A friend of Mine, pix, in the southeastern Ohio area, wrote a great post on one of the lists that I belong to on the topic of edge play. With her permission, I have used a lot of her information below. Oour views on edge play differ slightly. However, it was so thought provoking that I decided to dedicate a page on My web site to this topic.
The entire article was originally posted on SE Ohio BDSM, under "Edgeplay". All of the articles from there and in the Founder's Forum were to be put into a manuscript; I don't know what came of that.
Those Who Know, Do
A lot of BDSMers in pix's area say that they are edge players. And they will say what there type of play is, but, they won't say much more about it. she says that their credo is, "We don't speak our kink in details."
pix goes on to say that this happens for a few reasons. First, edge players are still one of the few groups shunned by the alternative lifestyle community. On the scale of "kinkable distaste" they say that they are often made to feel like they fall somewhere slightly above snuff, bestiality & pedophilia. The less they talk with the community at large, the less they are ostracized and excluded. Second, edge players feel they hold a responsibility to "keep it away from the newbies" so that people entering the lifestyle aren't scared off by such extremes or so that people interested don't try dangerous activities without knowing the basic safety of BDSM, first. Lastly, edge players very much tire of the stereotypes that alternative lifestylists have about them, and they want to spend their time having fun instead of educating & fighting stereotypes the way they would outside of the community.
I guess I've been lucky. In the areas that I've lived in, there have been a lot more people doing edge-type play, so I always felt more like the "norm" than the "outcast". And like pix, My interests have always been in the fields of how the law effects what it is that we do and educating the SM community, as well as the vanilla community. My various commitments in the past to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) as a Coalition Partner Board Member and Second Tier Incident Responder, as the GWNN liaison to the NCSF, as a contributor to the SAADE Guide on Dealing with Law Enforcement at Your Door, as a Mentor with the SAADE Mentor Group, along with the various presentations and demonstrations I also do, free of charge, further that goal and that ideal.
What is edge play?
Is it edge play to the players involved, or only to those watching?
According to steel-door, edge play is: "... the action of offering new challenges to the Edges of play you and your submissive are already familiar with." Both pix and I usually hear people refer to "Edge Play" as anything inherently dangerous, such as knife play, electrical play, breath control, blood sports, fire play, needle play, etc.
Tonight, I went to a party where there were only edge players. And this very topic came up. Is it really SSC that Wwe're doing or is it really risk aware consensual? And how much of what Wwe do is really edge play? And is it edgy to the others in Oour group or just to outsiders? One slave made the analogy that she thinks that anyone who jumps out of an airplane is insane and that behavior isn't safe to her, but to the people doing it, it's absolutely perfect.
For most of Uus, both of the definitions in this section header are correct.
For some, dangerous play is called edge play because for most people that is the edge of where the players have gone.
For others, edge play is a bit more difficult to explain. And it isn't based on the people watching, because most edge play takes place without anyone watching. There aren't DM's or "seconds", and the focus is so intent on what You are doing that You wouldn't notice if people were watching anyway, besides for the fact that most of the "really" edgy play is not permitted at most public parties.
There is danger in most types of BDSM play. Even a simple hand spanking, done incorrectly, can lead to permanent damage. Is knife intimidation play really edge play? Are temporary needle piercings really considered edgy?
Is breath play the only play that is truly edge play? Because in breath play there is no way of signaling a safeword before it's too late and it also may be the only type of play in which there are no signs of trouble. A bottom doesn't know when they are going to pass out because they feel extremely relaxed. Even if they could identify this euphoria as a precursor to passing out, by the time they reach this point, they have lost too much oxygen to the brain to articulate the need for air and they have less than a fraction of a second before they are unconscious.
What may really separate edge play from typical play isn't so much the danger involved, but the lack of recourse if that danger line is crossed. Just like we practice "safer" sex rather than "safe" sex, so might Oour definitions of SSC be manipulated. Wwe play "safer", "saner" and consensual rather than "safe", "sane" and consensual. And this is where pix and I disagree. she feels that edge players rarely adhere to the credo of Safe, Sane & Consensual themselves (although, she says, most feel it is a good policy, encourage it highly, introduce newcomers to SSC, but it just isn't for them, in their play). I feel that each person's interpretation of SSC dictates what is and is not safe, based upon their knowledge, skill level and the length of time with their partner.So, What's Up With That?
Most edge players specialize in a specific area of edge play. Most are highly educated in their particular interest and they restrict their edge play to a limited number of partners who are also educated in that area. Most are strongly against mind-altering substances. And most edge playing bottoms are also attention sluts.
It is the general opinion that betrayal of Safe, Sane and Consensual is reason enough to exclude someone from a group or party and edge players don't want to be excluded. They, also, don't want to scare people away. And by all means, they don't want others to engage in the things that they do without knowing what the others are doing.
Some edge players also take a lot of ridicule or insult for their style of play. How many times have people come up to My! t and told her that she was crazy? Or that what she is doing is sick?
Keep educating and keep learning.
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