Tit torture refers to any of several erotic BDSM activities focusing solely on inflicting pain on the breast, nipples, and areola for sexual gratification. Breast-oriented BDSM activities range from relatively safe and benign, such as the use of clothespins on the nipples, light flagellation, or simple breast bondage to activities that can include great risk, such as more severe caning, amateur piercing, or being suspended by the breasts.
While it is well documented that the non-consensual sexual torture of women has been common in both modern society and in the past, the term "tit torture" in this context applies to consensual sexual activity. It can be argued that many sexual fantasies, including those involving breast torture, reflect a desire to use a partner without fear of consequences, regardless of how extreme the use. Rational people understand this kind of desire is just that -- sexual fantasy -- and that most of these fantasies can be role-played safely, sanely and with enjoyment on the part of both partners.
In an erotic context, both the giver of breast punishment and the receiver receive some kind of pleasure from the experience. In many cases, women experience increased physical pleasure as a result of the release of chemicals called endorphins into the blood stream. Their pleasure may be psychological, derived from being completely controlled by another person and/or from the pleasure the other person gets from the experience.
The person delivering the punishment may enjoy the power they have over their partner, or they may simply enjoy more basic sensual satisfactions, such as seeing the bouncing ripple of a victim's breast from a riding crop's blow or the puckering of a dark nipple between the jaws of a clamp, feeling the breast flow between crushing fingers or the nipple harden in a rough tweaking pinch, or hearing the victim's moans as the tips of her breasts are slowly chilled with an ice cube or her whimpers as the cold crevices of her chilled areola fill with molten wax.
Both may enjoy sexual role playing their actions, such as acting out a dominant lover's latent nipple-fixated vampire dreams or a submissive partner's breast torture rape fantasy. Regardless, in most cases the pleasure is derived from some combination of these physical, emotional and psychological factors.
Erotic tit torture involves a combination of sexual activities that are considered paraphilias by many psychologists and sexologists. Paraphilia has many definitions, most of them with negative connotations that imply "perversion" or "deviancy." The paraphilias noted in many texts that most commonly apply to tit torture include:
- Algolagnia - sexual pleasure from pain
- Breast fetishism - sexual interest in the female breasts, their shape, movement, and size
- Sexual sadism - sexual arousal from giving pain
- Sexual masochism - sexual arousal from wanting to be humiliated, beaten, bound, or otherwise made to suffer
- Vincilagnia - sexual arousal by bondage
There are other paraphilias that, depending upon a person's fantasies, might also be added to the list. Because of recent understanding that consensual BDSM provides pleasure to each participant, there is a growing number of clinicians that believe that, unless a sexual activity is blatantly illegal (such as pedophilia or zoosadism), or involves a violation of consent, it is not a paraphilia. Under those circumstances, erotic tit torture would not be considered clinically paraphiliac behavior. The controversy continues, however, because other paraphilias are still seen by society as being so deviant, regardless of consent, that they are not acceptable. As a result, all paraphilias, including those involved in erotic tit torture, remain questionable by sexologists and clinicians. As long as parts of society view consensual BDSM as as being deviant, while others see it as normal behavior -- or at worst a harmless eccentricity -- the controversy will rage on.
Tit torture has been used throughout history, both as pure torture and in a more sexual context.
As early as 300 B.C. books such as the Kama Sutra discussed what would later be known as sadism and masochism acknowledging that pinching, biting, and flogging erotic body parts was encouraged as long as it was done with consent. The Kama Sutra went so far as to name all the different kinds of bites and scratches, including those focused on the breasts and nipples.
Torture focusing on the breasts is documented as having been used during the Spanish Inquisition. Particular attention was often paid to the breasts and nipples in order to extract confessions from alleged witches. During this time, torture manuals such as the Malleus Maleficarum made specific reference to the suitability of breasts as objects of torture. Certain devices, such as the breast ripper, were actually designed with just the breasts in mind.
