K is for KINK

I know, I know, cheating, right?  Well, I don’t think so.  The hotly contested debate on “what is and is not kink” surfaces in most people’s minds from time to time  Often our feelings about the subject results in looking at our various behaviors or desires within the lens of false dichotomy, sometimes either promoting or discouraging our explorations or intimacies.  Let’s take a look at it today, shall we?

What is Kink?  Good question. Dictionary.com has this to say:

bizarre or unconventional sexual preferences or behavior.

And a quick search on Fetlife offers these as some of your options:

Photo by Zee

My tanned hide with a bite mark.  Photo by Zee

Accents, Age Play, Ballbusting, Bare Handed Spanking, Bastinado, Belt Spanking, Blow Jobs, Black Men, Blindfolds, Blushing, Body Paint, Bondage, Boot Licking, Branding, Burlesque, Body Modification, Boot Worship, Boss/Secretary, Braces, Breath Play, Business Suits, Candle Wax, Casting, Chastity, Chastity Devices, Cheerleading Uniforms, Chocolate, Choking, Cigars, Clothespins, Corset, Cinching Corsets, Costumes/Dressing-up, Daddy/girl, Deep Throating, Domestic Servitude, Douching, Energy Play, Figging, Creampie, Cross Dressing, Crying, Cuddles, Female Humiliation, Fingering, Freckles, Hoods, Ice Cubes, Foot Worship, Fur, Goth, Hair Bondage, Hot Oil Massages, Interracial Sex, Kicking, Lingerie, Male Submission, Masochism, Master/Slave, Music, Nudity, Orgasm Control, Intelligence, Interrogation, Kinbaku, Large Labia, Leather, Librarians, Makeup, Master/Slave, Monogamy, Muscle Worship, Pain, Pinching, Posture Collars, Pro Domme, Prostate Massage, Pegging, Petplay, Pigtails, Satin, Sex, Sex In Public, Sex Magick, Sexual Slavery, Sleepy Sex, Small Tits, Socks, Spreader Bars, Swallowing, Swinging, Switching, Toy Making, Victorian Pornography, Puppy Play, Sacred Sexuality, Silk, Sissy Panties, Spitting, Suspension, Switching, Tantra, Tearing Off Clothing, Tears, Toes and Feet, Touching, Transgender, Vibrators, Victorian Lifestyles, Vintage Porn, Violet Wand, Water Torture, Waterbondage, WolfPlay …

Now, this list is extremely partial and at points a bit tongue in cheek, but it may invoke a lot of questions.  Maybe reading through that list you had one or a few of these thoughts pop into your head:

  • Wait a minute: I like that.
  • That’s not kink, that’s just fun.
  • Ew, people actually like that?
  • What does that even mean?
  • How would you turn something like that into a “kink”?
  • No one really does that, do they?
  • That’s offensive.
  • Ooh.  Yeah, I like that one…
  • Ooh.  Yeah, I like that one, but I’d never admit it to anyone or actually do anything about it…
  • That’s not sexual, so how can it be kinky?
  • If I like that one, does that mean I have to identify with kinky people now?
  • If I don’t like ANY of these does that mean I’m not kinky?
  • Why didn’t they mention _________???

And maybe you can answer some of those questions on your own.  Does it matter to you whether you think you’re kinky?  Whether other people would categorize you as such?  Do you worry you do or do not have enough ‘kinky street cred’ to claim your place at the fetish fair?  Do you feel too far outside what you think your friends might think of as normal to fit the ‘vanilla’ label?  Are there aspects of your current or past relationships that were kinky or vanilla or both?  How do you feel about the activities you engage in?  Do those activities ever define your sexuality?

Is this Kink? Photo by Positive Signals

Is this Kink? Based on this image, acknowledging that she is naked but for her wedding ring, who owns her sex?  Photo by Positive Signals

 BDSM:  Let’s take a closer look at these letters and what they mean.  Broken down BDSM stands for: Bondage & Discipline (BD) / Dominant & Submissive (Ds) / Sadism & Masochism SM).  These three pairings talk about some different types of behavior and relationship structures that our culture has deemed to be on the Kinky spectrum.  Bondage and Discipline refers to partner play that involves bondage in various ways (both physical and servitude) and Discipline is a nod to the idea that in roleplay there may be real consequences negotiated between partners.  Dominant and submissive refers to the Top/Bottom, Dominant/submissive, Master/slave, and I’m not leaving out the Switches, relationship dynamics that some kinky people might agree to engage in in and/or out of the bedroom.  In this model of kinky relation there is a power differential at play that pleases both the person assuming a degree of control, and the person who is submitting to that power play.  Kinky or Vanilla, regardless of whether you are subject to a clearly negotiated D/s dynamic with your partners, many relationships work best within a framework where one partner controls more of certain activities and less of others, thus operating most smoothly within a power differential at least some of the time.  By consciously engaging in a D/s relationship many kinky people are simply playing with, accepting, enhancing, or sexualizing the innate imbalances we have as people negotiating relationship.  Sadism and Masochism refer to the acts of enjoying hurting someone, or the enjoyment of being hurt.  This part of BDSM speaks most loudly to the range of sensation activities that kinky people might engage in (flogging, needle play, feathers, scratching, biting, punching…).

