Most of those new and interested in kinky things or BDSM start out feeling that they are somehow abnormal, unusually, weird or strange. That they are keeping some deep dark secret to their hidden sexual desires as they dream about being ravished, spanked, tied-down, or what-have-you. This perception could not be further from the truth. This leads me to a very important thing to consider: Your deepest fantasies and deep dark sexual secrets are usually not all that deep or all that dark.
Are you Kinky??
Probably… Fetishes and kinky activities are often quite normal. There are certainly very loud voices out there that would like us to believe otherwise – typically those that feel that sex is something which we should feel guilty or shameful about. Which usually brings me to a critical point, many very vocal people often rally against that which lives within themselves. Its a form of self loathing that, because they cannot accept themselves, seeks to criticize or lay blame elsewhere. Ever notice how some of the most vocal critics of any given lifestyle have had illicit affairs of the same kind?? Me thinks thou dost protest too much…
However, if judging by the popularity of typical bodice ripper romance novels, Fifty Shades books and movies, Vampire and similar forms of Gothic romanticism, and good old porn, the interest in kink is alive and well. Most of these interests come down to very similar themes: (A) the desire to be seduced/ravished, (B) permission/excuse to give into lustful desires, (C) to be so desirable as to be pursued and possessed by another, (D) new and novel sensations or transformative experiences, (D) satisfaction with safety. Of course, many of these things also deal with the ability to engage in the fantasy assuming all will work out well and for the best. Being pursued and possessed by another can be hot, but it can also be stalking and abduction leading to Stockholm Syndrome – which is NOT a valid relationship dynamic.
Many kink aspects of sexual interest has nothing to do with pain, which is what many associate BDSM and kink in general. So much of the world of kink deals with new or different sensations (sensation play), the roles as a Dominant or submissive (power exchange), letting inner animal inhibitions be expressed (primal play), and SO much more. Some of the most common kinks include, but are not limited to: Blindfolds; Spanking/paddling; Tied-down/Bondage (scarves, ties, handcuffs, rope, etc); Biting, clawing, and grabbing; Candle wax or hot oil drippings; Bedroom role-play and dress-up; Public risqué dress-up; Watching or listening to others; and Fetishism of leather/latex, piercings, tattoos, shoes, body parts, etc.
When I was in high school, well before I was sexually active, I was once asked a seemingly simple question. The question was “what three things do you need to have fun?” and was part of some pop quiz or something like your desert music collection, movies, or some such thing. Anyway, my response took less than a second to formulate and come out, which was “duct tape, hefty bags, cooking oil”. Needless to say that earned me some VERY odd looks and being labeled as weird. This was okay in my book, as I felt the mind of an outlier or social rebel is a sign of creative intelligence and independence. I like to think that Camus and I would have gotten along swimmingly.
What led me to that place? Nothing distinct. My neighborhood was boorish and uninspiring lower-middle class. My upbringing was conservative but not overly so. But I had an independent streak a mile wide, a tendency towards introspection and self-examination, and very much attuned to the creative works of art, music, photography, etc. I was just…me. But was I really all that different, or just more honest about my thoughts?
In the The Journal of Sex Research (vol.54,2017;Issue 2) a study looked at desire for and experience of “unusual or anomalous” behaviors in a sample of adult men and women in the general population. A total of 1,040 persons for the province of Quebec were interviewed. The study found that…
…voyeurism, fetishism, frotteurism, and masochism interested both male and female respondents at levels above what is usually considered to be statistically unusual (15.9%). Interestingly, levels of interest in fetishism and masochism were not significantly different for men and women. Masochism was significantly linked with higher satisfaction with one’s own sexual life.
Meaning that the number of respondents who stated their interest in these things was too high to be considered unusual by the general population. An interview with one of the studies authors, Profession Christian Joyal, conducted by The Independent
“…nearly half (45.6%) of the sample subjects were interested in at least one type of sexual behaviour that is considered anomalous, whereas one third (33%) had experienced the behaviour at least once,”
Another study, while far less scientific, conducted an online survey regarding the interest of sexual fetishes and what people felt were taboo. The result is an infographic (below right) that highlights how common the interest is in many fetishes. The takeaway is that there is a fairly strong indicator that you are not alone, but rather are very likely in good company. What’s more, your deep dark secrets are likely shared by far more people than you might think. This leads us to the grand conclusion: we seriously need to redefine what is “normal” and anomalous to be much more inclusive of various sexual interests and behaviors.
So, No Real Biggie, but…
I suppose the first thing I want you to know is that it’s okay to feel a little scared or intimidated when new and starting out. That’s an emotional sign that you don’t feel prepared yet – and that’s okay, because that is what learning is all about. The biggest help one can find is realizing that people, kinky, poly or otherwise, are just people. We ALL started from square one at some point – we all eventually faced that our interests were different than what we were told is normal, but isn’t as strange or weird as its made out to be. So don’t worry, because many of us remember that feeling when starting out. It’s okay.
The next biggest thing I would like you to consider is that it’s less about what everyone else wants or does, and more about YOU. Meaning, knowing what it is you are interested in, curious about, or have determined are your needs & desires is more important than worrying about everyone else. The beauty in accepting that there really isn’t anything all that new under the sun means that if you thought it, felt it, or want it – so do others. If you know what you want or wish to explore, then all you need to do be honest about these things – with yourself AND with others.
Fear & Confidence
So if we accept that our deep dark secrets really aren’t either deep or dark or secret – then why the fear? Most likely because it then becomes a matter of confidence, or the lack thereof. Luckily this is a very straightforward process. The easiest way to build Confidence is to build Competence – by researching, learning and practicing. Read up, talk to folks, admit to others you are new (set expectations), and try things in a cautious and measured pace. Find and go to munches or events in your area. More importantly, be persistent and try again even if the first, second, or third time doesn’t match expectations. Nothing is gained without time & effort, and building your competency is how to best address your Confidence. It’s not magic and it’s not a secret, it’s just learning and trying with a sense of tenacity and purpose over time.
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