blog!

Pygar said...

No - thank you Bettenoir. It is the thoughtful and honest comments of those such a yourself to this blog that make it what it is.


Tristan said...

Today I played out a little scene wit the pet (in a stupid messenger window) that made her shudder. She was seriously freaked out and I'm 5000 miles away from her.

I thought I might do it with her in march when I can get back to her, but I decided that it was too close to her limits. Even thinking about it as a fantasy made her jumpy.

Yet, I can certainly see, from my perspective, why people push the's intensity...just's that intensity that drives us to these ideas.

Anonymous said...

I have never openly discussed my submissive nature except to a couple of men (including my husband) who I mistakenly belived were open-minded. In my sexual fantasies I am usually very submissive but now somtimes I sway to the dominant. I once read a book called The Loving Dominant and (of course!) the Sleeping Beauty trilogy. Pygar really seems to understand the loving side of the dominant. Not to hurt or humiliate but to free the "sub" from her own fears and inhibitions. If I had my pre-married life to do over again I would explore my fantasies and try to find that perfect, loving DOM. I love my husband more than anything and he's an excellent father to our kids but treats my desire like some kind of allergy. I'm really greatful to live vicariously through your thoughts and experiences and know that I'm in good company. Being on my knees wet and submissive is better than any drug. I'm a slender 38-year-old red-headed mother of four. I have a huge house and a minivan and an ideal "June Cleaver" life. If only they knew.....

Anonymous said...

I have never openly discussed my submissive nature except to a couple of men (including my husband) who I mistakenly belived were open-minded. In my sexual fantasies I am usually very submissive but now somtimes I sway to the dominant. I once read a book called The Loving Dominant and (of course!) the Sleeping Beauty trilogy. Pygar really seems to understand the loving side of the dominant. Not to hurt or humiliate but to free the "sub" from her own fears and inhibitions. If I had my pre-married life to do over again I would explore my fantasies and try to find that perfect, loving DOM. I love my husband more than anything and he's an excellent father to our kids but treats my desire like some kind of allergy. I'm really greatful to live vicariously through your thoughts and experiences and know that I'm in good company. Being on my knees wet and submissive is better than any drug. I'm a slender 38-year-old red-headed mother of four. I have a huge house and a minivan and an ideal "June Cleaver" life. If only they knew.....