Playing Well With Others Book Review
Playing Well with Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Navigating, and Exploring the Kink, Leather, and BDSM Communities
Authors: Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams
Year Published: 2012
Main Topics Covered: Kink, BDSM, Leather, Fetishism, Culture, Relationship Frameworks, Consent, Boundaries
Written for: All Genders, All Sexual Orientations, Kink-Curious
Recommended for: Clinicians/Therapists and Clients, General Public
Perspectives Taken: Sex Positive, Non-Judgemental, Inclusive, Feminist
Type of Resource: Field Guide, Educational Book, Anecdotal Quotes
APA Citation: Harrington, L., & Williams, M. (2012). Playing well with others: Your field guide to discovering, navigating and exploring the kink, leather and BDSM communities. San Francisco, CA: Greenery.
Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams expose the world of kink in the book “Playing Well with Others”. The BDSM and kink community is large, complex, and may be overwhelming at first. However, the authors lead the reader step by step in this field guide, providing informative steps to enter into the world of kinkiness, fetishism, and BDSM. The sexual complexity of human nature is acknowledged, with the extremely loose definition of kink. In fact, the beauty of kink is that one can either identify with all, some, or none of these definitions. The heterogeneity of this community is celebrated and a culture emerges. For the nervous beginner, this essential guidebook provides the stepping-stones to entering this erotic territory.
The book begins by dispelling the myths of kink life and emphasizes the fluidity of kink. They present kink etiquette in a way that ensures personal responsibility and respect for all those involved, creating a safe community for any person of gender, orientation, or paraphilia label. They illustrate the rules of SSC (safe, sane, and consensual) and RACK (risk-aware-consensual-kink).
As mentioned before, joining the kink community can be intimidating to newcomers. The terminology is initially quite complex, with words and labels that create almost a new language to the unfamiliar. However, the kink community is as diverse as any community. The authors teach the reader how to transition into the group, seeking support, education and new friendships from those who are already in the community. Notably, the authors also mention that it is not necessary to become socially involved in order to become a kinkster. The definition of community itself is again quite loose, and the author urges one to find their own personal comfort zone, whether it is exploring light flogging in the home basement with their partner, or participating in a group leather daddy orgy at a club.
Practically, this field guide has it all. From defining the sub cultures of kink, to the different types of BDSM venues (munches, conventions, classes, leather contests, excursion vacations, etc.), to planning (what do you Google without getting bombarded by pornography? or what can you bring on a plane?), to the How To’s and FAQ’s explained to surgical precision. The handy section on wardrobe and dress code is especially detailed to calm the nerves of the anxious first-timer. The terminology of apparatuses and equipment is included, as well as care instructions on disinfecting and cleaning for such items (whether shared or used exclusively). The physical and mental preparations for engaging in risky behaviours are highlighted, as well as the touching rules, communication rules, and frameworks for negotiations and secrecy, which are of utmost importance in order to engage in the world of kink. This book is the perfect resource to guide a reader to balance their day to day life and the fantasy fuelled kink world.
This book includes useful appendices at the end of the book to use as reference for the kink beginner. In addition to a terminology section, this book also provides a “Hanky Code” guide, which readers can use to decipher universally acknowledged flags and symbols of the kink world. Included in the appendix are negotiation tools, including questionnaires and checklists to be used as a guideline for creating and maintaining boundaries and relationships. The book also includes websites and book references, as well as general health information and sanitary precautions.
Whether you are an anxious newcomer or a curious couple longing for a glimpse into a world of kink, this book will offer insight and advice. This book may prove to be more useful to a reader of a beginner/novice level rather than expert, but accomplished experts are still able to use this book as reference guide for exploring a new subculture/community of kink. Therapists and clinicians can use this book as a reference guide to the complex terminology that is associated with kink community, and can be suggested to clients that are looking into approaching this lifestyle. Written through a sex-positive, non judgemental lens, this book is welcoming to people of all genders, orientations, and lifestyles.
About the Authors:
Lee Harrington is a speaker, author, artist, and spirit worker. Internationally known as a speaker and sex educator at countless sexuality conferences and classes, he has travelled to many countries including Canada, US, UK, New Zealand, London, to share his spiritual and erotic authenticity education. He teaches classes ranging in topics from rope bondage and gender paradigms, to dominant/submissive power exchanges. Some of his works include Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Realities and Shibari You Can Use: Japanese Rope Bondage.
Mollena Williams has been a part of the BDSM and Leather community since 1996, and has travelled to many countries and universities to teach classes and educate the masses on BDSM and Leather Kink knowledge. She has won many titles, such as “Ms Leather 2010”, and has accepted awards for her short film “IMPACT”. She is also an active contributor of essays and interviews, acting as a spokesperson for the BDSM community. She is the author of The ToyBag Guide: Taboo Play.
Review written by Westland Researcher Adrianna Xue