BDSM is a huge world. The term covers so many different types of play, from spanking and whipping to public humiliation, watersports, and CBT. Often there are some areas of BDSM that you will not have heard of before, but you are eager to take the plunge and find out more about them. Fear play is one of those areas.
With Halloween fast approaching, many people are eager to try something new, something that gets them out of their comfort zone. And fear play is definitely it. So what is fear play and how do you go about trying it for yourself?
Our reaction to fear
Most of us love horror. Whether it is watching films like IT or trying desperately to survive in games like Alien: Isolation, we can’t get enough of them. We love the thrill and adrenaline when something terrifying happens, when we feel that we are safe and the media we are enjoying shows us that we really aren’t.
For example, if you have played Outlast like I have then you’ll be familiar with the hiding mechanic. In the game, you are trapped and need to escape. You have no weapons to defend yourself, except for a camera with night vision and limited batteries. This would be terrifying enough on its own if it wasn’t for the fact that you are also being hunted by the inmates. With no way to protect yourself, you are forced to run and hide. In theory, you can hide in a locker and are safe from enemies. Except sometimes the enemies will search the lockers, find you, and rip you from it. You start to worry each time you hide that you’ll be caught. You hold your breath each time and wait for the shadows to pass by the door.
When we experience shock in this way, our heart will start racing. Our bodies release a rush of endorphins, kicking in the fight-or-flight instincts, and it can leave us feeling pretty damn good when we are out of that situation.
What is fear play?
Fear play involves bringing that sensation forward. It isn’t a character on the screen or in the pages of a book that leaves us terrified, but instead the person in the room with us. It can be an intense mind fuck that leaves you both exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. They will play on your helplessness to bring you an intense arousal you have never experienced before.
Wikipedia describes it as “any sexual activity involving the use of fear to create sexual arousal”. In other words, if you are scared and feel turned on during your session, this could be fear play.
It typically won’t be something you dive into right away. Often it will be one of the scenes that you build up to over time. You’ll build a relationship with your domme so that they know your hard limits, and then you might take the plunge.
What’s involved in it
A lot of the time, when you are playing with fear you are giving the illusion of crossing a line. For example, Jenn Masri discusses the fact that you can build on “cutting” someone by blindfolding them and using some tools to create the illusion. In this case, a toothpick and some honey. The sub doesn’t know that it isn’t real until afterwards.
There are plenty of other ways to do this. Lex builds on the fact that you can cause fear without hurting someone, and that doing it in the right way can create a mind fuck.
She describes a dom “branding” his sub, except the only metal to touch the sub’s skin is cold. Because she is blindfolded and has seen the torch heating the brand, she screams. But afterwards, when shown the sight, realises that it wasn’t real. This might sound familiar to you if you saw the 2004 film The Punisher, as one particular interrogation scene (below) shows how this could work.
Be cautious with real fears
A lot of people advise that, when you are exploring fear play, you should avoid actual phobias. Yes, knowing someone is arachnophobic might be a shortcut to terror if you bring an actual spider into play, but it can also cause psychological trauma.
If you are truly terrified of it, don’t do it. There is a difference between being a little scared and being terrified to the point that your fight-or-flight response gives up and you instead freeze. After all, you are supposed to feel a rush afterwards, and not eager to run for the hills and never see your domme again.
Would you ever try fear play for yourself, or is it a hard limit for you? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment in the box below.