BDSM 101: Finding out more about kink

This week I’m blogging about kink up to the film release of Fifty Shades of Grey. Yesterday was an introduction. Today I’m focusing on how to find out more about kink.

Finding out more about kink

In Fifty Shades Christian swears Ana to secrecy about their kink relationship so that she can’t talk to anybody else in her life about it. This is a terrible idea! It’s a huge warning sign in a relationship if there are areas you’re forced to keep secret. Given how common kink is there may well be people already in your life who you can chat openly about your ideas with. However there is still stigma around kink, so you might prefer to talk with people who’re already involved in BDSM.

If you’re new to kink, there is a huge wealth of information available to help you get started. It’s definitely worth checking this out and learning from people who have been there and got the Tshirt.

Tshirt

I wouldn’t suggest going to general sex advice books to find out about kink. Generally they are pretty poor with only brief sections that don’t cover any detail about consent or practicalities. Some of the spin-offs from Fifty Shades are equally dubious (note: cable ties are not a good idea for bondage!) Go to the community experts instead. The books by Lee (Bridget) Harrington & Mollena Williams, Tristan Taormino, and Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy are particularly helpful places to start. Many of those folk have blogs, podcasts, and video clips that you can check out as well.

Online FetLife is also a good social networking space to meet others and chat about kink-related topics or get advice from more experienced folk. There are also groups on general social networking spaces like facebook. Offline munches and fetish fairs are a great place to start meeting other people to play with and/or learn from. At these kinds of events the emphasis is just on chatting and exchanging information, rather than doing anything kinky yourself, so they can be great for the newbie. Online and offline there are loads of different groups, clubs, events, etc. for different interests, sexualities, genders, and so on, so do find ones that feel comfortable to you.

However, a word of caution about getting involved with BDSM communities: It can be easy, as someone new to kink, to assume that everybody already there knows what they are doing and has your best interests at heart. The manta of ‘safe, sane, consensual’ can leave you assuming anybody you meet would be safe to play with. As I said earlier, sadly kink groups aren’t exempt from abusive behaviour, and you should be just as cautious as you would be anywhere else. Unfortunately some people do prey on folk who are new to the scene, relying on their ignorance, and the stigma around kink, to keep their silence. Particularly it’s worth running a mile from anybody who tells you that they’re some great expert, that they know what you want, that you should do certain things to be a ‘proper’ submissive or dominant, or that you should go faster than feels comfortable to you (basically the Christian Grey vibe is one to be well cautious of!)

SexGeek has much more information on this, plus a great list of resources for people new to kink, and Erica Hanna has written an excellent, and well-researched, post about things to be cautious of when getting involved with kink communities and events.

Also, as Elizabeth Sheff and Corie Hammers found in their research, sadly most kink communities – like many other sexual communities – are not very diverse in terms of race and class. As in Fifty Shades there can be a link between BDSM, wealth and whiteness which is excluding, for example the idea that it is necessary to buy a ‘red room’ full of expensive kit in order to be ‘proper’ kinky. Another tip from Fifty Shades can help a little here: Cable ties aside, a lot of equipment can be purchased cheaply from a hardware store, or taken from a kitchen cupboard (e.g. ropes, clothes pegs, spatulas, candles). Again the books and websites mentioned can help with adapting everyday kit, and there is also some good community writing about creating more inclusive communities.

Finally, if you have any worries or anxieties about the kind of kink that you’re interested in – such as whether it is consensual or not – then it could be worth chatting with a kink-affirmative professional. Sadly we’re still not in a situation where all therapists and counsellors are knowledgeable about kink, and some are downright pathologising, so check out a site like Pink Therapy (UK) or Kink-Aware Professionals (US) to find somebody decent.

Of course you might not want to get that involved in kink community if it is more that you just want to bring some BDSM into an existing relationship. But it is well worth cracking a book or two, and checking out some informative websites, to learn the basics in terms of physical and emotional risks and establishing consent. The rest of these posts give a few suggestions to start with, but there’s plenty more information and advice out there.

Tomorrow: Figuring out, and communicating, what you’re into.


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