Am I Kinky and Does it matter?

Are you kinky? Or are you vanilla?

This question is usually at the start of when we start talking with others what we like (and don’t like) to do in the bedroom. But is it really as clear cut as that?

What does it mean to be kinky?

Does it mean a fundamental difference in the things we like to do with our intimate partners? Is one normal and the other abnormal?

Lots of questions, without a lot of answers, I know! But I think these are really important things to explore, as there is a lot we take for granted, especially on this subject.

In my experience as a sex worker and counsellor, I have noticed that people often experience kinky desires without knowing what kink is. They also may not have the words to describe the things that they like to do or experience.

So let’s get back to this kinky vs vanilla question that I started with. 

First of all, we need to define exactly what it is we are talking about. When I use the term kink, I am referring to a variety of consensual, non-traditional sexual, sensual and intimate behaviours. In contrast, traditional sexual behaviours are loving touch, romantic talk, kissing, vaginal penetration, masturbation and oral sex. In the world of pornography, this is definitely the definition used to classify and divide content into vanilla vs kinky categories.

However…

What is considered “normal”, “deviant” or “kinky” may be more about what individual people think is politically correct or in good taste, as opposed to the reality. And the reality is that there are a wide range of things that turn people on!

If we believe that kinky sexual practices are an anomaly and practiced by the minority, then the evidence certainly says differently. A 2015 American study found that more than 22% of sexually active adults engage in role-playing as part of their bedroom activities and 20% have been tied up and spanked as part of consensual play.

As for kinky desires?

A similar survey found that nearly half of the 1040 surveyed participants said they were interested in kink, but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to explore it.

So with such high numbers of people reporting these desires and activities (and honestly, these figures are more than likely higher in reality, as underreporting is rife in such delicate matters), is it accurate to describe kink and vanilla sexual activities as dichotomous? That is, are they really completely opposite and entirely different from each other?

One thing I have found really interesting in my work as a fetish and fantasy porn creator is how many clients approach me saying they think their interests and desires are really strange. But once we start talking, I can almost always guarantee that their interest is something I have done before, or I have a group of clients who are into it too.

Personally, I don’t believe there is such a thing as “normal sex” (or what people might call “vanilla”). Each individual person has things they like to do sexually, and our sexuality should be considered as unique as our fingerprints.

This diversity is something that those who study sexual desire have been pondering for the last couple of hundred years.

And believe it or not, still, after all this time and research, there is still no consensus on what is normal, abnormal or pathological when it comes to sexual practices.

Some argue that the preference for sexual practices is determined by the culture or society that we were raised in. Humans definitely have periods of sensitivity to certain stimuli as we develop. If a certain experience happens at one of those sensitive points, it can determine how the person experiences the world from there on. And this includes what we like in the bedroom. Evidence also shows that our sexuality and the sexual experiences also have instinctual and genetic causes. And these preferences are extremely resistant to change, if they can be changed at all!

So are you kinky? And does it matter? Humans love labelling things, because it helps us bring order to a world which throws mountains of information at us constantly. If someone says they are kinky (or vanilla), I have some sort of idea of what that means. Or do I?

Labels can be limiting, stigmatising and just straight up wrong. I think instead of putting labels on ourselves, having conversations about the things we like (or don’t like) will help us connect with other people more authentically and discover more about ourselves. Importantly, this can lead to more fun, excitement and pleasure. And who isn’t into that?

Read On! Click here to read the next article in this series!

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