Skills I’ve Learnt By & From Bottoming

A chalkboard with a mindmap on it, with a lightbulb at its centre. The mindmap is titled "Bottoming Skills" and has six bubbles, which say "boundaries", "self-care", "balance", "processing pain", "communication" and "mindfulness" inside

Last month, I asked my Patreon people what they’d like to see a blog post about for the month of October, and they voted for “Skills I’ve learned or am learning, as a bottom and a human”. So, naturally, I… proceeded to go about three weeks without writing or posting anything. My brain has been on the fritz again and writing about bottoming has fallen to near the bottom of my to-do list (get it?), but at least I can spin it in my favour this time, because one of the most important skills I’ve learned as a bottom is understanding and asserting my boundaries.

Looking after my boundaries comes under the heading of “soft skills”, and it’s a soft skill I’ve had to battle to learn. That’s not a surprise; I’m assigned female and recovering from abuse on top of that, so I’ve spent a lot of time acquiescing on my boundaries for the sake of my safety. In kink, though, the best way to ensure your own safety and wellbeing (and that of the people around you!) is to recognise and assert your boundaries, so that you don’t say ‘yes’ to something you can’t withstand. If you, like me, don’t care much about your own safety or wellbeing, you might find it helpful to reframe it as, “Part of being a responsible bottom is communicating about my boundaries and limitations. It helps my top/dominant if I am forthcoming about what I can and cannot do.” This helps you grant yourself permission to assert your boundaries, and the more times you voice a boundary and have it respected (and even congratulated, with phrases such as, “Good pup for telling me”), the more you’ll train your brain to connect asserting a boundary with having a good time, which is hugely helpful in non-kink contexts, too.

That’s the thing about soft skills like these: I learn or build them whilst bottoming, but they improve my quality of life in vanilla contexts, too. Skills in a similar vein include communication and self-awareness, as well as mindfulness and staying present within my body – something I struggle with, since 1. I dissociate pretty frequently and 2. My brain is usually running at ridiculous speeds and is never fully focused on a single thing. When I’m bottoming, staying present and attentive to my body and brain is essential to my safety as well as my enjoyment of the scene, and this has the pleasant side effect of teaching me that being present inside myself can be a good thing.

Another skill that I practice whilst bottoming and that helps me in my day-to-day life is processing pain. I have hypermobile joints that cause me chronic pain, with acute flare-ups often occurring in cold weather, when I’m ill, when I’m stressed, when I’m not eating right, and/or seemingly at random. It’s hugely helpful to have pain processing strategies to hand for these – things like deep breathing, visualising pain as heat which is radiating from my body, and learning not to freak out because pain is not always equivalent to peril. I’m not learning to ignore pain – in kink, because pain is part of the fun; with my joints, because pain is informative – but I am learning to cope with it.

Bottoming is also teaching me to prioritise self-care. I’m a better bottom (more engaged, more attentive, able to push myself) if I’m well-fed, well-rested and managing my chronic pain appropriately. It’s sometimes difficult to grant myself permission to perform self-care, so, much like with the assertion of boundaries, it’s useful to reframe it as being useful to other people, as well as mixing in the incentive that if I do more self-care, I can do more BDSM.

I have also learned and/or developed “hard” skills from bottoming. Some of these things are as minor and context-specific as coiling my Daddy’s rope for them, but some are bigger – like rope stuff helping me to improve my balance and proprioception. Bottoming-related hard skills are ones I’d like to explore more thoroughly; things like bootblacking would aid my hand-eye coordination, help me to keep my own Doc Martens in good nick and, as a nice bonus, put me into a service-oriented headspace. There are so many ways that bottoming has the capacity to improve one’s quality of life beyond just the bedroom/dungeon/wherever you do kink, and I’m excited to keep exploring them.

Safe, Sane and Consensual (SSC) vs. Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK)

Stock photo of a white tin case with red text which reads "First Aid case"

If you’re new to the world of BDSM, you may have heard the terms “SSC” and “RACK”, and you may be confused as to what exactly they mean, whether they differ from each other and which is better to use. So let me start at the beginning: they’re names for schools of thought within BDSM regarding, essentially, safety and best practice.

SSC = Safe, Sane and Consensual.

RACK = Risk-Aware, Consensual Kink.

There are other versions of these (such as PRICK, which stands for “Personal Responsibility, Informed Consensual Kink”, and CRASH, which stands for “Consensual, Risk-Aware, Shit Happens”), but they’re not as commonly used as SSC or RACK. You’re more than welcome to generate your own code of ethics and best practice within BDSM, and it doesn’t even need a cool acronym, but the benefit of terms like SSC and RACK is that lots of other kinksters are aware of their meanings, which makes communication with those kinksters that little bit more streamlined.