Fetish: Dictionary.com says:

any object or nongenital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.

While the terms ‘fetish’ and ‘kink’ are used interchangeably in common vernacular, the proper use of this word is in reference to the person who is turned on by an object (inanimate or body part), and who often can not satisfactorily complete their sexual arousal without that object present (or at least fantasized about).  While having a fetish most certainly is kinky, not all kinks are fetishes, and not all kinky people engage in fetishizing behaviors.

My very own Kinky existence:  I fluttered around the lightbulb of kink for many many years of my life before coming to embrace it as a concept, a practice, and an empowering aspect which feeds my identity and brings me happiness and fulfillment.  I suppose I could think waaaaay back to being young and playing sex games with my childhood friends, or being turned on by the quite innocent games we made up which often contained inherent control/power dynamics within them.  I could look to my pre-teen and teenage years where I stumbled onto powerful seductive feelings fueled by degrading sexual advances and inappropriate situations, aware that my guilt of these very things made me desire them all the more.  As an adult: toys, being tied up, sexuality education as topping activity, learning things for the first time igniting my libido, performing Drag and Burlesque, holding an audience speechless and captive, bearing the will and pleasure of my partners, demo-bottoming, having a rich fantasy life, mutual masturbation as better than sex sex, and other activities were further indication and practice of these kinky tendencies.  And through owning these desires eventually I found words like super-masochist, submissive, pet, fuck-doll, anorgasmic, pan/bi/sexual, and polyamorous.  I am still figuring out my feelings about these things.  There are days I rail against knowing anything, when I reject the very things that bring me happiness because they make me feel vulnerable.  There are days I doubt my identities in full and fear I’ll never be enough to fill the shoes of “someone who’s really like that”.  There are days I’m grateful that I write a kink blog, teach about sexuality, gender, orientation, and all this wonderful stuff, and get to perform my fantasies on stage…  This is all to say:  I am human.  A complex individual.  My emotions hold sway over my thoughts, and my experiences mean only as much as the meaning I attribute to them.  I love my life.  I am inspired by all of these things, and challenged by them to the point of questioning…

Where can I learn more?  When Someone You Love is Kinky by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt is a great resource both for the budding kinkster and the parent, loved one, family member or co-worker of people who want to be able to openly communicate about their kinks (or be supported and at least understood by the people they’ve given this great book to).  I also recommend checking out Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams (co-authors of “Playing Well with Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities“), who have a few great videos up on Kink Academy about kink, the Kink Community, and who ask a great number of questions about how things might or might not work for you.

I guess, in conclusion I have this to offer:  Kink is what you make it.  No more, no less.  If the idea of being kinky turns you on, then be kinky and be turned on.  If the idea of being labeled such is something that stops you from exploring your own desires or getting closer to your partners, then don’t sweat the label and embrace the activities that allow you and your partners to be happy with one another.  Regardless of whether you’re super kinky, kinda kinky, mostly vanilla, or vanilla, learning about the games that us adult people get to play, negotiating conscientiously, learning about the activities you’re engaging in, and communicating clearly are all wonderful parts of being a healthy active responsible adult.  So consider reading up on it all and trying new things out – we’ve only got so much time on this earth to make each other happy.

To Breath and Being,
~ Karin

If you like my blog, please check out my Patreon Page and consider supporting me, or just click here: Support the Artist

~Thank you.


Be an ABCs contributor:  Have a story or perspective to share about kink or want to promote a kinky event?  Email Karin directly at: Karin@ABCsOfKink.com or fill out the as-anonymous-as-you-want-it-to-be feedback form below and you could see your writing published as a part of Wednesday’s “Perspectives on Kink: Conversations with the Community” blog on this site.  Don’t know what to write about?  Consider answering some of the Survey Questions I posted recently.  Happy writing, and thanks!

Questions, curiosities, or just wanna know more? Email: Karin@ABCsOfKink.com

or fill out this anonymous form:

WARNING: Explicit Content

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This site contains adult images, descriptions, and material dealing with Sex, BDSM, various Kinks, and Fetish Lifestyles

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