Tag Archives: creative kink

BDSM? Sex? Both? Neither?: An overview of possibilities

Digital illustration of the Venn diagrams used in the post on a beige background and a yellow pencil at the bottom right

Content note: This blog post contains a wide variety of one-sentence-long examples of various kinds of BDSM play, of different sexual acts, and of combinations of the two. It also mentions both polyamory/non-monogamy and sex work, equally briefly. And it has very short references to depression and unspecified trauma. If you need more specific info, please try searching this post or let me know what you need a note for so I can tell you whether it appears in here and add more detailed notes in the future.

I promised you kinky nerdery, so here we go…

Inspired by a conversation I had on Twitter yesterday, and the vague annoyance and alienation I tend to feel when “everyone” “always” seems to automatically combine BDSM with sex in their imaginations,[1] I decided it was time to write about the connection (or lack thereof) between BDSM and sex and make a post that shows the many different ways the two can be combined — or not! I even drew a bunch of diagrams for all my fellow visual thinkers! (Note for people using screen-readers: The alt-text image descriptions are very short, but I will explain the idea of every illustration in the text below the respective image.)

A few remarks about my language use first, so you all know what I’m talking about (yay, definitions!):

  • I use BDSM and kink interchangeably. In this text, either of these words means everything that happens consensually and contains elements of bondage, domination/submission (D/S), sadism/masochism (S/M), role play, fetishes, and related activities and dynamics that focus on restraints, power differences, pain, alternate personas, or uncommon sources of pleasure.
  • I use sex as an umbrella term for everything that happens consensually and involves at least one person’s genitals and/or that is meant to create sexual arousal.[2] These activities include the stimulation and/or penetration of all kinds of genitals and/or anuses (assholes) with someone’s mouth, tongue, teeth, fingers, hands, toys/objects, flesh-and-blood and/or silicone cocks. Or, if you like these more confusing terms: manual sex, oral sex, anal sex, and vaginal sex.[3] For the purposes of this post, I’m assuming that sex involves at least two people, even when they’re not in the same room (so phone sex and online sex with direct interaction counts, but being alone and jerking off while watching porn doesn’t).[4]
  • I use the term top to refer to everyone who identifies or plays as a dominant, sadist, owner, d-type, mistress, daddy, handler, etc. — that is, for the person(s) running the show and/or giving the stimulation. Likewise, I use the word bottom to refer to everyone who identifies or plays as a masochist, submissive, pet, little, servant, s-type, property, etc. — that is, for the person(s) following the other’s direction and/or receiving the stimulation. Please identify with whatever bits speak to you in my little example snippets below, adapt the ones you like so they fit the language you use, and assume that all the other examples are talking about people who simply aren’t you.[5]

I would also like to note that the different versions of combining (or not combining) BDSM and sex I explain below can apply to different people, or they can apply to the same person at different times in their life. This post is not meant to create fixed identity categories, but intends to offer a way to understand and describe different and changeable patterns of behavior. The concepts below can be used to either describe how things are for someone right now, or how they would like things to be in the future (or how they were in the past). Some of them can also be used to describe a single sexy or kinky interaction. They are ordered in a way that lets me build on previous ones as I go through the list. I have absolutely no data about how common each of these versions are. I just know that they are all equally valid and okay.

Alright, let’s start with the diagrams!

#1: BDSM and sex are completely separate

BDSM + sex 1 - separate

In this case, BDSM and sex are completely separate activities for the person. They exclusively have vanilla sex (that is, sex without any element of BDSM) and they do BDSM, but never with any elements of sex. For example, they may enjoy doing rope bondage (shibari) for the artistic or meditative aspects and not because it turns them on. Or perhaps they love giving or receiving floggings that are more like a deep-tissue massage or a painful ordeal than a source of sexual arousal. Or maybe they are a pro-dom(me) or pro-sub who is entirely vanilla in their private life, and who doesn’t offer any genital stimulation during the time they spend with their clients.[6] Or they might be a person who is in a vanilla relationship with one person and practices their BDSM with other people, but only without genital contact. Or they may just find it hard to combine BDSM and sex in the same scene and prefer to engage in these activities separately. In short: They both do BDSM and have sex, but never combine the two.

This person may spend the same amount of time or energy doing BDSM and sex, or they may do more of one than the other, as indicated by the differently-sized circles in the diagrams.