I have to confess, I am firmly a RACK person. I understand the appeal of SSC, especially to newcomers. We all want to believe that the things we do, in kink and in life, are safe and sane. The first problem, though, lies in the subjectivity of both of those words. Imagine you’re talking to someone from, say, 1600. You explain to them that we have huge metal carriages, called “cars”, that can travel at up to 270 miles an hour, and that even in everyday use they can exceed 70. You acknowledge that sometimes, the drivers of these “cars” can lack skill or focus, and sometimes they lose control of their vehicles. Then you reassure your new friend that we have crossings in place, where cars are legally mandated to stop, so that pedestrians can move from one side of the road to the other. They’re only slightly relieved by this, and they are aghast when you follow it up with, “But some people just nip across the road where there isn’t a crossing at all.”

To someone from 1600, that seems both unsafe and fucking insane, but to us, it’s Tuesday. Our understanding of safety changes from decade to decade and person to person. Some people won’t eat raw cookie dough because they deem it unsafe. Some people will do several recreational substances in a field with their friends, with no phone signal nor sober people onsite. (Not me, of course; I would never). People do things that they think are safe but that others do not, and some people do things that they know to be unsafe, because we’re all blessed with bodily autonomy, no matter how recklessly we use it.

There’s also the issue that some kink acts just cannot be made safe. YouTuber Evie Lupine did a wonderful video on this topic, citing breath play and the use of restraints as being among the things that beginners dip their toes into without a full awareness of the risks involved. SSC suggests that kinksters should only engage in play that is safe, but that takes a lot of activities off the table, or else minimises the risks those activities pose. Implying that things like choking are safe, rather than fraught with risks that can be mitigated, is dangerous, especially for beginners. It’s for this reason I prefer the “Risk-Aware” label.

Then there’s the “sane” issue. First, as outlined above, our understanding of what is and isn’t sane to do varies wildly. I don’t think that skiing is a sane thing to do (just chuck yourself down a snowy mountain! With some sticks! It’s fine!), but other people either disagree, or do it anyway. The implication that some types of play can be insane is troublesome, because the distinction between sane and not-sane is different for everybody and because if there are not-sane ways to play, what does that mean for the people who practice them?

The thing is, I know I am not a sane person by most definitions. I experience mild hallucinations, some delusions, huge emotional responses and more, and the idea that sanity is a requirement for kink is… troubling. By focusing instead on risk awareness, I can participate in kink so long as I comprehend the risks and can give informed and unimpeded consent (unimpeded meaning not affected by, nor primarily motivated by weird brain things). I’m sure people who prefer SSC don’t have any ableist intentions, but in suggesting that kink has to be sane, SSC runs the risk of alienating people who aren’t, strictly speaking, sane themselves.

I don’t judge people who use SSC rather than RACK – I’m sure they have their reasons for doing so, and everyone is entitled to set their own rules regarding how they approach BDSM. But I’m always going to err on the side of risk-awareness over insisting on safety and I’m always going to shy away from insistence upon sanity, and I hope y’all can understand why.

Smut Saturdays #15: The Beauty of a Blindfold

Stock photo of a piece of light brown rope arranged in a heart shape, lying on a darker brown bench. The background is out of focus but looks greenish. It's cute, and suits this smut about a blindfold nicely.

Ready for some blindfold smut? Every fourth Saturday, I’ll be posting erotica I’ve written, based loosely on my own real life experiences or fantasies, for your wanking enjoyment. They’ll all be under the category ‘Smut Saturdays’ and if you’ve got any feedback or requests for smut scenarios, put ‘em in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @KinkyAutistic!


(I acknowledge that it is no longer Saturday. In fact, at the time of writing, it is Tuesday. But what could be more on-brand – for #AutismAcceptanceMonth especially – than running three days late on a self-imposed deadline?)


It hurts.

Of course, I know that it’s supposed to hurt. There is only one wrap of rope around my upper thigh, and through it is the weight of my entire leg. I feel like my skin might split, but it won’t give me the satisfaction – I probably won’t even bruise.

My Daddy and I are playing in his living room. I’m on the floor under his suspension frame, naked, with my right leg hoisted into the air and my left one resting on the ground, so my vulva is readily visible. It’s relatively quiet and calm in here, but the pain is still overwhelming me, and I’m worried I’ll reach my limit soon. I suck in short, sharp breaths, pulling air through my teeth, as I try to adjust to the feeling that my upper thigh is about to get ripped in two. I want to be good. I want to take this.

