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Sunday, October 20, 2013

KOTW: Understanding Tickling

Well, my plan to write more has been working to some extent. I've been working on a kind of big "theory" post that deals with a concept that I've been struggling with for some time. As such, it's hard to get through the writing. I keep going back and forth on what I want to say.
Because of this, I haven't had a full post for you since the last Kink of the Week (le sigh!) but I can promise an interesting one soon. Not that KOTW isn't interesting.

So, onto the post!

The KOTW topic this week is tickling.
I've always had a very neutral feeling towards tickling. I'm rather ticklish, but I don't particularly dislike being tickled. As a child, I found tickling to be a pleasant interaction, although I grew up in a family where that was considered a bit too much physical contact to be appropriate. As I grew up, it sort of stopped being something that I thought of very often.

From time to time I meet people in the scene who sort of roll their eyes at my spanking fetish.
"Spanking? Really? That's hardly even kinky. That's so childish. That doesn't even hurt," they say. Then I get all kinds of flustered and annoyed and defensive. Let me tell you a long list of reasons why your wrong. But this hardly matters, because the person with this opinion just doesn't "get" spanking or understand what it means to be a spanko, so they can't really be convinced.

In the process of brainstorming for this post, I discovered that my feelings towards tickling were quite similar to the feelings that I hated having directed towards spanking.

In my mind, tickling is a tender, playful interaction that doesn't feel kinky to me. There's something that seems sort of unappealingly childish about it to me (and I'm sitting at my very small desk dressed in my fuzzy nightshirt which is printed with cartoon owls and a pair of Hello Kitty panties with my hair in pigtails, typing this on my sticker-covered laptop). I decided that these feelings aren't really fair for me to have, and they certainly aren't very educated.

I decided to start looking at some Tickling sites to learn a little bit more about it. A lot of them presented tickling in a way sort of similarly to the way I was imagining it: two girl-next-door types gently rough-housing and tickling each other in their lingerie, sometimes using colorful feathers. The presence of the feathers connected it to something else in my mind: "sensation play."

Via Teaseglam.com

I originally thought that sensation play was a pretty milquetoast idea, as well. This was during a period of my life when I was very focused on submission as being challenging and where I frequently intentionally denied myself the enjoyable side of things like spanking. The idea of "things which feel nice" seemed, well, lame to me. Later on, I started to break down the barriers between things being "nice" and things being "kinky" and I discovered that I like quite a lot of sensation play. I like the feeling of something cold being placed on my bottom after a spanking, or the startle of it touching me on my unaffected skin. I like soft materials on my body and especially on skin that's sore. I like the feeling of pressure as something weighted is pressed against me. I like focusing only on my body, and making my world very small, and sensation play lends itself to that very well. Just as pain is a focusing device, so can be any sort of touch. I often find gentle touches with a single finger being run slowly over my body to be some of the most erotic. This motion when repeated over and over can become a slow tickling sensation. I can see how this would be enjoyable, positive and nice.

But tickling fetishists don't always think that tickling is nice, right? Sometimes tickling is a torture. I think the primary reason that I can't imagine tickling as being particularly kinky is because I've always had tickling stop before I even got particularly tired of it. I've never been held down, restrained and tickled until I wanted it to be over. I know that many people enjoy combining tickling with bondage, and I can imagine the point where anything becomes unbearable and apply that to tickling to create a scenario which is not unlike the point in a spanking where I feel like it's difficult to endure it any longer. This is the place where submission is required, where I have to focus on passivity and give myself over to the spanking. I can imagine that tickling can come to require a similar kind of submission.

Then there's the idea of tickling as being a rougher, harsher activity. If you tickle someone with your nails, for example, that somewhere between tickling and scratching. If you use a rough or abrasive motion, especially on the tender parts of the body, tickling can be strangely painful. Once or twice, Malignus "tickled" me in a method that he calls "deep tissue tickling." I don't fully understand what he did, but I think it combined massage techniques with tickling motions to create a sensation that was similarly invasive to the pain that I felt when we experimented with bastinado. It felt like there was a creature loose inside my body, or sometimes, like I was being stabbed. It was so invasive feeling that I wasn't able to be submissive towards the feeling. Again, we didn't do much of this. :P

So, at the end of the day, I can see the appeal, I think. I've certainly found a new appreciation for why it might be enjoyable and how I could possibly relate to what a tickling fetishist enjoys. I'm glad that I explored this because I don't like not understanding something, and I hate to think that I'm not giving something a fair shot in my mind.

As always, I'm open to questions and comments.
I promise that there'll be a post with spanking in it very soon.


  1. alex,

    Thank you. I like to think of tickling as part of sensation play. I enjoy having the sub lay face down on a bed with just panties and using multiple implements on the skin. I just posted about it last week.

    I use two floggers, one soft and one heavy, an ostrich feather duster, a wartenberg wheel, and my hand. Every sub LOVED the play. And, they were all spankos. It was a little bit of pain, some nice rubbing to soothe the skin and the pain/pleasure of the wheel.

    I hope someday you have the experience.


