Thursday, February 23, 2012

Duct Tape Gags (keeping her quiet pt. 1)

An essential part of any abduction or damsel in distress scenario, nothing screams enforced submission better than the image of a submissive who has been bound and gagged.  Welcome to the first installment of "keeping her quiet", an ongoing discussion about gags and gagging in BDSM.

I'd first like to note, for you my dear reader, that the title "keeping her quiet" is not intended to be sexist in any way.  Please understand that any observations or advice I give are almost always equally applicable to gags used upon a male submissive.  My choice of a female pronoun is not intended to imply that female submissives, nor women in general, should be gagged or stifled from expressing themselves.  This is about the use of gags for BDSM scenes, not life in general.

The articles on gags are intended to be pansexual.  My original working title for this series of postings was actually "keeping them quiet".  While that's a more politically correct title, and perhaps even more accurate to my actual intent, it's also flat out generic.  It's plain, and to my eyes it's also boring.  My personal observations come primarily from experiences with women submissives, and a writer can best express the viewpoints they know.

OK?  Let's get on to the good stuff!

Gags are an interesting and very important topic to discuss for a variety of reasons.  Gags are a form of edgeplay because a misused or misapplied gag can quickly kill an unattended submissive.  Although I've never seen any research studies with statistics, I personally believe that gags are one of the first forms of edge play an individual is likely to encounter in the BDSM world.

As a part of this ongoing series, I'm envisioning two kinds of posts.  I plan to write more extensively about gags and gagging in general, the inherent dangers of gags, and how they can be used safely.  I also will include, as a second kind of posting, short discussions about specific types of gags, their inherent advantages, disadvantages, as well as their specific dangers.  This current post falls into the later category.
Duct Tape Gagskeeping her quiet (pt. 1)

Mila Kunis duct tape gagged
When perusing erotic pictures on tumblr, it's very common to find images of duct tape being used as a gag. Since a lot of individuals who are new to BDSM get their inspiration from sources like tumblr, it's important to consider the positives and negatives before trying anything like a duct tape gag in your home on your own precious submissive.

Duct tape (also called duck tape) is a strong pressure sensitive plastic/polyethylene tape with cloth backing and/or cloth threads embedded in the plastic for strength.  Believe it or not, common duct tape is not recommended for use on heating/cooling duct work in your home, there are special shiny metallic tapes that are actually designed for duct work.  Although it's available in a variety of colors, duct tape is most commonly found in a dull silver/gray, with a standard width of 1 7/8th inches.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and I've noticed that even mundane sciences like adhesive tape progress most quickly under wartime pressures.  And while it may seem as though it has been around forever, it's interesting to note that what most of us know as duct tape was originally designed to help seal munitions into cases before shipping in World War II.

That designed purpose is important to keep in mind, as duct tape was specifically formulated to be strongly adhesive, and at least somewhat waterproof.  In one of life's little ironies, it turns out that duct tape's strengths and weaknesses both stem from that design.

Here's a cute little tape gagging tutorial from YouTube that can serve as a sort of introduction to further discussion of duct tape gags.  The viddy has some loud music, you may wish to turn your volume down . . .

A few observations on the video.
  1. In case you weren't sure, the "stuffing" in Step 1 is most assuredly a pair of balled up panties.  The panty gag itself is such a classic of BDSM play and literature as to deserve it's own installment of "keeping her quiet" - for now simply suffice it to say that the addition of panties as "stuffing" along with any other type of gag increases choking risks exponentially.  
  2. The Video's Step 2 - Cloth is also another classic style of gag, the scarf or bandanna gag.  Once again, I believe that a separate installment of  "keeping her quiet" is in order for this style of gag.  In terms of it's use here, a scarf gag might mitigate some of  problems with overly strong adhesives that are inherent in duct tape play.
  3. I'm not 100% positive that the tape used in this tutorial is duct tape.  Duct tape does come in a variety of colors including shiny metallic tape, I have seen white duct tape, and the title of the video is Duct tape gagged!  With that said, the video itself isn't terribly high definition, so it's possible that she's using white medical adhesive tape, which is a safer alternative to duct tape.
In using any sort of tape gag, I'd avoid a loose object like balled up panties.  Anytime there is a loose object in a submissive's mouth there is a risk they could inhale the object.  Inhaled objects are going to cause choking and blocking of the airway.  If the panties don't fully obstruct a submissive's airway, they can still cause a gag reflex.

