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A gag is a device sometimes worn during sexual bondage and BDSM roleplay. Gags are usually associated with roleplays involving bondage, but that is not necessarily the case. The person who wears the gag is regarded as the submissive partner, while the one not wearing one is regarded as the dominant one.
People may wear gags for a variety of reasons. Some people derive erotic pleasure from a gag, either in a submissive or dominant role. When combined with other physical restraints, the wearing of a gag can increase the wearer's sense of helplessness and anxiety level within a BDSM scene, by depriving them of a means to influence the progress of a sexual activity through speech. Some people enjoy the feeling of surrendering the ability to speak to another person in an activity.
For some people, gags have connotations of punishment and control, and thus can be used as a form of humiliation. To some, wearing a gag without restraints is still an act of humiliation, as is an open mouth gag. Some fetishists are sexually aroused by the sound gagged people make when they try to speak, or by seeing a person drool uncontrollably.
The type of gag that is used will depend on the tastes of the parties, to the type of roleplay scene, as well as what is on hand at the time and safety considerations. Some gags are designed to fill the mouth in some manner, while others are designed to provide access to the mouth by forcing the mouth open. Gags may be classified as over-the-mouth type, mouth stuffing type or mouth opening type.
When a person is sexually aroused by gags, it may be considered a paraphilia. One specific paraphilia involving a gag relates to video depictions in which the captor gags the damsel in distress to stop her screaming for help. Some people are sexually aroused by such imagery, even if there is no nudity or sexual act present, or even if the victim is only gagged but not restrained in any way.
Placing a gag on anybody is very risky, as it involves a substantial risk of asphyxia if the subject's nose is blocked while wearing a gag. Using a gag on somebody who is ill, or affected by some condition such as the common cold, catarrh, the flu; or common allergies (including sensitivities to cologne or perfume), is also quite dangerous, as most gags make it difficult or impossible to breathe through the mouth. Vomiting and choking also pose a risk, which further blocks the airway. For this reason, a gagged subject should never be left alone.
In practice, no gag is effective enough to silence someone completely without inhibiting breathing. Most gags that do stop the subject from making intelligible speech still allow loud inarticulate vocal noises to call for help. Thus, a pattern of noises, such as three grunts in rapid succession, is sometimes used as a safeword by BDSM players. It is also common to use an additional non-verbal safety mechanism, such as a solid object held in the hand, which can be released by the gagged person as a sign that they are in distress.
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- "Autoerotic Asphyxia". BBC. 9 August 2005. Retrieved 19 January 2011.