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Friday, March 20, 2015

BDSM Info 2: Blood

The number one thing you should know about playing with blood is that you shouldn't.  The risk is high.  No matter how you draw blood, no matter what you use, no matter how careful you are, there is always the risk of infection.  The cut(s) could get infected, or you could be infected with a blood-borne pathogen.

I've played with blood.  A lot of people have and do.  Since people engage in this kind of play, I think it is valuable to present ways to minimize risk.


Anything you use to cut someone should be clean and free of microbes.  I recommend metal scalpels. They are incredibly sharp and not heat-sensitive, so you can use an autoclave to sterilize them.  Autoclaves are available from medical supply stores and Amazon, and range in price from $47 for a small one intended for use in tattoo shops to a few thousand dollars for ones intended for surgical use.  The Center for Disease Control recommends steam and flash sterilization, which you my learn about here.  

In the absence of an autoclave, you can clean your equipment with a detergent and water, or an enzyme cleaner, then boil it to sterilize it.  There are several methods that should be considered best practices, and a good resource for learning about them is this article.  

Of course, sterilization is not going to decrease your risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens; it's only going to decrease the risk of infection to the cut.

It's important that you remember the cleaning part, as well; you do not want irritants in the cuts, either.  You run the risk of increased pain, rashes, and scars (some people want scars, and we'll get to that).


I have used a scalpel, a hunting knife, and razor blades in blood play.  The sharper the blade, the cleaner the cut, and the less likely there will be scars.

When I cut, I want to taste the blood.  Putting one's mouth on an open cut is one reason why blood play is risky; there is bacteria in your mouth.  You can minimize the bacteria by using mouthwash beforehand and brushing your teeth, as well as making sure your face is clean.  There's no way to eliminate the risk here, but disinfecting the wound immediately after play will minimize the risk of infection as much as possible.  Washing it with soap and water, disinfecting, then dressing the wound should be part of your aftercare.

I typically taste the blood, then kiss my partner with blood in my mouth/on my lips.  It can be intoxicating and incredibly erotic.  I avoid going deep with cuts, and I avoid areas where there are major veins and arteries.  Knowledge of the circulatory system helps.

For an extra painful experience, once you clean and disinfect a wound, use Liquid Skin to close it.  It burns like fire.

It should be stressed that there is no way to reduce your risk of blood borne pathogens if you're tasting blood, other than perhaps collecting the blood and boiling it first, or putting it under UV light before drinking it.  It would ruin the moment for me.

Smearing the blood, using it to write things on paper or on the skin, using it to make designs...there are other things to do than taste the blood.  Your creativity and level of accepted risk are the limits.  You still have the risk of blood-borne pathogens.


Flaying involves removing the epidermis, or outer layer of the skin, to expose the dermis.  The dermis is really sensitive, amplifying all sensations you normally feel through your epidermis.  It's especially sensitive to heat, but pretty much any sensation is going to be magnified if experienced with the dermis instead of the epidermis.  Alcohol rubbed on the dermis will burn.

The trick is remove just enough skin to expose the dermis, but do not be surprised if you draw blood the first time, or even the first few times.  You don't need to cut very deep to get to it.  The epidermis will grow back, and scarring is rare.

Dripping wax on the dermis, using alcohol on it, using ginger root...there are many things that will bring pain through flaying, but be extra careful--it is much easier to damage.  Drip any wax from a distance--what will simply be warm on the epidermis will really hurt on the dermis, even if it doesn't actually damage it.


Scarification is exactly what it sounds like: leaving scars on purpose.  There are several ways to do it-and not just with cutting.  You can burn to scar, as well.  Neither method is free of risk.

Tattoo shops will do scarification tattoos, and these people are artists.  They will create interesting, aesthetically pleasing designs.

A dominant who wants to mark a sub with scarification may consider doing it, but since this is a lasting body modification, it may be better to leave it to a professional, especially if it's something other people will see.

Typically, you draw a design (or etch it, then use ink to imprint it) on the skin surface, then cut away the skin necessary to create the design.  To get it to stay as a scar, get a baby toothbrush and peroxide, wet the scabs to soften them, then brush them with the baby toothbrush and peroxide.  If you leave it alone, it is likely to heal without scars.

I will not get into burning here, because this is an article about blood.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

BDSM Movie Review: Secretary

Years after hearing about the movie and more years after hearing about the story, I finally saw "Secretary".

There will be spoilers in this article. 

First of all, I have seen James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhall in other films, and I like them both.  I have nothing against them as actors.  I think they're excellent actors.  Their characters, on the other hand, are mixed for me.

