Friday, February 24, 2012

A concise kink worksheet.


There's a lot of kink negotiation worksheets out there, and frankly, most of them are a mess.  500-item lists of "animal play (puppy) - rate interest from 1 to 10 or hard limit" and "animal play (pony) - rate interest..." can be interesting ways to learn just what possibilities are out there, but they don't necessarily help you narrow down what you want in a particular scene.

So I've made a kink worksheet that fits on one page.  It assumes you already have a general idea of what you're into, and only need some help condensing and communicating those ideas to your play partner.

(Google Docs PDF)

Notes on use:
•I don't really expect you to write on it; it's more of a jumping-off point for talking and thinking.  It's probably better to talk this over  with your partner than to hand it to them filled out, but, you know, whatever works for you.

•If you're new to kink, it's probably good to think about your answers well in advance of actually playing, when you have a clear head and time to put your thoughts together.

•"I don't know," "maybe," and "let's try it a little and see" are totally acceptable answers.  Don't feel like you have to have a super confident answer to everything.  Knowing that you're not super sure what you want is rarely a dealbreaker, but important for your partner to be aware of.

•It's really a pre-negotiation worksheet; the purpose of these questions to give your partner an idea of where you're coming from and what you're looking for before you work out exactly what's going to happen in your scene.  Once you know these things about each other, it's between the two of you to work out explicitly what you will and won't do in your scene.

Going from "so you don't want to roleplay, do want to use toys, and do want pain" to "so how about I throw you up against that wall and hit you on the ass with the paddle--we'll start slow and see just what you can take" is what happens next.  That's the fun part of negotiation and it can turn damn sexy.

•Clear, explicit scene negotiation is a cornerstone of consent culture in BDSM.  A lot of the recent talk has been about flushing out serial abusers, but equally important is making sure that well-intentioned people don't hurt each other through miscommunications or assumptions.  A cute little worksheet won't guarantee that but I hope it helps.



...Not-kinky people, I will write a totally not-just-kink sex post next.  I have not forgotten you!
...Why am I apologizing for being kinky?  This blog is called The Pervocracy.
...But nonetheless.  I don't intend to be all BDSM inside baseball, any more than I'm all gender or all politics.  I value diversity in my perversity.

45 comments:

  1. That's actually a pretty good worksheet- concise and to the point, which I think is a good starting point for negotiation of any kind.

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  2. I like the simplicity of it. I've seen some of the bigger ones, and I always felt a bit foolish, because a lot of the activities made me go, "What IS that, exactly?" (Like, 'abrasion?' I'm... being attacked with sandpaper? Well, I guess there's something for everybody...) I also would get constantly tripped up by the concept of role; if they're talking 'oral sex' do they mean giving or receiving or what?

    (Yes, I overthink things.)

    --Rogan

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    1. Yeah, the problem is that once you start going into specific kinks, well, there's infinite specific kinks. So you either have weird omissions like "why did they mention flogging but not paddling?" or you have "age play (infant)" "age play (toddler)" "age play (child)" off into infinity.

      Also, if we're planning to do a flogging scene without roleplay, knowing whether or not you're open to ever exploring age play (toddler) is kinda irrelevant, or even distracting.

      I just gotta figure people can name their own kinks, and worry about the mood and safety of the scene instead.

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    2. And there was me thinking "oral sex" meant talking about it. Seriously, that's a very neat checklist, thanks for publishing.

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    3. I over-think things too, I have to go look everything up. An inclusive list by me would need a wheelbarrow and include things I'd never heard of. (I realize that makes no sense). That is why I love this so much.

      That is "verbal sex" which is all kinds of awesome.

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  3. Someone once told me if you never use your safeword, you're not testing your limits. I've never safeworded, nor has my partner. I'd like to test my limits a little more but I don't think that's going to happen. Anyway, I think an understanding of whether the limits will be tested is also part of the negotiation - is the safeword for emergency use only, to be steered clear of, or should the play flirt with it, possibly crossing it?

