Intro to Kink

Over the course of the last three years, I’ve had so many conversations with people who identify themselves as kinksters or a participant in the BDSM lifestyle. Through those many conversations, I have learned to understand and be respectful of the choices that they make in regard to their lifestyle.

There are some principles basic to ALL forms of BDSM play or interaction; the most important I think is CONSENT. All parties involved MUST GIVE CONSENT, INFORMED CONSENT before any activity occurs. In other words, one should not in any way engage in any type of BDSM activity unless he and/or she explicitly states that they completely understand what they are going to be doing and approve of that activity. In addition to consent, there also needs to be SAFE WORDS selected that are used to stop the activity immediately in the event that it becomes too much for a participant to handle. Seriously, RED is a safe word that is used. And, after practically every single ‘play’ activity is a time for aftercare…a time to calm down and talk about the experience. Everyone I talked to said that all three of these elements is very important to having a positive experience.

I wondered about the idea of consent between married couples, and please believe me when I tell you that there are TONS of married couples who are part of the community. Even they give consent and have safe words; it is that important and fundamental to the lifestyle.

Gosh, so much to talk about.

Let’s talk a little bit about fetishes. I kind of like this definition (https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/fetish)-A fetish is defined as:

… an extremely strong devotion to something. There are sexual fetishes and nonsexual fetishes: both are obsessive interests.

There are literally thousands of fetishes, sexual and nonsexual. I found it extremely interesting that people with fetishes respond to that fetish in a great variety of ways, not all of which are what we would consider sexual! I spoke to many people whose fetishes simply made them feel better, calmed them, gave them an internal sense of peace, or perhaps gave them an internal sense of control. The thing that made it a fetish was that it was a real integral part of that person. They truly could not separate themselves from their fetish…it was a part of who they are and in so many cases, each person could unequivocally say that they had ALWAYS felt that way about their fetish from childhood or their teen years.

One of the fetishes so many people enjoy is spanking. I cannot even begin to tell you how many books have been written on how to spank properly! There are several types of spanking that serve different purposes…who knew?! I read two books about spanking. Consensual Spanking by Jules Markham is considered a classic book in providing explicit information regarding the various types of spanking and the how tos-dos and don’ts. It was well written, easy to read, and did give excellent information. The other book I read is Sex with Shakespeare:Here’s Much to Do with Pain, but More with Love by Jillian Keenan. I will never think about Shakespeare the same way again after reading this book! This author shared her life experiences as a person with a spanking fetish who studied Shakespeare (really, for her thesis!) through a kink lens. What was actually more compelling than the pretty nifty kink paradigms she found in all of Shakespeare’s work, was her very well written description of what it is like for HER to be a person who simply cannot live without being spanked and the fact that she had her spanking fetish from the absolute earliest memories she had. She did not develop the fetish because of anything anyone did to her as a child; it was always there and always something that she physically craved. Again, her need was not a sexual gratification one…she physically needed to be spanked. It made her feel balanced, better, whole.

I know…it is kind of hard to wrap your head around that, but, please, don’t close your own mind to the possibility that this is something that is very very NORMAL for some people. It is a personal idiosyncrasy (we ALL have them), it is not something to fear or be weirded out about. The people I know with all kinds of fetishes  are no different from you and me.

Related to the spanking genre are other impact types of kink activities, some of which may or may not be a fetish. Flogging, for example, is also an impact (striking) activity that MANY people really enjoy. The variety of floggers is astounding. They are made of many different materials, they are various lengths, they provide all different sorts of  sting from a sharp sting to a dull soft thud.

Spanking and flogging were two things I was really curious about. I couldn’t picture in my mind how someone would want to be whacked like that and that it could feel good! So, after a few munches and many conversations with some folks who were becoming friends, I was invited to attend a private party JUST TO WATCH. Let me interject here that within the kink community, they are like any other social group. There are large ‘play’ parties that are sponsored by the local group where a variety of play equipment is provided, food is provided, safety monitors are present, a quiet space for aftercare is available, and people register and pay a fee to attend. At a private party, only those specifically invited are able to attend. Depending on the person hosting the party, there is a variety of equipment available, there are often several different play spaces available, there is always a quiet place for aftercare, and there is a place for food and talk.

I went to the party, excited and yet nervous. Just like with the munch, I had no frame of reference and had no idea what to expect. One thing that was different was that I actually knew several of the people at the party so I wasn’t going in blind…at least not completely blind! There was delicious food and a great area to just sit back and chat…people don’t play the entire time, after all! There were ‘centers’ set up with different types of equipment. Now THIS was going to be a major learning experience for me. Oh. My. God…all this stuff I had read about in 50 Shades or heard talked about in various conversations…yikes…there it all was! A St. Andrew’s Cross, a spanking bench, a lacing table just to name a few. I will admit, it was a tad unnerving seeing all this stuff up close and personal after having read about them.

There were massage tables set up (strictly massage!), there was an area out back for fire cupping (actually also a form of alternative medicine) and other set ups for other types of equipment or play. I stayed inside because I really wanted to watch the spanking and flogging activities.


It was fascinating watching the individuals being spanked or flogged get into their headspace and so thoroughly enjoy the impacts being applied. In the spanking area, hands, paddles, and belts were used. On the St. Andrew’s cross, all sorts of floggers were used from the thuddy soft types of materials to the thin dragontail type whip. Seriously, I just sat and watched, thinking…how do they know when they had enough? How does their partner doing the spanking and flogging know when enough is enough?! So, after the scenes were finished and the parties had time for aftercare, I asked.

This is where I learned quite a lot about the physiological connection between pleasure and pain. There was a PhD neuroscientist at the party who does major research in the area of the pleasure-pain connection.

Again, WHO KNEW?

In the brain there is a direct connection between the areas that perceive and respond chemically to both pain and pleasure. At a certain point, when pain is being felt, there is a chemical jump in the receptors and the person begins to feel pleasure from the sensations. This has to do with adrenaline, endorphins, and something called oxytocins.

It is all kind of complicated but years of research by neuroscientists have found links in the brain associated with all sorts of touch. Do a search if you want to know more!

But, I digress. The point being that the folks who so very much enjoy the sensations they get from their impact play or other sensory play (like using TENS units for stimulation, something called a violet wand, all manner of vibrators and vibration devices) ultimately get pleasure from the pain. As far as how much is enough? Everyone told me that they know from previous experience how much they can take…both the giver and the receiver. Sometimes they want to push their limits and that target is discussed BEFORE they start the scene; this might be when the safe word is especially important. The giver MUST stop as soon as the receiver uses the designated word. At that point, both parties have learned what the new limit is for giving and receiving.

All in all, attending the party did a great deal to educate me about a variety of aspects of the BDSM experience. It absolutely helped me understand the importance of consent, safe words, aftercare, scene etiquette, and it allowed me to see what some of the lifestyle was all about.

Obviously there is MUCH MUCH more to the basics of kink. My purpose in this post was just to give you a sense of some of what I wanted to know more about and understand better.

Next post,  relationships.



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