My first real foray into kink was when I stumbled across the Sleeping Beauty series by Anne Rice. I must have been 19 or 20 years old.
My wildly inexperienced but ferociously sexually curious self had never encountered such explicit material before. This wasn’t my mother’s romance novels. This was masochism and group sex and living inside of BDSM 24/7 and pony play and anal play and all manner of public humiliation*.
I never would have had the words for what I was reading back then.
I don’t remember much about that first pass through the books other than feeling really turned on by some of the Dominance play, some of the group sex scenes, and even by some of the public displays of sexuality. But as things got more intense, as the ante was upped in the final book, I know I hit some kind of disgust because I never finished the story.
Kinky wasn’t a word I knew or understood back then. But it was clear that the sex acts in that story were unlike anything else in my world at the time, and that was intriguing. To know such things were even possible as fantasy blew my mind.
Fast forward to a few years ago when I re-read the series. Things that seemed totally foreign and horribly embarrassing to my younger self have now become things I’ve done, enjoyed, or witnessed as part of my sexual journey.
Now I can appreciate the delicious bite of rope, the thrill of being told what to do, the surprising normalcy of being naked in public, and much more.
But that’s my journey, and the beauty of sexual expression is your sexual journey doesn’t have to look anything like mine and it can still be deliciously, beautifully pleasurable and valid. There is no one way of doing sex, of living out fantasies, of keeping things fresh and new.
If that’s true…if there is no one way of doing sex, then what does it mean to be kinky?
Google defines kinky as “involving or given to unusual sexual behavior.”
But what is unusual to me and what is unusual to you are probably different.
For some people, missionary penis-in-vagina sex is highly unusual (in fact, this is a serious kink for some folks because it is so unusual to them). For others, it might be unusual to have their toes sucked on or to have sex in the backseat of a car at the beach or to sexualize needles.
Kink is simply activities that are edgy for you. This broad, fluid definition allows each of us to have our own personal experiences with sex and kink instead of labeling only certain activities as either kinky or vanilla.
Unfortunately, the term vanilla has taken on a somewhat negative or boring connotation. The truth is vanilla is delicious and, depending on what kinds of things you enjoy, vanilla may appear on your menu more or less often than some others.
Most people define vanilla sex as traditional, penis-in-vagina sex, often encompassing a handful of basic positions. But if we apply a similar lens to vanilla that we did to kinky, then instead we might say vanilla sex is the kind of sex that you usually have, that feels normal to you.
Your normal may vary greatly from someone else’s normal.
Kinky is a gigantic umbrella, the vastness of which most of us can’t comprehend.
Needle play. Age play. Impact play. Bodily fluid play. Role playing. Pain play. Sensory deprivation. Public play. Blood letting. Branding. Leather. Sacred sensuality. Humiliation. Worship. Denial. Literally, the list is endless.
That said, often when people are talking about kinky activities, there is a general assumption that you’re probably talking about things like bondage/restraints, Dominance and submission (or power exchange), impact and sensation play like flogging or spanking or temperature, public or group sex, and the community associated with such activities.
And speaking of community, it’s worth mentioning here that there are many communities within kink that have decades of history and protocol that some people consider a core part of their identity.
Many gay, lesbian, and queer folks have found acceptance and family within the leather community. Many people who realized monogamy wasn’t a good fit sought solace in the swinging and poly communities. Many individuals who have complex relationships with their bodies have discovered deep, emotional healing in masochism or other kinds of pain.
Kinky is a personal definition, and one that’s a lot more fluid than some older resources would have you believe. But I also want to take a moment to honor and pay respect to the safe havens that many kinky spaces have offered to marginalized folks over the years.
*steps off soap box*
OK. Back to your regularly scheduled post…so, if kinky sex is sex that is unusual or out of the ordinary, the question is should you try it?
My answer is wonderfully biased and that is a resounding yes.
If you get to define what kinky means to you and your partner(s), then kinky sex means playing with your edges, exploring new things, trying on new identities and fantasies. That kind of playfulness and curiosity will only set you up for a lifetime of interesting and engaging sex.
Of course, anytime you try something new, there are a few basic ground rules that will help set you up for success, even if the act itself is a miserable failure (and that is a perfect opportunity to come together, too).
