Rope Identity Hand out @SHIBARICON

Rope Identity

Klawdya Rothschild and Lqqkout and

Do Klawdya and Lqqkout know everything…or pretend to know everything?

Nope.  That would make events like this would be awfully boring, not to mention preachy.

What we do know, is that language and terminology change with time.  Changes within the community just over the past 10 years have been radical. We now have a more open media, celebrated authors and leaders, and online international kink communities with rapid, easy, information exchange.  Conflicts in terminology reflect our highly complex, diverse, and evolving lifestyle, just as it celebrates our creativity. This conflict, while problematic at times, is responsible for the great art, books, conferences, FetNights… and a new batch of young Kinksters, bringing with them a Post-Modern, more fluid understanding of labels and identity.

In short: Language, use and understanding changes over time; culture adjusts.

Throughout kink culture, people adopt labels to describe their play styles, sexual preferences, or levels of expertise. These labels can provide a convenient way to communicate during scene negotiation or when first introducing yourself. While some terms have generally-accepted meanings, asking a group of people to define some of them can spur fierce disagreements.

In this discussion, we’ll examine identity amidst the minefield of expectations, definitions, and preconceptions and hopefully dispel some of the myths of What It Is That We Do (WIITWD).

As you participate in this discussion, try asking yourself some of these questions:

1)      What labels do I generally use to describe myself?

2)      Do I define my labels, or do they define me?
(Do I prefer being known as ___, or do I use ___ because it best describes what I do?)

3)      If I couldn’t use my typical labels, how might I describe myself or my play style?
(Alternatively, how might you compare yourself to someone else who uses that label?)

4)      What about this particular label appeals to me?
(Does this label indicate special authority, experience, or association?)

5)      Do you limit your activities based on the labels you’re known for?
(What might happen if you acted uncharacteristically?)

We look forward to sharing interpretations of the shades of identity and WIITWD together. **While in this safe space, all are allowed to express their opinions without fear of judgement.**

Bondage: Turning Japanese? Before or after the song? J (The pre-amble)

Japanese history has a long tradition of wrapping and tying going back a millennium. From Shinto items ceremonially tied, food packaging, and clothing. Tying is omnipresent in Japanese culture, so it is easy to see how it is be PERV-asive enough to include sexual practices. However the practice of Japanese Rope Bondage, which we call by many names, is a young practice (20th Century), much like organized BDSM– and the terms used are even younger.  It is important to note that not all bondage is Japanese style and not all bondage buffs identify with eastern culture.


Rigger – Rope Artist – Nawashi – Sensei – Top – Bottom – Switch – Dominant – Submissive – Master – Slave – Victim – object –  Shibari – Kinbaku – Hojo Jitsu – Collared – Poly – Swinger – Scene   ETC ad infinitum.

Shibari- A modification of the verb “to tie”, also used as a gerund (verb as noun) for tied objects.  Shibori, often with an O, is also a technique of tie die, and wrapping presents and novelties.

Kinbaku- a word most commonly used to describe rope ties on the body in a sexual context.  However, much like the word “bondage” in English it does not have an exclusively sexual meaning, but has become increasingly conflated with sexual bondage in recent years.

Hojo Jitsu- A renaissance period (Edo) practice in martial arts typically combined with other martial arts such as Budo, Ju-jitsu or Akido. It teaches physical restraint and sometimes punishment/humiliation of captives.  It has different methods of binding prisoners on the basis of social status, profession and gender, lending itself to vivid re-interpretation in the kink world.

Hayanawa/Torinawa is a fast, knotless method for capture.  Our modern sexual bondage is however most likely derived “Honnawa” a technique used for long-term binding during transportation, legal proceedings and the public display of prisoners. Both combine inescapable bondage with a highly developed and intentional visual and psychological aesthetic.

Rigger: Someone who ties.  Outside of kinky context, rigger typically refers to theatre tech.  Climbers may use it in reference to belaying on indoor “rigs”.  Within kink, this term is often used to indicate a proclivity for technical proficiency or expertise, while purposefully circumnavigating other social markers such as: Top/Bottom/Dom/Sub/Western/Eastern.

Rope Artist: Someone who ties. Much like rigger, this may attempt to avoid social markers.  Unlike rigger, this may indicate that aesthetics are prioritized over technique, perhaps eclipsing sex or other play. (Note: prioritized does not mean the other aspects are unimportant.)

Nawashi: Someone who ties.  Loosely translated: Rope Master; nawa= rope.  Indicates a desire to evoke traditional Japanese aesthetics and technique in self, play, partners, and at large.

Sensei: Teacher.  A term used to address teachers in many martial arts traditions.

