I have to admit that drooling, hypersalivation, and ptyalism fascinates me. It is probably my second biggest kink after rope bondage, and let me try to digest why. Drooling is ultimately about losing control of our bodily functions, our appearance, and our social status. Animals, like Pavlov dogs, drool before feeding, and so does infants before they learn to control themselves, to adhere to our social normals of cleanliness. Residues leaving the body doesn’t belong in the public realm. Urine, faecal matter, and menstrual blood belong in the lavatories, while barfing, farting, sneezing, and crying are expected to be discreet. Salivation is on the borderline in between. Losing control is a degradation into something more animalistic that takes one step further away from the order and cleanliness of civilizations and gods. In a BDSM play, it can be both surrendering to the present moment and submission to a dominants desire—allowing oneself to lose part of their humanity.
Drooling and spitting is very different. Spitting is aggressive and an active decision. Culturally it’s seen as an act of rebellion and as an attempt to dominate. When stressed or unsafe, the sympathetic nervous system rules, so the mouth goes dry, and muscular contraction is needed to force salvation. On the opposite, drooling belongs to the parasympathetic nervous system, which activates when we are relaxed and ready to receive pleasure through feeding or sexual interaction. Drooling is all about letting go and surrendering to the situation. It is the lack of action by not swallowing or restricting the saliva. It is being, not doing and not hiding our desire, just like Palov dogs. Being an adult is all about controlling our appetite for pleasure, so we instead can focus on being productive. When provoked, we can spit at something, actually or metaphorically. But when we let go, then we drool.
One can be forced to drool by restricting the ability to swallow. Ballgags, tongue clamps, and dentist spreaders are popular toys in a BDSM collection. But drooling can also come from submission by being instructed to keep the mouth open and not swallow. It may be more challenging than it sounds when eventually the jaw muscles start to ache, as saliva accumulates under the tongue. All the primal instincts want to swallow when submitting to being witnessed as a drooling animal. This transformation is ritualistic, as drooling starts slowly, almost not noticeable. The mouth is only a little moister as the salivation lubricates the lips and tongue. And soon, the first forbidden drip hangs agonizing on the lower lip; where will it drip? The face is the crown of our humanity; it expresses our emotions and mouths our speech. It forms our relation to the surrounding world. When the face changes from drooling, we quickly regress to something less civil, something before language. Losing this control is often connected to feelings of shame and taboo. And to be seen and loved in that is deeply healing. The constant battle to maintain the walls of property is suddenly obsolete. It is not won or lost; it’s simply not relevant anymore.
The source, our salivary glands, belongs to the body’s lubrication system. It is symbolic of preparing to receive, to be penetrated, to take the outside world inside of ourselves. To surrender and let go. Therefore is salivation often erotic and therefore also forbidden. It fascinates me that the salivary gland’s activation could be seen as the first tiny step towards making love. “Having an appetite for someone” and “drooling all over them”. Yes, the expressions are many. A similar chemical composition that makes up saliva also lubricates our genitals and intestinal tract. It is 99.5% water. There is a theory, and I don’t know if it is true, but I find it interesting – the polyvagal release. There is a nerve branch that connects most of our organs. It coordinates them to react in all acts of life appropriately, and it is said to be very emotional. We have all experienced the emotional release of crying, not just a few tears, but when everything flows—it flushes out of us: tears, salivation, snort, sweat, and all the other fluids at the same time. Emotions in BDSM play can activate it, and specifically, in rope bondage, an emotional release can be triggered by applying physical tension to the body. The body releases the emotions, and the emotions release the body. The water element often being associated with the mysterious unknown. The flowing water is such a symbol for this release—the spring flood washing things away.
It amazes me how a clamp on a tongue can trigger this escalating chain of events. So maybe this is my recommendation, next time you find yourself or another in rope bondage, take a simple clothespin, place it on the tongue, and witness the release into something more ancient, something more primal.