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    1. "Someone" was completely full of it. Whether you push yourself to the point where you want to stop, or only go to the point where you're having fun and are happy with that, is entirely your decision.

      However, I don't think "let's go until I safeword" should be a planned part of your play. I think if you're going to do that, you should use "yellow" or a third word, and reserve the strongest safeword for true emergency use.

      Still, "emergency use" doesn't mean "to be steered clear of." Emergency means whenever you need a hard stop to the play, not "don't use unless you're about to die." Don't withhold it from yourself because "I hate this and want this to end, but it's not like an emergency"--that is enough reason to use the safeword.

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    2. Well I didn't follow "someone's" advice. My understanding with my partner is really to stay in a comfort zone. Even if I wouldn't mind testing limits more, that's not our deal. My point is that this non-limit-testing arrangement is an important part of our understanding with each other. Your idea for a third code word is a good one though.

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    3. Okay, sorry, yeah, I know what you're saying. That is a good thing to negotiate--"do you want to be pushed to your limits, or just find a good spot and stay there?"

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    4. Exactly, and you put it so much better than I did. Thank you.

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    5. Hey Ironman, we use the yellow/red thing, and though safewording does occasionally happen (did just a couple days ago, in fact!) I am generally not of the opinion that it should be chased like a golden ring. I mean, Jesus, someone could make me safeword just by punching me in the face without warning; that doesn't mean it's a good idea! (I know that you already said you didn't follow this person's advice, but I feel obligated to say so anyway, just for other folks who might be reading.)

      As far as limit-pushing goes, yeah, do it with warnings so everyone can know your progress. For instance, my husband has big limits around pain play. If he decided he wanted to push them, he could help keep me in the loop with safewording yellow and telling me something like, "I want to bite you, but I also feel conflicted about it, and I'm not sure how I'll handle it." Then we can decide whether to keep going or not.

      I know traditionally, the top is supposed to be the one keeping watch over the bottom, but hey, tops have limits too. If my husband safewords red because the pain he's giving out is beyond his limits, it's as vital for me to be able to jump up and give him aftercare as it would for him to do for me. The more I know about his mental state at any given time, the better I can support him in his journey to move his boundaries, or grow comfortable with them, or whatever it is he's looking for.

      Obviously, there'll be safewording without warnings, when you hit an emotional land-mine or suddenly have an asthma attack, but warnings rarely hurt.

      I say all this as someone who REALLY needed to be conditioned to safeword, since if told only to use it "in an emergency," I simply wouldn't use it ever.

      --Rogan

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    6. Thanks, Rogan, this all rings true.

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  4. That's concise, and it's awesome. Thanks for this.

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  5. Seconded to everyone who says it's great.

    One thing, though. Wouldn't it make sense to have a non-verbal caution signal, just like you have a non-verbal safe signal?

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    1. Yeah, probably.

      I just figure it's easier to have one non-verbal signal than two because I'm not sure how many you can work out. "I'll hold a handful of coins and drop them if I can't take it" is simpler than "I'll drop the pennies for caution..."

      But if you can work out two, absolutely, more power to ya.

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    2. I'd say it's a good idea, not just for the pragmatics of "what if my mouth is in action" but for folks who have verbal issues or vocal dysphoria too.

      --Rogan

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    3. Jingly kitty toy, shake for yellow, drop for red.

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    4. That only works if you're not thrashing around already in the "green" zone... I can envision it jingling like crazy when things have just gotten good!

      (Still working on it myself. So far we have: shaking one's head violently side to side means "Pause long enough to take my gag off and check in with me.")

      flightless

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    5. I've used "hand up and waving, open hand" for slow down/yellow/caution, and "fist up" for red/stop immediately.

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  6. I like this worksheet definitely a good starting point for negotiation.

    This may sound a bit strange but I think that it might be good if the safewords section says. "My safeword is 'RED' or... and it means..." and "My caution word is 'YELLOW'... and it means..." it can be good to discuss exactly what you expect from your partner when a safeword/caution word is used particularly with a caution word. My partner and I engage in a lot of play when 'no' doesn't actually mean no and 'please touch me' doesn't actually mean touch me, so we've negotiated that using a caution word on it's own means let's take a break but using a caution word followed by a request means I mean what I'm saying, using a caution word followed by 'stop teasing' actually means stop teasing.

