Oh Pipedream… we need to talk about your usage of “silk”. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.Pipedream silk rope?

Silk is a natural protein fibre, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The protein fibre of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoons. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity (sericulture).

[…] Silk production also occurs in Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, and ants), silverfish, mayflies, thrips, leafhoppers, beetles, lacewings, fleas, flies, and midges. Other types of arthropod produce silk, most notable the various arachnids such as spiders (see spider silk).

— Wikipedia

See that, Pipedream? You know what that is? That’s the definition of silk. Notice what’s not mentioned there? Cotton. Nylon. Polyester. This is because silk is a noun, not a adjective. Don’t believe me? Here let the fine folk of Merriam Webster weigh in on the matter:

Silknoun, often attributive

1: a fine continuous protein fiber produced by various insect larvae usually for cocoons; especially: a lustrous tough elastic fiber produced by silkworms and used for textiles

2: thread, yarn, or fabric made from silk filaments

Got it? Noun. Not a adjective. Not a general descriptor. I believe that the word you have been meaning to use on your packaging is silky or perhaps soft, or maybe satiny. But silk? Yeah, no. See the little part on your site (and conveniently absent from much of your packaging) where you say that the content is cotton or polyester on something labeled as “Silk Bondage Rope“?

Yeah that’s where you’ve got a problem. Either it’s silk or it’s cotton/polyester/satin or whatever. Don’t even get me started on the whole satin[1] thing. The products you’ve had the gall to label as Japanese silk? That’s just a nice little muddy mess you’ve made there of the traditionally sought after Chinese silk and Japanese rope bondage. Good job. I suppose I should give credit- at least the packages don’t say “oriental”.

Japanese? Silk? Really?Some bondage folk will poo-poo synthetic rope, but you know what- I have no problem with you making polyester rope there Pipedream. Go for it. It’s inexpensive, it’s usually pre-tied bedroom bondage, and it’s often bought as a gag-gift for bachelor and/or bachelorette parties. I won’t fault you there.

Cotton rope also has it’s place. It’s great for crotch lines and bondage that you intent to cut off in the course of the scene. It’s nice for folk who want to try bondage and aren’t ready to invest in high-quality rope. It’s great for water bondage. I know a lot of avid bondage folk who make good use of cotton rope on a regular basis. It’s cool with me.

But for the folk who are looking for actual silk rope? Your mislabeling is misleading and that’s not cool with me in the least. It makes the jobs of sex-store employees harder than it ought to be, as we try to explain to customers that no- this isn’t silk even though it says “silk” on the box, and they look at us like we’re trying to con them somehow. If anyone is trying to con customers here, it’s certainly not those of us on the sales floor.

Silk rope exists. As does bamboo, silk-bamboo blends, extra-soft hemp, even alpaca. All sorts of exotics beyond the traditional hemp, jute, and sisal, are available these days. There’s even rope that conductive for electrical play! People like all kinds of different fibres for ropes for different purposes. Everything feels different, and everyone likes different sensations. This is one of the wonderful things about people.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a disappointed customer who ended up with this stuff, expecting actual silk. Sure they probably should have known it wasn’t really silk given how little they paid for it, but at the same time it does say silk (or “Japanese silk”) on the packaging. Shouldn’t what’s in the package be reflected by how it’s labeled? I seem to recall something about false advertising and all that… Oh, right, we’re dealing with an industry that is completely un-regulated when it comes to materials safety and identification.

Maybe it’s time we did something about that?


  1. Satin is a weave, which can be made out of almost any fibre. I’d bet that given the pricepoint and that Pipedream doesn’t disclose the fibre content, that it’s polyester or nylon and not silk. []
  • Come Heather

    I don’t imagine real silk rope would feel *silky* if it was woven for bondage! Leave it to this nasty company to commit fiber-naming trespasses!

  • Darcy

    You go, Lorax!

    While I can and do subscribe to the *idea* that dictionaries are intended *by lexicographers* to be DEscriptive rather than PREscriptive, the fact is they are frequently used “in the wild” to determine correct usage (Man, you turn a book loose and you don’t know what someone’s gonna do with it! Hey – like sex toys. :_)

    And I’m sure deceitful vendors are thrilled by a pedantic defense of their deliberate misuse of words. A seller who uses arcane or purposefully ambiguous meanings for easy words like “silk,” is simply being duplicitous – and they deserve a public rebuke.

    Unlike lexicographers, government entities charged with protecting consumers *should* prevent unscrupulous manufacturers from intentionally misleading buyers who are reading plain English and believing ordinary usage should be adequate to conduct everyday business.

    A silk purse should be made of silk, not a sow’s ear (or tofu).

  • THL

    I’ve afraid your understandings of how dictionaries work is a bit backwards — dictionaries are an observed analysis of how regular people have used words in the past and listed in order of most-frequently used in which way, not an official rulebook how how a word is allowed to be used..