Maggie's character, Lee, may or may not have a mental disorder.  I can't decide.  She might be a compulsive cutter, which is a problem, or she might just be a masochist who doesn't know there's a word for what she is until later in the film.  I think it's the latter, honestly; she only went to the institution because she cut herself too deeply on accident.  She cuts and burns herself to feel pain, which gives her pleasure.  She doesn't compulsively do it for self-harm, as strange as that might sound.  There's not a lot of depth to her, really, but she does go through a journey of self-discovery and finds out who she truly is through the course of the film.

My main problem with Lee is my problem with just about every woman portrayed in a BDSM situation in just about every movie with any sort of BDSM in it: she is virginal, comes from a broken home, and may or may not be broken herself.  While there are people from dysfunctional families and mental problem who exist in the BDSM community, there never seems to be a portrayal of a mentally healthy female with any sort of sexual experience, ever.  It has to be a young, naive girl who doesn't know what she wants, and must be shown what she wants by a man.

This brings us to the man, Spader's character, E. Ernest Grey.  He's an attorney who claims to be shy, and acts that way when he first meets Lee.  He doesn't seem dominant at all.  He's apparently had experience; his last secretary left in tears, and it seems to be a repeated behavior: he hires a secretary, uses her for his spanking fetish, feels guilty, and gets rid of her.

I can understand the moral dilemma.  I went through the same sort of dilemma regarding my sadism for a few years.  I wasn't sure what I was doing was moral in any way, even if a woman was willing.  I didn't have that moral dilemma early on, but I kept meeting women who had been through a great deal of abuse in their homes, and I started feeling like I was feeding into their mental issues.  I wasn't as involved with the community as I should have been, or I would have known that the mix of people with mental issues and histories of abuse matched the general population, more or less.  When I met a few masochists who had never been abused and were mentally together, I stopped trying to suppress who I was.  Who I am.  I'm so happy I got over the dilemma.

In any case, Grey strikes me as someone who hasn't had any interaction or education in the community.  He doesn't bother with finding out about whether Lee is curious about kink, never discusses safe words or the parameters of the relationship or the play.  Furthermore, what he does is terribly unprofessional--and I'm sure the intention is for the audience to know he knows that; it adds to his guilt over his proclivities.  It's also predatory.  Being in a power position and using someone over whom he has power as the object of his sadistic attention is victimization.  He is simply lucky that Lee not only goes along with it, but likes it.

What message does it send, though?  It's similar to the manosphere idea that what women really want--every time--is to be taken by force.  He doesn't fuck her, but coming from a sadist's perspective, what he does is rape, or at least sexual assault, because he doesn't get explicit consent, uses his position of power to make it difficult for his intended victim to say no (she could lose her job, after all), gaslights (makes his victim think that she can't do anything right), and does, at one point, stalk.  He follows Lee to the laundromat and sees her with Peter, then gets angry about it.  He's obviously jealous.

He starts controlling her diet in an unhealthy way.  I get that Lee finds comfort in getting his permission, and that she no longer self-harms because of him, but she's new to the lifestyle and naive; she doesn't realize that Ernest knows nothing about safety.  She puts her trust is someone who can't even trust himself.

Then, we come to the "hunger strike", which is really Lee waiting out Ernest's command to have her sit at the desk, palms flat on it, feet on the floor, for three days.  No food, no water.  People in her life keep coming in and talking with her.  Lecturing her.  She fights her ex-fiance when he tries to get her to stop.  Now, I could have forgiven this scenario if Ernest hadn't made her wait without food or water, and if he would have allowed her to go to the bathroom.  Sitting in urea can cause the skin to break down and develop sores, which can become infected and cause serious problems, including sepsis.  Dehydration can cause severe headaches and, going for that long, death.  Now, a person can live longer without water if there's no food, but that's another thing: starvation is painful after awhile, and if there are blood sugar problems, it can be deadly.  Ernest waits for three days before he decides to give her water, finally getting over his fear of committing to this sort of relationship.

To his credit, he does give her aftercare, and after this point, when he finally accepts who he is (thanks to Lee, who came to terms with who she was after doing some actual research into domination and submission, and made him realize it was okay--that she wanted this treatment, and that it fulfilled her), they develop a healthy BDSM relationship.  Fortunately, nobody was actually hurt, with the exception of Peter, who had to go through his bride running off on the wedding day.

I can forgive a lot in this movie, based on what I suspect about the intentions regarding the characters, but I think the three-day torment of Lee was unforgivable.  Common sense should tell anyone that letting someone go without food and water for three days is unhealthy and dangerous.  Sure. Lee wasn't restrained and could have left at any time--which makes it...okay?  I'm not certain.  I'm all for risk-aware consensual kink, but I didn't see the point of endangering Lee's life by prolonging this episode for three days.

There is some good stuff in this movie.  The display of kink is very mild, but there are elements to which people who have had to come to terms with masochistic or sadistic tendencies might relate.  The stereotype of the virginal female and the predatory dominant do make it difficult for me to give this movie a full thumbs-up.