Severe enough gagging can lead to vomiting, and if a submissive's mouth is full of her own (or her lover's) panties, there's a good chance she could end up inhaling her own vomit.  You might be aware that, among others, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix both died from inhaling their own vomit and resulting respiratory arrest.    Even if inhalation of vomit doesn't lead directly to death, it introduces virulent bacteria from the stomach into the lungs, potentially causing illness like pneumonia.

All sorts of problems are easily enough avoided by simply omitting any "stuffing" when creating a tape gag for your submissive.

I think that's enough comment for one video, let's move on to another version of duct tape in use as a gag . . .

my darling Natalie Duct Taped by clarehoughey
As an unabashed pervert, I must say that Natalie struggles beautifully!

Using Natalie as an example, it appears that most of her duct tape bondage is pretty safe.  Where it's wrapped around her torso and legs, that special ubiquitous shiny gray tape has been used as restraint over clothing and nylons/stockings.  In those cases there's little risk of harming the the fair lady's skin, as the stockings and clothing are the one who will suffer the ravages of strong adhesive.  Although it's not certain, there's a pretty good chance that the duct tape wrapped around her torso will ruin Natalie's sweater.  

Natalie's struggles demonstrate duct tape's characteristics very well, the tape is very strong, and so is it's adhesive.  Duct tape is easy to to put on as a gag, most of us have used it before for other projects, so it's a familiar medium to use.  Because of it's strong adhesive and somewhat waterproof nature, a duct tape gag stays in place very well too.

Jessica Alba w/ duct tape gag
Those characteristics are also what make Duct Tape less than ideal as a gag material.  The biggest problem with duct tape is that it sticks too darn well.  When duct tape is snugged down tight and left in place for any kind of extended time period, it can bond so well to the skin that it takes a few layers of skin with it when removed.  Ouch!

The effect is similar to a rug burn or other abrasion wound.  In this case, instead of being scrapped off, the skin is ripped away by the adhesive, but the effect is still the same.  These kinds of wounds are anything but erotic for most folks, and they seem particular prone to becoming infected.  Sensitive skin in areas around the mouth, or on a submissive's cheeks, tend to be the areas most likely to be attacked by duct tape adhesive.

Where duct tape doesn't pull away skin, it may leave behind a sticky, gummy residue.  Because duct tape was designed to be at least semi-waterproof, it's adhesive reside can be difficult to remove.  And, if you don't remove the residue, it seems to be a magnet for dirt and grime, becoming really ugly, really fast.  

Quite obviously, the adhesive is not soluble in water.  And, although it's somewhat soluble in alcohol, I've yet to meet a submissive who really wanted to scrub their face with an alcohol soaked cotton swab right away after duct tape lifted off a few chunks of skin.  If you've ever felt alcohol in an open wound, you know that's not really the kind of masochism most are seeking, eh?

So, were Natalie my submissive, I'd forego the duct tape gag and blindfold (especially the blindfold!)  For me personally, I'd not want to chance ugly angry marks on her face where the tape held a little too well.  I'd not want to roll the dice on whether the tape's adhesive might lift away some eyelashes, or part of an eyebrow.  And I'd not want to look at dirty splotches of adhesive between the wounds that were difficult to clean or remove.

Yes, people do use duct tape as a gag.  If that's a big fetish for you, and you can find a partner who's skin can withstand the adhesive, then more power to ya!

But for most folks, I'd suggest another alternative.  If using a tape gag is important to you, I'd suggest that there are other tape gags which are better suited for this purpose.  And there are a whole world of other alternatives that can be used as gags, so stay tuned for future installments of . . . . "keeping her quiet".

Keeping Her Quiet is an ongoing discussion about gags and gagging in BDSM.  Other postings in this series (so far) include:
  1. Keeping Her Quiet (pt. 1) - Duct Tape Gags
  2. Keeping Her Quiet (pt. 2) - Introduction to Gags
  3. Keeping Her Quiet (pt. 3) - Variations on a Gag
  4. Keeping Her Quiet (pt. 4) - Wiffle Gag
  5. Keeping Her Quiet (pt. 5) - Serafina's Assignment
  6. Keeping Her Quiet (pt. 6) - Hand Gag
  7. Keeping Her Quiet (pt. 7) - Drooling!
  8. Keeping Her Quiet (pt 8) - Gag Maker Extraordinaire


  1. I have never been gagged but I have to say that is one of the things I am most looking forward to. looking forward to reading more on this subject. Thanks for the info.

    1. Gag play can be great fun, and it's really great to see a submissive looking forward to the experience, as I know that many fear it greatly. I believe that gags an a very nice element of erotic suspense to a scene.

      Thanks for reading and commenting my dear!


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