    1. Ooh, your sensation play scene sounds WONDERFUL. I would love to have that experience. :D

  2. I'm terrible about doing research on kink of the week topics. I usually just shoot from the hip. Not overly surprising that a lot of what you found was the coed lingerie stuff since that the fisrt thing that came to mind on the topic before considering it with in my own relationship and as a form of sensation play rather that torture.

    1. I also like the straight from the hip style of writing for these posts, but sometimes, I just don't have anything to say! :P

  3. Hmmm. I like the gentle nail and fingertip type tickling on all parts of my body. I've never considered it kinky. If I had, I wouldn't have had my grandmother tickle my back in this way when I used to spend the night with her!

    However, my father was a big tickler. Like, tickle you until you begged him to stop. My mother disliked it, called it "torture" because he was bigger, we were smaller, and really couldn't do anything about it. This kind of tickling, even now, I do not like.

    1. There are a lot of things that are part of normal life that can be put into the header of kink, but that make me feel strange when I think about them that way! I agree that this kind of nice "back tickling" is one of those things!
      I never really had the experience of tickle torture like you described, but I can see why that would not be fun. >_<

  4. I'm very ticklish, and I can see how some would find it sensual and fun. I suppose it's all in how it's done, on what part of the body, etc. A little bit of it is playful and makes me giggle. More than a little is torture for me.

    Years ago when I was working in the dungeon, I listed tickling as one of the activities I'd engage in. I thought to myself, "Lying tied down to a table, being tickled for a half-hour or so -- how bad could it be?" Uh... I found out. Just not my thing, I guess!

    1. One thing which pro-kink work has made me learn: there are a lot of things that don't sound that bad but actually are! I've considered doing tickling sessions before, but the more I think about it, maybe it's one of "those things!"

  5. Tickling comes from my childhood memories... I'm very ticklish, especially the soles of my feet. I guess in horseplay you could call time out and quit but I fully appreciate the darker side to tickling,... being tied down unable to move and having my soles of my exposed feet stretched taut and other ticklish areas mercilessly caressed against my will gives me seizures thinking about it... that would border on torture for me. I can feel myself stop breathing from the extreme sensations! ugh!

    1. Thanks for letting me know just how ticklish you are, John. I "promise" not to use this against you the next time I see you. >:D
      (I'm kidding. I'm a very nice girl.)

  6. I like your kink of the week posts! As for tickling, it drives me craaaazy, and i'm very ticklish so I don't think i'd react too well, lol. On the other hand, I can see how it'd be an erotic, and interesting feeling for some. :)

  7. This was an interesting read. I can see how it could fit into sensation play for people. I don't think I would care for it as a being held down until you can't take it type activity.

  8. That’s a fascinating blog post. For my sins, I've always been a sucker for a good tickle. Some people claim that we spankos have always been hardwired for spanking in the deepest recesses of our brains; I'm not so sure - I think there's an element of a learned response, perhaps triggered by certain visual or verbal stimuli. In contrast, the tickle response in me seems even more primal. I remember, when I was 5 years old, Dad would come home from work, haul me up in his arms above his head and tickle me like crazy in the armpits when lowering me to the ground. Heaven!

    I wouldn't say my tickle response has ever been that erotic but certainly it's right up there with other extreme play sensations. Almost everyone I’ve played with over the years has turned out a great tickler. One lady last year had an awesome strategy of engaging a two-handed tickle attack (eg on left and right sides of the rib cage) and keeping the pressure on until I was just gagging for a heavy caning as release, on the point of hyperventilating. I’d accept anything to get the tickling to stop! I've also been tickled this year by a pretty accomplished lady in sensory deprivation mode (blindfold, earplugs) and that hugely magnifies the sensation. In fact, I'm very wary of being tickled when fully restrained as I think the reflex actions could do me some damage.

    But for all this, I sense that in the BDSM scene here in England, tickling is looked down upon as not a ‘proper’ fetish. Perhaps it’s more accepted in the enlightened USA?

    Sometimes in a reflective moment, I marvel at how wonderful that organ called our skin is - the way that it can absorb heavy caning with barely a flinch yet in the next moment will go ballistic at a tickle as delicate as a spider’s footprint working its way up one’s back (and No, I don’t share a spiders fetish!). And it’s frustratingly difficult to self-tickle!

    I’m really old now, and have for some years worried that my tickle response will eventually wither and die. Luckily, it’s still live n’ kickin’. Indeed, I hope that when I'm in my dotage in my 70’s, cooped up in some miserable care home in the middle of nowhere, someone will visit me just occasionally, take pity on my plight, and give me the tickling of my life :)


    1. Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful comment, Simon!
      I'm not sure how accepted tickling is in BDSM over here: I've seen tickling scenes played out in dungeons before, but they also included bondage and sensory deprivation, so that made them a bit more "typically kinky."
      By the way, while I can't make myself laugh from self tickling, I seem to be one of the only people who can get any response from it. If I use the tips of my fingernails, I get goosebumps and just feel tickled. Hard to describe.
      Take care!

  9. I don't usually think of it as sensation play for some reason, but it really is. Nice post!