Why Do People Use Ball Gags?

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Curious about leaning into BDSM scenes? If you’ve ever been intrigued by the idea of being a submissive (or “sub”), you may already be familiar with one of the iconic tools used to create a feeling of subservience, submission, and/or loss of control: the ball gag. 

This fantasy-inducing device - also known as an oral restraint - takes away the wearer’s ability to speak, communicate, and advocate for themself with words. This can be a jarring experience, creating the sensation of being out of control instantly. It can also be super hot. ;) If you or a partner is curious about ball gags, why they’re used, and how to use them, you’ve come to the right spot.

 

How to choose a ball gag

First, you want to have a conversation with whoever your ball gag partner(s) will be. What are each of you wanting out of the experience? What are your fears, boundaries, and desires? If you’ve never talked about this before, there are lots of resources to help you have the big ball gag talk.

In terms of what size gag to get, in the words of erotic educator Taylor Sparks, “You want the ball gag to be large enough to prevent them from talking, but not so small that they can talk. The purpose is to have them in this submissive position.”

Next up you’ll want to go through your “safe actions.” Since the sub won’t be able to use a safe word (because they won’t be able to talk), you’ll want an agreement for what certain things mean. For example, Sparks recommends that if the gagged partner’s hands are free, they can tap you with either one, two, or three fingers to express things like, “This is great! Keep going” or, “I could use a break” or, “Stop right now.” If they’re bound and can’t use their hands to tap, she suggests having them hold some kind of toy that squeaks.

Other important safety tips: “Never leave someone with a gag alone or not without a straight unobstructed view of them,” says Sparks, “and the same is true of someone tied up. You want to be able to release them immediately if they can’t breathe or have an anxiety attack. We don't always know what may trigger someone until we are right in the middle of a role play, so it’s best to stay close.”

 

Types of ball gags

The truth is, you can use all sorts of things as a ball gag (humans can be pretty ingenious!), and people are generating varieties of BDSM sex accessories all the time. But at their essence, ball gags are just one variation of a tool that doesn’t allow the wearer to speak and express coherently. There are a few specific variations, but there are other purpose-built tools that achieve the same thing: loss of control of the mouth. We’ll cover those, as well.

As in all BDSM play, it’s important to grasp the safety parameters of your tool. If you’re just starting out, it’s always a good idea to use a BDSM gag that has adjustable straps and/or a quick-release mechanism. If things go wrong somehow, you want to be able to get the device off as quickly and easily as possible. Safe and consensual play is of the utmost importance.

 

Ball gag

Right out of the gate we’ve got the ball gag itself — a ball with straps attached to the sides, which wrap around the wearer’s head. Basically the ball stuffs the mouth, holding it open. Balls on this type of play gear device can come in different sizes, which is a great thing! 

Not everyone’s mouth is the same size, so Giant Grapefruit Gag might not be applicable to Small Subservient Sub if their mouth is tiny. Part of the “fun” of using a gag is that it’s inherently uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t activate issues like TMJ disorders (temporomandibular joint disorders). If your jaw is aching during extended use, it's time to go a size down.

Like all sex toys, a ball gag can be made from a lot of different stuff. It’s going to be in someone’s mouth, which means germs are a given, so something like silicone or body-safe PVC are appropriate materials. Never pass around unwashed gags (silicone ball gags or otherwise) unless the people involved have opted into receiving that other person’s mouth cooties.

 

Wiffle gag

Ever wanted to breathe a little easier while your mouth has a thing in it? The wiffle gag is the perfect ball gag for you! These breathable ball gags make breathing easier, while still removing the wearer’s ability to speak coherently. If you’re really into ball gags but the hard-to-breathe aspect is too much for you, this might fit your desires nicely.

Despite being able to pick up a wiffle ball from a toy store, it’s a much better idea to get a full on BDSM silicone gag so that it can be body-safe, easy to clean, and have those important breathing holes and safety features you want.

 

Bit gag

This is a type of cleave gag, which is a gag that works by being pulled between the wearer’s teeth; it mimics a horse's mouth piece (bit). It pairs nicely with pony play, a BDSM sub-category where one person enjoys role-playing being a horse and another holds the role of horse trainer. 

In order to protect the human wearer’s teeth, a bit gag shouldn’t actually be made of metal (unlike for real horses). Chipping the teeth of your “good pony” isn’t really responsible ownership. Make sure the bit is covered in silicone, or maybe leather — something that can take a bit of bite without an emergency trip to the dentist.

Bit gags also tend to be a bit smaller than other gags, so if the wearer has issues keeping their jaw open, this tool can potentially provide a more comfortable gagged experience.

 

Ring gag

If you’d love to have your mouth perpetually open for easy access, an open-mouth gag might be the best option for your kinky play. 

A ring gag is an open-mouth gag, meaning it forces the mouth open with a large ring that generally sits behind the teeth, preventing the mouth from closing completely. This bondage gag allows the wearer’s mouth to always be open and available for inspection, or to insert things into (heyo!). 

Bear in mind that even though this type of gag allows the wearer some level of verbal communication, you should still also have an effective way of getting consent. You always want some nonverbal safe actions that can be used for optimal safety and sexual health. #gaglife.

 

Lip gag

This handy-dandy contraption is an O-ring gag that looks like fake lips, forcing the wearer’s mouth to remain open at all times. These lip gags are both confining in their ability to restrict movement, and humiliating in their ability to make the wearer look ridiculous. 

