Helen offers a strictly personal view of bondage.
Most women ‘daydream’ which is another way of saying that they fantasise. They fantasise about all sorts of things; love, sex and marriage being the most popular subjects. Sex fantasies are often about courtship, seduction and/or rape and I am pretty sure that every woman has, at some time, had some kind of imaginary experience, possibly as the result of reading or seeing something.
Among my own fantasies is one of being whipped and then tied spreadeagled on a bed and raped, but I cannot remember ever having one involving real bondage, at least not in the way it is shown in this supplement. Yet it is a subject that intrigues me since so many readers, including women, seem to enjoy it.
To let you into a secret: if you turn to Supplements No. 6 and 7 you will see some pictures of our experiments with mild bondage, and some more pictures are here. This proves that I will wear a mask, although I still don’t like them.
In the captions to the pictures we stated that we did not want to include any sadomasochism or any element of cruelty. Our ‘games’ were more in the way of sexual play acting, and we choose all sorts of parts to act out our fantasies, varying the costumes from time to time and the methods of bondage.
Taking photographs I found rather tended to turn the business into a research project for Atomage so subsequent sessions – when we could find the time – were carried out without using a camera, then I found I could concentrate more on the fantasy and the bondage games.
It is no good your asking me for conclusions. I haven’t been able to reach any definite ones except to say that if you enjoy it, do it. The only harm I can see is if one partner goes too far or if one or other partner is an unwilling participant. You must have some kind of rules, some kind of agreement on (to quote the old limerick) ‘who does what and with which and to whom!
I am sure some of the bondage games can be most enjoyable because of the humour they invoke. I can see several self-styled ‘masters’ cringe at reading this statement: slaves are not supposed to giggle. Well, I must have earned so many demerits during our experiments that I’d be in bondage until late 1981 if I’d been serving any of them.
One of the pictures here taken during one of the bondage sessions shows me in a latex suit plus white vinyl suit trussed and placed on a sofa awaiting ‘punishment’. Whilst the camera was being set, I started to rock from side to side and immediately after the picture was taken, rolled on to my side and then on the floor just like one of those wobbly toys. The humour of this reduced us both to helplessness.
I am sure this levity is disapproved of most strongly by the true bondage expert but I would say that he is more likely to get co-operation if he does inject a little laughter.
You will note that I say ‘he’. I don’t know too much about the ladies who, for personal pleasure, gratification or gain, enter into bondage in order to dominate men. So I’ll leave them out if you don’t mind. My remarks are addressed more to ‘him’ and to the partnerships. Sado-masochists, sadists and the like need read no further. The Helen theory is that bondage is linked somehow to hostility. We live in a violent society where aggression and hostility are an accepted part of living; indeed, actively encouraged by men working in business and the professions, only then it is called ‘ambition’ I believe. Yet, have you noticed, we are all basically scared of aggression; at the same time, so intrigued by it that a multi-million dollar film industry has been built on just this one theme.
The author of ‘The Prisoner’ (Supplements 12 and 13) is a friend of mine and I am sure he won’t mind my saying he is a perfect gentleman as well as a most gentle man. Yet, in the nature of his business he has to assume the role of ruthless executive, stopping probably just short of physical violence. The tensions this creates can only be relieved, he finds, by a session where he is trussed up, humiliated and made to do the most menial tasks around the house – tasks he would even hesitate to give to his office boy.
Women don’t, as yet, suffer from the same domestic and commercial pressures and I doubt we will ever publish the female version of ‘The Prisoner’, even although women are now to be found in the Board room, and many run a home as well. (Goodness, we must be tough!)
Alex Comfort in ‘More Joy’ says that aggression-hostility is something that you can store up like garbage and then dump it at intervals – taking it out on crockery or most likely your bedroom partner. I relieve my tensions in the bedroom, but I don’t need sadistic games or even bondage, but I can understand and go along with those that do. Emotionally more ‘giving’ than men, women don’t easily adopt the ‘aggression-hostility role’ and find it easier to unburden themselves through tears or torment. And, of course, through sex.
Successful sex is a matter of trust between two people and any games or aggression, I think, must be in response to understood needs. Dressing up in rubber or leather or whatever is itself a ‘game’, bondage is an extension.
I regard as dangerous any situation where one person needs to dominate another as a sexual game without first there being perfect trust and love. There must also be a desire to find together new methods of expressing feeling.
It is an odd feeling to be tied down to a bed, suited, booted and masked and being entered without being able to participate in the normal manner. I don’t like masks, but I will concede to the fact that it produces a curious sense of total detachment as if it were all in a wild fantasy. If I were to tie Robert up helplessly and then arouse him I would simply find this frustrating.
Another problem, of course, is that if I wear a tight rubber suit for any length of time I find I get very cold, which in turn tones down my impulses.
I am sure my mail is going to be full of letters from readers telling me that we have been going about bondage practice quite wrongly; that we have been, and are, missing out on a thousand mysterious thrills. I don’t think I really mind. Love is a sense of unity with another being and that unity depends on sharing experiences, of exploring and responding to each others needs. Sex is an expression, something that needs a great deal of understanding and one should be able to treat it as an experience that can be explored together.
What I find so sad is when I hear of sexual expression that has to become a secret matter. The danger lies in solitary perversions, in partner misunderstanding and ignorance.
I believe that the vast majority of my sex could be perfectly capable of understanding and toleration, even enjoying some aspects of bondage if it is of interest to their partner, but the difficulty is presenting the subject in a proper way.
It doesn’t help I believe when the female partner is asked to read something like ‘Ecstasy for a Slave’. Some of this kind of literature presents the subject in an unsavoury, lurid, unnatural manner that would be abhorrent to even the most broadminded member of my sex. In my personal view, as a fully paid up member of my sex, this kind of writing is harmful, catering for the baser instincts without satisfying them since the characters and situations are often too absurd even to qualify for the title ‘fantasy’.
The appeal is to sado-masochists who associate sex with pain, rather than love, and who seek punishment for sexual pleasure – or worse, as a substitute. I suppose it is better that they should read about a fantasy situation rather than to try and bring it to reality but, even so, I regard this kind of ‘literature’ with deep distrust.
I began by talking about female fantasies and I think that they can – and should – be linked to reality in any loving relationship. This can encourage experiments in ‘dressing for pleasure’ – and tying for pleasure. But there should be no cruelty in any form without loving agreement, and that is only achieved by a gradual process.
It is nice to share one’s fantasies but even I would begin to worry if my husband were to describe a scene such as something from the recent serial in the Supplement or the published book by the same author.
But then I am the advocate of moderation and compromise which are probably those very social characteristics whose daily use has led so many men to sublimate their hostility and aggression. This, in turn, has brought them to seek bondage and restriction as an outlet; except that the psychologist I have read would have used the word ‘catharsis’.
Perhaps Helen has missed some of the facts, witness the M.M.A. Handbook? Ed.