The Rules of SM
According to Joseph W. Bean
The bottom should always be recyclable.
The bottom should always be recyclable. This rule puts as much responsibility on the bottom in question as on the Top. To think otherwise is to bottom to resign rather than to submit to the Top.
The Top should always get something.
The Top should always get something worthwhile out of the scene. This rule often means that the bottom will “pay” for what he wants by giving something he didn’t think he wanted. It also means that bottoms grow by learning to give this “something” to various Tops or at various times.
Tops must acknowledge technical errors.
If a Top makes a technical error, he must acknowledge it. “Oops,” is an inadequate acknowledgment! A bad whip stroke, a slip of the hand on the electrical controls, a wildly out of scale cane stroke or a knot that slips or tightens can be corrected with acknowledgment, but they never “go away” if they are ignored, (or repeated too many times). Without acknowledgment, every stroke is taken as intentional.
Nothing begins to be SM without consent.
Nothing begins to be SM until consent has been communicated however subtly or overtly. This rule means that Tops who swat and pinch bottoms by surprise or when no scene is in progress are assaulting them, not flirting with them.
If you’re not in love, don’t do scene.
If desire and consent do not lead to a kind of love, the scene is probably not going to work. Love can take many forms, but the very ground from which it springs is the demand one places on oneself to please and do what is good for the other person.
Negotiate less to start out better.
The less obvious the negotiation, the higher the step the scene begins on. ButÖto have the negotiations to be “less obvious” is not the same thing as having them never happen or leaving them so vague that surprises can ruin everything later. Still, be very careful not to over-negotiate. We’re talking about sex, not a corporate merger.
If it’s not your scene, you can’t control it.
If you weren’t there for the negotiations, you are not in control of the scene, whatever the invitation. You must never join a scene uninvited. That’s pure and simple sexual courtesy. Beyond that, you must always defer to the Top who started the scene you joined, even if he is very much your junior in any and every way.
Always have a way out.
Always have a way out. This is a multilevel, multipurpose rule that applies to everyone involved in a scene. It means being prepared to get out in case the scene goes bad, in case the Top goes crazy, in case the bottom freaks out, in case the Top dies, in case the cops come, in case the house catches fire—in case of anything. And this rule does not mean the bottom has to know how to get out before he needs it.
Never fuck with your enemies.
Never fuck with your enemies or play with your person-to-person anger. This rule only matters if you are not turned on by the possibility of discovering what is true about sex in prison. It really comes means never getting into a scene where you can not trust your motives or your capacity for self-control.
If it isn’t working, fix it or stop it.
If it isn’t working, fix it or stop it. This one should be obvious, but just about everyone breaks this rule from time to time, often losing fuck-buddies or friends in the process. If nothing else, it damages trust to break this rule and trust is essential to good SM.