    Lexicographers pore over magazines, newspapers, and such, to record how often a word occurs and make tick-marks of the meaning observed by context that the writer meant those words to mean, and then add that list of statistics from research of other lexicographers, to form the evidence behind which dictionaries rest.. similar to how you can search hashtags on Twitter. The hashtag results don’t limit the way hashtags are permitted to be used, but just list ways in which hashtags *were* used previously by others, and that’s what a dictionary is..

    To say “silk” is only allowed to be a noun, based on a dictionary entry, is precisely backwards — words mean what users of words mean them to mean — a dictionary is simply a means of assisting an observer of a word being used, in trying to figure out what someone else meant, by offering a list of the most common ways others have used that word just by example.. so.. prescriptivism vs descriptivism =)

    • Your logic does not make sense. By this token I could theoretically feed you a dinner of “tofu”, except it’s actually pork. But since *I* call it tofu, it’s therefore tofu. But it’s not.

      In a more applicable medium, this is akin to sex-toy manufacturers labelling their products as “silicone when they are in fact made of TPR, TPE, PVC, rubber, elastomers, a blend of things, or other materials. Silicone is an actual material with actual sought-after properties which are not shared by these alternate materials. Some of these other materials can be harmful or toxic to our bodies, where silicone is not. Just because a company says their product is silicone does not make it so.

      Back to silk- if you go to a store and purchase a silk garment, you are expecting that garment to be made of the fibre produced by silkworms. If you were to get home and fibre test the garment to discover it is indeed not silk, but rather a cotton-poly blend, rayon, nylon, or some other non-silk material, you would (I’m assuming, because I know I would) be rather irate and go back to the store to complain about this mislabeling and false advertising.

      So while yes, words do change in the vernacular over time (let’s not even get started on how the term “gay” has become equivalent to “stupid” in modern culture) but that doesn’t mean that their “new meaning” is right or should be perpetuated. I stand by my complaint.

      • THL

        My “logic” is moreso made up of research and evidence, rather than an “attempt to reason a point” without evidence. You are attempting to reason it without evidence, which is enough for most people who are largely uninterested in the truth.

        Each and every word you use in the world, in your every day life, is a vote toward what dictionaries describe the meaning of a word to be. If you decided to call a pork dinner “tofu” and enough people started doing so, inspired by your efforts, eventually dictionaries would list “pork dinner” as an alternate meaning of tofu. If the majority of people started using tofu to describe pork dinners, dictionaries would list all other meanings as alternates. That’s how dictionaries are made.

        Dictionaries list the most frequent ways ordinary *people* use words, not what words *mean* in a right/wrong sense. I used to believe as you describe, but in my interest in the origins of words and dictionaries (alongside an English degree), I discovered what I am telling you now. It is definitely a very widespread misconception, that has no evidence to back it up.

        You would be at complete liberty to go back to a store and complain that a silk garment were not made of the silk you believed “silk” to refer, but it is similarly at complete liberty for a company to refer to something as silk, despite not being of the material commonly associated with silk — because silk is also used, with notable frequency, as an adjective describing texture (similar to smooth). False advertising is a pretty tough accusation to prove on the basis of vocabulary, and most companies would just refund and change the packaging than to argue the point, but the evidence rests to the overt contrary.

        “Green” for instance, is both used as a color, as well as a quality when describing firewood. If firewood is green, it will not burn well and may put out a lot of fumes. A sale for “green firewood” does not necessarily suggest the wood has a green color to it, although possible. Similarly, a silk tie need not necessarily be made of silk, but instead possess a silken *feel* to it, where as the phrase “silk tie” is not always used to refer to “tie made of silk” but also, “tie with a texture like silk.” A silk rope, similarly, merely need to feel smooth or silk-like, in order to be eligible for the ‘silk rope’ moniker in that silk were used as an adjective describing texture, rather than material of which the rope is comprised.

        Your complain remains invalid, in the historical sense of language. Every word you currently know and ever will know, was invented by an individual or small cluster of individuals that used the word in the way you associate it, and the idea caught on and was used in those patterns thenceforth onward. (Every. Single. Word.) To suggest that one word or another does not follow this pattern is utter and complete nonsense.

        A dictionary is a tool to assist with the research into what someone else MIGHT HAVE meant, when it is impossible or otherwise impractical to ask them directly to rephrase it or clarify directly. Dictionaries list the ways people use a word, in order of the most frequent ways first. If I were a foreigner and heard someone say, “Jennifer is feeling blue,” but had never heard someone say that before, I could use an English dictionary to see what they might have actually meant instead of the color, because the color idea doesn’t make sense. I could look up blue to discover that, while most people use “blue” to describe the color, there is also a significant number of people that also use blue to describe the emotion, which would make more sense.

