Non-Fiction Book of the Month: Playing Well with Others

In my ongoing survey of BDSM non-fiction, Playing Well with Others has by far impressed me the most. Everything about the book- from the content to the typeface to the organisation – I found very satisfying. There are a few questions I like to ask when reading introductions to BDSM that try to appeal to a general audience:

  1. Is the information presented relevant to those who are active only online? Are such people even acknowledged?
  2. Is the information presented relevant to asexual people? Are such people even acknowledged?

This is one of the few cases I’ve come across where the answer to both questions was a resounding yes!

Rather than focusing on the various techniques and types of play as many introductory books do, Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams focus instead on the how’s and why’s of the scene- the various types of organisations and methods of engagement that exist within the larger community, speaking to their functions and providing tips at how to become involved if one wishes to do so- including various leadership roles.  Clear headings and logical organisation makes it easy to dip in and out of, bouncing between areas of interest. I was also impressed by the appendices- nearly a fifth of the book- with plenty of reference material, recommendations for further reading, and essays from individuals acknowledged as community leaders.

Overall, I found this to be the most thorough introduction to the scene I’ve read yet, and wish I would have come across this book much sooner (and have purchased a hard copy to lend to friends starting out).

From the publisher:

Whether you’re a trembling novice or a jaded expert, there’s always something new to be discovered in the endlessly changing, complex and titillating world of kink. While there are plenty of other books out there that explain how to give a spanking or tie a half-hitch, Playing Well With Others is the first book that explains kink *culture* — the munches, parties, leather bars, conferences, workshops, fetish nights, exploratoriums and all the other gatherings of kinksters that turn BDSM and leather from a bedroom predilection to a lifestyle and a community. You’ll learn to: * Examine your own motivations, needs, wants and desires * Ease your way into established communities * Understand etiquette in different adventurous sex communities * Familiarize yourself with the many types of events available to you * Care for your relationships as you explore new territory * Negotiate for play and aftercare * Go back to the “world at large” without ruffling feathers * …and, of course, answer the all-important question: What do you wear?! The team of Harrington and Williams offers 30-plus years of experience in diverse kink communities: top, bottom and switch; gay, bi and straight; female, male and trans; white and POC. Both former titleholders and international educators, they are an unbeatable pair of “sexual sherpas” with an inimitable voice and a great deal of wisdom. Playing Well With Others is an unprecedented and essential guidebook for anyone who wants to explore or understand the “community” aspect of the kink lifestyle.

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