Fuzzy handcuffs and silk ties on headboards are often the only representations of bondage people have encountered. Before my involvement at the The Bellingham Sex Positive Center (BSPC) — I had no exposure to Shibari, Kinbaku, or the art, sensuality, and beauty of rope bondage.
My discovery of rope was made as an extension of the power exchange in my relationship. The D and S in BDSM partially represent Dominance and submission, and my partner and I fall into a D/s dynamic, where I am the submissive one. I liked it a lot the first time he tied me up, but I really fell in love when he took me as his rope bottom to a workshop. We explored how rope can be used as a tool to assert dominance and control your partner — both mentally and physically.
Part of the appeal of submission is in gifting your control to someone else. When we play with bondage, the rope becomes an extension of my partner, something he can put his energy into to make me feel the things he wants me to feel.
The more variety you introduce, the more opportunity is created to surprise your partner with new sensations and the anticipation of things they’ve never experienced.
When I am in rope, the world fades away; there is only me, the rope, and the rigger.
I’m a rope bottom — sometimes called a rope bunny — meaning I’m usually the one being tied up. Bottoming for rope bondage requires a lot of trust and comfort for me, so I’ve primarily been tied by my partner.
We tie with locally made jute rope. In the beginning we used synthetic rope for a bit, but I prefer the look and character of jute. It holds frictions better, which is especially helpful when tying on a curvy body like mine because it slips less. I love the rougher feel of jute on my skin, and the raspy sound it makes sliding against itself.
The type of rope play we do involves tons of energy — metaphysical and literal. Whether we’re playing alone, doing a scene, or practicing in a class or lab, I feel that jute rope holds and fits that energy better than synthetic rope can.
The rope we use is handmade by a local ropemaker. The set we use most was made specifically for us — tied, wound, and dyed my partner’s favorite royal purple.
This rope has only been touched by a few hands, and I believe that makes a difference in how it feels to tie with it, to have my body bound by it.
There is a give and take to all we do, and the rope is part of that exchange.
What I Get Out of Doing Rope
People learn and practice rope bondage for a variety of reasons. Some do it
for sex, some do it to create art, as a sport, as a hobby, or as a way to make friends. I first tried rope because I was curious, and my partner offered it.
In the time since then, it’s enhanced my life more than I ever expected — it’s strengthened my relationship, provided a space for me to breathe, and helped me connect with myself and with my local rope community.
Quality Relationship Time
In rope, my boyfriend and I found a hobby we can enjoy together. I don’t like gaming or bicycling as much as he does, and he doesn’t enjoy cross-stitch or coloring. Rope gives us a common interest, a craft we can practice and learn together.
Rope is one of the most basic ways for us to connect. Attending classes means we’ve set aside time to focus on nothing but our relationship for that chunk of time, which isn’t always easy with kids and jobs and other commitments.
Peace, Release, and Escape
Rope provides a path to release and escape. When I’m bound, I feel peaceful. In photos of myself in rope, I can see beautiful calm all over my face. I find a meditative energy.
If you’ve explored BDSM at all, you’ve likely heard of ‘subspace,’ the altered mental state created by the endorphins released during kink play. In bondage, we have ‘rope space,’ and it’s one of my favorite places.
When I’m there, the world disappears. I can float in the connection between myself and the rope, myself and my partner, and the earth beneath us. Being tied feels like home.
In times when I’m feeling like I need a hug from the world, the rope can be that hug. It can be incredibly sensual and intimate, gentle and quiet. In those moments when he takes the time and care to decorate and envelop my body with rope, I feel loved and cared for. It creates a cocoon of space where it’s just the two of us.
Pleasure & Pain
Sometimes, rope is simply a way to get kinky. It can be especially handy for times when other things would be too noisy or we don’t have the space. Bondage has been a great way to explore and nurture our D/s dynamic. Being bound and unable to move is a powerful thing. Physical submission is different than mental submission, and both have their perks.
Beyond basics, ties that go from cozy to stressful and painful with one shift of the body are a way for him to show me I’m helpless. It can be an instrument of delicious pain or domination: its versatility is one thing that makes it so diverse and fun. Ties that are more painful or torturous create an opportunity for me to surrender, release, and find catharsis.
