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Do you really need to test BDSM equipment on yourself?

Guest blogger Zak Jane Keir does not mince her words. For this we love her. Today, she’s stopping by to call bullshit on a fairly common BDSM idea…


There’s a theory, common among the more pompous kinksters, that you should never do anything to someone else that you haven’t had done to you. I always want to back these people up against the wall and quote George Bernard Shaw at them:

“Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.”

— From Maxims for Revolutionists

If you haven’t got a cock, you’re not going to learn very much by trying out a cock ring all by yourself, for instance. The truth is that even people with broadly similar anatomy are capable of differing very widely in their responses to different stimuli.

I’m a top, which means I get no pleasure from being spanked, whipped, tied up or any of those things. I find them either uncomfortable or annoying. So getting someone else to use a flogger, for example, on me, is not going to give me the right idea about how it’s going to feel swished across the pert buttocks of the evening’s willing submissive. There are plenty of comments online from subby people who have found that their experience with the same implement – and the same person wielding it – can vary from time to time depending on their mood, their state of health, the temperature of the room and any number of other factors.

Of course, it’s important to get a feel for the toy you’re going to use before you actually apply it to anyone. Is it easy to wield, does it sit nicely in your hand, do you need a lot of room to swing it or is it good for close quarters (and hindquarters)? You can get a rough idea from trying many toys on the palm of your hand as to whether they are stingy or thuddy (if it’s not immediately obvious), if they are softer or harsher than you might think from looking at them. And if you have just purchased something really complicated, such as a fancy hood or elaborate restraint system, you should definitely either ask someone with more experience or have a rummage around online for the operating instructions so you don’t do any unnecessary damage to anyone.

The best tool in your kinky kitbag, though, is communication. Always, always be guided by the reaction of the person you are Doing Stuff to. Talk first and make sure there aren’t any pre-existing health conditions that might affect the scene. (If you’re the sub, and you know that you have a tendency to lose the power of speech when you’re having a really good time warn your playmates so they don’t stop the scene in a panic.)

Safewords are another kind of fetish Marmite, in that some people consider them essential and others think they are only used by ‘casual’ players or whatever: I think they have their place, particularly between people new to playing with each other. The trouble with the earnest, protocol-heavy theory that all tops should spend time as bottoms to ‘know how it feels’ is that actually, it can make people smug and careless, so they start thinking that their submissive playmate should experience the cane, the paddle or the misery stick exactly the way they did, and therefore ignore real distress, discomfort or even boredom.

Zak Jane Keir is a writer and editor who has been involved with erotica for over 20 years. She has written countless articles (for magazines such as Penthouse, For Women, Swingmag and Desire) short stories and several novels, both as Zak and as Sallyanne Rogers. She currently runs the Dirty Sexy Words erotica slams in South London.

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