Yes/No/Maybe: Setting Sexual Boundaries

Yes/No/Maybe: Setting Sexual Boundaries

photo of two people who appear to be POC - one femme and one masc - wearing dark shirts and holding a lit sparkler together in front of a lake; under photo with some overlap at bottom of photo is a reddish ragged text box with white cursive-like script "Yes/No/Maybe" - under this is a yellow text box with reddish text "SETTING SEXUAL BOUNDARIES" and "Chronic Sex"

One of the best facilitators for communication around sexual acts is a yes/no/maybe list. Essentially, this lays out a number of sexual acts as well as language around anatomy. You rank them and can discuss more with your partner.

There are so many versions of this list out there, and they all vary around different things. Some are kink-based while others are centered around polyamory, risk-aware sex practices, or other things. There are lists that give you ideas to rate and others that are blank. There is certainly value in both, depending on what you’re into.

Here are some of my favorite yes/no/maybe lists.

Bex over at Bex Talks Sex has one of my favorite lists. Like me, Bex organizes things with differences in color and text. They’ve got lists for sexual acts, kinky acts, language, and a really comprehensive list of things you can build your list from. There are more nuances in Bex’s categories, too – it’s not just a yes/no/maybe list. It’s a yes-into/yes-willing/maybe/soft-no/hard-no list. I think that fits real life a lot better. A person after my own heart, Bex has a downloadable PDF as well as an excel sheet.

That said, just because I nerd out over Bex’s list doesn’t mean it’s the right list for everyone.

Autostraddle has a great worksheet that also touches upon what lube ingredients you can/can’t/won’t use and a Venn diagram of sexy activities partners have in common.

Scarleteen’s list includes words and activities that can be triggering, relationship models, risk-aware sex practices, and even birth control. It’s a really great list, and I love just about everything on their site.

Poly Notes on Tumblr has a list that focuses on what activities are okay for people to do in non-monogamous or polyamorous relationships. They even suggest having a list that is for a couple to do together and a separate one for how comfortable they are with those actions involving other people.

Sunny Megatron also has a great list that showcases different activities. It is just a list of activities though, and you would need to create your own worksheet (or use another one listed here).

Each of these lists has great information and there are things on most of them that are unique.

Something to keep in mind is that these things change. Lists don’t have to be set in stone. It’s fine to alter them and even revisit them from time to time. I went through and used Bex’s template for mine and I feel like I have a better understanding of what my maybes and nos are specifically. I added a tab for activities with people other than my partner, triggers, and body/emotional boundaries.

That’s one thing I love about these lists – it’s incredibly easy to add or subtract things based on your lifestyle.

Flogging Ended My Year-Long Fibro Flare #KinkySexTips

Flogging Ended My Year-Long Fibro Flare #KinkySexTips

a photo of a flogger (mixed medium of fluffy pink-purple and black leather) curled up against a grey couch; text "Flogging Ended My Year-Long Fibro Flare #KinkySexTips"

I’ve always been intrigued by BDSM and kink. I recently wrote a post about how the scene can bring useful things to anyone, especially in illness spaces. Naturally, when I attended the University of Guelph Sexuality Conference back in June, I hung out in their BDSM exploratorium.

The exploratorium was a very safe and respectful space, open to newbies and advanced kinksters to learn more about various kinds of play. It was great to be able to test out things, figure out what I was interested in, and talk with others about how my chronic pain might change things up.

I tried low-temp wax play and decided it wasn’t for me. Next, I had the same reaction with electrical play/e-stim, though I think that’s because of how much I utilize my TENS unit. I watched some rope play and hands-only impact play (punching, spanking, etc). Both were interesting to observe and I definitely want to do more with rope play in the future.

One station was set up for sensation play. It was so interesting. Scratchy, soft, leather, rough, hard, hands – we played with a wide variety of sensations on my forearms. Aside from being pleasurable, it was cool to be so present in my body for a positive reason.

The station I enjoyed the most was set up for impact play using instruments like floggers and paddles. My first go in the room, I spent time watching and observing. The second time, though, I offered to be a tester.

I got hit with a paddle, whip, flogger, and canes. During the negotiation process, I agreed to be hit just about anywhere, but the focus was on my back, butt, hips, and thighs. I had a few good bruises that lasted for a few weeks.

At one point, the person flogging me heard me go “Oooh!” My favorite thing is that they checked in, as did others watching, to make sure that was a good reaction – and it was.

After the event was over, I noticed that my pain was gone. I figured it would come back later in the day… but it didn’t. Now, I live with chronic pain, so it’s not that I was completely pain-free. However, the pain in my shoulders and neck was gone. It stayed that way for about a week despite a 15-hour drive back home.

Even after, though, my fibromyalgia pain was gone. I had been dealing with a fibro flare up for around a year – probably more – and it was finally gone. My rheumatologist and I had tried a bunch of stuff to get it to leave, but everything was basically a temporary solution.

Kirsten (short dark hair and black top) looks at a poster in a doctor office of the human anatomy/muscular system

Hell, even acupuncture – which worked at first – had lost efficacy.

It’s been just over two months since then. Despite the fact that I’m struggling to get adequate pain control and medical care for other things, my fibro is still cleared up. I have moments where it acts up more, but without a full flare – and mostly without the allodynia that was taking over my life.

I mentioned it to my rheumatologist at our latest appointment and she was ecstatic. When I told her how, she was really intrigued. We believe that, somehow, the BDSM play helped to rejigger the pain messages my body was sending. Researchers believe that mixed up pain signals are what fibro essentially is, after all.