Beyond providing a path to connect with my partner, practicing rope bondage has been a wonderful way to connect with community and make new friends. If you’ve never created the opportunity for yourself to be in a group of people who share a specific passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm for the same things you do, do it. It’s nurturing and inspiring in a way few things are.
Going to rope labs and workshops, being part of the rope community both in person and online, sharing photos, and now being tied by different people fills my heart.
I physically enjoy the sensations created by rope immensely. I recently had my first experience being tied by trusted friends rather than my partner, and it was cozy, lovely, and nurturing. Feeling the sensations I enjoy and creating something at the same time was a beautiful way to spend an afternoon. As a writer, I don’t get that much opportunity to collaborate with people, but when I do, I absolutely love it. The chance to share space and energy and create something unique and radiant with people I care for fills my cup.
Art exists in infinite forms, and rope is one I’ve come to appreciate highly. The human body is beautiful, and putting it in rope allows for the creation of lines, marks, and mesmerizing shapes and images.
A Platform for Body Positivity
As a plus-sized bunny, involvement in the rope community is another way to nurture and promote body positivity. A huge percentage of my progress toward being okay with my own body has come from being involved in these communities.
When people appreciate photos of my body in rope with the same types of words and genuine enjoyment they have for pictures of straight-sized women in rope, I see myself in a different light. Kinky spaces are some of the most body positive spaces I’ve ever encountered, but rope in particular has a lot further to go in terms of representation. I ask my partner to take photos of me in rope so I can encourage and inspire other larger women to embrace it as well. I want to normalize this and create movement towards a more inclusive community for people my size.
Advice for New and Curious Bunnies
FetLife is full of information and advice for new and curious kinksters just starting out on their tying journeys. Guides for what supplies you’ll need (don’t forget the safety shears!), the best ties for beginners, and how to find local rope events are plentiful. This is my best advice for anyone just starting out.
Words of Wisdom
My biggest advice is don’t be discouraged, especially for rad fatties like me! Rope is for everybody. On Instagram or Fetlife, you’ll find rope and Shibari pictures featuring a lot of small/athletic/model-type women in rope. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it! I am 5'8" and 296 pounds, and I do all kinds of rope, including suspensions. Some positions aren’t possible for me — but no one can do everything — and you’ll find ways to do it that will work for you.
Every body can be beautiful in rope given the chance.
Give Yourself Grace
You won’t be able to do complex ties right away. Some people are more flexible than others, and it has nothing to do with weight or worthiness as a bottom. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do certain positions. A good teacher will suggest a modification, and ties don’t have to be perfect or complicated to be fun and look cool.
An inability to stay in a position or a suspension for very long doesn’t indicate failure, it just means you need to try something else. Figure out a stretching routine — you’d be amazed what 20 minutes of stretching a few times a week will do for your flexibility.
If you live in an urban area, you’ll likely be able to find some local labs or classes. If you’re the one being tied, seek out opportunities to learn about bottoming. The focus of most classes I’ve attended was on teaching tops how to tie, without a lot of discussion about bottoming.
The classes I’ve been to where bottoms gave helpful advice and taught specifically about bottoming were super helpful. If the bottoms at classes you attended don’t do it during the class, make a point to talk to them at breaks or afterwards. Even grabbing one or two takeaways will make it worth it. They can speak to how to stretch for certain ties, what you can do to build or encourage your body to sustain rope/suspension, and lots of other things that tops who haven’t bottomed much aren’t really able to teach about.
Educate Yourself on Anatomy
This one is really important: learn the basics of anatomy and nerves, and where nerve damage is most common. Rope is super fun and a lot of people make it looks really easy and sexy, but there is a level of skill involved, and you need to know what to look for so that you’re less likely to be injured. Learn what it feels like when your extremities are just going to sleep versus when a nerve is pinched or rope is misplaced.
So far, most of my rope journey has been about me and my partner, and creating something together. Currently I’m gearing up to dip my toes back in with the local rope and kink communities, hoping to explore bottoming as a model for photos for more people I trust. I would like to show people that they can tie on bodies like mine and help increase exposure to a wider variety of bodies in rope.
Most of all, I just want to keep getting tied up, and taking advantage of all the benefits rope provides.