Other historical references to breast-related BDSM include the fictional writings and alleged practices of the Marquis de Sade. In his book, The 120 Days of Sodom, there are dozens of references to tit torture, many of them extremely brutal.
Sexual torture involving the breasts was documented in World War II during the Holocaust and in the sexual slavery of Japan's "comfort women." Sexual torture in general, and tit torture specifically has been suspected in many more recent socio-political events as well as in modern day sexual slavery rings.
Erotic tit torture –- like many other sexually-oriented practices –- has seen a tremendous increase in popularity as a result of the Internet. There are thousands of web sites that include tit torture as part of their content, and some that specialize solely in the practice. While typically categorize as pornography, many of the sites are used as informal, and in some cases formal, references for people that practice tit tortureand other breast-oriented BDSM activities.
Most of the methods of torturing breasts can also be applied to other parts of the anatomy, both male and female. Cock and ball torture and female genitorture are typically seen as the nearest equivalents to tit torture. Modern erotic punishment activities that can be applied to breasts and nipples include, but are not necessarily limited to:
Breast bondage – wrapping rope, leather strips, or some other type of constricting material around the base of the breast, either in a manner that also includes wrapping the binding around the chest and back, or just solely around the breast. Breast bondage may range from light -– predominantly decorative, to more moderate -- where the breast bulges to one extent or the other, to more severe -- where the skin actually begins to darken, to extreme and arguably dangerous forms of binding such as breast suspension –- the lifting of a woman by her bound breasts.
Flagellation – Slapping, whipping, caning, paddling, and other forms of striking the breasts. Light flagellation can involve the hands, paddles, crops, or low-impact whips, and usually results in nothing more severe than stinging and redness. More extreme forms of flagellation involve canes, whips, cords, etc. and can result in bruises, scrapes, cuts, or other lacerations.
Clamping – the use of clothespins, hardware clamps, household clamps, hair pins, and so on, or clamps designed specifically for use on the nipples or on other parts of the breast. Clamping can range from relatively mild to extreme forms that result in hypoxemia (the deprivation of oxygen) if left too long on a nipple.
Electricity – the use of electricity, typically on the nipples. There are some devices, such as the T.E.N.S. or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator and Violet Wands, that have been specifically designed for use on human flesh and are relatively safe if used by educated persons. Other types of electricity, such as household current, batteries, or devices such as stun guns and Electroshock weapons, carry greater risks of burning or far more dangerous effects.
Edge or blade play – the use of razor blades or other edged instruments on the breasts and nipples. Edge play is an extreme form of erotic tit torture that is sometimes used to produce deliberate scars, or scarification.
Wax – Wax play involves hot wax being dripped or poured on the breasts and nipples, frequently after they have been chilled with ice.
Temperature play – using flames, ice, or other things that can burn or freeze such as curling irons, dry ice, etc. The most extreme form of temperature play is branding.
Biting, scratching and pinching – either lightly or taken to an extreme that may bruise or draw blood. Vampire and similar gothic types of role-play regularly involve biting. Breast-related gynophagia fantasies also fall under this category.
Suction - use of vacuum devices. Suction devices can be strickly for nipples, from snake bite cups to medical vacuum suction devices designed for use on inverted nipples. They can also be used on whole breasts using specialized breast cupping sets or penis pumps. They can also include breast pump milking devices and an assortment of specialty bulb pump devices.
Chemical play – the use of balms and ointments such as Ben Gay, Icy Hot, Biofreeze, etc.
Abrasion – rubbing the breasts or nipples with sandpaper, scrapers, or other abrasives.
Plants and animals - Enticing or domestic animals to lick or nip at the nipples, luring insects to bite or sting the breasts and nipples, or using stinging plants, such as nettles, on the breasts.
Complications from unsafe tit torture can include infection, disease transmission, external scarring, fat necrosis, fibroadenoma, and breast cancer, as well as burning and possibly electrocution. People that engage in breast-oriented BDSM should use due caution, research their activities, and establish rules in advance.