“Daddy,” I say timidly, watching as he begins to uncoil yet another rope. He pauses. “Could I have a blindfold, please?”

Asking for things mid-scene is not my strong suit. If we’re being brutally honest, asking for things at any time is not my strong suit. I want to take up as little space as possible, and make as little fuss as a person can; but this directly contradicts my desire to be as honest with my Daddy as possible and to process as much pain as a person can. So I ask for the blindfold, and I tilt my head up willingly when he pulls it from the rope bag.

“Good Puppy for asking,” he tells me, his voice both warm and condescending. He lays the fabric carefully over my eyes, aiming to block all light out of my vision but also to avoid compressing my nose and compromising my ability to breathe (because that would come later). He knots the blindfold tightly behind my head, so it hugs my skull and blocks out some sound by virtue of lying over my ears. I could still hear my Daddy if he raised his voice, but I can no longer hear the clock ticking, nor the hum of the refrigerator in the other room. All I can really perceive is the pain in my thigh.

I breathe in. I breathe out. I start to let go of the panic I had originally felt as a result of this seemingly unconquerable pain. I think, I hope this bruises and, Oh, it eases off if I press my left hip into the carpet and I’m such a good little masochist, all while my Daddy starts to tie my wrists together, silent and deft.

With one sudden, fluid motion, my wrists are pulled up, and with them, so is my entire torso. I yelp, but more importantly, without thinking, I twist, so that both buttcheeks are firmly on the floor and my wrists are comfortable above my head without threatening to pull one of my hypermobile ribs out of place. In the process, I obviously rotate my poor upper thigh, twisting it and dragging my flesh across the rope that encased it, and now I know it’ll bruise. I’ll be lucky if I haven’t made it bleed. I whimper, only somewhat soothed by the indomitable familiarity of ropes swaying and jostling whilst my Daddy locks off an upline that’s connected to my body. (For those not well-versed in rope-related words – some of which I might be bastardizing or making up entirely – the upline is the one that goes up to the suspension point. Locking it off involves doing things to it so it doesn’t move, unravel or otherwise drop your bottom on their, uh, bottom.) I’m disgruntled about my thigh – shearing (the dragging of rope across skin) is a type of pain I do not remotely enjoy – and I keep whimpering until the familiar movement above my head stops. Then there is a very long pause, and I blink against the fabric of my blindfold, against the darkness.

My Daddy takes hold of my chin. I don’t know whether he’s standing over me or kneeling by my side. I do know that him gripping my chin like this can only mean one thing. He holds it for long enough that I can object if I want to, but I stay silent. I’m such a good little masochist.

Crack. The sound of his palm across my cheek. I’m so full of endorphins that I interpret pain as warm, and sigh heavily at its pleasant radiation through my face. I know what’s coming next.

Crack.

It’s going to happen soon. It’s not the pain so much as the shock of it that gets me – and the intimacy of it. Being slapped across the face is completely inescapable. You hear it more loudly than any other slaps. When you’re not blindfolded, you see it. And I think it activates some primal instinct that arse-slapping just doesn’t achieve, because it usually only takes —

Crack.

Yep, three strikes and my eyes well up behind the blindfold. I can feel my lower lip wobble. My Daddy shifts his grip from my chin to my hair, and I know the next slap will make me cry.

He pauses for so long that I whisper, “Green,” in case he’s unsure. And then, crack. Across my face. Knocks the tears right out of my eyes. Knocks a loud sob out of my mouth. And I know that if I weren’t blindfolded, I’d call “Yellow,” because I’d be overwhelmed. But all I can feel is heat in my cheek and an unbearable level of anticipation, and I tilt my head up a little bit to indicate I’m ready for another.

Crack. Crack. Crack.

And now I’m fully sobbing, and I can feel my Daddy’s hand brushing hair out of my face. “Oh, look at you,” he says softly. “You’re so pretty when you cry.”

“I’m trying my best,” I wail, as is my custom when I feel sufficiently little and deep in subspace. “I’m trying really hard.”

“I know, baby.” There is some shuffling. His hand isn’t in my hair any more. “Do you know what else is really hard?”

I giggle even though there’s snot leaking from my face. “Daddy!” Then there’s a hand in my hair again, but this time it’s pulling. I can barely remember that my thigh is hurting, and I only re-become aware that my wrists are tied above my head when I move to scratch something and realise I can’t. “My brain is stupid,” I report honestly.

“That’s okay. You don’t need a brain for this.”

My hearing isn’t muffled enough to disguise the sound of him pulling down the zip on his jeans, and I open my mouth readily, my tongue stretching down my chin.

And that’s where I’ll leave you, friends, because some things are sexier when they’re unseen.