|Orifice Restraints: Gags and buttplugs
On April 12, the large meeting room on the third floor of the Center was nearly full by 8:30. A huge turnout of men and women showed up at this meeting, attesting to the wide interest in the topic of hole-plugging. Rich led the panel of John, Lolita and Matthew, making sure that they talked about every hole in the body, from asshole to eye-socket, and about every type of plug, from boiled egg to double-headed dildo. Audience members demonstrated some of the gags.
Rich's first question-"Why do we all like gags and plugs?"-received answers of two types: first, they're small and portable; second, they bear psychologically significant meaning. We use gags and plugs for practical reasons such as shutting someone up (muffling unwanted screams or stopping the bottom from talking), forced feeding, and sensory deprivation. These practical functions often relate to psychological effects. Gags and plugs can assist in exploring the primary s/m issues of control, power, and submission by providing a symbology that links physical acts to the deeper elements of individuals' desires.
The ability to speak, for example, gives you power, and if someone takes that away from you, dominance is asserted and you are left less powerful. Similarly, you usually have the power to make a decision about what and when to eat, but if someone decides for you about that fundamental physical act, a comparable shift of power results. Insertion gags or plugs make a double statement, not only underlining the translation of the power in the relationship but also breaking the boundary of the body. The body orifices have functions legitimized by societal norms. By plugging an orifice you transgress the boundaries of society. Moreover, this taboo is paradoxically enjoyed by both the bottom (the powerless, and even sometimes unwilling, perpetrator of the transgression) and the top (who lures the bottom over the boundary yet doesn't transgress it him or herself). Butt plugs bear meaning in this sense, for example, since a buttplug transgresses not only the orifice but also the ancient societal norm that has declared that the asshole can provide only illegitimate pleasure. Hoods with insertion gags attached are especially powerful: they block senses (sight, hearing) and they transgress the boundary of the orifice (mouth).
A gag and a buttplug used at the same time provides for a double pleasure: intellectual, in that there is a personally meaningful symbolism involved; and physical, in the sensual, primal pleasure of erotic gratification.
Strap-on dildos or plugs allow a woman symbolically to become a man, and can elicit gender characteristics for both bottom and top. A strap-on was used for that effect in the video "Sensual Surrogate," the third part of the trilogy Three Faces of Women (A Feminine Trilogy) by Rick Castro (1994), screened at the 8th New York Lesbian & Gay Experimental Film/Video Festival in November, 1994: when a so-called Freudian analyst was approached by a same-sex couple (transgendered men in female drag, who had a lesbian relationship) to assist them with their troubled relationship, the analyst prescribed the use of a strap-on to solve their problems. "Who could have a relationship without a penis?" she asked. A message of the video, made with double irony, is that a strap-on can help to clarify gender confusion.
On the other hand, a strap-on can help to create gender confusion. The woman panelist, when asked what her all-time favorite scene was that had gags, buttplugs, or dildos, described the following: she went to a mixed s/m club dressed in male drag, but with a female wig and makeup. Wearing a strap-on, she got straight guys to suck it, saying, "Yeah! You suck my dick, just like I can suck dick! I can fuck you now, too, just like you fuck me!" She added that this was especially good for the homophobic straight guys, who she forced to suck dick because it was hers.
Don demonstrated an elaborate head harness made with rope, and which was designed to hold in an inflatable gag. This gag was inserted into the mouth after the head harness was on, and pumped up with a simple squeeze-bulb device. The bottom was shortly unable to speak. The head harness allowed him to be attached to anything or to be pulled or pushed in any direction.
Ironically, a gag sometimes can evoke more noise from the bottom than he or she would make without it. The gag loosens inhibitions, and groans, moans, and muffled screams can be eerily loud.
Any gag that inserts even slightly and that isn't absorbent will make the bottom drool if it is left on long enough. The humiliation for the bottom who drools down his or her face, neck, and chest, is the humiliation of one who has lost control over a bodily function essential to the norms of even the most marginal societies. Forcing a bottom to drool can be a highly effective and erotically charged way to humiliate.
Do not be deceived by the appearance of a simple gag: being gagged is a powerful physical and deeply symbolic act, and a top has to be aware of both those elements. For the physical, the top has to watch extremely closely for injury and for difficulty in breathing or swallowing, as well as take the usual precautions with body fluids and bacteria. The symbolic must likewise be closely controlled. It may be too intense, for example, for a bottom to be both gagged and bound at the same time.
Also: harness gag, horse-bit gag, and ball gag: each of these is a store-bought leather-metal-plastic combination, and they must be well and strongly made. Audience volunteers modeled these gags. The harness gag is a network of leather strips, and often has a few hooks with which to attach the head to something; the horse-bit gag is great for playing horsy as well as for keeping the bottom from talking; the ball gag (besides giving the bottom a comic-book startled expression) is a highly effective mouth stopper. You can also make your own rope harness, and attach a gag to it, as was demonstrated. Even more: dildo-gag with rubber insertion plug just long enough to touch the uvula, prompting intermittent gag reflex and tube gag, or "piss-gag," consisting of plastic tube that fits into the mouth and a leather strap that goes around the back of the head.
When inserting a plug, use lots of lube, and go slowly. Save twisting, grinding, and vigorous movement for later, after the muscles have relaxed. (Faster movement should, in theory, be reserved for a dildo anyway.) Most commercial buttplugs have a narrow part at the bottom where the sphincter muscle can hold it and keep it inside. Since a vagina has no sphincter muscle to hold a plug in, a plug must be stuffed in and held or strapped in.
Routine use of condoms on buttplugs is an easy safe practice to follow regularly, and it allows for sharing of toys among bottoms. Remember that while plugs can be shared (with a condom), lube should not be. A hand moving from a lube container to a person and then back to the lube container inevitably deposits things from the person to the lube container. Reserve a lube container for that bottom, or, better yet, a bottom should have his or her own lube container. Women should follow the dictum, "From vagina to butt, but not butt to vagina."
-- Terry F.
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