Despite popular myths, kink isn’t all about whips and chains, but rather how openly you’re willing to talk about the sex you’re having, says the sexpert of the dating industry and founder of Tailor Matched Asa Baav. She shares 3 things anyone can learn about sex, pleasure and communication from the kink community.
So often, we assume we know what’s on the standard/mainstream/vanilla sex script, yet rarely take the time to discover whether we actually like it.
Fear of not being “normal” (whatever that is) keeps many of us from exploring what really brings us pleasure.
But this isn’t the case in the kink community, where exploration is just another day at the dungeon (joking! There may or may not be a sex dungeon involved).
So what exactly is kink?
Merriam-Webster’s definition of kink is “unconventional sexual taste or behavior” and includes a wide variety of behaviors and preferences.
That includes BDSM (a subset of kink) which stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. Being tied up or handcuffed (bondage), spanked (discipline) and role-playing all fall under BDSM.
But far from being simply about whips and chains, kink goes so much deeper as Jay Wiseman, author of SM 101, hints in his definition of BDSM as, “the knowing use of psychological dominance and submission, and/or physical bondage, and/or pain, and/or related practices in a safe, legal, consensual manner in order for the participants to experience erotic arousal and/or personal growth.”
Did you notice the key words there? Safe. Legal. Consensual. All with the aim of upping the erotic arousal. Intrigued?
Here are 3 things everyone can learn about sex, pleasure and communication from the kink community:
Learn to negotiate for the best sex of your life
In the kink world, before starting a “scene” (a BDSM interaction), everyone involved sits down, fully clothed, and engages in a negotiation. This is an opportunity for people to express and determine:
- what to expect
- what they like
- what they don’t like
- how they want to feel
- what might be triggering for them (words, body parts, etc)
- how to indicate that they are not okay with what’s happening
- how to check in about whether they are still fully present enough to consent (see more on that below).
These questions require self-reflection – which is sometimes the most edgy part of this whole process, especially for those of us on the mainstream side.
Negotiation means understanding what qualifies as good sex for you. Maybe you get off on feeling powerful/less and so need to have conversations about that with your partner/s to understand if your sexual preferences are compatible.
One of the most useful pieces of advice I’ve heard is not just negotiating what’s going on but negotiating what things mean. You can say to a lover, ‘I want you to tie me up,’ but what does that look like? Do you like silk ribbons or chains? Are we talking feet and hands, or the whole body? Go deeper to understand who, where, how and why you want what you want so you can communicate your desires clearly.
Let’s talk fantasies
Talking about fantasies is another way that kinksters (as people who enjoy things on the kinky side sometimes call themselves) discover what a partner might want to do.
Sometimes discussing specific acts can feel awkward or difficult to explain. But when you start with fantasies, you can get a much better picture of how you or your partner want to feel. Then it becomes a question of whether you want to turn your fantasy into reality and potentially make that feeling happen.
Here’s the really important lesson when it comes to communicating about fantasies: For kinksters, it’s not simply about ensuring everyone involved is comfortable and consenting; it’s about feeling empowered in asking for what you want out of sex — without being shamed for it — so you can have the sex you want to have with the people you want to have it with.
We’ve all heard of “no means no,” but because kink can be risky, covers a broad spectrum of activities, and can push comfort limits, those who practice it don’t just assume someone will be okay with a certain act just because they haven’t said ‘no’.
Therefore the gold standard when it comes to consent is something called “enthusiastic consent”. This means you’re looking for signs that your partner is all in, and as excited to be there as you are.
The kink community takes this a step further by creating systems so people can indicate that they’re no longer having a great time, such as:
Safewords: These are words determined in the negotiation phase that indicate that a person no longer consents. This is great in any sexual encounter, but especially important in a scene where saying “no” or “stop” is part of what both partners agree will happen as part of the interaction.
Stoplight system: If a partner is doing something that doesn’t feel right and you want them to slow down but don’t want to bring the sexual encounter to a complete halt, a lot of people will use the words “yellow” and “red” to indicate “slow down” and “stop”.
Checking in: People have different kinds of baggage around sex, and sometimes people check out or dissociate in the middle. In SM 101, Jay Wiseman suggests predetermining a system where one person squeezes the other’s hand twice to ask “are you still present? Are you okay?” Two squeezes in return means “yes, I’m still here, I’m good to go.”
Here’s the really important lesson when it comes to consent: it’s an ongoing process.
It’s ok to arrange a hot liason on a Tuesday yet have no interest in it by Wednesday.
It’s ok to be getting hot and heavy in the bar, but by the time you get to the bedroom have lost your turn-on and want to hold hands instead.
It’s ok to be naked and in the middle of a sex act and decide you’d rather not continue.
None of these scenarios obligates you (or your partner) to do something sexual that you (or they) don’t want to do.
Whatever the case, it’s important to have a space carved out for consent – you’re allowed to say you’re not in the mood without being shamed or punished for it.
For more turn-on and pleasure, my advice is to learn from the kink community and talk about sex before sex, talk about sex during sex, and talk about sex after sex.
Asa Baav is founder of Tailor Matched, offline dating for the wild at heart. She’s on a mission to take our dating and sex lives off the screen and back out into the world where they belong. Find out more tailormatched.com
Hello, I’m Kitten E, Editor of the KK blog and Social and Content Manager for the Group. I’m passionate about educating people about sex in order to remove stigmas and judgment. Want to write for KK? Drop us an email