A Shibari Short Story

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Rafael Pérez Gay is a Mexican writer. In 2006, he wrote a short story collection entitled “Paraísos duros de roer” (Hard to Bite Paradises). One of the stories in that book is “Bondage.” And, obviously, since it is not frequent to find a Shibari short story in a book, we read it. Here are our comments.

The protagonist is an unsympathetic jerk who is friends with a woman who is dying in a hospital. While she’s agonizing, he begins a relationship with Cecilia, a BDSM enthusiast. Now, including a kinky character in a mainstream short story might sound exactly like what bondage needs to become more popular. After all, Pérez Gay is an established author, and this means that at least a few thousand people will read his book.

However, the opportunity is wasted. Cecilia ticks all the boxes in the kinky stereotype. She’s sexy, ruthless, well versed in contemporary art and alternative music, and ironic about everything and everyone.

She asks the protagonist to bite her, spank her, and, finally, to hit her. But she never explains to him (or the reader) why she likes those practices. We all know that a short story is not a manual, but she doesn’t even mention the rationale behind the power dynamic of a BDSM couple. She doesn’t even mention the necessity of previous consent!

In the end, Cecilia ends up in the hospital, badly beaten, which sounds like the kind of cautionary tale focus a vanilla writer would take on bondage. And the closing paragraph leaves the question unanswered as to whether the protagonist was the one who beat Cecilia or if it was someone else.

In conclusion, “Bondage” is a failure. It emphasizes the stereotypes around kinky people. At the same time, it doesn’t say anything about the true nature of kink. It’s so wrong that it doesn’t even deal with bondage!

Hopefully, things have changed in the almost twenty years since this supposedly Shibari short story was published. But one thing is clear: There’s still a long road ahead.

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