I regard gags as primarily ornamental, because they don’t serve much of a functional purpose in a BDSM adventure. In fact, from a functional view, what they mainly do is get in the way of any kind of oral activity, including such basics as kissing or oral sex. They aren’t really effective at preventing the wearer from making noise (that’s a movie trope that doesn’t survive contact with reality), though they can make it hard to speak intelligibly. And for most common types, the wearer is actually able to spit out the gag if they so choose.
So with all those negatives, why do I frequently employ a gag when frolicking with Joy? Partly because they are so ornamental! Well, “ornamental” probably isn’t a big enough word. Perhaps a better way to put it would be to state that Joy and I often use a gag because of the strong psychological effect (as opposed to physical function) that it has. Part of this is the decorative, or ornamental, aspect, but there’s more to it than that.
Gags severely increase the feeling of helplessness and vulnerability in the wearer through two different mechanisms. The first is that they restrict the ability of the wearer to easily speak. This subconsciously increases the wearer’s feeling of being at risk even when they are in a safe environment, as they relenquish the ability to use verbal communication as a defense mechanism. The ability to say “No!” is a basic, first means of defense which is learned in childhood. When a gag is worn, the wearer perceives that they no longer have the ability to say “No!”, and that helps them to feel defenseless.
The other mechanism that gags tap into to increase feelings of vulnerability has to do with the wearer providing access to their mouth. The mouth is a sensitive body part, and one that is associated closely with one’s health and well-being. It is also an opening into the body itself, and the capacity to close it to deny access is taken for granted. When a Dominant employs a gag, they require the submissive wearer to allow something to be placed into their mouths that (in theory) the submissive cannot remove. In addition, some types of gags do not permit the wearer to close their mouths, leaving them open and defenseless.
The psychological impact of these two phenomena should not be underestimated. And it works both ways–I gain power over Joy as she relinquishes it to me. I read something in a blog post somewhere that has stuck in my mind because it helped capture the feeling a gag creates. I’m afraid I can’t remember the blog or the poster to properly credit them, but paraphrasing in a huge way, it said something like…
“My favorite vision to behold in a BDSM scene is the moment just before the submissive takes the gag. This is the moment of decision, when they must choose whether or not to open their mouths and accept it. Their emotions play across their face as they struggle with their instincts, and when their mouth opens to permit the Dominant to insert the gag, it is the purest expression of submission.”
I’ve butchered this quote—I’m certain that the original writer did a far better job than I of capturing that moment. But hopefully this conveys at least a pale shadow of the concept. By taking the gag into their mouth, the submissive tells their Dominant partner, “I surrender myself unto you.”
Joy and I have used a number of types of gags, but our current favorite is the a type of penis gag, as we find it to be the most severe and therefore the best at creating this feeling of helplessness. There is nothing like seeing Joy’s eyes get big when I bring it out, and watching her moisten her lips before she opens them to take in the artificial cock, knowing that she will not be permitted to spit it out. However, other types of gags each have their own devotees, and Joy and I employ others as well when it suits my plans for the evening.
So, to answer the question in the title of this post, I use a gag partly for its decorative aspect—seeing Joy bound with her mouth filled is a beautiful sight. However, mostly I use a gag because it helps Joy feel powerless to resist and enables her to better submit to me, allowing us both to experience a more powerful and exciting adventure.