Dungeon Basics is a continuing series of posts where we cover apparatus and play in a dungeon/playspace setting
Open and Shut
Aren’t cages easy to use? After all, you simply open, close (and lock) a door. Well, there is more to using cages than meets the eye. Cages and their use are emblematic of how a piece of kink equipment can seem easy to use, when in actuality it requires a respectable degree of scene awareness. Here’s what you need to know about using cages for BDSM play.
What Are Cages?
Cages are structures built for confinement. What can be defined as a cage varies greatly. A cage can be as large as a fully functional jail cell or fenced holding pen. Conversely, a cage can be as small as a re-purposed dog kennel or fitted body frame. Since frames are structures, they are typically made from materials such as steel and iron. Materials such as wood, PVC and latex can be used to fashion cages, but this post will focus on the traditional metal cage. (Later, we’ll discuss how important materials are depending on the type of cage play one engages in). Cages have bars or screening instead of solid walls, which distinguishes them from boxes. Caging has a secure base and top, which works in tandem with the bars to create secure confinement. Essentially, a cage is a self contained vessel of restraint. Ms.Pomegranate once placed me in a head cage that was tethered to the ceiling by a chain. Although the
rest of my body was free, I was effectively chained to the room.
Being structures, cages are only limited by the imagination and resources of the builder. As stated, high end playspaces can have room size prisons or custom fabricated cages in various shapes. Cages can be outfitted with sex toys, bondage restraints and padding. Cages designed for long term use can incorporate feeding and excrement removal systems. Some are designed for extreme play can be rigged for electricity, while others are intended to work in tandem with water predicaments. Some cages can be suspended, others are combined with bondage tables. Cage beds are also a thing.
Playing With Cages
There are several advantages to using cages for BDSM scenes. Cages are powerful, sexy tools for roleplay, adding a realistic touch to interrogation, kidnapping and prison scenes. Kennel cages are a staple of pet play. Cages are also good for exhibitionists, since being in a cage automatically puts someone on display. For objectification fantasies, cages are an effective tool to strip a bottom of humanity and truly make them into an object.
Perhaps the most symbolic kinky use of cages is for power exchange dynamics in a scene. When using a cage, the dynamic is that of captor and captive. The confined bottom is consensually surrendering their freedom while the top on the outside is granted authority and control. The physical act of being caged complements the themes of dominance and submission wonderfully.
The most important thing to remember when playing with cages is the fact that human skin will always yield when competing against metal. Therefore, it’s imperative that players choose cages that work efficiently and ergonomically with someone’s body. Cages should fit a bottom’s body. The smaller the cage, the more precise the fit should be, comparable to the fit of custom kink gear like shackles and leather. In the case of body frame cages, the gear should ideally be tailored to the dimensions of a bottom’s body. The inflexibility of metal is what makes fit paramount. As a form of restraint, cages (and any metal bondage) is the antithesis of rope, which by nature is fluid, pliable and offers a unique fit to a bottom’s body.
Even when the units are larger, comfort and mobility are an issue. Often, these enclosures require a captive to either be seated, lying or standing but doesn’t offer a
bottom enough room to significantly change position. It’s important that cage bottoms understand their bodies and know when immobility can become a problem. Tops should be able to identify when a bottom’s cage time becomes a stress position and respond accordingly. Some of the standard axioms of rope bondage apply to these enclosures. Cage restraint shouldn’t ever cut off circulation, press on nerves, abrade the skin or restrict breathing. When playing with cages it’s always a good idea to negotiate a time limit for the scene, which allows tops and bottoms to prepare for the duration and consider issue that will come up during an extended confinement (like eating and bathroom breaks).
We’ve already established that cages can be unforgiving, but they should still offer some body safe qualities. Metal cages should be smooth, without jagged welds or sharp points that can cause injury. Padding is always welcome in cages as are coated bars. The interiors of cages should be easy to clean in case a scene involves bodily fluids. The enclosure should also be secure, to prevent tipping over or collapsing during play.
Perhaps the most important safety consideration when it comes to cages is the locking mechanism. Some cages are easy to open, as they are held shut by a latch or slide bolt. Others have integrated
lock or secure with padlocks. Anyone who plays with cages must have a quick and dependable method of release. As a part of negotiation, bottoms should learn whether they’ll have a method of self release available. Needless to say, if releasing the bottom is solely the top’s responsibility, they need to be trustworthy and have a backup system for emergencies. (Finding yourself locked in a cage only to learn the top lost the only key isn’t cool). Remember, cutting someone out of a case hardened cage is going to take a while, so play safely.
Hopefully we’ve encouraged you to try out a cage the next time you’re in a dungeon. Ironically, being a captive in a cage is a great way to freely explore desires and fantasies. Lock it down, play with consent and always keep it kinky.