#2: BDSM and sex overlap partly (and to different degrees)

Venn diagram that shows BDSM and sex as partly overlapping (explanation in text)

For other people, BDSM and sex partly overlap. Like the person above, they do BDSM without sex and have (vanilla) sex without BDSM, but they also combine BDSM and sex sometimes. They may be into alternating spanking and wiggling around a butt plug in someone’s ass. Or they may like to follow a warm-up flogging with an intermission of clit-sucking and then move on to the caning crescendo of their scene. Or they may enjoy having any kind of sex while one partner is tied up or blindfolded. Or they may like framing any kind of sex as a service interaction or as a power exchange. Perhaps they also have different partners (and/or clients) for vanilla sex, BDSM without sex, and a combination of the two. Or maybe they only have vanilla sex (and BDSM without noisy impact play) at home because of the kids/pets/neighbors, but really like to go to a play party where they have enough room to swing their bullwhip or where they can find an appreciative audience for a nice paddling-and-fingering scene.

As before, they may spend about the same amount of time or energy on BDSM and sex, or they may do more of one than the other (again indicated by the differently-sized circles in the illustration).

Venn diagram that shows BDSM and sex as partly overlapping to different degrees (explanation in text)

The amount of overlap area can also vary. Maybe that person combines BDSM and sex almost every time and only sometimes has either vanilla sex or BDSM without sex (left column). Or they may only very rarely do a combination of BDSM and sex and keep the two separate most of the time (right column).

#3: There is no sex outside of BDSM

Venn diagram that shows sex as completely contained within BDSM (explanation in text)

The next possibility is a person who never has sex outside of BDSM, so no vanilla sex at all. This person always combines sex with BDSM but may also engage in BDSM without genital stimulation or an aim towards arousal/orgasm. For example, they may be into serving tea to their top or into receiving foot massages from their bottom, but none of them gets turned on by that activity. Or they may be into a round of friendly, non-sexual needle-play between friends. At other times, they may enjoy being mercilessly sucked off by their top while wearing a whole bag of clothespins clamped all over their body. Or they may be into being obediently fisted by their submissive while telling them exactly how and praising them for their skill. Or they may like to masturbate for their top’s viewing pleasure and be called lots of dirty, humiliating names by them. Or perhaps they’re sex workers who do BDSM without sex with their clients and BDSM in combination with sex with their private partners. Or they are a polyamorous person who only has one partner they share both kink and sex with and additional BDSM play partners with whom they don’t engage in genital play or play that focuses on sexual arousal.

As you can see by the relations between the differently-sized circles above, there may be very little BDSM that doesn’t contain an element of sex, or about half of it,[7] or quite a lot.

#4: There is no BDSM outside of sex

Venn diagram that shows BDSM as completely contained within sex (explanation in text)

This also works the other way round. This version would be a person who only does BDSM as a part of their sex, but who also has vanilla sex without any BDSM elements. This could be a person who sometimes/about half of the time/often likes their sex to be entirely vanilla, but who also enjoys adding elements of BDSM from time to time. Maybe they always get so turned on by being intensely hurt or intensely hurting someone that they just have to have sex right after, preferably with some poking of the fresh bruises. Maybe they are the proverbial “spicy-vanilla” owners of a pair of fake-fur handcuffs who are trying a bit of kink with their sex for the first time.[8] Maybe they like to get out the costumes and dress up for some role play sex (just once a year for Halloween or pretty much every Thursday) and are happily vanilla the rest of the time. Or maybe they have both vanilla and kinky partners and have sex with all of them (and no BDSM without sex).

As in the previous version, the amount of BDSM contained in the general amount of sex can vary from a lot, to about half of it, to just a little (as indicated by the differently-sized circles).

#5: BDSM and sex overlap completely

Venn diagram that shows BDSM and sex as completely overlapping (explanation in text)

For other people, BDSM and sex may be completely overlapping. Whenever they have sex, it has BDSM elements to it, and whenever they have sex, it has aspects of BDSM. They never engage in vanilla sex and never do BDSM without any sexual elements. Please see above for more specific examples of ways to combine BDSM and sex.