Top: Someone who ties/flogs/etc.  Intentionally avoids social markers and power dynamics.

Bottom: Someone who gets tied etc. Like Top, it avoids social markers and power dynamics.

Switch: Top, bottom, and more.  Like top and bottom it applies to different practices. NOT code for Ambivalent, Undecided, or Unskilled. It can often mean versatile, or willing to explore.

Dominant: An identity indicating a preference for the power, in a power dynamic.  This may include topping, but not necessarily.  There are a variety of sub-categories within this.

Submissive: An identity indicating a preference for a lack of power in a power dynamic.  This can include bottoming, but not necessarily. Like Dominant, this takes on many forms.

Master: An identity typically indicating a Dominant in an ownership paradigm, or the desire for such.  This term can also indicate a level of expertise in a technique (such as Rope Master).

Slave: An identity indicating ownership, or committed servitude to a Dominant/Master, or the desire for such.  In traditional protocol the first letter of terms of address, including names are often un-capitalized.  This is considered old fashioned by some, but is still widely practiced.

Collared:  Expression of a formal commitment to a power relationship.  This often includes a ceremony/ritual where a “collar” is placed on the recipient.  In recent times a collar is not always an actual collar.  Collars are now also often used for animal “roleplay”.

Victim: Someone who is tied etc.  A controversial term among lifestyle advocates working for the decriminalization of BDSM.  It may also refer to a bottom in rape fantasy.

Object: A term indicating use for pleasure, typically either a submissive or a bottom.

Scene: BDSM activities in a negotiated, finite time and place, not always including sexual contact.  It typically refers to play in public, but can also indicate play-time for 24-7 relationships.  Scenes do not require a romantic or sexual relationship between the play-ers.

Polyamorous: A relationship type with multiple partners and/or multiple relationships.  Examples include more than 2 people together and multiple relationships that do not intermingle.

Swinger:  A term indicating a sexually open relationship, varying widely from relationship to relationship.  Swinger comes with a historical connotation of “wife-swapping” or married couple seeking additional bedroom partners; however this is not always accurate.

Why do you think what you think?  How do you know what you know? Does it SERVE you?

When thinking about yourself, and what turns you on, have you evaluated why you like what you like? How this relates, and helps/hurts how you relate to others and your partners?

The definition of sexual fetish: an object or activity for which sexual arousal, and sometimes sexual gratification, cannot be achieved without its use or action. Note also paraphilia. ***

Thinking Points (inspired by many heated threads on the topic):

Statement 1: It seems one cannot speak without being attacked, baited, belittled, or harassed by the few who feel they must distinguish themselves as having the more correct knowledge.

Statement 2:  If Kinbaku is the erotic manifestation of rope bondage arts, is the tie erotic or the intent?  e.g.: If a soldier applies a box tie to restrain a prisoner and becomes aroused.

Statement 3: “We were taught forms handed down from generation to generation, but each time a new generation would put its own spin on the form and would even change its name. It drives the traditionalists crazy because while they want things to stay rigid, fixed, and unchanging, artistic expression just won’t do that. Every art is a living, breathing entity which reflects the people who are practicing it as much as it reflects its tradition and origins.”

Statement 4: “I doubt anyone ever came listening to two sticklers define some terms.”

Recommended Reading:

Non Kink books-
Sexual Personae, by Camille Paglia
Maat Magick, by Nema
Urban Tantra, by Barbara Carellas
Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
Social Postmodernism: Beyond Identity Politics, by Linda Nicholson
Post-Porn Modernism, by Annie Sprinkle

Rope/BDSM/Ms/Ds books
The Loving Dominant, by John Warren
Miss Abernathy’s Concise Slave Training Manual, by Christina Abernathy

Male Bondage, by Bruno

Two Knotty Boys Back on the Ropes, by Two Knotty Boys

Two Knotty Boys Showing You the Ropes, by Two Knotty Boys

The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Knots & Ropework, by Geoffrey Budworth

Stage Rigging Handbook, by Jay O. Glerum

Shibari You Can Use, by Bridgett Harrington

Shibari: The Art of Japanese Bondage, by Master K

The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage, Midori

Bondage for Sex: v. 1. Chanta Rose

Rope Bondage: Precision and Persuasion, by Scott Smith

Asia Bondage, by Steven Speliotis

Erotic Bondage Handbook, by Jay Wiseman
***The most common rope books: Lee Harrington’s book, Midori’s book, Jay Wiseman’s book and recently Chanta Rose’s book. While they all showcase somewhat similar tie-techniques, try comparing their approaches, and analyze the differences in setting and philosophy; they have a strikingly different application and feel.

~ by Klawdya Rothschild on May 20, 2009.

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