Noun: The outside limit of an object, area, or surface; a place or part farthest away from the center of something.
Noun: Activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation.
We come to kink for different reasons but one of the common threads to our varied journeys is that we are looking to explore. We want to push ourselves, our partners, conventional wisdom beyond the point of comfort. Is pleasure always good? Is pain always bad? Is a full and complete life one that does not experience the darkness? We want to see if there is more to life than the happiness we are told daily we should be seeking. Even in the community, there are those who fell that the questions are not answered with flogging scenes and nipple clamps. There are those of us who need to be pushed even farther.
A place farthest away from the center of something…
This piece of the definition holds the key to why we have such varied ideas of what edge play is. Farthest away from the center of what? The center of society? The center of happiness? The center of safety? The center of self? Each of these is true in a different definition and often overlap.
- Society: Society is a power influence. It is the consensus of what is acceptable and what is not. American society is hetero, male, white middle class. The farther you are from that image the more toward the edge you are. Gender bending, cross dressing, sexual fluidity and other ways of living outside this norm push the comfort zone of conventional wisdom. Is this edge play? To many, yes it is. You are putting your exploration in the face of all that you have been taught to be accepted. But for many this is not an edge. For many this is where they want to live not because it is outside the norm but because it is their personal norm. One person’s edge is another person’s home.
- Safety: I have pulled a half a pint of blood out of someone and covered her in it. I have used electricity, knives, needles and breath play to see what the human body can take. Are these edges? Yes. Playing with tools that are inherently dangerous, opening the body up, exploring the world with weapons are all things that can end badly. If you have a sub tied to a cross as you flog her, the number of things that can go horribly wrong are limited; when you pull a knife out and trace it along the body, more so. Many physical edge players will tell you that they do not practice SSC (Safe, Sane, Consensual) kink but instead prefer RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink). They know that what they are doing carries risk of injury but are willing to play with it anyway. They take the precautions they feel are necessary and move ahead ready to deal with the outcomes whatever they may be. This is a place of contention within the community. Many see it as personal responsibility to manage how each person plays, others feel a need to keep people safe and educated to the dangers. It is true that some people play with fire without understanding the dangers associated with it but the debate for the ages is whether it is the communities responsibility to manage them.
- Self: One man’s kink is another man’s nightmare. The world is full of triggers and phobias. What is the end of the world for one person may be nothing more than the start of the journey for another. If you have a fear not being able to move, rope may be too much for you to handle. If you grew up in a house with a domineering father, playing with D/s may be a trigger. To someone outside your personal experience may see what you are doing as nothing out of the ordinary but for you it is hard, intense, life changing.
There are risks in every kind of play. Hell, you can step out of your house an be hit by a bus.* Edge play just happens to be more so. So what makes a person want to risk life, limb and sanity with such dangerous “games”? The answers depend on the person but most will tell you it is about being alive. I have run into more than one edge “player” who takes great offense to the play nomenclature. This is not a game, it is not a joke. It is as real as anything they experience walking down the street. To many (myself included) what they experience in an intense scene is more real. It is in the moment that the false trappings of civilization fall away and the soul is left bare. At the edge you stare off into the existential abyss.
* If you live in the boondocks and are thinking “Ah Ha! There are no buses near my house!” Replace Bus with Bear and hit with eaten
With great power…
Edge play is about personal freedom. It is about exploring the darkest corners of the psyche and looking into the void and seeing The Nothing looking back. It should not be seen as a bad thing when you want to play on the edge. It should not be seen as a pathology that needs to be monitored. We are all adults. This means that we have the right to make our own choices about what risks we are willing to take on. It also means that we have a responsibility to not make others feel outcast for what they do. When a kinkster is outcast in his own community, do you think he stops doing it? No! he goes underground, he hides in his bedroom and does what he wants to do without having the support of the community to help him do it as safely as possible. When we shun the ABDL, when we cringe at the Furry, when we turn up our noses at the auto-erotic asphyxiator we are saying more about us than them and in the process, weakening our community.