#6: BDSM only, no sex

Venn diagram that shows only BDSM, no sex (explanation in text)

In the next case, the person does BDSM, but engages in no sexual acts whatsoever (with or without kink). They may be temporarily or permanently sexually celibate (by choice or by circumstance) but still enjoy giving or receiving pain or service or like playing with power exchange, with one or multiple partners (and/or clients). They may just not have any libido (sex drive), due to medication or age or depression or unknown causes, and may therefore skip all the sex stuff but be absolutely into bootblacking, boot worship and trampling. Or perhaps they are asexual and experience no sexual attraction (and also have no other reasons for participating in sex) and that is why they prefer to focus on expanding their skills in giving an excellent full-body massage, or in making pretty patterns out of dozens of needles on their bottom’s backs. Maybe they just don’t like sharing sex with anyone for any other reason and save all their sexual activity for solo fun, but they have a steady rope bondage buddy or a knack for meeting cuties at play parties for pick-up BDSM scenes without sexual elements.

#7: Sex only, no BDSM

Venn diagram that shows only sex, no BDSM (explanation in text)

If it is the other way around, and they only have sex but no BDSM, we have found ourselves what is often known as a vanilla person. Maybe they just haven’t discovered their kinky interests, yet, or they are still working up their courage to make their BDSM fantasies a reality. They may be BDSM-celibate for now or forever (by choice or by circumstance) and only engage in sexual acts without any kink elements with their partner(s) and/or clients. Or they may just not be attracted to playing with pain or power dynamics and also feel absolutely no urge to ever play around with a strand of rope or three.

#8: Neither BDSM nor sex

Venn diagram that shows neither BDSM, nor sex (explanation in text)

And of course it’s also possible to engage in neither BDSM nor any kind of sex. Maybe this is a full-on celibacy (by choice or by circumstance, temporary or permanent). Maybe they’re too depressed to care about either of these things or so sick or traumatized that they spend all of their energy on simply surviving until the next day. Or maybe they just spend all their time doing other delightful and/or important things (doing social justice activism? writing code for their newest project? reading or writing erotic novels or fanfiction? sailing across the Atlantic? caring for a newborn? perfecting their challah recipe? repairing their house?), and are perfectly happy just the way they are.

And with this I have reached the last of my diagrams!

Of course none of the examples for activities I gave are exclusive to the concept below which they are mentioned. They are also not the only examples that are possible to illustrate said concept. I tried to cover a wide range and many angles throughout the post, but I’m sure I’ve still missed things — please add a comment if you think of anything that is important to you.

I hope me picking apart the possible relations between BDSM and sex is useful for you to understand where you’ve been, where you are right now, and where you may go in the future in these areas. Or maybe you’ve stayed the same all your life (also interesting!)? Perhaps this post also helps you have a better idea of the way other people live their kink and their sex (or either, or neither) in different ways from you.

Finally: If anything I said is unclear, please don’t hesitate to ask and I’ll do my best to clarify (or simplify). Or perhaps you have thoughts of your own to add to mine? The comments and my contact form are open!


Notes

[1]  To see what I mean, just scroll through the #Kinktober hashtag on Twitter or Tumblr and count the images that do and don’t depict genital sex — or even just look at how many obviously genital-involving activities are part of the #Kinktober prompt list I’m using (6 out of 31 = almost 20%) when that is explicitly a kink-centered project.

[2]  For the purpose of this post, it just matters that there is a line between BDSM and sex somewhere. It’s fine if it’s not in the same place for everyone. And it’s also fine if there are cases where BDSM and sex melt into each other, for example when a caning is given with the explicit intent of causing an orgasm in the top or bottom but no one’s genitals are directly touched. (I have diagrams for those cases, too.)

That said, if you have strong feelings about what is sex and what isn’t, you can take this post either way: If you define sex as everything that involves genital stimulation for at least one person involved, the concepts still work. If you define sex as everything that leads to sexual arousal and perhaps orgasm for at least one person involved, the concept also works. And if you define sex as everything that either involves genital stimulation or that leads to sexual arousal and perhaps orgasm for at least one person involved, the concept works, too. If, however, you define sex solely as a flesh-and-blood cock penetrating a flesh-and-blood vagina, I strongly recommend that you examine the anti-gay sentiment implicit in this definition. In that case, you’re still welcome to stay around and learn, but you need to be aware that I’m writing this entire blog based on a different understanding of human sexuality, so you may have to question a lot of your assumptions before things make sense to you.

[3]  Because really, is rimming anal sex or oral sex or both? If I stimulate a clit with a vibrator I hold in my hand, is that still “manual” sex? What if I rub a vulva (the outside parts — outer lips, inner lips, clit) with a cock but it never enters the vagina (the inside part)? That can’t possibly be “vaginal sex,” right? What about all the different ways someone can rub their genitals on someone else’s non-genital body parts or all the ways we can rub their genitals with body parts that are not our hands? Do we even have a widely-known umbrella term for all of that? And what if our genitals or those of our partners don’t neatly fit into the “either it’s a dick or it’s a clit” binary, never mind the rest of what’s there “down there”? Can you see why I find these “manual/ oral/ anal/ vaginal sex” categories so confusing?!