First up, make sure you and the person you’re playing with both truly want to engage in the activity in question. Let’s say you want to try some rope bondage. It cannot be overstated how important it is for you to allow your partner to choose this for themselves, too. No coercion, no manipulating, just good ol’ fashioned discussions about wants, needs, boundaries, and feelings.
That’s not say you will always be comfortable with what you’re about to do.
Discomfort is natural for new risks, and in fact, you may be trying something that is intentionally awkward, scary, humiliating, painful, or shameful. That can be part of the fun. Being informed and choosing something doesn’t mean it’s comfortable. Play with that edge a little bit. You might be surprised what you find.
Second, safe words are important for a number of reasons, especially if you’re engaging in something potentially dangerous (danger can be physical, emotional, or psychological – you may not be in physical danger during a Dominance/submission scene, but you may be in psychological danger if something triggers or upsets you). Safe words are typically very easy to remember, very easy to say, and decided well in advance of your scene.
Simplicity is important because often when you start doing things that lead to altered states of consciousness, your brain begins to turn off (this can be a yummy, delicious place to be). Remembering and articulating “arachnophobia” may be difficult. The person in the position of giving or topping also needs to be able to understand the word easily.
That’s why some folks like the red, yellow, green method which equates to stop, slow down, and I’m good. Others like plain language and simply saying “please stop” or “slow down”, but depending on the roles you’re playing, this can be confusing.
Finally, do your homework. Some kinky activities are learned skills that can take years to master such as suspension techniques with rope, needle play, or whipping. There are places in most major cities that offer 101 classes and demonstrations. You can find mentors, watch videos, and read books. Safety should always be your number one concern followed by a sense of playfulness and curiosity.
Sometimes people get hurt. This is true of any kind of sexual activity, even the “traditional” kind (I know I’ve knocked my head or stubbed a toe during vigorous sex).
If you’re playing with someone you trust, give them the benefit of the doubt that they didn’t intend harm, but also be clear about asking for what you need to feel safe – that can be stopping a scene, asking for cuddles, or any number of other things.
Kinky sex doesn’t have to be extreme, it won’t ruin “normal” sex, and it doesn’t lead down a rabbit hole of sin and transgression.
Often people jump to the most extreme case when they hear someone say they want to try something kinky. But bondage can be a blindfold and a silk scarf lightly wrapped around your wrists. Sensation play can be an ice cube trailing down the skin of your lover or a feather tickling the inside of their elbow.
And yes, you may have a riding crop which can be a stingy, incredibly painful tool. But who is to say you can’t use the the tip of the riding crop to gently spell out words of love and devotion across your partner’s back? Who is to say that scary knife some people may use to cut flesh can’t simply be used for the coolness of the blade or for an implied threat that never actually touches skin?
Kinky activities can be as innocent and sweet or as dark and intense as YOU decide them to be.
In fact, many people experience kinky sex as sacred, transcendent, and healing. It can be a place to shed the day-to-day and experience your body in a way that is primal, connected, and totally present.
I know that when I receive a flogging, it’s like a sensual massage – every inch of my body is tingly and alive, I’m breathing and connecting with my top, the sensation is flowing through me, and I become utterly relaxed. As someone who is chronically stressed and anxious and in control, surrendering and receiving so deeply is freeing in a way I don’t have words for.
Kinky sex offers many, many tools for your sexual toolbox. And the point of having a diverse, well-stocked toolbox isn’t to use all of the tools all of the time at maximum strength, or to use one tool over and over again to the point of complete boredom, but so that you have many options for the myriad of situations you may find yourself in throughout your lifetime.
The tools you use on a day when you’re stressed and tense will likely be different than the tools you use on a day when you feel languid and sleepy.
Yes, some people organize their entire lives around their kink. Still others dabble in their version of kink once in a blue moon.
Like all things sex and relationships, kink is but a spectrum and you get to decide how and when and to what degree you’d like to use it.
What is something kinky you’ve been curious about trying? What would you like to know more about?
Comment below and I’ll create some blog posts or videos just for you.
Edited to add this link. This does go to playboy.com, but the video is not racy or sexual and it is REALLY terrific advice about doing kinky stuff safely.[callout title=”Work with me” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/work-with-me/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]Want to explore what kinky means to you? Need help talking to a partner about your desires? [/callout]
*For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, the Sleeping Beauty series are erotic BDSM novels that includes sexual servitude, Dominance, submission, group sex, pony play, public humiliation, forced sex, punishment, and much more.