Skin covering the breasts has the same healing ability as other skin and can take much of the activity involved in breast torture without long-term effects. The nipples and areola were designed for suckling and can also take a certain amount of harm. Because they have a more refined blood supply and nerve complex, as well as lactiferous ducts, they can be more sensitive and need more caution, however. The inside of the breast is composed of fatty, glandular and connective tissues and is at greater risk of rupturing or other damage if mishandled.
Flagellation - Breasts should be struck with extreme care. Blunt trauma is a primary causes of internal breast injury. Breast-oriented blows should not go deep, and any bouncing should fall within the normal range of motion for the recipient's breasts were she engaged in a normal strenuous activity. Even skin-deep spanking can cause broken capillaries and/or a loss of sensation in the nipples and areola if carried to an extreme. Hard whipping, flogging, or any other activity that breaks the skin could also cause scarring that may not disappear with time.
Clamping - Clamping anything onto a nipple can be more painful than anticipated. Often, the pain spikes when the clamp is removed and full circulation is restored. Always consider applying clamps so that they are either completely behind the nipple where it connects with the areola, or at least partially so. Nipple sensitivity varies throughout any given month, and what may be acceptable one day may not work the next.
Binding - Hypoxemia can cause nerve and tissue damage if rubber bands, ropes or other bindings are left in place too long, even with the simplest breast or nipple binding. Any time a breast or nipple begins to darken or become cool to the touch blood circulation has been restricted and the risk of damage increases. Binding the nipples and areola, particularly with rubber bands or other deep-biting constrictions, will tend to deaden the area the longer the binding is left in place. If binding is combined with other BDSM activity, it is important that you considerater this when gauging the potential for damage.
If the choice is made to strike a bound breast, blows should be superficial. Binding a breast interferes with its natural ability to shift on impact and compacts the tissues so that any hard blow can intensify any damage that may occur.
Suspension - While there are many references hanging a woman by her breasts, on the Internet, there is concern that it can result in damage ranging from stretch marks to internal rupturing and tearing. The long-term effects of breast suspension have not been studied. It is highly recommended that breasts not be used a sole means of suspension and that only persons with proper equipment, skill and training consider engaging in this activity.
Electricity - Using electricity on the breasts or nipples is highly debated due to the risk of cardiac arrest and other complications. At least one autoerotic fatality resulting from electrocution has been documented involving current traveling from nipple to nipple. If electricity is used, only devices designed for use on human flesh should be used, and current should not be allowed to travel from one breast or nipple to the other. Regardless of the cardiac risk, care should be used to avoid burning any time electricity play is attempted.
Piercing - Piercing carries its own risk. Infection should always be a concern. Sterilizing the site and the instrument is important. Autoclaves or other sterilization devices and techniques should be used when not using pre-sealed, sterile devices. Hypodermic] or acupuncture needles should be used instead of objects not specifically designed for human skin. These types of needles have beveled points designed to puncture flesh and decrease resistance. The use of safety pins, skewers, nails, and so forth, even if properly sterilized, increases the risk of infection, scarring, and may cause nursing complications. Piercing the breast itself risks damaging the tissues inside the breast as well as causing internal bleeding.
Because they are hard to re-sterilize, hollow needles should not be re-used. The tubular center can carry tissue from one piercing into another regardless of any method used to sterilize them, increasing the risk of infection, abscessing or transmitting disease.
Sterilization is not only recommended for the safety of the "victim," but also for the person doing the torture. This becomes even more important when edge play is considered. Wear sterile gloves any time bleeding is a possibility. If the dominant has any open wounds, any activity that could result in bleeding shoud be reconsidered. This also includes biting and scratching, as both the mouth and the fingernails harbor germs that can be transmitted through open wounds.
