H is for HOODS

Photo by YuriK80

Photo by YuriK80

Do not underestimate the power of a hood.  For unlimited reasons there is a psychological, kinesthetic, and emotional power this device holds that I find quite moving.  A hood is nothing more than a type of mask (says the performance artist), and masks hold within them the power to transform an individual.  I think there is far more to the experience of wearing one than simple cut and dry sensory deprivation, which is often the reason pointed to when defining what they are for.  Let’s explore this in more depth, shall we…

The intimidation factor:  One of the things I like/loathe most about hoods is how much fear they have always struck into my heart.  Perhaps it is because I am a connection whore and control freak and I enjoy being able to see my partners’ faces during play, or maybe I just associate the hooded kinkster with a hangman’s role or the gimp character in Pulp Fiction…  not things I find particularly sexy, perhaps just not my kink (yet).  Also I think there’s a certain fear that strikes me when I think of the anonymity that a hood impresses upon the wearer.  The reality that the symbol of a hood holds such intimidation and power (for me) is a great reason to use them!  I get a thrill from the flip-like sink of the stomach which accompanies a hood being pulled out or brought up in conversation…  What do you think of when you see or consider hoods?  Does this make you more or less curious about using them?

The Gimp character from Pulp Fiction

The Gimp character from Pulp Fiction

Other reasons to slip ’em on:  There are a million!  Lets see here…  Hoods can look amazing and be great fashion accessories, they can be made of materials people fetishize and therefore wish to be clad in (leather, latex, nylon, lace…), they are great tools to employ for breath control and breath play, they can be dehumanizing or take away one’s identity, they are a no-brainer for sensation play, masks can really finish the costume for convincing pet play, or be the perfect detail in your uniform fetish fantasy games, don’t forget that they can psychologically turn people on/off/sideways, and masks can lend a particular character or inanimate fuck-doll reality to your play should you wish.  Masks can have various parts of the face exposed for easy access: mouth, eyes, nose, they can cover the head completely, or they can have zippers so you can decide to open up an area or close it off as you see fit…  What are your favorite reasons to use a hood during play and what type of hood do you like most?

Keep in mind:  One of the things you want to pay attention to very closely when using a hood is how much it cuts off the wearer’s access to their air supply.  In general you are putting something over someone’s head which is hopefully fun for the wearer, but it also cuts down the amount of information you have from the wearer about how they are doing.  You no longer may be able to look into their eyes and see if they are connected or not, you may not be able to hear or see their breathing as well, and depending on the hood being used you may not hear the safeword as easily if they are trying to say it.  Another thing to keep in mind is hearing.  When you have a mask over your head at the very least you’ll have a harder time hearing anything being said to you.  At the worst every time the mask is touched you’ll hear the sound of the material being played with loudly in your ears and definitely not the words that might be being said to you.  If you are engaged in activities that could compromise the hood wearer’s safety, consider having a non-verbal safeword instead, like holding something in the hand that can be dropped as an indication to stop play.  It is also a good idea to verbally check in more frequently with a person you are getting less visual/facial information from.

An experience of my own:  The first scene I was ever in was an amazing experience.  It lasted about 5 1/2 hours and we went through a bunch of different modes of play.  At one point toward the end of the exploration my top brought out a mask and put me in it.  I was dreading it (as I mentioned above, my reaction to hoods in general was in full effect), and then something amazing happened:  I was completely able to let go in a way I had yet to experience in my kinky explorations.

The hood we were using had zippers that exposed the eyes and mouth so I could either have my mouth and eyes exposed, or they could be zippered shut.  I remember being afraid of loosing my sight and intrigued by the idea of sensory deprivation.  And when the mask went on all was dark.  My hearing was mostly lost and the sound of my top’s voice felt far away.  All of a sudden the information I had about what was happening around me was cut down and focused.  I felt as though a new universe was formed and my mind was the center of everything.  Every sensation had questions associated with it because I could not simply see what was happening, and with each question my mind rushed to grasp an explanation.

There was calm there too.  A very intense and particular quiet that accompanied the loss of my head senses.  In that darkness and quiet I found peace.  Serenity.  Throughout the play we had enjoyed up to that moment I had felt a particular barrier between myself and my partner.  I felt my job was to accept what was given to me – process the pain, accept challenges, and bear new experiences.  And in that headspace I found myself emotionally less engaged, though physically, psychologically and kinesthetically I was completely on.  In this new quiet headspace I found the will and desire to reach out and touch my partner, something I had denied myself until that point.  And it was a beautiful very sensual part of the evening.  It was deeply touching.  The hood created a universe where I could reach out beyond the barriers I had set for myself and intuitively find strength and trust my own explorations.  This part of the night’s play was quite profound.

Where you can find more information:  As always I highly recommend learning more about the specific types of play you’d like to engage in before jumping in.  Kink Academy has some great videos on the subject of hoods and also information about them in conjunction with other subjects.  Find friends on Fetlife, search for information on the web, take classes by local or traveling kink teachers, or watch demos in clubs or at your local dungeon…  As always have fun and make sure you are playing safe.

To Breath and Being
~ Karin

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~Thank you.


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