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  7. Thanks you for this! I don't think I'll ever need it as my husband doesn't like BDSM at all and we're monogamous, but you're doing an amazing job of teaching and clarifying about kink. A former boyfriend of mine and I were into light play; incidentally, he was also a abuser. The relationship was especially destructive for me because we didn't take precautions like safewords or negotiating. If I had had access to a website like yours ten years ago it would have saved me serious trauma. So I'm sure that you're saving people's lives now, really.

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  8. I have to say that "How do you want to feel during this scene?" or questions like that are so incredibly, wonderfully revelatory and useful. I am so glad you included that really close to the top.

    And I second Anon just above me. This is a small thing, but an important thing, and there will be people who need it and find it and use it. It doesn't have to be perfect. That there are such resources at all is such a huge step up. When I was a kid (*shakes cranky gramma stick*) I didn't have access to this kind of information.

    Even knowing that this is stuff that you are supposed to talk about and negotiate and that it's okay to not do certain things and okay to have limits and discuss limits and insist on limits because being kinky doesn't mean having no limits at all . . . these are huge for young people or people new to the scene.

    Thank you. From the 15-year-old and curious girl I once was, who could really have used something like this.

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  9. This isn't the first time I've seen the "How do I want this scene to make me feel?" question, but I haven't seen it very *often* and it's an AWESOME concept. Like Naamah said, I wish I'd heard it when I was a confused teenager. It didn't take me long to figure out that--as a bottom--I could say, "I like spanking but not needles," but it took me AGES to figure out that it was also legitimate to say, "I like feeling like a treasured pet and not like a slave." The checklists that are already on the internet are centered so heavily around activities and almost not at all around mood. So I think that idea, that someone might want to rate "feeling like a pet" or "feeling totally dominated" or "feeling like a little girl" or whatever from 1-10 just as much as they might want to rate spanking or blowjobs or, err, abrasion should be publicized far more than it is too.

    Also, I really like Anonymous from Feb 24, 2012 09:16 PM's idea, that a yellow word can be used as sort of a parenthesis around the upcoming statements that means, "Whatever I say next really means what I say." I do a lot of role-playing, so it's easy for me: if I address my partner using her name instead of her character's names, it's a way to check in to make sure things are all right. [Scenename] might be shouting "no" but I always have a way to stop and say, "[Realname], do you really mean no?" (To which [Realname] can say "Nope, [Myrealname], this is awesome!") But everyone should have a way to do that.

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    1. Yeah- when I was doing negotiation with my scene partner, I knew I wanted something like this, but it took me a while to put it into words and stuff. When I finally managed, since we also do roleplay, he suggested using 'OOC' (as in, Out Of Character) as the word for this. It's really nice (for both of us, actually) to have a signal for 'don't worry, nothing's wrong, I just want to say something to real-you/ask real-you something'.

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  10. "I don't intend to be all BDSM inside baseball"

    I demand the next post be about baseball.

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  11. I love your blog. This post was an excellent one.

    I personally like to spend some time asking partners to define yellow/red, etc because not everyone defines them the same. Having them static on this sheet as a jumping off point for discussion seems fine though.

    Thanks for the great posts. I would love to discuss maybe reposting some of your posts over on our blog at some point if you are cool with that.

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  12. Holly, I have one incredibly important question for you.

    What on earth is "tortoise tipping?"

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  13. This isn't related to Toad Sexing, is it?

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  14. Not really on topic but the phrase "tortoise tipping" brings it to my mind:

    "The tortoise is beating its legs, its belly baking in the hot sun, trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that, Leon?"

    Or maybe tortoise tipping is a kinky activity, if so, I've never heard of it.


    Oh, and maybe I'll be able to use the sheet next week.