Wax and heat - Hot wax, though considered one of the safer methods of breast torture, is not without risk. First degree burns happen. Hotter waxes risk second degree burns. Edible sauces should be no hotter than 120 degrees (49 degrees centigrade). Flames, or the use of heated devices (such as curling irons) increases the level of caution that should be exercised. Though it would take almost a deliberate act to cause third degree burns, lesser burns can happen quickly. Cigarettes are often considered in erotic tit torture, however, snuffing a hot ember out on flesh is dangerous, often resulting in second degree burns and scarring.
Ice and coolants - Ice is also considered relatively safe, and is often combined with hot wax. Be careful to avoid frostbite, particularly on nipples. Other coolants, such as dry ice, the propellants in "canned air" and so on, are much colder than frozen water and can cause frostbite almost immediately on contact.
Suction - Excessive suction can cause breaks in capillary blood vessels, resulting in a “hickey” type bruises. There has been some concern about using these in conjunction with nipple piercing. It is probably best not to use suction on unhealed piercings, regardless of whether they are permanent or temporary, or any other open wounds.
Balms - Chemical balms and ointments that have been formulated for skin can be relatively safe. Read the hazard warnings for the particular product before applying it to nipples or areola.
Plants and animals - Unlike humans, animals aren't familiar with why we might be doing this. When hungry or excited, they may not bother to discern between the peanut butter that's coating a nipple and areola and the flesh beneath it, resulting in a mauled breast or worse. Insect stings can be very dangerous, with results ranging from swelling and rashes to severe allergic reactions to anaphylactic shock. While not as dangerous, the use of stinging nettles could also result in allergic reaction.
Regardless of the method, or the level to which it is taken, safe and consensual BDSM always involves the use of safewords. A safe word is a word or phrase that tells the actor to stop, the activity being performed. It is considered dishonorable and even immoral to ignore a woman's use of a safe word. Most people that choose not to use safe words are in relationships where both partners are intimately aware of the others limits. Regardless, having a safe word, with an understanding of when and how it will be used, is advised by most people that practice BDSM. Finally, people new to BDSM should research anything they may be considering before attempting any kind of erotic torture on breasts or other body parts.
- Breast bondage
- Breast fetishism
- Domination and Submission
- Sadism and Masochism
- Safe, sane and consensual
- The Visual Dictionary of Sex, Dr. Eric J Trimmer (editor), ISBN 0-89479-011-0; A & W Publishers, 1977
- 120 Days of Sodom, Marquise de Sade (author), ISBN 978-0099629603; Arena Books Publishers, (September 7, 1989)
- Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism, Philip Miller and Molly Devon (Authors), ISBN 978-0964596009; Mystic Rose Books, (July 1, 1988)
- SM 101: A Realistic Introduction, Jay Wiseman (author), ISBN 978-0963976383; Greenery Press, (December 1998)
- Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission, William Brame and Gloria Brame (Authors), ISBN 978-0679769569; Villard (January 13, 1996)
- The Complete Kama Sutra : The First Unabridged Modern Translation of the Classic Indian Text, Alain Daniélou (Translator), ISBN 978-0892814923; Park Street Press, (January 1, 1994)
- Breast Punishment Primer - A comprehensive and entertaining article that discusses breast bondage and tit torture in detail.
- Sexuality.org's BDSM Archive - General information about BDSM practices, including tit torture.
- Castle Realm's D/s Resource Center - Information about the Dominant/submissive culture and practices.
- BDSM and the Law - A very informative piece on how BDSM practices are viewed from a legal standpoint.
- Darker Pleasures Desserts - An example of how a fantasy that might be otherwise taboo can be used in acceptable sexual role play.
- 1Healthy Breast Bondage - Written by Susan Wright, this article talks about breast trauma relating to tit torture and breast bondage.
- 2A.B.M.D.I. News, "An Unusual Low-voltage Electrocution" - Documented instance of electrocution due to auto-erotic nipple torture.