The pictures you see of rope bondage online usually feature slim, young, flexible, cis-women. This fails to represent that rope bondage is infinitely customizable and can be sensual and fun for people of any gender, size, or ability.

A More Sensual Side of Bondage

A few months ago, I did a rope bondage demonstration on stage as part of a sex-positive variety show. What I demonstrated was not the usual roughly applied confining rope you might usually associate with bondage. Instead, I showed the more sensual side of rope. One that takes advantage of the rope as a sensual tool, and doesn’t even use knots.

The next day I was greeted by a message that said, “With the physical injuries I deal with I didn't think rope was an option for me, but after seeing your demonstration, I'm looking forward to experimenting.” I love showing people the flexibility and customizability of rope. With a little knowledge and preparation, rope might be more accessible than you realize.


BDSM Special: Bondage for All Bodies

Communication & Patience for All Body Sizes

One rope top, Jenn, has this to say, “Bigger and disabled bodies are just like any other bodies when it comes to bondage. All bodies will need communication and patience for the scene to be successful. Even thin bodies may have chronic pain or not be that flexible. Just going into a bondage scene treating [every] body as unique and individual, with varying abilities that you must curate the scene for, is the secret to my success.”

She brings up an important point. Bondage, like all kink play, requires careful communication and negotiation. Making assumptions about someone’s body is likely to get you into trouble. No matter how you perceive someone’s fitness or ability, it is important to ask questions.

Ask about Health Concerns and Injuries

When you’re negotiating, ask about any health concerns or injuries. Be specific. People not used to bondage might not know what information is relevant. Ask about things like allergies, asthma, and even diabetes. It’s important to know if someone will need to have an inhaler nearby, or medication, like insulin. You can even test someone’s flexibility before tying with some gentle yoga-style stretches. Not only will this help you learn what their body can do, but it can serve as a kind of foreplay.

BDSM Special: Bondage for All Bodies

Read: Bondage & Disability: Working Around Abilities in Play

Don't Be Afraid to Use Pillows

You may also have some useful supplies around that house that you hadn’t considered incorporating into bondage or kink. Liberator wedges, or even regular pillows, can make a world of difference when it comes to making positions easier to get into or maintain by taking pressure off of joints or problem areas. My own back issues make some bondage positions difficult, and a well-placed wedge can help make sure my back isn’t in an extreme bend.

Consider the Needs of the Top

Accessibility isn’t just for bottoms. For tops with arthritis or other hand issues, tying knots for an hour might not be possible. That’s another time that the sensual side of rope can be a good focus. Simply dragging rope on someone’s skin can be a whole scene. If the bondage is the goal, other tools like velcro cuffs, cuffs with large buckles, or even bondage tape can be substituted for rope.

Sensory, Circulatory, and Anxiety Issues

Sometimes it isn’t just physical considerations you need to look out for. Sexuality educator, Coral Mallow, points out that people with sensory integration issues, circulation issues, or anxiety may need bondage solutions that can be released quickly. This can be achieved with quick-release knots, or with tools, like the cuffs mentioned above.

Speaking of anxiety, despite what porn has shown you, bondage doesn’t have to be done in the nude. For people who are shy, being naked at a public party or dungeon might be very stressful. Instead, try tying over a favorite outfit or lingerie that helps build confidence.

Another reason someone might leave some garments on is for gender affirmation. You can easily tie over a binder, or if someone is keeping a packer in place, over underwear. Mallow also points out that rope over the soft silicone of a packer is a disaster waiting to happen, so insulating with underwear is best.

BDSM Special: Bondage for All Bodies

Read: Illness? Injury? How to Get Back Into the Sexual Saddle

Think Outside of the Box

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of accommodations someone might need, but hopefully it gets you thinking outside the box. A little bit of research about whatever issues you’re hoping to address can go a long way.

Ultimately, like any sex or kink, you simply need to talk to the person you want to play with. Sit down together and think about what kind of scene you want to create. Thinking and talking about your goals, and how you both want to feel, is just as important to consider as the logistics of what ties you’re going to do.

I especially encourage you to talk to people who think rope or bondage isn’t possible for them and to expand on that conversation. Have an open discussion about what they’d need to feel safe and comfortable, and spend some time researching together until you find ways to make that possible.

Bondage can be an incredible way to build trust and intimacy. So it’s worth exploring even if you’ve thought it is something you can't do. Hopefully, you’ll discover something new to add to your sexual and kinky repertoire.