What is Kink?
Kink is best summarized as a scenario, fantasy, or action that allows you to push back against your boundaries and explore them. Sexual acts are actually not foundational to kink, but fantasies or power dynamics that facilitate pleasure are, which may or may not include sexual situations. This means that people who are ace, or asexual, also can and do participate in kink. There are many different ways to explore kink and incorporate it into your life. Kink is often generalized and used to describe sexual acts that deviate from cis, hetero, p-i-v, missionnary sex. This just scratches the surface of what kinkiness can be.
Consent and Kink
Another common misconception of kink is that it means rough sex, whereas consent and communication are actually foundational to kink experiences. Though conversations around sex and depictions in the media have become less stigmatized over time, the focus of our culture remains on heteronormative sex and sexual situations. Regardless of if you partake, everyone understands the ‘societal scripts’ surrounding this kind of sex, of the first through fourth bases, how the progression through those often goes, and the social and emotional connotations of the act. In kink scenarios, discussion is necessary beforehand and throughout, because it is completely personal and does not follow these scripts. In these societal scripts, thorough communication can be seen as ‘ruining the mood’, but in kink it serves the opposite effect. In situations of power play, like BDSM, consent and thorough communication before and during the experience is necessary for safety as well as pleasure. It is common for people to establish safewords, which are commonly used by a person who is experiencing a lack of control, to keep the person who is doing the controlling updated on their boundaries. Common safewords are red, amber, and green. Red means stop immediately, amber means ease up and green means the situation is wanted and to continue. A kink experience or fantasy is often described as a ‘scene’ with a beginning, middle, and end. Research often must be done for kink scenes ahead of time, especially if physical objects are involved. Restraints, whips and paddles are common tools for ‘impact play’, but can be dangerous if not used correctly. It’s a myth that BDSM activities promote sexual violence or danger, as safety is foundational, though it is portrayed innaccurately through the media. In the erotic novel ‘50 Shades of Grey’, cable ties are used to restrain the protagonist’s hands. This example is dangerous, as the cords are too thin and not very malleable, and would likely cut into the skin. The methods of communication during kink play also need to be discussed beforehand, as common methods may not be available throughout. For example, if blindfolds or gags that limit verbal communication are used, other methods would need to be discussed beforehand so that it remains a safe and pleasurable activity for everyone involved.
Where does kink come from?
Like many aspects of our personalities, kinks can be formed by any number of conflating influences and experiences throughout our lives. Dr. Sam Hughes, who specializes in studying the development and psychology behind kinks, has outlined the common ways they form. He theorizes that they are often quite innate to us and that people show proclivities towards the kinks they may develop early on in life, during childhood. They often are not formed in a sexual way, and can arise before the age of 10. An example of this that he references could be a strong desire to be captured while playing cops and robbers, and enjoying the feeling of the loss of control. This is an example of how kink is not based in sexuality, but serves as an escape from reality or specific power dynamic. Though Hughes has extensively studied childhood and adolescent development of kinks, they are not always discovered early on in life. People are drawn to exploring kinks at every stage of their life, whether it be spurred by a relationship, stage of life, or trauma, kink serves as an escape from reality and fantasy through which experiences can be processed.
Why do people enjoy kink?
Though people can find themselves drawn to kink for any reason, many are drawn to it because of the structure of consent and communication. Our society’s scripts are also often innately exclusionary for people who are trans, intersex, or otherwise not cis. The foundational necessity of communication of desires before and during every scene only serves to help those that do not have bodies represented in media feel safe and included. This also applies to those who are disabled or not represented in sexual situations by mainstream media, or included in cultural conversations. People may enjoy kink as a safe way to express themselves, in a way that is not available to them in everyday life. A common kink trope is the domineering businessperson desiring absolutely no control in the bedroom and wanting to be dominated themselves. Or a person who feels little control over their daily life enjoying acting as a dominatrix. Kink scenarios don’t necessarily indicate that those participating will take on a different persona, but just explore the different ways they can express themselves. Kink is also a resource for people who prefer to have non-verbal communication scripted beforehand, which can relieve pressure while still facilitating intimacy. Kinks that involve face-covering, like wearing a fur-suit and acting as a furry, can bring relief to people who don’t like the pressure of non-verbal communications like facial expressions. Many people enjoy the masking and escape from reality that the furry community facilitates, and it’s a pervasive myth that this, among other kinks, always stem from a sexual proclivity. Kink can encompass a wide variety of things, but at its core simply serves as a structure for people to explore their desires and boundaries safely and with no judgment. There’s no wrong way to have sex or be kinky, so we encourage you to explore what boundaries you feel like pushing today. With yourself, with a partner, or with a number of partners- there’s no wrong way to do it.