Recently, Twitter has been abuzz with criticism of certain kinks: some people think kinks should go unquestioned, while others think there is a definite line to be drawn. A kink, according to an article on glamour.com by Angie Jones, is a “sexual activity that falls outside of sex that society traditionally considers ‘acceptable.’” So, I asked my (approx. 1000) Instagram followers if any of them had kinks. Even though I didn’t get engagement from everyone (this is not a scientific experiment, people), I did get a sizeable number of responses and some pretty interesting answers. First things first, 70% voted ‘yes’ to having kinks. That is, an array of things like bondage, submission, using objects, role playing and pain. I wanted to hear from the people in my circle what they thought about kinks and kink-shaming, so I had them answer a few questions.
- So, What Did People Say?
Q: Is consent all that matters? Do you think there’s a space in sex for the socially reprehensible as long as there is consent from all parties involved? Consider these kinks in your answer: race play, consensual non-consent (or r*pe play), age play, incest play, necro play (and other role playing), BDSM.
A: Long story short, the common answer was no. 29% voted for anything being cool as long as consent was given, while 71% voted for there being a hard line to be drawn.
Q: So where do you draw the line?
A: A few people suggested that comfort was where the line should be drawn, and while that’s true, it falls under consent. Other responses took hard stances against some kinks, like race, incest, age and necro play. Someone else said consent is all that matters (for others), though they would prefer not to explore the ‘harder’ kinks. Interestingly, most people were against kinks that adopted socially reprehensible situations for pleasure in a sexual setting, particularly if the concept is harmful in real life and is considered cruel or unethical. Also, people agree that a kink that encourages these socially shunned behaviors in a non-sexual setting should be challenged and criticized.
Interestingly though, people seemed not to mind BDSM (bondage, dominance, submission and masochism), perhaps for a number of reasons. The first could be its commonality and normalization as a kink (think: furry handcuffs, being choked, spanking etc.) and the second could be that people don’t want to shame kinks that they have, and chances are, that kink falls under the BDSM umbrella.
- Should Anyone be Shamed?
Q: Do you think people who have kinks outside of your comfort zone should be shamed? Do you think some can be admired from afar and others need to be unpacked? Consider (for example) how you might react to someone with a bondage and dominance kink versus someone with a race play or a “barely legal” kink. What do you think needs evaluation and what is acceptable? Assume consent is given in all accounts.
A: The answers here varied greatly. Most believed no one should be overtly shamed, though their next steps were all different. One suggested that ‘hard’ kinks should be condemned where there is no space for them to be explored, another said these kinks should be viewed as a door to dialogue. Another said that they’re fine as long as they’re within the partner’s boundaries, and someone else said society should condemn these, from a moral standpoint (referring to ‘barely legal’ kinks). I agree with all of them. Shame may not be the right way to go about it, but some kinks definitely need to be evaluated and challenged. For example, the ‘barely legal’ kink is essentially fantasizing about adult women with childlike features (e.g. big eyes, pigtails, hairless skin etc.), mannerisms (e.g. high-pitched voice and telegraphic-esque speech) or in childlike activities/dress (e.g. school girl uniforms). This is not to say that women with these features are not adults, it is to say that preferring this – in a sexual setting, coupled with childlike behaviour – borders on predatory.
Someone else agreed on avoiding kink-shaming but made an interesting departure; they also suggested that people evaluate why they have certain kinks/fetishes. This begs the question: are kinks inherent or are they cultivated? If so, does that mean some kinks should be assessed (via therapy)?
- Is Sex a Safe Place to Explore any Fantasy (Consent Acquired)
Overwhelmingly, people voted to talk through kinks with their partners. That is, if someone were to have a 'daddy' kink, they would need to unpack that desire/need for a power imbalance as opposed to exploring it in the sex ‘safe space.’ We don’t know much about kinks and what triggers them, but that shouldn’t stop us from talking about it. It also means we should be careful of someone’s sexual journey and be sure not to shame someone’s sexual experience (provided it doesn’t harm others). Self-esteem around sex is always delicate, and we should always tread lightly, especially around something we don’t understand.
Have fun and explore the limits of your pleasure-seeking. It might be a good idea to think about your kinks and whether they are healthy for you and your partner(s). Explore what you will as long as it respects your partner’s boundaries - and ALWAYS confirm consent.
P.S. Practice safe sex.