Kink Is More Than You Think: What It Can Teach Us About Consent And Sexuality

When you think of kink, where does your mind go? Mine immediately imagines a man in a ball gag, clad in a head-to-toe full leather get-up, a la Pulp Fiction

In reality, while there is a definitive BDSM presence in the kink world, visualizing an actor in a movie saying “Bring out the gimp!” skews it toward something dark and definitely not consensual, at least not in that instance.

A fun little tidbit is it’s a well-known fact that the director of Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino, has a foot fetish, and that’s about the extent of my knowledge about the kink world.

Is a foot fetish even a kink? Am I kink-shaming a famous director? We have a lot to learn about the subject, and I am all eyes and ears when it comes to this interesting world.

Kink is much more than we believe, and it has the power to teach all of us vanilla people a lot about a vital subject – consent.

Consent in sexual encounters is not only legally required, but it is vital to partners when it comes to feeling safe.

What exactly is kink and how can we learn about consent from the kinkster community? Let’s explore all things kinky and find out! 

What Is Kink?

NPR states “Merriam-Webster’s definition of kink is ‘unconventional sexual taste or behavior’ and includes a wide variety of behaviors and preferences. That includes BDSM – a subset of kink – which stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. Being tied up or handcuffed (bondage), spanked (discipline) and role-playing all fall under BDSM.”

Hmm…that sure sounds like a vanilla definition, and we want a real lowdown on what that means.

We did some more investigating and came upon a spicier explanation for it.

According to Bish, “Kink is a set of pleasurable activities that people choose to do together that in other contexts are not pleasurable or usual. It’s also often called BDSM. BDSM is now just a general term which applies to activities, or fantasies, or scenes, that involve a consensual exchange of power. Where it’s agreed that one person has more power over another person (for a set period of time). What these people do is agreed in advance. It might involve physical control, sensory deprivation, restraint, pain, humiliation, or being told off. All the kinds of things that might usually be deeply unpleasant but in kink can feel wonderful. It’s something that a lot of people just fantasize about.”

There we go! That sounds a lot less vanilla and explains the power dynamic and, more importantly, consent.

What Kink Can Teach Us About Consent

“A core principle of kink is negotiating with a prospective partner before anything happens. If that negotiation is done right, it’s more like a collaboration toward a common goal: each party’s pleasure. That includes discussing what’s about to happen before it happens, hashing out boundaries and ensuring that everyone involved is on the same page,” says NPR.

Consent is not just needed at the onset of a sexual encounter. You should be checking in throughout the act, and constantly communicating; if something doesn’t feel right, if someone is in pain or someone wants to stop for no specific reason, everything should stop. 

Sure, it can feel a bit awkward to be constantly asking some variation of “Is this okay?” every few minutes or when a sexual position changes. But it sure beats the alternative of your partner enduring an unwanted act because you didn’t get consent.

And you can make consent dialog fun – trust me! For those of you who like dirty talk (sorry, mom), a question about the act your partner wants to perform (or for you to perform on them) can be phrased in a way that is less delicate. I don’t have to spell it out for you; those who like dirty talk know exactly what I mean!

Communication Is Key

“You should talk about sex before you have sex. Talk about sex during sex. Talk about sex after sex,” says Heather, who works with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, an advocacy group for kinksters, when speaking to NPR. “It’s OK to have a discussion the next day or the week after and say, ‘I liked this but I didn’t like that, or can we try this next time?’ etc.,”she says.

“I think the vanilla society are missing out on a lot of feelings and emotions and satisfaction that they could get if they would be more open and honest with each other and more willing to communicate about these things,” Heather says.

According to Kinkly, kink is best thought of as “An umbrella term used to describe a wide range of sexual activities that are considered to be unconventional or unorthodox. What counts as ‘kinky’ depends a lot on what your community defines as ‘normal.’” 

“In heteronormative spaces, crossdressing and playing with gender roles is often considered to be kinky, but that doesn’t mean that every nonbinary, trans, or gender-nonconforming person considers themselves a kinkster.”

“Remember, even if they say yes, consent can be revoked at any time,” says KYNK101. “You can spend months talking to them about a scene, but it’s 100% within their rights to say no on the day of the big event.”


Kink is a subjective term — tell us what you think it means in the comments!

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