My post included this sales copy from The Stockroom:
Rather than binding the wrist or ankle in restrictive materials, the Debilitator goes to the heart of the matter, pinning and disabling the forearm or calf of your sub for total temporary immobilization. Slip the steel band around the extremity you wish to immobilize, adjust the stakes and screws to apply firm, even pressure around the appropriate muscles. Turn set screw until it stays in place.
That’s all there is to it. Without breaking skin or securing a lock, you’ve managed to completely paralyze your sub’s limb. The effect is uncomfortable, but not overly painful, which makes it a great tool for training and light-to-intense discipline.
When I was posting about The Debilitator, I found myself curious about its mechanism of action. Did it operate by physically constraining the muscles in question from flexing, as the sales copy seemed to suggest? Or was it, more simply but perhaps less interestingly from a bondage perspective, more of a pain control device, that provides a pain incentive for the sub to hold the limb as still as possible? The copy seemed to suggest the former, and I was curious about how well that might work.
Thus you may imagine I was pleased when a representative from Sex And Metal contacted me on Twitter and offered to send me a pair of Debilitators to review. Of course I accepted!
The Debilitators duly arrived in the mail, in the discrete packaging one would hope for and expect. Each Debilitator consists of hollow square bar stock bent and welded into a five-inch (inside diameter) circle, drilled at the four quadrants to accept steel pins and with captive nuts allowing the use of thumbscrews to hold the pins firmly in place. The finish on all parts is quite nice and the feel is solid, so the overall appearance is attractive.
One potential difficulty I did not anticipate before I saw the goods is that the useful size of these devices is much smaller than you would expect. The pins, as you can see, have an smoothly tapering business end about 3/4″ long, and the thumbscrews will not bite and hold securely on the tapered shoulder portion of the pins. So, by the time the pins are inserted far enough to be solidly securable with the thumbscrews, the useful inside diameter at the tips of the pins is only a bit more than three inches. If the muscles and tissue on the calf or forearm to be secured are much larger than that, this device simply won’t fit or can’t be secured on the limb. Here’s my poor-quality photo showing those dimensions in action:
And now for testing! First, with a little help from my girl I put the Debilitator on the muscles of my forearm just below the elbow. I am not a masochist and I do not particularly enjoy pain, so from my perspective, by the time the pins were tight enough to hold the device in place, it was already somewhat painful, though completely tolerable. And at that level of adjustment, my muscle movement was not constrained. I could move the limb quite easily, which slightly increased the pain from the pins but not enough to substantially deter the motion.
So we tightened the pins. We tightened them as tightly as I (the pain wimp) could tolerate, until they were pressing deeply into my (admittedly doughy) flesh. That hurt. Then I tried moving the limb. When the muscle flexed, the pain shifted a bit in location, but didn’t substantially increase in amount. And the muscle still wasn’t physically constrained from motion.
Thus, on me, the Debilitator simply did not work as a restraint. It was just a thing that hurt, whether or not I moved.
So we tried it on my girl. The effect on her was similar, except that she handles pain a lot better, so we were able to tighten the pins much more tightly. But she still didn’t find that her mobility was very affected. We set the Debilitator quite painfully tight on her body, but she could still move the affected limb readily, as long as she was willing to accept that it hurt.
Our evaluation: the Debilitator is definitely a pain control device rather than a physical restraint. And its effectiveness as a pain control device is tricky to evaluate, because it depends on the wearer’s responses to the pain differential between the pain levels of “device securely on limb” and “device on limb with muscle flexing”. We found that differential to be less than we anticipated. For The Debilitator to really work, there’d be a a sharp contrast between the pain in a constrained limb at rest and a constrained limb in attempted motion. Instead, we found the contrast to be quite modest.
Having said all that, it’s important to note that we may simply not have been applying or using the device as its designers intended. The device shipped (as is often the case with BDSM toys) without any instructions for use, or even for assembly; indeed there was no paperwork in my box whatsoever. It’s possible there’s a better way to fit the device on a limb, or to set the tension of the pins to achieve a truer immobilizing effect. It’s also possible — even likely — that people in better physical shape (with muscle groups more tight and dense than ours) would experience the toy differently.
Thanks again to Sex And Metal for sending along our Debilitators! We had fun trying them out and they are attractive metal toys with lots of shiny pointy parts. I can easily imagine them being fun to use (and show off) at play parties and in various games where a bit of pain and muscular restriction is fun, but where true immobilization is not vital (or necessarily even desired). We did not find them to be implacable restraints, but nifty metallic fetish objects? Definitely!