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Bondage (sexual)
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Bondage (sexual)

Bondage is a human sexual practice involving being tied up or otherwise restrained for pleasure.

Studies in the U.S. have shown that about half of all men find the idea of bondage to be erotic; many women do as well. As with any study of sexual thoughts and behavior, the available studies are not well controlled and the best studies are now out of date.

Public acceptance of bondage as a valid expression of sexuality has advanced slowly. Bondage received a positive treatment (if brief) in "The Joy of Sex," a mainstream sex manual popular in the 1970s. The publication of Madonna's book, "Sex," which included photographs of bound nudes, did a great deal to improve public awareness and acceptance of bondage. By the 1990s, references to bondage could be found in mainstream prime-time television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where equipment such as handcuffs or collars and concepts such as the safeword were included as a matter of course.

Table of contents
1 Divergent views
2 Technique
3 Safety
4 Why do some people like being tied up?
5 Why do some people like to tie other people up?
6 How is bondage done?
7 What are some more involved techniques?
8 See also
9 References
10 External links

Divergent views

There are a number of different schools of thought about bondage. The social and sexual role of bondage varies among these groups, as does the sense of limits. These groups include:

  1. Members of BDSM subcultures, who see bondage primarily as one of many power-exchange techniques
  2. Couples who see bondage as one of many sexual techniques
  3. People for whom bondage mainly has fantasy value during masturbation
  4. Those who practice bondage alone - self-bondage.

It is worth noting that bondage has sexual appeal to persons of all sexual orientations. However, a subculture of homosexual men, sometimes called leathermen, were arguably among the first group to make obvious hints of their tastes in bondage in public.

BDSM subcultures

The leathermen emulated the biker culture that arose after World War II. While the bikers were heterosexual, the leathermen admired their toughness, tenacity, and willingness to ignore mainstream social mores. Consequently, they adopted the biker style of dress, particularly the use of black leather. While this served a utilitarian purpose for the bikers, in providing warmth and protection from "road rash", it was primarily of fashion and fetishistic value to the leathermen, who for the most part did not ride motorcycles extensively.

The historical record does not reveal the exact nature of the transition from use of leather as a fashion to its use in bondage. We can speculate familiarity with the fetishistic value of leather, combined with a willingness to challenge socially-imposed inhibitions, may have led to experimentation with bondage.

Beginning in the late 1960s, heterosexual groups began to come together to explore bondage and power exchange. With time these groups have grown and have raised their profile somewhat, to the point where most U.S. cities of any size have one or more such groups. A major goal of most of these groups is to provide semi-public opportunities for BDSM, in an effort to provide a safe environment for relative strangers to engage in such activities. As such, these groups attach high importance to objective safety rules, such as the use of safewords.

Couples and Bondage

Bondage as a source of arousal is engrained deeply enough in the human psyche that it is likely to have been an adjunct to sexual intercourse for as long as there have been ropes and chains.

Couples in committed relationships, outside the BDSM subculture, usually approach bondage differently. For them, it is an adjunct to sex, one technique of many. While satisfactory studies are unavailable it seems likely that in relationships of any duration, most couples will experiment with bondage at least casually at some point. This may be something as simple as tying a partner's wrists with handkerchiefs or clotheslines. Some couples will ultimately make bondage, in some form, part of their sexual routine.

For the most part, such bondage games end in sex. In contrast, bondage games between more casually acquainted players in the BDSM subculture frequently end in masturbation only, or in some cases include no sexual release at all.

Safety rules followed by couples in a committed relationship are frequently more subjective and trust-based. These differences can lead to culture clash where a couple with a history of bondage games together encounters the BDSM subculture: the couple can't understand the insistence upon safewords, while the members of the subculture can't understand the focus on sexual intercourse.

Male fantasies

Studies of men's sexual fantasies (Friday, Men in Love) have shown that the fantasy of being bound during intercourse is second in frequency only to the basic fantasy of sex with a voluptuous nude woman. Consequently, it should be no surprise that bondage themes have been present in pornography for some time.