[4]  This is not to say that solo sex (masturbation) and/or solo BDSM are any less valid than partnered sex and/or BDSM. But this post is long enough as it is, so I decided to not include solo sex/BDSM. That said, while my examples assume the presence of at least one partner, the concepts as such should still work for solo sex and/or BDSM.

[5]  For the record: The person beating someone’s ass or tying someone up could also be a switch, service top, or a submissive sadist, and the recipient of the beating or the one who gets tied up could be another switch, a masochistic dominant, or anyone else who doesn’t neatly fit into either of these categories. The giver of a blowjob can be a top as well as a bottom, and the person receiving the blowjob can be a woman (cis or trans), non-binary person, or man (cis or trans). And so on.

[6]  Some people may dislike my inclusion of sex work in these examples because they don’t consider the activities of sex workers “actual sex” or “actual BDSM” and prefer saving those terms for private activities. I obviously don’t intend to tell anyone how they should define their own lives, but I did want to be clear that my thinking is inclusive of sex workers and sex worker clients. Sex work (including no-sex pro-BDSM) is just a part of the reality of circumstances in which sexual acts and acts of BDSM take place — and this post focuses on consensual activities, not on feelings about them.

[7]  I know the overlap of the example in the middle row here and in the following illustration doesn’t really amount to 50%, so I hope all you math nerds will forgive me for prioritizing the visual “feel” rather than geometrical accuracy here.

[8]  In which case I hope they don’t use their faux-fur handcuffs to actually pull on them with any force because the narrow metal can easily hurt someone’s wrists (and the nerves that run along it). They also tend to break easily because they’re usually produced very cheaply and in an awful quality. A safer alternative (that is still fairly cheap) is a set of wider, adjustable cuffs made out of textile that closes with velcro or buckles. That’s the kind you can actually pull against with a lot less risk of hurting yourself. They also tend to be much more comfortable, which means you can wear them for a longer time.


Image source: Wikimedia Commons (pencil), all other graphics and diagrams © kinky & nerdy

Finding, evaluating, and using ‘pervertables’ for impact play

Photo collage of various everyday items that can be used for impact play

If you’ve ever browsed a sex toy store online (or offline), you will most likely have seen a section of impact toys — that is, spanking paddles, riding crops, floggers/cats-o’-nine-tails, canes, straps/slappers/tawses, and perhaps also batons, single-tail whips, and rubber-balls-on-a-stick (that don’t seem to have an industry-wide common name yet). And I for one am very happy that toys specifically made for consensually hitting people are super easy to buy these days and that there is such a variety of materials and design available.

But what if you can’t or don’t want to buy these made-for-kink items and still would like to play with impact toys? Well, you can either make your own toys (which is usually rather time-consuming but may appeal to the crafty types or those who like to adapt their toys to fit their unique tastes — and which I may write about more in the future). Or you can use “pervertables” (also spelled “pervertibles”), that is, objects that were originally meant to be used for something other than kinky activities. There are potential pervertables for almost every BDSM activity, but today I’m going to focus only on implements to hit a consenting partner or partners. (Today’s #Kinktober prompt is “impact play,” after all.)

Reasons for using pervertables

Why would anyone want to use pervertables in the first place?

We may not be able to afford the ready-made impact toys that are on sale at all of these lovely stores. Especially when they’re made of leather and/or require a lot of time-intensive manual labor to produce (like braided floggers or single-tail whips, wooden toys with intricate inlays, or anything else with complex details or many different parts), they can become quite expensive. And many of us don’t have a lot of money to spend on toys.

We may find that the available impact toy selection (varied as it is!) doesn’t quite fit the theme or mood of our (role) play or it doesn’t go with our outfit, and we like all the details to be as authentic as possible.

We may be traveling or moving somewhere else and all the suitcase space is already occupied with other necessities, so we need to purchase our toys at our destination (which may not have any sex toy retailers).

Or we may not have expected to play at a travel destination and now there’s an opportunity and we want some toys right now and can’t wait for any mail-order deliveries.

We may want to minimize potential embarrassment or outright harassment at airports or any borders we cross and therefore don’t want to travel with any obviously kinky toys in our luggage. (This is especially relevant for anyone who experiences racism based on other people’s interpretation of their appearances, names, and/or language skills, for people who don’t visually fit neatly into other people’s gender binary or whose appearance doesn’t seem to match the gender stated in their ID documents/passports, and for disabled and/or mentally ill people who may have limited spoons to begin with or deal with things like anxiety or autism that make security checks and other border controls even more stressful than they already are for everyone.)

We may not be out about our kinks to the people we share our home with (including roommates, children, or partners who we haven’t confided in) or the people who have regular (and possibly unsupervised) access to our homes (including friends and relatives, cleaners, and caregivers) and therefore only want to own toys that don’t look like they were made for BDSM purposes.

We may just like the creativity involved in going to a regular shop, browsing their goods, and finding as many unusual items to use in an impact scene as we can (make it into a kinky scavenger hunt with a partner or a group of friends or a challenge for your bottom, if you like!).

Or maybe we just like collecting as many toys as we can and have already bought everything that is available in the stores (or at least everything we’d like to play with).

As you can see, there are many reasons for people to use pervertables, either instead of made-for-kink toys or in addition to them.

Where can you buy pervertables?

Pretty much everywhere! I’ve found pervertable impact toys in dollar/euro shops, hardware stores, the household equipment section of department stores, craft supply shops, and stores that sell riding equipment and other sporting goods.

Once you’ve started to train your eye to recognize a pervertable, you may start seeing them all over the place!

How do you evaluate the kink usability of a pervertable?

Sure, you can hit your lovely, consenting partner with almost everything you can hold and swing (or tap), but some materials and design elements lend themselves more readily to a kinky use — and others may come with too many risks for you to use them comfortably.

When evaluating a pervertable (or ready-made toy, since those also come in wildly varying qualities) to decide whether it’s safe (enough) to use, you can consider these aspects.

Does the item have any sharp edges or points? Can the item break easily, and if so, would it splinter or shatter into sharp pieces? If you’re not sure, try hitting something hard (like a piece of furniture, a door frame, or a tree) with the same force you want to use on your partner (or yourself — solo play is a thing!) to see how your pervertable (and the object you hit with it) handles that. It’s usually a good idea to pick items that only hurt your partner in the ways you intended. If there is a risk for unintentional damage due to an unknown or unpredictable material or finish, please make sure everyone involved consents to taking that risk and perhaps have first-aid materials nearby.

Can the item be cleaned, and if so, how? Can it be washed with water and soap and dried out without breaking, disintegrating, or rusting? Can it be disinfected with alcohol, bleach solution, or a medical disinfectant without surface damage? Can it be sterilized by boiling it for several minutes? Does it have a finished/smooth surface or is it porous? Since pervertables usually aren’t made to be used on skin or mucous membranes and therefore aren’t body-safe, you may want to clean it as well as you can before you use it to remove any dirt from storage or leftover substances from production. Nobody needs an allergic reaction when they want to have fun! If your pervertable has a porous surface, you won’t ever be able to fully clean it (even if you can’t see any dirt, it’s still there). The surface of some synthetic materials may become sticky or dissolve when treated with a disinfectant — in which case you may not want to use it at all, or at least not on anyone’s bare skin. Any item that can’t be disinfected properly should be used on one person only or even thrown away after a single use to prevent infections (which isn’t great for the environment but still probably better than spreading infections).

Does it have a size and shape that fits the bodies of both top and bottom? Do the parts that are supposed to hit the bottom land fairly evenly (and if not, is that something both of you like?)? Does the size of the toy fit the body part you want to hit (e.g. wide paddle-type things are usually not suited well to hit someone on their genitals with any kind of accuracy)? Is there a part of the item that can comfortably be used as a handle so the top doesn’t hurt themselves when holding it tightly? If there are any sharp edges to the “handle” part, you may also want to buy something to use as padding (like duct tape, a squishy bike handle cover, a piece of fabric you can secure around it…) or pick another toy altogether. Can the top control the toy easily? That is, is it at least somewhat balanced, and do all the parts move as the top intends them to? Does it move differently if you swing it slowly or quickly? If in doubt, swing the item around a bit and maybe hit something other than a human first to check. And if you only have limited space to play in (such as a small apartment, hotel room, camping van, or crowded play party): does your pervertable fit that space?

How does it feel? What kind of sensation will it most likely produce? This is something you will ultimately have to try out because you can never tell precisely how any toy (pervertable or not) will feel to a particular bottom just from looking at it. However, you can make some educated guesses about the kind of sensation your toy will probably produce based on it’s shape, density, and weight. Anything long and thin is probably going to feel similar to a cane: very sharp and stingy. It may also leave marks very quickly. Anything with a wide, flat surface is likely to feel similar to a paddle: the sting will be more spread-out than a cane-type toy, and it will have varying degrees of thud, depending on how smooth the surface is and how heavy the hitting part is. Anything that is made from a bundle of strands or strips will probably resemble the sensations of a flogger: more thuddy and less sharp, but possibly still quite stingy, depending on the width and hardness of the strands. As a rule of thumb: The heavier and wider/softer an item, the more thud it produces (which often leads to deep bruises). The thinner and harder an item, the more sting it creates and the more likely it is that the skin will break. Sharper edges or points also create more sting, and anything with a soft surface make the impact more dull and thuddy. If in doubt, try it out on yourself first (even if you’re a top) or ask a bottom with some experience with different impact toys to give you feedback. And start with less intense strokes until you and your partner have a feel for the toy before you hit any harder.

What are other relevant characteristics of its material? Wood is often hard to clean (unless it’s well-varnished) and may break or splinter, but many people like it for its look, “warm” touch, and affordable price. It can easily be cut shorter, sanded down, and varnished, so it offers a lot of customization options for the crafty-minded. Metal is usually very hard and comes with a naturally cool surface. Most types can be cleaned and disinfected easily (or even sterilized). Items made entirely out of metal can also be cooled down or heated up with water before use for an added element of temperature play. Metal is normally hard to break, so such tools tend to be pretty sturdy. Watch out for weak rivets or other breakable points of connection. Metal toys can also cause serious damage if you hit the wrong spots hard enough, so consider your level of experience and your bottom’s pain tolerance as well as everyone’s comfort with risk-taking. Plastic (which I’m using as a short-hand for all man-made materials here) is by far the biggest category and the hardest material to predict in terms of kink use because it comes in so many different varieties. Generally, you can wipe down plastic items with a disinfectant although you may damage the surface. Plastic is usually the cheapest material, so it’s very easy to find plastic pervertables. I would generally recommend careful testing of plastic items because you usually can’t tell what exactly they’re made of and how durable they are. Plastic is also the most likely to come with a degree of inherent toxicity, so be aware if you or your partner have sensitivities there. Kitchen-safe plastic is probably your best bet in terms of that. There are many more materials your impact play pervertable can be made of, such as rope or other textiles, leather, or certain edibles. If in doubt, refer to information about kink-specific toys made out of that material for safety and cleaning instructions.

Perhaps you also care for characteristics like color, pattern, overall style, and potential associations. Playing with a cute pink hairbrush with a Japanese kitten design may be someone’s hard limit — or exactly what they want. And people who have been non-consensually hit with belts or wooden spoons may want to avoid them in their voluntary play — or seek them out precisely because of these associations. If in doubt, discuss this with your partner.

What items can be used as pervertables for impact play?

After considering all these questions, we have now arrived at my suggestions for items that you can buy outside of a sex toy store and use for impact play. I’ve added customization ideas to a few of them that may turn your pervertable into a craft project (if you like), but most of these can be used as they come. I’ve also added some additional safety considerations and some ideas about the sensation these items may produce. Please also refer to the above section about evaluating a pervertable as I haven’t repeated all the relevant information here.

Please make your own risk-assessment before you use any of these items or anything similar or inspired by them. I cannot accept any responsibility for any harm caused by you hitting anyone (including yourself) or anything with any of these items. Since none of these objects are made for hitting a human being, there is an inherent remaining risk to using them for that purpose in addition to the general risk of doing impact play. Make sure you are aware which parts of the body are safest to hit and which ones should be treated with the utmost care (if you have no clue at all, you can adapt some of the info in my post about biting or search for safety information elsewhere — don’t let this one post be all the information you have). Know (and practice) how to scale the force of your strokes with every different toy you use and pay attention to any verbal and non-verbal feedback you get from your partner.

I have deliberately included toys for all degrees of masochism (and sadism) and for all degrees of experience. Many people, tops as well as bottoms, may find almost everything on this list too scary or too painful to use (and that’s okay). Please remember that BDSM is not a competition and leave the things that don’t appeal to you. However, some of us are heavy masochists and really enjoy very intense impact, so I wanted to make sure there are also some suggestions for this group of kinksters. This means that I would consider several of the items on this list unsuitable for beginners (especially the very heavy toys or those made of metal, because you can easily cause serious and even irreparable damage with them if you don’t use them with the necessary caution and skill). It’s always okay to slowly work up to things and save some for later — or to decide that certain things are forever beyond your comfort zone.

As with any BDSM activity, make sure you have your partner’s ongoing consent (this goes for tops as well as for bottoms) and establish an appropriate way of communicating with each other during the activity. If your judgment is impaired by tiredness/exhaustion, (new) medication, recreational drugs or alcohol, or any other causes, maybe save the impact play (particularly with a new toy and/or new partner) for a situation where this is not the case.

But now, have a list of potential pervertables for impact play! In no particular order:

  • Ping-pong paddle (or any other paddle used for sports/games) — Some such paddles have one smooth and one textured side that create different sensations. You can also glue a piece of something flat with an interesting texture to one side. This may make it harder/impossible to clean.
  • Slippers/shoes/boots — You can either hold the shoe in your hand and hit with it, or you can wear it and kick with the toe, heel, or side (yes, kicking counts as impact play). Separate leather or rubber soles can also be used.
  • Cooking utensils (like spoons or spatulas made from wood, metal, or plastic/silicone) — If your item is wooden and the surface is rough, you may want to sand it down or even apply a coat or two of varnish (maybe in a color that coordinates with an outfit or in rainbow stripes?) to make it easier to clean. Think about whether you want to use the same item to prepare food and do impact play and consider hygiene issues in either direction.
  • Hairbrushes — You can use either side for impact or hit with the flat side only and brush with the other one to vary sensations.
  • Shoe brushes — They also have two different sides. If you also use the brush for actual shoe polishing, I would be mindful of shoe polish residue stuck to the bristles because that can stain clothes or sheets or cause a skin reaction in sensitive people.
  • Baseball/softball bats — As far as I know, these can be made from wood or aluminum and also come in different sizes. If you’re just starting out, you may want to get in some experience with different impact toys first.
  • Belts — The doubled-over leather belt is pretty much a pervertable classic. To adjust the length, hold the buckle and wrap some of the belt around your hand, fold it up in three layers instead of two, or cut it to a size that works for you if you don’t want to also wear the belt as an actual accessory. Studs and other decorations may add intensity to the strike and may also have sharp edges. Every standard BDSM manual tells you to never hit anyone with a belt buckle. If this isn’t your first time playing with a belt and you still want to do this, I highly recommend hitting only well-padded body parts (such as fleshy butts) and carefully staying away from any bones, including the tailbone. For extra safety, you may want to add some protection (like a folded-up towel or sweater) on any bony bits. I also recommend making sure the top has a secure aim and enough experience in handling a flexible and badly balanced impact instrument. Shorten the length between buckle and hand for more control. You won’t need a lot of force for a strong impact. The bottom should really be into heavy, deep impact (which usually requires some experience to know) and has to be absolutely fine with bruises. And of course everyone involved needs to consent to the remaining risk. You can fracture bones if you hit them with metal things.
  • Pieces of licorice/candy — Licorice and other candy sometimes comes in narrow strips or flat pieces that are long enough to hold and hit someone. Since these strips tend to be rather stretchy, they can be surprisingly painful. This is definitely a single-use toy! If you want to eat it afterwards, be aware of any infection risks (e.g. if you have hit someone’s genitals or if you’re uncertain whether their skin is abraded/broken; or if the licorice/candy has been in touch with a surface you wouldn’t want to eat off).
  • Riding crops — Another pervertable classic, so much so that some people forget they are available outside of sex toy stores. (In fact, the riding crops sold at sex toy stores are often exactly the same products you can buy in a shop that sells sporting goods — only the ones sold in sports shops can be noticeably cheaper.) They come in three basic versions: with a flap of flexible material folded over into a loop attached to the tip, with a more solid piece of material sewn around the tip, and with a thin strip of flexible thread attached to the tip. The ones with the wider tips are often easier to aim and to use more softly, the string type is very stingy and can hurt quite a lot. You can find riding crops in different colors and lengths and you can also buy ones with a tip shaped like a star or heart in regular riding stores — thank teenage girls for that variety (seriously)!
  • Newspapers or magazines — You can roll them up and slap your partner with them. They may break easily, which can be made a part of the scene, and their impact is influenced by how many pages they have and how heavy they are. If there is a chance that they have soaked up any bodily fluids (including sweat) during your play, I’d throw them out or at least avoid using them on anyone else. Or you can use one of these porn magazines that already come wrapped in plastic and wipe it off afterwards.
  • Books  — Books may be a bit uncomfortable for the top to handle for an extended spanking and you can also damage them. But it can be great fun to find the right book to match the scene you’re planning (try second-hand shops or library sales for cheap hardcovers). Some people may have strong limits (or at least strong feelings in general) around damaging or destroying books, so be mindful of that.
  • Rubber hammers — They feel very thuddy, will leave bruises, and need extra care to protect any bones. Like with any other really dense, heavy toys, you probably don’t want to take a full swing because a little force can already have a lot of effect. Not a toy for newbies on either end of it.
  • Cutting boards — They can be made from wood or plastic and often come with a useful handle already attached. See above for thoughts on hygiene and consider separate ones for food and play.
  • Rubber bands — I’m counting them as an impact toy because you can put them around arms or legs and then pull them away from the skin and let them snap. The wider ones are sturdier and hit a bigger surface. Before you put them on anyone’s body, please stretch them out to check for any weak spots (they tend to disintegrate quickly). Rubber bands are also one-person toys, but luckily they’re cheap enough to throw away after use. They can hurt a lot and leave deep bruises, so don’t underestimate them.
  • Rope — This can be used bundled up or be made into a makeshift flogger (or a very nice flogger if you have the time and skills). Most types of rope can be washed, but you may want to keep any rope that has touched genital fluids or blood for this one person. You can of course also use rope to tie people up, so it’s a multi-purpose toy.
  • Freshly-cut willow switches, birch twigs (with or without leaves), pine branches, and other plants — With any plant materials, make sure no one has any allergies and be prepared for unexpected skin reactions. Plants usually come with sharp bits and pieces, and they may break or shed as you use them. Pines in particular have a strong smell and may ooze resin/tree sap that can stain your skin and clothes. I’d throw these out after one use for hygiene reasons and because they dry out quickly and then break.
  • Towel — You can tightly roll up a towel, or just drench it in water and fold/gather it up. Wet towels hurt more than dry ones, and the more fluff a towel has, the more thud will be in the sensation. Tight seams around the edges may add sting, for example on dishtowels. Towels can usually be washed at high temperatures, so they’re easy to clean.
  • Dustpans  — Probably best for butts and thighs because they tend to have a large surface. Can be made from plastic or metal (watch for sharp edges). You can also use the brush to spank or brush over the places you’ve hit. For hygiene reasons it’s probably best to use a separate, new one for kink.
  • Boxing gloves — Almost pure thud. Will make it hard for the top to do anything that requires fine motor control and may require assistance in putting them on or taking them off, so plan ahead. Perhaps use just a glove on one hand.
  • Meat tenderizers — They can be made from wood or metal and usually have differently-textured sides. Like rubber hammers, these are a pretty heavy impact toy with a lot of thud, so I recommend extra care in selecting places to hit with them and a lot of caution about the amount of force you use. The metal ones are probably the toy with the most potential for serious damage on this list. Absolutely not recommended for people who are just starting out.
  • Shoelaces — Another item than can be tied into a makeshift flogger. Works with leather or textile shoe laces. Plastic-coated or metal tips can have sharp edges, so you may want to cut them off or just file off the sharpness and keep them on for extra sting/pain. Laces that are thinner, harder, and/or square will hurt more than thicker/wider, softer, round ones.
  • Carpet beaters — Traditionally made out of rattan but also available made out of man-made materials. Cleaning might be difficult due to overlapping pieces. Otherwise similar to care for as canes of the respective material. Stingy.
  • Shoehorns (especially long ones) — They often have two different sides, one rounded to the outside and one rounded to the inside, that can be used to create different sensations. They are usually made out of wood, plastic, or metal.

Of course, this is not a complete list. Please feel free to add more ideas for other impact pervertables in the comments! (I’m planning a post on non-impact pervertables for the future, which I will link here as soon as it’s been published.)


Image sources: Flickr/Stephen Dann, CC BY-SA 2.0 (spatula), MaxPixel (shoes, glove), Pixabay (brush, spoon, book, bat, belt), Pxhere (paddles), Wikimedia Commons (rubber bands, shoe laces, meat pounder, carpet beater, dustpan, licorice) (photo collage by me)