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S&M: A PLAYER'S HANDBOOK
By Tanonymous
(Note: This was written by someone I know to be very active and well respected in the scene, for many years. Her advice is as sound today as when this was written a number of years ago. If there are areas you wish to discuss, please join one of our mail lists or our channel and we will happily discuss it there.)

Hard copy of this book and many others is available through QSM. Order books by phone at (415) 550-7776, or visit their amusing and informative web site at www.qualitysm.com. Comments about this book should be directed to forwardthis@qualitysm.com, attention Author of A Player's Handbook. Enjoy this information, and I hope it helps educate anyone who needs it about the ins and outs of safe play in this lifestyle.

If you are already an experienced player in the BDSM lifestyle, some of the cautions in this book may be too strong for you, since you already know how to play safely at a level that you and your partner are comfortable with. Please feel free to seek other input and to rely on your own experience (and your partner's consent) to decide how stringent your safety precautions need to be.

Play happy, play safe, and above all have fun!

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

B&D
Bondage and Discipline, or B&D, is yet another acronym used for sexual activities involving erotic restraint and slave/Master or slave/Mistress fantasy games.

Bottom
An S&M term describing the submissive or masochistic partner in a scene. The word "bottoming" is sometimes used as a verb.

D&S
Dominance and Submission, or D&S, is a more appropriate term to describe playing with power and trust in an erotic way. D&S play can include, but is not limited to, S&M play. D&S play between consenting partners can also be entirely nonphysical and confined to the realm of fantasy.

Gender play
Gender play is a term used to describe the erotic exchange of gender, usually between partners. A man and a woman may exchange genders in their play, with the man dressing and behaving as a woman and the woman as a man. Alternatively, they may both decide to play as women, or as men. Gender play is different from transsexuality, because it is much less serious and more in the nature of a fantasy game.

S&M
The common term for sexual or erotic activity involving the giving and recieving of pain and pleasure. The letters of the expression refer to sadism and masochism. Although, strictly speaking, the term refers only to physical play, it is sometimes generally used to encompass dominance and submission play (D&S) as well. Some people spell this term SM to indicate that sadomasochism is one word and one lifestyle, not two.

Top
An S&M term used to describe the dominant or sadistic partner in a scene. The word "topping" is sometimes used as a verb.

TV/TS
Transvestite/transsexual. A TV is a man or woman who likes to wear the clothes of the opposite gender, and/or play with exchanging gender with their partners. A TS is a man or a woman who feels strongly that they are in the wrong body and that they are actually of the opposite sex. A TS may be pre-op, meaning that the individual still has the physical characteristics of the sex that they were born with, or post-op, which means that they have already had an operation to transform them partially or wholly into a member of the opposite sex. An MTF, or male to female, TS is more common than a FTM, or female to male.

Watersports
A term generally used to describe the eroticization of games having to do with urination and/or defecation, and occasionally enema play.

PLAYING SAFE


If you like to play with your partner's body in an S&M or fantasy way, there are things you should know about safe sex practices. Dildo play, bondage, spanking and discipline and other forms of erotic power exchange can and should be a fun and creative way to enhance your sexual relationships. If you choose to practice them, please do so safely.

1. Always designate some word or signal that ends the play, so that the submissive partner's limits are not being violated. The classic safe word for SM play is "Mercy." If one of the players says this word, the play is too heavy and should temporarily be stopped for negotiation. Negotiate a scene and discuss limits before playing.

2. If you penetrate the anus or vagina with any object, make sure that object is one that is meant for that purpose. Dildos are ideal for gentle insertion, but most household items are not. Do not insert anything in a cunt or ass that is rough or has sharp edges. If you accidentally perforate the lower intestine, you may get peritonitis, a potentially nasty disease. If you abrade the inside of the vagina, an uncomfortable and itchy infection may follow. Make sure that you do not insert anything too far up inside. If you cannot easily grip it and draw it out, there is the very real possibility that you will not easily be able to get it back out.

3. Practice safe sex. If you use a dildo on more than one person, or on more than one orifice on the same person, use condoms and wash carefully with soap and water to avoid transmitting disease and bacteria. Use only water-soluble lubricants with co ndoms. If you practice oral sex, use a condom or dental dam.

4. Never leave anyone unattended in bondage. Bondage that cuts off the circulation, such as cock and ball bondage or nipple clamps, should not be left on for more than fifteen minutes at a time. Never use bondage that puts any pressure on the front of the neck.

5. Safe areas of the body to whip or spank are the upper back and the buttocks. Areas to whip with caution are the lower back, thighs, upper arms, genitals, chest and calves. Areas to whip ONLY with an extremely light cat are the stomach, forearms, the bottoms of the feet and the palms. Areas NEVER to whip are the kidneys, the tailbone, the spine, the neck, any joint such as the knees or elbows, or any area such as the shins where bones are close to the surface of the skin.

