Everyone means well. BDSM basic safety advice is taught and repeated from a place of resilience against censorship. As online communities and access to written materials alike are squeezed by law and bad faith attacks by anti-sex moralists, we can always count on the hours and hours of free volunteer education to hold the line. Unfortunately, although unstinting in their commitment to keeping information about kink out there, there’s no quality control on what is shared. Thus while some advice might save a life, or at least an embarrassing trip to the ER, BDSM, as a subculture, loves its better safe than sorry story, frequently at the space of its own utility and dignity
This is best demonstrated by the Guardians of the Kidney, the safety squad that preaches the shibboleth of great power. Amongst the great perils of unflared butt plug bases, and the scourge of unsupervised bondage, so also is repeated wisdom “and don’t hit them on the kidneys.” Elder and neophyte alike, after safewords and reminders of consent
Meet a new kinkster? They reassure you Kidneys are protected. Post a post scene pic? These noble scouts watch for any wrapping whip strike or above the buttcrack bruise with a scrutiny that would do a lifeguard proud. And surely as the kidney is the most guarded place on the body, most people who preach that proverb also cannot locate said organs.
I cannot take credit for this discovery, that cynical observation goes to Cybill Troy. But it remains a great test of if said person knows what they are talking about to ask them where they are or just how much force that damage takes approximately. Or how often it happens.
(Kidney are just above where your ribs stop, and while you can hurt them with an impact, it takes things like a bad fall, punch or kick, or the sort of blunt force trauma of a car accident.)
But, given the frequency of the average repetition of the advice, a kidney is Achilles Heel meets Baldars Holly in one. It’s easy to believe. They are, after all, an essential organ, nestled in a matched set in the torso. And a bruised kidney or even ruptured one is an actual injury humans can obtain!
But, you know, not as a day to day worry, or one even likely to ever come up from a scene gone wrong. Certainly not the way a few hundred lost objects will be pried out of anuses every day, around the world. Or that ligature or smothering for erotic reasons (and positional asphyxiation) will claim lives. Yes, the low/midback is not a space to flail away at. But there’s a number of other things more pressing to concern yourself there.
Kidneys have a decent protective cage hanging down- the ribs being where they are. But, the waist is pretty spare on most humans, and low backs are already the failure zone of health problems. If you bonk that area it isn’t going to feel good, not even the good kind of bad.
But so also goes for the knee pits and elbows. Wrists are bad smack zones too, unless you are limiting yourself to a short ruler on the top side. Indeed there’s some general rules of thumb to work out where you should and shouldn’t hit. And equally importantly, what you may or may not want to use. And that’s going to help more.
Instead of just avoiding the kidneys, a little broad theory matters.
A technically useful lecture on impact play would cover concepts like warm ups, or the padding protection of muscle and fat. Force of possible impact correlates with how much meat there is to thump. Additionally the places you body has a joint or bone close to the surface is also a no no.
And, if you are not sure, don’t hit it, and less is more. You can always hit a second time harder if the first was too light, but you can’t un-hit people.
However, something about human nature means that rather than the most broadly actionable advice: Kidneys! Exploding!
Don’t feel too bad if you were happily chirping this advice at other kinky folk by way of making conversation. It sounds bad enough that even if you’ve never actually heard of someone who got kidney damage from impact play, it favours better safe than sorry repeating!
But, let it be a lesson:
When someone repeats safety advice, it never hurts to ask for more specifics, before you pass it to someone else.