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The Vanilla Guide to All Things Kink — Part One


Believe it or not, you don’t even need to have the terminology down to indulge in kink.

There comes a time in everyone’s sexual education (and search history) when one must eventually encounter and confront the big, wide world of kink. Pop culture might lead you to believe that kinky sex is all about cock and ball torture, extreme bondage, diaper play, and weird, off-the-wall fetishes, but we’re here to tell you — kink is a lot more common than you think.

So… what is kink?

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Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

          The word ‘kinky’ is an adjective in its own right. It’s also a verb. Outside of a sexual context, you say something is kinky when you are describing something curled or twisted — in other words, not straight and narrow. When it’s a verb, it means to bend or twist.

What does kink mean sexually? Within sexual context, kinky refers to any sexual behavior or practice that deviates from the convention. ‘Convention’ here refers to the picture of heterosexual, monogamous, conservative, or ordinary, plain Jane, ‘vanilla’ sex.

If you think that definition’s too broad, that’s because what falls under the umbrella of kinky sex runs the gamut. From voyeurism and group sex to roleplaying and fantasizing about tentacles, kinky sex is both as weird as you can imagine to so mainstream, you’d argue it’s white ice cream.

What sex act qualifies as kinky?

Gay sex, group sex, anal sex, using sex toys, scratching, biting, pain… even if those things don’t seem of unconventional sexual taste to you, what’s considered kinky is very subjective and varies from person to person. Different cultures have different social conventions, so your ‘taboo’ kink will look very different from somebody else’s.

Another thing is that deriving sexual pleasure from kink can be tied to its mental aspect. Performing a sex act on a dominant partner that you view as an authority figure can feel very different from doing sexual things with a perceived submissive partner. This kind of thing is a common theme in both age play and consensual power exchange.

How old is kink?

Kink is as old as sex. Any ancient culture out there that still has traces and remnants surviving to this day cared about sex culture in much the same way that maybe you and I do. From the 9th century Khajuraho temples of the Chandela dynasty to the richly recorded sex parties and practices of the ancient Greeks.

 Archaeologists constantly find ‘fertility’ statues, erotic figurines, and even tools that might have been sex toys on digs and excavations. There are also preserved texts and erotica depicting kinky encounters and illustrations of sex scenes — from the 3rd century Kama Sutra to the even older Turin Erotic Papyrus.

As for modern kink, some people attribute it to the pinup culture of the 1950s. Bettie Page was considered the first BDSM model, featured in photoshoots and short films that portrayed what we now call BDSM sex scenes. This was followed by the massive sexual revolution of the 1960s that forever changed the way media approached and presented sex.

Bettie Paige, photographed by Irving Klaw, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

How many people are into kink?

More people than you realize probably are into kink.

EdenFantasys is an almost twenty-year-old adult store and pleasure sex toy brand. A study they commissioned back in 2018 surveyed at least 2000 American men and women for some cool stats about sexual behaviors and perceived or reported interest in kink and sex toy use.

Some of the results: 40% claiming to be kinky, 37% having had kinky experiences, and 36% possessing a specific kink or fetish. 29% wanted to try anal sex, 24% reported some level of interest in Role Play, 22% wanted to try bondage, and 8% were interested in S&M.

On the other hand, this Canadian survey published in 2016 looking at ‘desire for and experience of paraphilic behaviors‘ found that nearly 60% of men and 47% women respondents (out of a population of 1040 surveyed) derives sexual Pleasure from or at least fantasized about dominating or being dominated sexually.

But you don’t actually need surveys to tell you that enjoying kink or having unconventional sexual taste is pretty common even in the general population. Japan has an incredibly developed fetish and pleasure culture. It’s the home of Shibari, a form of advanced rope bondage widely considered a sophisticated art form. And their many variations of literature and pornography — from short films and movies to manga and anime — are popular and consumed worldwide.

What does “That’s my kink” mean?

If you’ve ever heard anyone say, ‘that’s my kink,’ it just means that they know what they like, sexually. It doesn’t even necessarily mean that they only do kinky sex all the time. ‘Having kinks’ just means someone has researched or is at least aware of what unusual thing they like to do in bed. It can either be weird because it’s unusual or unusual because they like something normal so much it becomes weird.

Take, for example, feet. Feet are very normal body parts. Most people have them; everyone knows what they are. It’s actually one of the most common fetishes you can have. But people who do have foot fetishes might be aroused by or derive sexual Pleasure from just looking at feet, and enjoying themselves in bed could involve incorporating foot massages, footjobs, or foot worship.

Are fetishes the same as kinks?

What’s the difference between a kink and a fetish? Kinks are sexual things you do, and fetishes are sexual things you like. For example, someone who likes the look of nylon stockings or pantyhose can develop a nylon fetish.

By definition, all fetishes are kinks — as in they are considered nonconventional sexual stuff— but not all kinks are fetishes. For example, spanking in bed (impact play), sexy librarian (roleplay), risky sex (exhibitionism, voyeurism), or blindfolds (sensation play) — these are all kinks you might find in ‘vanilla’ sex.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

What does it mean when a girl is kinky?

Well, if you’re interested in her, it just means you’ve got to broaden your horizons. I’m speaking from personal experience here, but kink is by no means one size fits all. Two different people will have two different life experiences and, therefore, interests and favorite activities in bed.

There’s no way to guess what someone’s into, no matter how experienced they are. So, don’t feel bad if someone you didn’t expect has more than a few kinks between the sheets. The key to good sex and better relationships is always clear communication. Ask them what they like. Tell them what you like. Talk about how to make things more comfortable for everyone involved.

The worst thing you can do is pretend to be experienced and assume your partner’s kinks. Surprises aren’t always enjoyable (or) safe when it comes to having sex.

What does having a kink say about me?

What does it mean if you have kinks? Nothing bad. Preferences and interests are normal to have, inside and out of sex. At the end of the day, whether it’s vanilla or kinky sex, pain or Pleasure, sexual arousal is triggered by stimulation — and our brain sometimes doesn’t discriminate about the associations it makes.

Everyone has fantasies. Your fantasies come from your desires. Your desires can come from what feels good. And it’s natural to look for gratification.

However, the thing with your brain is that it likes to take scenic detours. Even if the starting point and destination remain the same. That’s why some kinks seem ironic at first glance unless you uncover the motivations behind them. Someone who likes to be submissive in bed, for example, might be looking for a sense of control they don’t find in their work or social life.

Another example is watersports. If you’ve never heard of a golden shower, it’s part of urolagnia — a sexual fetish involving pee. In fact, it was voted one of the most common sexual fetishes in Britain. One reason this could be is that everything that happens in the bathroom is considered private and personal. Exploring the thrill of a taboo is very common in kinky sex.

What are kinks in a relationship?

‘Kinks in a relationship’ means ‘stuff to work out.’ Sexually or otherwise. Every relationship takes work, and with sex and intimacy in the mix, there will always be logistics to work out. It doesn’t end at ‘your place or my place.’ Cuddling, or no cuddling? Who gets the wet spot? Kissing after oral sex — yes, or no?

Spontaneity can be great, and sometimes, there’s just no helping chemistry. But if you or your partners are interested in exploring kink, always remember — the golden rule is consent. Specifically, informed consent.

How do I talk to my partner about my kinks?

Gay couple sit in bed to talk about kink
People photo created by tirachardz –

The most important thing is to speak as honestly and as simply as you can. Especially when it comes to intimacy.

First, pick an appropriate moment to start the dialogue. Don’t do it when you’re about to have sex and hormones are high. Find a common time and a private place where you can talk to each other comfortably.

Second, don’t use big terms, overly complicated definitions, or new words if you think that would confuse your partner. You can even use real-life examples. Try saying, ‘Last time we had sex, I really liked when you ___. I think I would enjoy more ___ in bed.”

Finally, be clear about rules. Soft limits, hard limits, safe words. Even if you and your partner have agreed to try out a certain kink, you might still have very different ideas about how far to take it or how much you can handle.

Even if you think spanking is harmless, catching someone unawares can, at best, kill the mood, and at worst, cause pain and injury. The same goes for bondage. Whatever you’re attempting, it’s good to do research. Bonus points if you can google safety tips in advance.

Is kink bad? Am I dirty for liking kink?

Kink isn’t inherently bad. Kinks are normal. Kinks can be compelling ideas, fixations, or fantasies, or even just extensions of your comfort zone. If you’re used to being told what to do in real life, maybe being told what to do in bed can make an exciting situation like sex feel less stressful (and, therefore, more pleasurable).

But is kink dirty? It can be… if you want it to be. All things taboo and ‘forbidden’ is a pretty common kink to have. During sex with a partner, you can trust and be vulnerable around can sometimes be the safest place to explore a fascination for the taboo.

Can you mention that you’re kinky on dating apps?

Absolutely! At the end of the day, what information you put on your profile is up to you. You don’t have to list all your fetishes one by one (unless you think that would get you the results you want). You can put it succinctly with ‘kink friendly’ or ‘kinkster’ or ‘open to kinks’ anywhere on your bio.

But unless you already have a partner, dating apps might be a good place to bond and connect with people who share the same kinks as you.

What kinks are considered common?

According to this survey from the kink dating app Foxtail, the ‘most practiced kink’ during COVID lockdown was virtual sex.

Virtual sex encompasses phone sex, cybersex, and even sexting. That makes sense, considering the separation quarantine created plus the increasing sophistication of apps and social media. Therefore, it’s not surprising that people might discover themselves able to derive more Pleasure from virtual sex acts than solo masturbation.

What are other common kinks? The rest of the top ten included dom/sub, orgasm control, bondage, anal play, foot fetish, role play, voyeurism, and pain, or sadism/masochism.

Ever heard of those before?

How do you know what your own kinks are?

There are quizzes online if you’re into that sort of thing. But really, the best way to find out about your sexuality and what your kinks could be is to question your own exposure. Ask yourself. What activities do you enjoy in bed? Are there any sex acts that you love to ask your partner to do with you? What kind of porn do you gravitate towards? What sexual acts and fantasies do you think about when you masturbate?

Also, read, read, read. If a kink or a sexual term jumps out at you, there are plenty of great, free resources online that can help you figure out how you feel about something.

Can you ask someone else what their kinks are?

That depends on how close you are to that person. If yours is the kind of relationship where sex stuff and sexuality wouldn’t be out of the blue in a conversation, then go for it. But more conservative or private people might find it an awkward or invasive question, so calculate your risks accordingly.

Unless you’re at a sex party, maybe don’t ask strangers.

What is kink community culture?

Wine glasses being toasted at a party.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

What is kink culture? Kink is a big community — one made up of people who are practicing, learning about, studying, and most of all, celebrating every definition of kink. There’s a body of knowledge, different expressions of art, and a set of shared values. These are radical honesty, communication, enthusiastic consent, safety first, trust, risk awareness, body positivity… the list goes on. Kink is so big; it’s its own culture.

Kink culture encompasses everyone from furries and hardcore BDSM practitioners to the kind souls on the internet. They spend time conducting research, doing surveys, and writing books about their experiences with kink or what they’ve observed about kink. Other people hold parties. Some people plan conferences. Conventions, talks, meetings, and fun, low-pressure social gatherings to sex parties are hosted by and for people interested in kink.

The Kink Community holds plenty of kinky skills workshops. Some kinks, like edgeplay, choking or sensory deprivation, are riskier than others, and the community can help you figure out how to enjoy the things you enjoy safely and comfortably. If you’re into bondage, you can take advantage of a rope class, where you can learn the fundamentals of how to tie knots or what kind of materials (chains, ropes, etc.) are friendly to bare skin. People who like rough body play (RBP) or play fighting can join specialized fighting classes where they can teach you how to grapple or punch for stimulation and not damage.

What does it mean to be ‘kink positive’?

Calling yourself ‘kink positive’ is a short and sweet way to broadcast that you know what kinks are and that you’re open to discussing them. This term can be especially helpful on dating apps where bios have character limits.

Also, personally (this is my opinion), I think normalizing discussions around kink and sexuality is important because it’s so good for communication. Between partners, at the very least, talking about and exploring kinks together is a good way to ensure that everyone’s needs — physical or emotional — are being met in a sexual relationship.

Not to mention that knowing about kinks, specifically your own, is also a great way to be more you. Knowing what you like in bed means knowing what you want from relationships, and this can help adjust how you approach potential dates or sexual partners. Lots of people out there use kink as a way to bond and as a form of self-expression. Who knows? It could even be yours.

If you want to read more about kink, head on over to Pleasure Uncensored for more interesting reads about Fetish, BDSM, and relationships. And don’t be shy to leave your comments or questions below!

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