        Dictionary research teams, which are lexicographers, examine newspapers, magazines and otherwise print and published media, to extract which words are used and how those word-users appear to have used those words by context, and compile that data into the body of their research. The Oxford English Dictionary, as you may hear about in the news, releases approximately yearly “new words” that appear in the dictionary — not because they are saying these “new words” are now acceptable, but that they are “new” in the sense that their use out in the world has reached the threshold at which the publisher has determined as “frequent enough” to be included in the list. They can’t list every known meaning, because the dictionary would be a mile thick — they must set an arbitrary threshold at which a word is used out in the real word in a high enough frequency to justify its inclusion to their esteemed list. The release of a “new” word indicates that the word has appear frequent enough in their research to be included in the dictionary, and the way that the word has been observed to have been used. If, in the next year, the way people use that word changes and that new meaning is more frequently used than the previous edition had been, then the listed definition also changes. When a word gains a newer or more-frequently used meaning, the word new meaning is described lightheartedly as a “corruption” — as if the original way people used it had any bearing whatsoever.

        To suggest that a dictionary lists a word in only the ways in which a word is ALLOWED to be used, demonstrates a misunderstanding of how dictionaries even work in the first place. I suspect some of that belief comes from the use of a dictionary for other purposes for which dictionaries are not designed, such as a word bank for playing Scrabble, where only the words therein may be playable in the game and words not listed are not eligible for play.

        Your article above’s use of a dictionary is akin to having always used a spoon as a musical instrument and never as an eating utensil, and then attempting to suggest spoons are actually just musical instruments and nothing else, when actually, spoon manufacturers design and produce spoons largely for the purpose as an eating utensil. Asking a spoon manufacturer is how you discover the intended use of spoons — likewise researching into what dictionary publishers are actually doing with words when they made a dictionary offers far better insight into what you’ve long, but erroneously, believed dictionaries to be designed for. The pronunciation of “ask” as “aks” is also not a matter of correctness — it has been pronounced “aks” for as long as the word has been in existence and people who insist “ask” is the only pronunciation haven’t got a leg to stand on if they do any research on it.

        Those who decry “gay” as incorrectly meaning “stupid” are possibly among the biggest hypocrites around — because homosexual-gay itself hijacked happy-gay in the first place. If stupid must no longer be used, then homosexual must also no longer be used since they are BOTH hijackers of the word gay. To protest that homosexual-gay has been hijacked seems to completely ignore the fact that itself, is the identical crime of hijacking.

        The dashboard of an automobile, for instance, comes from the board that a stagecoach driver rests his feet on, that blocks mud from the hooves of the horse team pulling the stagecoach whenever they “dash” mud up toward the driver. The dashboard blocks the mud from hitting the driver, a little like a tire flap on a freight truck. The dashboard, nowadays, however, is often used to describe the shelf-like structure between the instrument panel and the front windshield of an automobile — but “dashboard” is not an accurate way to describe that structure, if we were going by your rules — it would need to have its own name to eliminate the confusion, but nonetheless, that’s what the structure is called, and that’s what dictionaries list as the most-used intended meaning people use when they use “dashboard.”

        • Oh God, I spent all day without reading a boring, long-winded response by someone who misses the point but NOW I can rest easy. Thanks THL. You rock!

  • Someone had to say it!

  • Pixel

    Yeah…this is totally a pet peeve of mine. I’ve been tied up in silk rope. It’s *amazing*. Soft, has a great ‘grip’, and is so strong. This rope…not so much so. It’s an ok texture, but wow, it is not what they are advertising.

  • AHA. I did not realize how often they misused this word until I read this.

    • Ayup. It’s like their favourite thing to do it seems. If it’s rope, they call it silk, regardless of what it’s made of. Fuckers.

      • That’s pretty stupid considering it’s obviously not silk. I don’t know a thing about fabric and I figured out it wasn’t silk.

        • Especially on the polyester stuff. I just don’t even.

  • yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. I’ve never been friends with pipedream, but I hate them a little more every time that someone asks me about the silk rope and I have to tell them it’s cotton. “Sorry, they’re lying to you” thankfully, it says cotton right on the back, and I’m willing to show people the obviously not silk rope out of the box to prove it. It’s really really hard to get across to people that any company that sells items that say “Sold as a Novelty Only” on their packaging is likely lying about something, passing off an unsafe toy as something you can use, or trying to make you think it’s better than it is. People just don’t get it, and always want to believe the obviously moral and well-meaning company. Then the inevitable “Well, why do you sell it if that’s the case?” and it makes me want to yell. One day, Elspeth, one day I’ll open my own store and never sell pipedream crap to anyone. /rant

    • Yup. I really want to be able to just stop carrying a LOT of things, because of that exact “why do you carry it, then?” question.