Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ball Gags and Phthalates - another installment of "Not in Her Mouth"

unsafe ballgag due to phythalates

I own this gag, or I once did.

Not this specific individual gag, as I never shared my toybox with anyone at gagged.com where this picture originated.  But, it's safe to say I have a gag of this kind, one that looks exactly like this.  I purchased the gag in the Fall of 2001, while on a vacation.

When vacationing, travelling our country's interstate highway system, I've always had a habit of stopping at every sleazy XXX video store I encounter.  It's an odd pastime, but one I find quite entertaining.  Before the explosion of online shopping opportunities for BDSM gear, it was also a way to keep finding interesting items for my toybag.

I've instructed my slave/wife Serafina to go thru my boxes of old and surplus BDSM gear later this week, to see if I can find the old gag and include a better picture of it with this post.  I'm not sure if it's still around though, because it was "removed from service" due to issues with the rubber ball portion of the ball gag.

I own several ball-gags.  It's not a strong fetish for me, but gags are something I truly enjoy.  I guess I'm lucky that way. I have a great appreciation for most fetishes and fetish items, but I have no strong fetishes myself, leaving me free to explore almost endless possibilities and variations in BDSM play.

In my experience, it's rare to find a submissive who actually enjoys being gagged, but in the end it's also rare for one to totally refuse to to allow me the pleasure of using a gag on them.  It's a matter of safety, and ultimately, a matter of trust.

I've always openly advised submissives to never allow someone they don't implicitly trust to use a gag upon them.  I think that advice is just common sense, but common sense doesn't always take precedence when a terrible ache in a clit or cock just begs for relief.  So, I always advise people to be educated before they try more serious BDSM toys and techniques, including the use of gags.

To be very honest, I've also always been a fan of the "damsel in distress" school of bondage, and gags are almost an absolute necessity for this style.  That has shaped my evolution as a dominant.  Because of my style and those safety warnings, the onus is completely on me to earn a submissive's full trust if I wish to endeavor to play the kind of kinky games I most desire.

OK, enough generalities for now about safety and trust in BDSM, let's get back to my discussion of this particular gag.

It's a pretty enough gag, the red leather and black ball are exactly opposite the most common ball gag combination, black leather and red ball.  In the case of the gagged.com picture I've borrowed for this article, the black ball nicely accentuates this model's bright red lipstick.  A dear old friend of mine used to call that shade "cocksucker red" - although I've never found it listed under that name by Maybelline.

In terms of construction, the red leather of the straps was very nice and soft.  I suspect they are made from goat skin leather, which is also fairly commonly used for making women's leather fashion garments.  Serafina has a lovely red corset made of goat skin leather that's just like the feel and texture of the straps on this gag.

The buckle and rivet hardware was at least adequate, although I personally prefer shiny chrome steel hardware.  I'll always remember reading about the old Leatherman fashion edict that chrome and brass fittings should never be mixed in a single outfit, and this gag has neither.  I suppose that the color of the hardware wouldn't matter when it's used on someone who's mostly naked, and it's not of great concern to the proper look of a damsel in distress type of scene anyway.

The ball itself, the "working" portion of the gag, is large and solid.  The rubber ball is soft and yielding yet still very firm, very much like dildos and other insertable toys made from "jelly rubber."  At least a little bigger in circumference than most other ball gags, the rubber ball is a real mouthful, probably too big for a smaller submissive like Serafina.

All things considered, it was a functional gag, somewhat unique, pretty enough as those kind of things go, but the  rubber ball poses a real problem.   The dark but slightly translucent soft rubber undoubtedly contains phthalates - a chemical cousin of naphthalene.  Phthalates are commonly used as plasticizers, they make PVC and other rubber products more flexible and transparent, and in some cases more durable too.

It turns out, the soft and flexible, slightly translucent rubber ball used for this gag is like a poster child for rubber made with phthalates.  Not only does the rubber's soft texture indicate the likely presence of phthalates, it's semi-transparent appearance virtually guarantees the presence of that toxic chemical.

I wrote about phthalates a few weeks ago here at SpiritualBDSM.com in an essay titled - the smell is like napalm but it doesn't smell like victory - Phthalates pt. 1.  If you don't want to bother reading the whole essay, (I think it's entertaining enough but I know some folks are pressed for time,) the summation is pretty simple . . .  You don't want phthalates put where they can easily be absorbed, meaning that oral, anal and vaginal use are verboten.

That's the bad news, that gags like these need to be assigned to the circular file, consigned to the trash bin.  The aren't really safe for use by humans.  The good news is that there is no reason to stop using all ball gags, there are plenty of ways to avoid filling a submissive's mouth with plasticizer.

Safe ball gags are made of inert materials like silicone, and other phtyalate free materials.  Other alternatives to ball gags include: the classic panty gag, scarves, bandannas, rope gags, fingers, and tape (just to name a few.)  That doesn't seem too limiting, does it?

For liability purposes, I'm probably supposed to say something to the effect that you should not try this in your own home, that activities involving gags are inherently dangerous, in extreme cases a mishap could result in death.  That's all true, but many if not most of life's activities could qualify for that same disclaimer, including showering alone or driving a car.

People drawn to BDSM and fetish activities are eventually going to want to try the activities they see portrayed in pictures and video, and nothing I can say here on this website will change human nature.  So I will simply conclude with a strong warning, but one that acknowledges that adults often consent to a wide range of risky activities for excitement, it's part of being human.

Always play safe when using gags.

Educate yourself, not just with this cursory glance at gags and gagging, but with a variety of sources and authorities.  Always obtain proper consent before using a gag.  Never leave a gagged submissive alone, or unattended.  And, always have a pre-arranged safety signal in place for times when a safeword can't be uttered.

Any questions?

2 comments:

  1. You know,

    One of the most important things about all this playing around is knowing your safety, and have some stop signs that you can easily let your partner know to stop, or release pressure.

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  2. Exactly!!
    Thanks for pointing that out!

    We have just recently been able to devise a few more efficient ways to communicate. It is imperative that the top/Dom whatever, respects and complies immediately in order to maintain trust.

    Taking our cues from the protocol at KinK.com - as most are not allowed to curse at will. Because we believe sex to be sacred as well we also see that we need to honor that and not throw words around indiscriminately.

    There fore when Master cranks things up to test my limits I now say oh my gosh when almost crossing a boundary and mercy calls for a slowdown and back-off.

    Finally taking a small communication break allows the action to continue without losing the moment or momentum. Red of course ends everything and not one I plan to use.

    When not able to communicate verbally there are other signals to use as possible. a hand up or waving means slowdown etc, and a definite side to side with the head means mercy.

    Thanks for pointing out other safety methods

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