Bondage pornography for heterosexual men overwhelmingly depicts bound women, rather than bound men, in spite of the most common fantasy in both sexes being one of being bound, rather than of being the dominant. This may be because many men fear becoming aroused by pictures of other men, and are more willing to identify with a bound woman. It may also be because pictures of bound women allow them to vicariously experience both the heterosexual male dominant and submissive fantasies.

Early examples of bondage erotica include:

Recent changes


Bondage takes practice to get right. To be effective and enjoyable, it requires communication and trust between partners. For these reasons it is limited to being a source of sexual fantasy in most relationships. However, the financial success of companies that market bondage equipment testifies to the fact that it is more than fantasy to many. Reliable data is unavailable, but perhaps around 5%-10% of married couples have made regular use of bondage in their sexual activities at some point in the relationship.

Technique in self-bondage is more complex, involving special methods to apply the bondage to oneself, and also to effect a release after a lapsed period of time.


Many people regard bondage as safe when conducted between relatively sober, trusting partners in a committed, functioning relationship. You are responsible for your own and your partner's health. All the dangers of physical restraint apply to sexual bondage. Self-bondage carries a higher risk, particularly when combined with autoerotic asphyxia (self strangulation), which has has lead to many deaths.

Safety precautions include:

Bondage of long duration (over 20 minutes), bondage where the subject is suspended, and bondage thorough enough to leave the subject effectively unable to communicate all pose special risks that are beyond the scope of this brief article.

Apart from the precautions mentioned above there are, within the subculture of bondage enthousiasts, some techniques to keep the bondage safe. One very simple safety measure is to ask the bondagee if he or she is allright. Another is to feel if bodyparts like hands and feet get cold. This means the blood circulation has been blocked. Another is to check for skin discolouration. Skin that gets to little oxygen turns blueish. If blood can get in, but can't get out because one of the arteries has been blocked, that part of the body turns purple.

There is a subculture of people who seek out others interested in bondage and pursue such activities with people who they do not know well. This subculture has given rise to the safe, sane and consensual credo, which includes the use of a "safeword" that the person being tied up can use to stop the activity.

If the bondagee has been gagged, or can otherwise not verbally communicate, a different form of the safeword is needed. For instance an object in one hand (typically a ball) that can be released if the bondagee can't take the play anymore.

It should be noted that scenes depicted in bondage photographs and videos are chosen for their visual impact and fantasy value. In most cases they cannot be "acted out" with good results.

Why do some people like being tied up?

People who find it erotic to be tied up do so for a variety of reasons:

Why do some people like to tie other people up?

People who enjoy tying other people up are motivated by a variety of reasons, including:

How is bondage done?

The mechanics are trivial compared to the relationship issues. Start with a committed relationship with a lot of trust and plenty of sexual activity together. Talk things through first. Start slow and easy. Take turns being the one being tied up.

It is important to take at least the simple safety precautions listed above.

Some members of the BDSM subculture take another route and seek out partners who share their interest in bondage. Many act out their bondage fantasies within the confines of private "play" parties where overt genital contact is not allowed between participants.

What are some more involved techniques?

Bondage techniques can be divided into five main categories:

Bondage is often combined with other sexual and BDSM techniques.

Bondage positions and techniques

Bondage equipment

Restraints including
Bondage furniture, including: Sensory deprivation including:

Advanced techniques

See also


External links

There are literally thousands of web sites with bondage-related content. Most sites are commercial (charging a recurring membership fee, except for small amounts of sample content). The quality and information content of these commercial sites are, with only a few exceptions, quite low. Most of the few information-oriented bondage web sites that do exist are ephemeral.

All of the major web portals (Google, Yahoo, etc) have extensive lists of bondage-related web sites, broken down, to some degree, by topic.

Some practical information on sexual bondage can be found at: