An ignorant top is a dangerous thing. Lack of knowledge of how important it is to avoid the tailbone and hip during impact play, combined with an unpractised aim, can leave us with permanent nerve damage or paralysis. An uncleaned cane or the wrong type of candle can leave us with infections. A fuckton of scars later, and we don’t come out of the scene looking as pretty as we did when we went in. Ignorance of how long a clamp or clothing pin can be left on can leave us with permanent numbness. Don’t even get me started on restraints. Even the simplest of them can create serious injuries if you don’t know what risks to look out for. The dangers of even the most innocuous types of play are often well-nigh impossible to guess. I’m no expert, but my belief is that you have to be taught. End of.
Nobody said BDSM came pre-packaged in a giant box of safety. SSC only exists if we work for it, hence the importance of classes, mentors, and plain old Dr Google to fill in the gaps. Sane scenes can only really happen if the top is selfless and diligent enough to make them happen. Subs have significant responsibilities, too, but I’ve already written reams on that.
Trust is a non-negotiable part of a BDSM relationship, but give it before it’s earned at your peril. If you’re playing dominant or top, you’re willingly taking on the responsibilities of that role. Someone is agreeing to put their life and wellbeing in your hands. If you’re blind to your responsibilities, it’s unlikely that you’ll care enough to do the learning necessary to sustain your subs’ trust. You won’t make yourself risk aware, and your sub will get harmed over… and over… and over again. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘it won’t happen to me’. Don’t fall into the trap of circumstantial thinking either–accidents rarely happen all by themselves. The truth of it? If you don’t know what you’re doing and you charge ahead anyway, there will be consequences. There are always, always consequences.
Being a negligent top is like climbing the wheel of a taxi before you’ve learned how to drive. You wouldn’t put a passenger in the back of your car under those circumstances, and nobody would give you the job, so why would you do a BDSM scene without doing your due diligence first? Your bottom is as valuable as any passenger you might pick up off the side of the road.
There are a few different kinds of fear that come into a scene. I’m a sucker for all but one: I want to be roughed up, hurt, and degraded, but if I’m scared of being harmed, I can’t relax into the scene and experience it fully.
A dominant gains my trust by showing himself to be reliable, accountable, honest, and unselfish, not only during play, but in everyday life as well—you don’t turn those traits on and off. They’re either there or they aren’t. Sadomasochistic play and D/s require a hell of a lot of us as people. They ask us to be so much more than vanilla relationships ever will. We’re playing with BDSM, and that is not a game.