6. If you practice watersports, do so safely and preferably with a monogamous partner. It is currently thought that urine does not transmit the AIDS virus, but that feces can if there are traces of blood in them and if they are ingested or if they contact broken skin. Blood, semen and vaginal fluids can definitely transmit the virus, and should not be ingested or put into contact with your skin. Even a microscopic lesion in your skin can be enough to transmit the virus, if it has contact with an infected fluid.

WHAT IS S&M?

The term "S&M" technically refers to sadomasochism. However, it is more broadly used to describe a whole range of fantasy games and erotic play that can include the use of restraints and other toys such as whips and paddles on a love partner. Although many people assume that S&M always has to mean harsh physical abuse, in reality, many of the people who choose to play with erotic power prefer do so gently. Fantasy bondage can be done with a silken thread, or can be left entirely in the imagination of the partners. A fantasy whipping can be delivered by the clapping of your hands, or with a whip made of the softest rabbit fur. If these games sound exciting, then this manual is for you.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with going much farther with S&M games, as long as you have a consenting partner. If you and your partner enjoy severe spanking, tight bondage and heavy whipping, then this manual is also for you - especially the sections on technique and S&M safety. The primary difference between a fantasy whipping and a real one is one of quantity, not of quality. The emotions experienced and enjoyed by both partners are much the same in either case.

The words "slave" and "S&M" tend to conjure up images of force, coercion and oppression in the mind of the average person. The classic examples of slavery in this country involve the brutal mistreatment of Negros and Native Americans by callous and impersonal tormentors. Is it any wonder that the D&S (dominant and submissive) lifestyle is less than socially acceptable in today's world?

In reality, S&M play can and should be fun, sexually arousing and satisfying for both partners. Erotic power play can range from light- hearted and fun fantasy scenes to physically and emotionally intense sessions. Regardless of the intensity of the play, S&M can be a powerful transformational tool as well as an exciting enhancement of any relationship.

The props and roles of the S&M scene are those of slavery. The outsider sees the chains, the whips, the riding crops, the devices carefully calculated to cause pain. These tools are physically no different than those which have been used over the centuries to maintain fear and oppression among the enslaved.

On a strictly physical basis, there may be no difference between an intense S&M scene and an actual rape or incident of abuse. The blows of the whip are real. The verbal abuse and humiliation may sound severe and degrading. But the underlying psychological dynamic of what is happening in an incident of physical or mental abuse is drastically different from that of a typical S&M scene. There are several elements which are present in a scene that are not present in an incident of actual abuse.

First, there is consent. The submissive has freely agreed to submit him or herself to the dominant, without any kind of physical or emotional coercion. Second, there is trust. The submissive knows that he or she can set the limits for the session, and that these negotiated limits will not be violated. Third, D&S is personal. The dominant is always intensely aware of what the submissive is feeling. Rather than hurting casually, he or she inflicts measured amounts of pain and erotic stimulation to watch the response. Typically, since most S&M play occurs between love partners, the dominant partner cares about what the submissive is feeling.

What D&S is all about is playing with power and trust. One partner is powerless, the other all-powerful. There is a bond of trust between the partners. The excitement of a D&S scene has been compared to being tossed up high in the air and knowing that you will be caught by strong arms. The scary, exhilarating sensation of brief flight can be enjoyed because you trust someone to catch you. There is fear and there is the feeling of danger, but these emotions are transformed into a pleasant and enjoyable rush of adrenaline because you know that you won't really get hurt. The thrill of "safe danger" is something that appeals to all of us, judging from the crowds of people who wait to ride the roller coasters and enter the Haunted House at Disneyland.

Many outsiders to the scene believe that you have to be sick to want to be dominated or to want to dominate someone. Even people who have a deep craving for S&M play sometimes feel guilty and ashamed of their "sick" desires. They see S&M in the same way that outsiders do, without an understanding of what really goes on beneath the outward trappings an S&M scene. All they know is that they are sexually excited by being abused and humiliated, or by abusing and humiliating a partner, and they don't feel very good about themselves as a result.

What they do not understand is that they are not excited by being abused per se, but by playing with power and trust with a caring partner. Actual rape and abuse, no matter who it is inflicted on, is definitely sick. Safe and consensual D&S is a fun and erotic way to explore alternative sexuality. The games of dominance and submission should not be considered sick or perverted, especially by the people who practice it or who would like to practice it.

There are a number of S&M social and support groups in most large metropolitan areas that give lectures, classes and demonstrations on safe and consensual S&M play. Many of these are listed in the final chapter on SM Resources. I highly recommend getting in contact with your local S&M community, not only for the social contact, but for the emotional support that an accepting community can provide. It's nice to know that you are not an isolated pervert, but that many other perfectly nice, psychologically healthy and ot herwise respectable folks share your interest in the scene.

Next: How to get started
Asking Your Partner to Play, Exploring Your Fantasies - Submissive and Dominant, Fetish and Fantasy, Negotiating a Scene.