Since the wearer’s mouth is always open with gags like these, be sure to be mindful of saliva buildup. Drowning in drool isn’t the point of this type of device, so use lip gags safely and don’t lay both perpetually open-mouthed and face-up or upside-down for too long.

 

Penis gag

Feelin’ like yeah, sure, all these gags are great but you’d still like to cock it up a notch? Try a penis-in-mouth gag instead. It’s essentially a ball gag, but instead of a ball, a hard, probably veiny “penis” is safely and snugly secured inside the wearer's mouth. While this can be done with any old dildo, penis gags are purpose-built and don't come with the same choking hazard.

 

Spider gag

This devious invention is similar to a ring or lip gag in its ability to keep the mouth open, but it does it through conniving hooks that perpetually pull the wearer’s mouth open wide. Again, saliva buildup is a risk factor here, so don’t pull a Spiderperson and hang upside down for too long in one.

 

Butterfly gag

This gag spreads its wings! It unfortunately cannot take flight because it’s inside a mouth, but it can give you a fluttery feeling. The butterfly gag gets its name because of the two ‘wings’ that show up when the gag is pumped full of air. 

Once this inflatable gag has gone from limp/flaccid to Fun Sized, the shape looks kinda like a butterfly … but like a butterfly that you suck on for a while, because that’s your thing. Since this is an inflatable gag, it’s got the option to occupy more and more space within the wearer's mouth, which can bring a whole different sensation in terms of being out of control. Devious.

 

Panel gag

This type of gag is the Fabric-Over-the-Face thing seen in movies and TV. Sometimes it’s just a simple tie, other times it’s a complete piece of finely-crafted faux leather complete with head harness, clearly showing onlookers just how into leather the wearer is. 

This type of harness gag might be appropriate as an ease-in for a beginner to gag usage. It’s low on the Block-the-Mouth-Feeling while still being high on the Prevent-You-From-Speaking feeling, with the convenient leather strap across the face.

 

Tape gag

Despite what you may have seen in movies, tape gags aren’t made of duct tape. Don’t use duct tape for a tape gag. Tape gags are made from a specific type of body-safe tape, and won’t cause the same type of harm, pain, and discomfort that comes from applying duct tape to the skin. 

Bondage tape is a real product, inexpensive, and allows for all the tape gags you could want without the dastardly side effects of other, more cruel tapes.

 

Why use a ball gag?

Ball gags don’t necessarily have to be sexual in nature, and don’t necessarily need to go alongside all the nipple clamps, cock rings, and anal beads you might bring to your regularly-scheduled sessions. Sometimes the use of these gags are just for the purpose of showing complete submission, escaping a life where the wearer is very much in charge of their whole immediate world. Letting off some steam and being Not In Charge can be a really relieving change of pace without the need of sexual pleasure.

That said, using a ball gag can also be extremely sexy. “Giving up your control and/or power can be stimulating both mentally and sexually to some,” Sparks says. “Just the opposite for the one in the dominant position: Having someone trust you enough to voluntarily give up their control knowing that you will keep them safe and be responsible is also a big ego boost if not sexually arousing."

Using a ball gag quickly creates a feeling of both subservience and not being in control. It’s a quick and easy route to providing the wearer a feeling of powerlessness, taking away their ability to converse or talk back to those around them, while applying physical restraint to the mouth, which mostly only happens at the dentist these days (dental chair spider gag, anyone??). 

According to  Dr. Justin Lehmiller, research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, “[A]nother factor some may find appealing is that, by not being able to talk, it sort of transforms you from a person to an object. Some people find that kind of depersonalization appealing in BDSM play because it helps to take them out of their head and lets them be more in the moment.”

 

More ball gag safety tips

First, start by wearing them for a limited amount of time. Try 10-15 minutes, then take it out again. This can assist in acclimating the mouth to holding itself open for longer periods of time, and with a little practice you might be comfy wearing a gag for much longer.

Also, just because wearing a gag today went fine, it doesn’t mean that’ll be true for tomorrow. Gags are powerful, and you won’t always be able to predict how they’ll impact you. Many people have a complicated relationship with the feeling of powerlessness or being out of control. Sometimes it may feel sublime and other times it may feel scary. Allow a bit of time to monitor the gag wearer to make sure they are settling into the feeling nicely and without any panic.

Ball gags leave the wearer vulnerable, so never leave a ball gag wearer unattended! Bad things can happen.Mouths aren’t meant to be permanently fixed open, and if the wearer has jaw issues such as TMJ, keeping the mouth open for a long time can cause serious pain. The best ball gag is the one you’re familiar with, so test gag devices out liberally. Go slow. And if you have jaw issues but you’re still gagging for it (ha), try a smaller gag, such as a cleave gag, to prevent the mouth from being in a wide-open state for too long.

If the gag has exposed metal, keep in mind that metal allergies are a thing. Prolonged exposure to metal can irritate some people’s skin.

Gags, much like sex toys, always need a good cleaning between bouts of being naughty, dirty, and no good. Clean them with warm water and mild soap, and sanitize them if possible. Do this especially between partners. 

Finally, we know it can be hard to figure out how to ask for what you really want when it comes to sex. And introducing the concept of wanting to be dominated or be submissive to your partner can be edgy. But what’s the point of life if not to walk a little on the edge sometimes? 


You got this.

 

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