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Bondage and story, or why yoga pants doesn’t belong in my bondage (2019)

The human bondage experience tells a story between two people. In the simplest form of rope bondage, between the person tying and the person being tied. The story is created by individual fantasies coming together. Fantasies are like seeds in our unconscious waiting to be discovered and cultivated. By telling the story with our action, we learn about ourselves.

A story develops from point A to point B in a non-linear way and is expressed as a change in the participants. For example the surrendering of control. The same story is often told over and over until the fantasies have lost their power. When two people tell the same story together they feel truly connected because they are no longer alone with their fantasies.

To put things into context, there is also the physical experience of bondage, of being twisted, bent, and suspended. This also has a great impact on the mind. But in this writing, I will focus on the stories we tell.

So what are the fantasies common in bondage?

Fantasies range from archetypical to individual. Where the archetypical ones often are shared between many people. Here is a list of fantasies that I often encounter. The way I choose to describe them also includes the development from A to B.

  • The loss of innocence.
  • The Madonna and the whore.
  • The falling from power.
  • The beauty and the beast.
  • The punishment and redemption.
  • The strangers falling in love.

When fantasies become individual they take on specific guise. An example of this came from a sailor that I met that dreamed of dying. Wrapped in fabric he was thrown off the ship still alive. While slowly sinking towards the bottom of the sea, to his grave to be, he was visited by mermaids, dolphins, and great sea beasts. He wanted to surrender to the ocean, to the great unknown and giving everything away. In this example, he was falling from a position of power, and the fighting involved to keep his position was over. Symbolised by struggle of his ship crossing the sea.

Of course, in reality, the fight was not about his ship against the sea, but the struggles of everyday life with being away from his family for long periods of time, and caught up the hierarchical social dynamics of sea life, with nowhere to run. But when I tied him in a session, the story was about the sinking sailor in the sea.

The same kind of storytelling is popular in Japanese bondage. Naked geishas hidden under perfect kimonos is the Madonna and the whore. Successful business woman in expensive suits is falling from power. And the schoolgirls in uniform is the loss of innocence.

In most of these stories, the person being tied is the object of fetish, worship, or the protagonist, while the person tying remain an anonymous and unchanging antagonist. The stories displayed in imagery today are often heteronormative both in Europe and Japan – a helpless woman being tied and a dangerous man tying – but most of the stories have their reversed version with a male protagonist.

I can recommend the English book The Ethical Slut for more queer stories.

Bringing stories to life, from the inside out, and from the outside in

Approaching it from the outside means consciously shaping everything outside the mind. The easiest part is clothes and costume that spring out of the fantasies. Just like the overall story has development from point A to B, so does the clothes. For example, the action of being undressed carries a lot more emotional charge than starting naked. Or turning a piece of clothing into a blindfold or a gag. A piece of clothing often also comes with familiar body postures and gestures, that can be used to tell the story together.

Moving one step away from the physical body, there is the surrounding space. Of course, it’s very hard to actually create space where the fantasy behind the story unfolds. There are simply not enough churches and abandoned mental hospitals around free for use. But one can reuse the fundamental concepts of these spaces. A church is clean and orderly with ambient lighting, while an abandoned mental hospital is a decaying mess with maybe sterile light bulb. The same idea can be applied to music, sounds, smells, the tactile quality of materials and so on.

The inside approach is the fantasy that lives inside of one’s head. The most fundamental expression of this is the idea that two equals people deciding to allow one to gain control through bondage – but this is a very vague fantasy. Instead, make the fantasy more detailed and give it more meaning by exploring it consciously. This can be done by daydreaming, meditation, and writing. And it also happens unconsciously by the stories shared in play parties, performances, and social media.

Turning a specific individual fantasy into a shared story

A crucial step in a bondage session is the time when fantasy is turned into a story. The major difference is that the story “must” be told together while the session is unfolding. The story exists in the present, while the fantasy exists in the future. In order to achieve this, two things are needed.

First, the fantasy must be abstracted until only the key ingredients remain. This is helpful because the key ingredients often are the same between many fantasies, and that makes it helpful to share the same story during the session.

Secondly, the fantasy must be forgotten during the session, because it distracts from the story presently being told. It will still be there in the subconscious and it will act as a filter that we see the world through. But the conscious awareness, that is the few things one decide to focus on, must be on the present.

Finally, a story is not dead once it has been told. The experience will provide food for individual fantasies to grow. And the human being enjoys repetition, so we keep telling the same story over and over again. Experiencing it from every possible angle, and every possible variation. Sometimes the roles are even not so important, so switching from tying to being tied, and vice-versa will develop the story even future. Eventually, some fantasies will die, when they simply lost their power.

Once a fantasy has touched enough people, either by them being directly involved in telling the story or witnessing it, the fantasy might transcend the individual and be shared communally. But at this point, it kind of moves in my mind from the human bondage experience, into the in-between space, so that line of thought will have to be paused for another day.

The key takeaways I hope to leave you with is a curiosity to explore your fantasies by telling stories in bondage. Understanding the difference between your own fantasies and the story you tell together. And some physical tools to help on the way.

And finally, why doesn’t yoga pants belong in my bondage? Simply because there are very few of my fantasies that revolve around acrobatical bondage positions.

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