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Sexual bondage

Bondage is a human sexual practice involving being tied up or otherwise restrained for pleasure.

Studies in the U.S. have shown that about half of all men find the idea of bondage to be erotic. Many women do as well. As with any study of sexual thoughts and behavior, the available studies are not well controlled and the best studies are now out of date.

Public acceptance of bondage as a valid expression of sexuality has advanced slowly. Bondage received a positive treatment (if brief) in "The Joy of Sex," a mainstream sex manual popular in the 1970s. The publication of Madonna's book, "Sex," which included photographs of bound nudes, did a great deal to improve public awareness and acceptance of bondage.

Bondage takes practice to get right. To be effective and enjoyable, it requires communication and trust between partners. For these reasons it is limited to being a source of sexual fantasy in most relationships. However, the financial success of companies that market bondage equipment testifies the the fact that it is more than fantasy to many. Reliable data is unavailable, but perhaps around 5%-10% of married couples have made regular use of bondage in their sexual activities at some point in the relationship.

Table of contents


Bondage is not risky when conducted between sober partners in a committed, functioning relationship. Self bondage without another person present is dangerous and in some forms has lead to many deaths.

Other safety precautions applicable to beginners include:

  • never leave a bound person alone
  • never tie anything around a person's neck
  • make sure that you have the means to rapidly undo the bondage, even if you can't untie a knot or release a buckle

Bondage of long duration (over 20 minutes), bondage where the subject is suspended, and bondage thorough enough to leave the subject effectively unable to communicate all pose special risks that are beyond the scope of this brief article.

There is a subculture of people who seek out others interested in bondage and pursue such activities with people who they do not know well. This subculture has given rise to the safe, sane and consensual credo, which includes the use of a "safe word" that the person being tied up can use to stop the activity.

It should be noted that scenes depicted in bondage photographs and videos are chosen for their visual impact and fantasy value. In most cases they cannot be "acted out" with good results.

Why do some people like being tied up?

People who find it erotic to be tied up do so for a variety of reasons:

  • The most frequently cited reason is a mental freedom from inhibitions and responsibility since they have, in a way, given up control of the sexual situation to follow. This is sometimes referred to as a "power exchange."
  • Some like the tactile feeling of restraint, that is, the feeling of pressure or pulling.
  • Some enjoy the feeling of helplessness for its own sake. Some like to struggle aggressively against their bonds, particularly when being sexually or otherwise stimulated. There are a few people in this category who play bondage games that do not include a significant sexual component.
  • Some derive pleasure from symbolic degradation (less common). There are a handful of people who enjoy role playing prison or mental hospital situations who probably fit best in this category.
  • Fetishistic interest in the mechanics of bondage, with particular interest in the equipment and restraints used. Some of these people are interested in the look, feel, and aroma of leather and rubber restraints. Others are fascinated by the relationship between the geometry of the tie, the degrees of freedom remaining and the feelings elicited.
  • As an adjunct to other BDSM activities
  • Like hang gliding or mountaineering, some feel that bondage allows them to do something potentially dangerous in a safe way.
  • In the wide range of human sexual experience, there are probably a few others.

Why do some people like to tie other people up?

People who enjoy tying other people up are motivated by a variety of reasons, including:

  • taking pleasure in the erotic submission of their partner
  • wishing to please their partner
  • fetishistic interest in the elegance of bondage, with particular interest in the geometric patterns and symmetry of the restraint
  • using bondage as an adjunct to other BDSM activities
  • Enjoyment of the power and control one has over a restrained partner. People for whom this is a principal motivation may have trouble making it much fun for the other person.

How is bondage done?

The mechanics are trivial compared to the relationship issues. Start with a committed relationship with a lot of trust and plenty of sexual activity together. Talk things through first. Start slow and easy. Take turns being the one being tied up.

It is important to take at least the simple safety precautions listed above.

Some members of the BDSM subculture take another route and seek out partners who share their interest in bondage. Many act out their bondage fantasies within the confines of private "play" parties where overt genital contact is not allowed between participants.

What are some more involved techniques?

Bondage techniques can be divided into five main categories:

  • Bondage that pulls parts of the body together (rope, straps, harnesses)
  • Bondage that spreads parts of the body apart (spreader bars, x-frames)
  • Bondage that ties the body down to another object (such as chairs or stocks)
  • Bondage that suspends the body from another object (suspension bondage)
  • Bondage that restricts normal movement (hobble skirts, handcuffs, human pony harness)

Bondage is often combined with other sexual techniques.

Bondage positions and techniques

Bondage equipment

See also


External links

There are literally thousands of web sites with bondage-related content. Most sites are commercial, and quality and information content are uniformly low with only a few exceptions. The few information-oriented bondage web sites that do exist are ephemeral.

All of the major web portals (Google, Yahoo, etc) have extensive lists of bondage-related web sites, broken down, to some degree, by topic.

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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