Bondage is a very common fantasy and researchers estimate that around 5 to 10% of the U.S. population incorporates them occasionally into their sex play. The fantasy of bondage and the reality can sometimes collide, however.
The fantasy of being handcuffed loses its luster to the reality that handcuffs are hard, cold, and uncomfortable, and can easily get too tight. While some really relish the idea of tying someone up elaborately with rope, or of being tied up, the reality is that rope can chafe against the skin, it can easily cut off circulation, and it takes time to tie someone up and sometimes just as much time to get them untied. Then there’s the problem of what happens if your partner passes out or becomes incapacitated, or if you get panicky and need free right now. Enter Fantasy Bondage.
Hard core BDSM aficionados might scoff at fantasy bondage, but for the rest of us, it offers a safe, comfortable way to explore this fantasy. Fantasy bondage incorporates restraints that are comfortable and quick and easy to remove if need be. While providing a feeling of being restrained and out of control, it is possible to free yourself from a fantasy restraint.
One of the leading manufacturer’s of fantasy bondage gear is Sportsheets, creator of the pioneering Velcro based sheets that allow you to secure a partner to a bed in endless positions (see our review). Their Sportscuffs are the industry standard for quality, comfort, and solid design. They secure with Velcro strips that hold the cuffs on very securely
Sportsheets Vice-President Julie Stewart feels that fantasy bondage items help people explore by creating a safe environment for bondage play, especially for women: “We tend to not think of women as having sexual fantasies like that that might be on the edge, we tend to always put that in the arena of the male, but its true, and I think this industry is recognizing that and making it easier for women to fulfill their fantasies by creating products that can do that.”
A great many women have fantasies about being tied up themselves (as do many men). Many women also fantasize about tying their male partner up. It is more about the exchange of power and of giving someone else control, and in those terms, it tends to be an equal opportunity fantasy.
For many people who have partners who find the idea of being tied up appealing, their concerns are often on how to do it in a safe way, and they certainly don’t want to do anything that might hurt their partner. The use of fantasy restraints makes it more fun for them as well, as they don’t have to be as concerned or as careful as one needs to be when doing serious bondage play.
That’s not to say that there aren’t important things to consider. You want to make sure that you never put anything around your partner’s neck. You never want to tie them up in a standing position where it is possible that they might fall over without the ability to use their hands to break their fall. People can get badly hurt this way. You also never want to secure them too tightly or for too long, lest it impede their circulation.
Sometimes the fantasy is that you are doing something to them against their free will, but if you are playing a fantasy scenario, how do you know when they are just playing or when they really want you to stop? The BDSM community came up with the concept of a safeword. This is a word that your partner would not normally say that means things are not going the way they want them to. “Red” is a common safeword that means your partner wants you to stop what you are doing. “Yellow” is often used to mean that they want you to slow down or take it a little easier but that they want to continue playing. Safewords can be whatever you agree to beforehand. They provide an important out.
According to Stewart, Fantasy Bondage Kits are their best sellers and very popular. Other companies also make kits. Stewart notes that when people go into stores, they don’t want to spend a lot of time there, so the kits provide several different fantasies with one easy purchase.
Kits typically include a blindfold or whip or paddle along with the restraints. Bondage expert Jay Wiseman, author of the several books on bondage and BDSM, suggests that first timers not try everything the first time. For some, being tied up and blindfolded as their first experience may push them beyond their comfort level. Try things separately first, and then add them together as you become comfortable with it.
For those experimenting with spanking, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Unless you are willing to learn more about what you are doing, you should limit the area you spank (or whip) to the buttocks. Other areas, such as along the spine, can be more easily injured and should be avoided.
When using a whip or a paddle, you are probably better off purchasing from a reputable fantasy oriented company such as Sportsheets. Some spanking instruments are designed for hardcore enthusiasts and can cause injury if improperly used. Some companies make poorly designed products that can actually cut into the skin. Well-known companies that focus on fantasy bondage are more likely to have better quality items designed for safe and sane spanking.
One of the differences between the fantasy toys and the more serious BDSM toys is that they go beyond the traditional black, with brighter colors and more women friendly packaging. There are fur-lined cuffs, brightly colored and glow in the dark rubber whips, and paddles with animal prints on them.
With any bondage or spanking play, consensuality and communication are critical. Many people find that this opening up of trust enhances their relationship. As Stewart points out, “Restraints are all about relinquishing power and having control over somebody, and we’re so in to being in control of our world, the fantasy of letting go and letting somebody else be in control of your sexual pleasure, that’s pretty powerful.”
Bondage and spanking play is becoming increasingly more accepted by the media, and more and more people are becoming aware of its potential to add to one’s sex life. Says Stewart; “Although a lot of people think about bondage as being dirty and kinky, it’s about building trust and increasing intimacy. If you can get a couple to try it where they both feel okay about it, it can be such a positive experience…” At many conventions they’ve had people buy the Sportsheets and come back the next day and say, “Thank you so much, I can’t believe what its done for our relationship.”