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    1. I thought of exactly the opposite: the tortoise is happily walking around minding his tortoise business till some jerk tips it over so he is not able to turn itself back to it's legs and it's belly is baking hot in the sun. ;P

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    2. I'm always helping insects off their backs and onto their feet, but so far I've never stumbled upon an over-turned tortoise.

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  15. I have a question to whoever is experienced with such a situation - what kind of signal is recommended/possible when gagged and in full restrains?

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    1. Depending on the gag - something like three consecutive grunts. Definitely something you want to test out in advance, though.

      I've also heard of people holding a squeak toy or something else that easily makes noise - depending on your restraints that could work well.

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    2. Perhaps a hand signal, such as making a circle with the thumb and index finger, or crossing the index and middle finger?

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    3. I think the best thing is just to try out the gag you're going to be using and see what sounds you can make under it that sound different than your usual sounds of ecstasy/agony.

      This might not work if you're very restrained, but I've also used "tapping out" MMA-style for a nonverbal signal. I'd be wary of a hand signal that doesn't give the top either a noise or a touch cue, though, because they probably won't be watching your hands that closely.

      You could also try holding something that will make a lot of noise when dropped, like a handful of coins, and dropping them to safeword.

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    4. If the restraints leave your hands free or you or your top are willing to modify them so you have at least one hand partially free, you could snap your fingers as a safe signal. That's what I use. A lot of people like holding something and dropping it for a safe signal, and if that works for them, that's great, but I personally think that it'd be annoying to hold something like that during a scene, and I might accidentally drop it.

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    5. So if you have the home party game Taboo, it comes with a buzzer that's a giant red button on a small purple frame, easily held in the hand, that makes a loud, clear and distinctive noise. And it's also a giant fuckin red button.

      It's pretty perfect.

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  16. I'd be wary of a hand signal that doesn't give the top either a noise or a touch cue, though, because they probably won't be watching your hands that closely.


    Hmmm... If I was running a scene where the bottom was restrained and gagged, and the safeword was being conveyed via the bottom's hand(s), I think I'd be extra-careful to be watching their hand(s) carefully throughout the scene.

    I personally would go with something for them to drop as the safeword trigger (some folks might spastically clutch their fists, but I think most would be able to open their hands at some point), and something that wouldn't easily tangle on the hand/fingers and prevent them from easily dropping it (nothing with a tight loophole, nothing that starts wrapped around their hand and has to be unwound a few times to get rid of, etc.).

    It's a nice worksheet. Would've have been quite useful in the mid-90s to avoid all the damned llamas.

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  17. I use a small rubber ball I hold in my hands (I think it is a cat toy originally) when we use a gag or when we play at a party with music (since that one time the music was so loud my partner didn't hear my safeword, usually my voice is very soft when subbing). (There is indeed a chance that I spastically clutch my fists, but dropping the ball is easier than making a hand signal(like the 'peace sign' for example). From now on I will use a cat toy with a bell instead, good idea!

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  18. I think the idea of practicing with different vocal sounds gagged is a fabulous idea! I just read in another blog that someone uses "Uh Uh!" I think it was another blog,( I will feel like such a dork if it was here).

    I am a huge fan of noisy things rather than quiet hand signals. Thanks Kieketok, I was quite proud of that, bells can be quite attention grabbing, you can go listen to different ones. The pet toy section is huge fun for sensation play toys, so while you are there anyway... Pet toys can have quite useful grippy shapes and textures for those of us who are clumsy and might drop a ball by mistake but can communicate, "I am shaking my toy, pay attention" or "I have throw down my toy, holy shit something is WRONG!!!"

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  19. First thing like this I've seen that makes BDSM look more consistently fun than D&D

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  20. Tabletop gamers at my school use crossed-fingers (like pinky-swearing) for out-of-character discussion. So that's what I tend to use with my partners... fingers crossed, someplace where the top can see them, means out of character, and safeword means STOP RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.

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  21. I normally hate these things, but I find the simplicity and naturalness of it overcomes it. Brava, and I will have to borrow this...

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