1. First Aid and CPR.
At an event, at the very least, the DM and host should know basic first aid and CPR. (Most of them won’t, be aware.) If you intend to be a worthwhile Dominant, then YOU should know it too. And by “basic”, I don’t mean “we can haz bandajez?”. And by “know it”, I mean you should be an American Red Cross (or military/LEO, or similar organization) certified practitioner. As a former instructor (and once upon a time, a first responder) please believe me – there is a difference between having a medical kit, and being able to use it.
Why spend the time and money? Forget legal issues, forget “community safety”; morally and ethically, you are committing acts which cause damage to a human being. That flogging play tomorrow? The breath play scene last week? That rough-sex-spanking game tonight? Those hurt people. They hurt them in ways that are Hot, Sexy, and Naughty. But they still hurt them. You’re the Dominant. You’re responsible. And if things go bad (cuts that won’t stop bleeding, a sub who passes out from a blood pressure drop, or worse)… it’s on you.
2. How to CLARIFY Consent.
We call it “negotiating”, or “planning your play”, or “play contracts”. But in the end, we’re clarifying consent to do something that is otherwise illegal (and arguably illegal regardless). Forgive me if I’m blunt, but I prefer “clarify consent” to “negotiate”. We’re clarifying the difference between rough sex with some flogging, versus felony rape with aggravated assault – we’re not negotiating the difference between $10 or $25.
This means you need to learn to communicate effectively and clearly. Read a few books on how humans communicate (verbally and non-verbally) and take a class or two at community college. I’d suggest “Human Communication v.6” to start. Then learn to discuss what we do (anal play, bastinado, ball busting, roman showers…) with a straight face. Yes, it will seem un-sexy. It will also save you from misunderstandings.
3. How to Document Consent.
Learn to document consent when possible. Save emails. Save letters. Use a written play contract, negotiating exactly what’s going to happen. Be able to prove that you acted responsibly. Not that it will save you in a criminal case (only a good lawyer will, if then), but it will at least give you shaky moral grounds to stand on if your partner decides later that they didn’t like you after all.
4. Details of Muscular/Skeletal Anatomy.
That subject above? You should learn it. AT THE VERY LEAST. Ie, well enough to pass college classes, that kind of learning. Not the “glance at a book in the library” kind of learning. What we do involves assaulting people with blunt weapons (paddling). It involves applying structurally torqueing forces on the spine (hair pulling, rough body play). It involves hitting them across the back and spine with medieval weapons (flogging). It involves stretching body cavities in a way that medical professionals hesitate to do (fisting). What we do has potential repercussions.
What does that tell you? That you have the potential to do permanent damage to the people you play with. You have the responsibility to know anatomy, muscular structure, skeletal structure, preferably even nerve and heart/lungs. Making mistakes could cause a few extra bruises. Or it could cause a torn muscle and a slipped disc. Make the effort to learn what effect your play will have on the body.
5. Know What to Say when Cops Arrive
Believe it or not, the Police aren’t your enemies. I know the guys in my local precinct. I make it a point of knowing what to say when they came knocking for a noise complaint. Because in your kinky lifetime – it’s gonna happen. And yelling “Just a minute!” while you run around trying to hide the evidence? That’s what we call “reasonable suspicion” in my line of work.
There are DOZENS of posts on this topic. But your best bet? Find someone local in your scene who is a cop, and ask them for advice. And whatever you’re going to say – have the female (or the bottom, if M/m) say it while you smile sheepishly. “We were getting a little loud” sounds much better from a blushing girl, than from a nervous guy.
6. Know How to Spot Predators
News flash to the unenlightened…there are predators out there. They are preying on the people you are playing with. The subs feel hunted – and the truth is, they are. So are you by the way. There are predatory subs, and there are emotionally imbalanced subs. There are people who will move in on a new Dominant and “teach”, while draining your wallet and your heart. Learn what the warning signs are.
My girl, bless her, teaches a class on this. Speak to local elders, or attend a similar class, and learn how to spot trouble coming. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play with or date subs who have emotional issues. It means you should know what you’re getting into.
7. Know Your Personal Limitations
Before you play, check yourself. Do you have a bad shoulder? Then work around flogging, or heavy spanking. Have a lean bank account? Focus on learning things like rope bondage, instead of flogging or heavy corporal. Have a roommate? Plan on only playing at parties. Embarrassed about your weight? Wear something stylish that doesn’t make you feel awkward.
The same applies to a Dom/sub relationship – know where you are in life. Are you trained to play with someone who has physical limitations? Can you handle playing with someone who isn’t into sex? Are you old enough/mature enough to handle a 24/7 relationship? Do you need a partner to be your friend, or your toy? Are you educated enough to play with someone who was abused by their last Dom? Sit down and look at your life, your finances, your education, your health and your state of mind, and make sure that you know what you can, and can’t do, realistically.
8. Where is the Closest Hospital?
This is a no-brainer, really. Google it, and know which hospital is close to you, and which hospital services your area. They may not always be the same. If you ever need to call 911, they’ll ask where you are, and it makes things faster to know which hospital is closest for you.
It also helps to know if your partner has limitations on treatment – I once played with a girl who would only go to Catholic hospitals, no matter how far away they were. I dated another girl who had a neurological medical condition that was rare enough that she needed a specific kind of doctor if she was ever injured.
9. Vet Your Partners
Please. PLEASE. If you haven’t already read my rant, read it now. Vet your play partners. Vet your lovers. You wouldn’t hire a babysitter without research, would you? You wouldn’t hire a contractor without asking for references? Start asking around about the people you want to play with.
Vetting means doing research. Making effort. Asking nosy questions. Not just asking for a patented “List O’Good References”. That list is guaranteed to be hand-picked. One of the best aspects of FetLife is that you can ask around and get a LOT of answers quickly. People are more willing to be honest if it’s in a private email, instead of a public setting. A mature potential sub will understand why you’re doing it. Hopefully they are asking the same questions about you. I once had someone “warn” me that a girl was asking around about me. I’m marrying that same girl 4 years later, so take that as an advertisement.
10. Find a Mentor
Find a local mentor. Let me repeat that. Find a LOCAL mentor. Having an online mentor is awesome. You’ll get lots of witty emails. But realistically…you won’t learn as much as you need to. And when you desperately need guidance, it will be 500 miles away.
Most of our skills need to be learned hands on, with an older and more experienced head teaching you. Whipping, flogging, spanking, even negotiation and scene structure…these things best learned one on one, with someone local and experienced. And the same as with a play partner…Vet the Mentor. A qualified, mature mentor will be flattered that you asked around about them.