In fact, ORCHIDS is going to do some research on BDSM and chronic pain to see what we can find! Stay tuned!

I can’t say that this will work for other people. What I can say is that I wish I had tried it a lot sooner instead of dealing with untreated pain.

If you’re interested in exploring BDSM tools more, I highly suggest checking out the collection Peepshow Toys has. SheVibe has some great stuff, too. In addition to being affiliates of ours, their shops are also just amazing.

This post is a part of the Kinky Sex Tips Blogfest ’17 run by Mona Darling. Mona is a former dominatrix who does sexual coaching for women. Make sure you check out her site because she’s running an amazing giveaway associated with these posts right now that includes coaching and great gifts!

a black-outlined square picture with white background features colorful icons in a circle that one would associate with kinky sex (floggers, masks, handcuffs, toys, etc) with a black outlined box just below middle-right of circle with black text "Kinky sex tips blogfest 2017"

What BDSM Can Teach The Chronic Illness Community

What BDSM Can Teach The Chronic Illness Community

beige block on left side of square and right side has a photo of a feminine person with a black mask over their eyes and they are sticking their left pointer finger in their mouth, showing off their tongue and simple band on ring finger; on left, beige text in various black text boxes: "What BDSM Can Teach The Chronic Illness Community"; black text at middle "chronic sex"

BDSM (Bondage/Discipline and Dominance/Submission and Sadism/Masochism) winds up being very misunderstood.

People who don’t quite understand the whole scene think all sorts of things about those who are into it – it involves abuse, etc. Even health care professionals don’t get it, except some really great ones.

One of the things that many don’t know is how central consent is to the scene.

A LOT of conversation happens around these issues. People discuss sensations, actions, inactions, words, and more. Aftercare, which I’ll touch on later, is also discussed. These negotiations can take a few hours or a few minutes, depending on familiarity with each other, the scene, and other factors. It’s almost always longer when people first start playing together, though.

Checklists to go over what might be on your yes/no/maybe list are plenty and you can check out an example here.

Code words

Code words or safe words are something people usually know about BDSM. A safe word is a way to stop a scene/playtime. This can have varying stages, which is why I’ve written code words here.

You have words that can completely stop and mean we move right to aftercare. You may have words that ask for things to stop and for a check-in. You might also have words that signal you’re having a damn good time. It all depends on the negotiation process and those involved.

I use code words/phrases all the time. In fact, a lot of us do but don’t always call them that. We may say we are out of some unit of energy or running low on battery. When I was able to hike, the hubs and I came up with a term that would signal I needed to turn back. Since we’re history nerds, we used ‘bingo fuel’ which was the point where pilots only had enough fuel to get back to base and needed to turn around.

Even something as simple as saying “It needs to be a pizza night because I can’t cook right now” can be a code phrase.

Aftercare

BDSM can be very emotional, not unlike how some of the chronic illness/disability sexual experiences. Aftercare is a must.

It looks different for everyone but can include treating potential wounds, tea, snuggling, a check-in call the next day, and more.

Interested in learning more?

If you would like to explore what kinks may be right for you, you can take this test or check out the checklist I mentioned above. Before you get into the scene, you may want to check in with education-based sex shops in your area to see if they know of any events or classes. You can create an account on Fetlife to see what might be happening in your area as well.

I highly suggest reading more about BDSM before you get involved, though. It can be really great. Additionally, you may want to visit Lady Sophia, a dominatrix and sex educator in Chicago, who offers classes on various aspects of BDSM.

Stop Kink-Shaming DT and Focus on Real Problems

In case you missed it, a recent news story broke involved DT hiring hookers for golden showers on a bed where the Obamas stayed in Russia. Cue kink-shaming and pee jokes galore. I’m rolling my eyes so hard that I’m worried about their health frankly.

I am beyond tired of the kink-shaming pee jokes friends. Knock it off. Some people like pee. Some like ropes or being dominated or babied. You don’t need to mock BDSM to hurt DT. You just don’t. As a sexuality educator, I won’t stand for it. Just because a kink instead your cup of tea doesn’t mean you get to shame.

Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.

What y’all need to be focused on is the racist issue behind this – on the bed where the Obamas slept.

But while y’all are distracted with making pee jokes and kink-shaming, DT is doing shit that will kill people. But, sure, let’s focus on golden showers instead of actions against POC, PWD, LGBT+, etc, or having literal Nazis supporting him and in his cabinet or calling out how the ACA repeal will kill millions of us or focusing on his Russian ties and the fact that we are all fucked.

We need more people who choose to do something productive with their social media presence right now. You can do that. We need people to use their power, privilege, following for good in this fight again fascism. Kink-shaming and sex-worker-shaming ain’t it. We need people to speak out about what doesn’t get the most attention – not DT’s tweets but policies, people, foreign involvement, etc.

When DT tweets, he does it in a specific way to make y’all get uppity about that instead of focusing on the real dangers. His latest question about Nazi Germany for example? Meant to throw you off of Russian involvement, Sessions’ confirmation hearing, and more. Stop taking the bait and start thinking for yourselves. Start reading those documents & reports and sharing your outrage. Read between the lines.

Be a leader.
Share real stories.

Shame people not for kinks or sex work but for Nazi beliefs and affiliations, making it dangerous for sex workers and others to live safe lives, how people are being silenced and attacked viciously by DT and his supporters, treason, effectively plotting the deaths of the disabled and LGBT+ and people of color – you have a lot to choose from here.

Get your priorities straight.

This country needs every voice to speak out on these things. We are ‘Stronger Together’ and we can stop some of this. We just have to grow up a bit here and stop focusing on the wrong things.