Every once in a while, I hear an accident has happened, a consent issue raised, or someone is harmed in rope. I’ve written around this issue before, but I feel a little reminder is needed for people in rope:
Riggers aren’t gods!
Riggers are human. We make mistakes. We misjudge a situation. We miss something important. Shit happens beyond our control. We try our best to keep our rope bottoms as safe as possible, relying on our education on the topic and slowly amassing experience. It can take several years of regular practice with different partners to get to the point where we can feel confident in our rigging. Because if there’s one thing I know about rope, the more you know, the more you realise you need to know. Rope education is as long as the proverbial piece of string.
Problems arise when riggers grow arrogant and think they know enough. They brag about all the years of experience or people they have tied with. They assume that what they did last week with one bottom will work perfectly for the bottom they’re seeing next or in the new scene. No two scenes are ever the same because all the factors that go into rope scenes vary a lot.
Worse still, are those that abuse their fame and perceived good reputation in the community. A profile with great photos and a charming personality can be hugely deceiving.
Bottoms need to not expect too much from riggers. They need reality checks. Bottoms have their own responsibility to make sure the riggers they approach are skilled and ethical in their practice. Some people care more about how things look to others on the internet or at events than what is good and healthy for them or their partners.
Rope is edge play, with so many risks that we need to take our time in developing our skills and practice. There are no short cuts. We all, rigger/top or bottom, need to make ourselves aware of the risks we are taking and how best to mitigate them. We also need to know that the person we tie with is someone we feel safe with and that our needs are listened to.
You need to know:
- how your body is doing that day and if you’re in a good physical state to tie or be tied
- how you feel emotionally about tying and tying with that particular person
- how safe the rope and any other equipment is, what risks they involve and how to mitigate them
- what particular ties and/or parts of the body feel right for you, top and bottom
- what the environment you’ll be tying in is like and how this and any possible bystanders might affect the tying you take part in
- what your aftercare needs are and how they will be met
- what you will do in case thee is an accident or health emergency
- about who to contact if things go wrong and you need further support.
Top or bottom, there are plenty of honest conversations to have, best practice to learn and develop, and avenues for navigate to reduce our risks. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware, or they stick to one way of doing things and get into trouble, or heads get too big.
I am not perfect. People often ask to tie with me from looking at the art I post and think I’m highly skilled and they want a piece of the action. I say no. Those photos do not represent the weeks, months or years that has gone into developing dynamics and negotiations. Photos lie. Photos show what people want to see. They are not me. So, anyone looking at a well known rigger and thinks they are the bees knees, you need a reality check.