Dr. Natalie Nelson-Marsh
College of Arts and Sciences
The bondage community is largely stigmatized and misunderstood by normative culture (Moser & Madeson, 2002). Using ethnographic fieldwork, this qualitative study explores how participants in the rope play (BDSM) community in a US west-coast city develop intimacy with their play partners through embodied communication. Research methods such as participant observation, thick description, and semi-structured interviews were employed to acknowledge, uncover, and respect the unique perspectives and experiences of members of this community. This study demonstrates how this subculture uses “hyper-communicative” behaviors such as breathwork, touch, and attuned listening breathwork to create intimacy between play partners. The study found that these forms of “hyper-communication”, along with explicit role assignments, enables partners to co-construct fantasies and create a shortcut to intimacy. The study supports and expands upon the Equilibrium Theory of intimacy and offers practical applications of hyper-communication for non-BDSM practitioners.
Author Supplied Keywords
Social construction, Embodied communication, Intimacy, BDSM
Bondage (Sexual behavior); Communication and sex; Communication and culture; Interpersonal communication; Intimacy (Psychology)
Citation: Pilot Scholars Version (Modified MLA Style)
Kessi, Clare, "Roped into Intimacy" (2020). Communication Studies Undergraduate Publications, Presentations and Projects. 102.
Gender and Sexuality Commons, Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication Commons, Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies Commons, Social Psychology and Interaction Commons