BDSM Is Not (the only) Kink

I’ve been tossing this fascinating article on kink as a sexual orientation around in my noodle for a few days now. Frankly, I see valid points from both the kink and queer communities.

But that isn’t what I’ve been thinking about. Admittedly, I’ve gotten sidetracked here, but what I am having trouble with is the author’s use of the term ‘kink’ to mean ‘BDSM’ and vice versa. This is something, usually quite subtle, that I’ve noticed over the years. And I don’t think it is accurate—fundamentally or practically.

The general definition of kink is simply one’s sexual taste or preference. So, sure, BDSM is definitely a kink. But it is only a kink, not kink. Equating the two terms not only skews the meaning of kink, but that confusion can give kinksters and non-kinksters a differing perspective on what kink/fetish/BDSM are.

These days, if you say kink or fetish, the image that automatically springs to mind is leather/latex/rubber/whips/spanking/paddles/crosses/black. In other words, states or dress and activities that are closely (though not exclusively) linked to BDSM. Is this because that is what pop culture and newbies to scenes ascribe to the kink community? Partially. But it is also a product of the kink community itself.

Of the kink subcultures, the BDSM community is, by far, the most vocal, public and noticeable of all. Many cities feature “fetish” nights that can usually be described with that list of words from above. And I fucking love the BDSM community for this. They are out there challenging the sexual norm in a public way.

But BDSM is not the whole of the kink/fetish community. And the leather/latex/rubber/whips/spanking/paddles/crosses/black crowd is not even the whole of the BDSM community. But I have to say, if you want to explore kink, and don’t fit in with this specific image, it can be pretty challenging.

Admittedly, I haven’t been to many fetish/kink/BDSM events lately. But when I was going more regularly, I was always irked by the rules that exclude people from coming into the event wearing blue jeans, t-shirts and the like. I understand, on a level, the reasoning behind this rule—not letting looky-lou’s who might be insensitive in. I get that and it is important.

However, it is exclusionary to those kinksters who want to explore their sex/orientation—but don’t own black leather/rubber/latex, etc. Hell, the only reason I own most of my leather was through a little sexual barter. That shit is expensive and hell, some people just aren’t into it.

So, there are people who are kinky, and even some people who are into BDSM who don’t fit the mold. Therefore, BDSM is a kink, but not kink.

Let me back this all up by saying that I doubt this piece was written with the intention of conflating kink and BDSM. I doubt that is the case at all. However, it happens. A LOT. And I don’t think a reasonable case for establishing kink OR BDSM as an orientation can be made until a better delineation is made.

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