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Nice To Meet You, I’m A Slut!: Kinks, Communication and Consent

Kinks – whether it’s hair pulling and light choking or all-out BDSM – are not spoken about enough. A kink can be defined as ‘the use of non-conventional sexual practices’, but because what’s considered ‘conventional’ is so narrow, ‘non-conventional’ covers a very wide range of things. Also, stigma surrounding sexual practices outside the heterosexual, heavily gendered norm has resulted in a collective sexual shame which prevents (important) conversations from happening. But chances are we all have a kink or two – a wild sexual fantasy – that we’d like to try out at some point.

Willingness to ‘experiment’ can vary from individual to individual; it’s important to remember that ‘vanilla’ sex (i.e. conventional sex) can also be wonderful in its own right – intimacy doesn’t have to mean strapping down (or on). There is no shame in saying no to kinky stuff if you’re uncomfortable with it! 

But for those of you who are wanting to spice things up in the bedroom (however hot you might be making it), here are some tips on how to do so safely.

1. ASK ! ASK ! ASK !

I don’t care if you reckon ‘all girls like choking’. Whilst that might be true in your own experience, you still need to ask before wrapping your hands around someone’s neck during sexual intercourse. Non-consensual choking is not only a violation of your partner’s boundaries, but can also be really dangerous if done improperly. In her book, Sex Ed: A Guide for Adults (2020), Ruby Rare begs that we ‘please don’t fuck around with choking’ and that, instead, ‘gently holding the sides of the neck will have a similar psychological effect without actually limiting someone’s breathing.’ Regardless of how you asphyxiate (but please do it safely for God’s sake), ASK first. The same applies for all kinks: spanking, spitting, hair-pulling, degradation, etc. And just like in the context of sex as a whole, ‘yes’ once doesn’t mean yes always. There will be times when a partner is up for something rough and there will be times when they might be in the mood for something more mellow. 

My way of maintaining a safe sexual space – whilst avoiding potential awkwardness – is to have a conversation with a partner prior to sex. This can be about kinks more generally, or about what we’re in the mood for at that particular moment. Another way to get consent is through dirty talk. 

2. DIRTY TALK 101

A lot of people may see ‘dirty talk’ and be horrendously cringing at even the idea – let alone doing it. There’s a tendency to overthink talking dirty; people often view it as more theatrical than it really is. I promise you there’s no secret script that only the Sexually Enlightened have access to. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you like! A good way to incorporate it naturally into sex is to describe what you’d like to do to a partner/what you’d like to have done to yourself. Don’t get bogged down in terminology, syntax, tone, or any of the silly little things (it’s not a tutorial essay) – just speak. An easier way to get started might be to reference your own sexual arousal; this can also be a great way of indicating whether or not you’re enjoying what’s going on. 

Dirty talk absolutely can be daunting at first – and embarrassing. You’re allowed to laugh and have fun with it (which will help to ease the nerves). Confidence comes with time and practice really can make perfect!

3. SAFEWORDS 

Establishing a safeword is a great thing to do in that initial pre-sex conversation. A ‘safeword’ is a mutually agreed-upon cue (verbal or tactile) that means ‘stop’, or ‘slow down’. You might have multiple safewords to signify what needs to change. Examples could include saying ‘ivory’ or ‘spatula’ (it can be as sexy as you like) to mean ‘stop’ or tapping your partner twice to tell them to ‘slow down’ (if you’re gagged, it’s hardly going to be possible for you to scream ‘spatula’). 

Having a safeword is a wonderful way to make kinky sex feel safe as both partners know that they have a way to easily communicate that they’re not enjoying something. A safeword can be especially useful when you’re wanting to push boundaries with someone; it creates a comfortable space in which there’s always a way out.  

4. UNDERSTANDING A PARTNER’S NEEDS

It’s important that we listen carefully during kink-related conversations, but also that we allow our partners time to mull scenarios over before they agree to engage in the fantasy or not. Whilst kink-shaming is deeply uncool, it’s also crucial that we accept (and don’t take to heart) when a partner says no to something. Also, there are elements of trial and error in kink-stuff; sometimes you’ll try a thing and someone won’t enjoy it – that’s okay! You must always respect someone’s boundaries and their right to say no to anything (and no, they don’t owe you an explanation). 

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I hope this fills people with the confidence to venture out into the world of kinky-stuff, to try new things, but to do so consensually! There really is no shame in sexual fantasies – no matter how bizarre they are – provided they are played out safely.

And, of course, if anyone has any questions regarding any of what I’ve just said, or about more kink-specific stuff (i.e. how to get into BDSM/where to find gear etc.) please feel free to drop me a question in the form: https://forms.gle/2Zntvq9SjPjRGb5k6 

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With illustration by Emily Perkins (@emp3_art)

Alice Garnett

Alice is our resident sex columnist whose interests include pints, pink, and all things love-related. When she's not evangelising Singledom she's busy hyping up her East Midlands home town, demystifying bisexuality, and writing for other publications such as Lithium Magazine and Adolescent Content.