Welcome to the world of kink/leather/fetish/BDSM. I’ve been expecting you. If you’re reading this, it means either you’re already part of this community, or you’re kink-curious. Either way, I’m glad you’re here.
What is kink? The rather uncharitable definition in Dictionary.com is “bizarre or unconventional sexual preferences or behavior.” A vanilla (non-kinky) person clearly wrote that definition. The site’s relevant definition of “fetish” is “any object or non-genital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.” That’s slightly more sympathetic, perhaps because it’s harder to deny the ubiquity of fetishes than that of kink. But kink is everywhere. And, just as KC and the Sunshine Band says, that’s the way I like it. (Millenials and Gen-Zs, look it up.)
I would describe kink as “sexually adventurous behavior, outside traditional or conventional parameters” and fetish as “something that excites you more than anything else.” Another way of looking at kink is “anything besides basic hugging, kissing, sucking, and fucking.”
There are as many kinks as there are people on the planet, although there are some that have many fans. Bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism are common kinks, and of course, from those four, we get the acronym BDSM. Other common kinks include Master/slave, roleplay, age play, impact play, pup play, and furry/pet play.
Here are some quick definitions for anyone not familiar with these terms. These are my definitions, not the dictionary’s, based on a lifetime of being part of the kink community. Still, these are subjective definitions, not definitive ones. I speak only for myself, not from any place of authority. Some people will disagree with me, and that’s okay.
It goes without saying that all of these practices are done for the erotic satisfaction of the people involved. What is worth saying is that these practices are “kinky” only if they are undertaken voluntarily by consenting adults. If it isn’t voluntary, it’s not kink, it’s abuse. That’s a crucial difference that many people don’t understand or can’t accept.
Bondage: The practice of binding someone (or being bound) with rope, restraints, handcuffs, or any other method.
Domination: When someone imposes their will onto another person and compels them to obey their instructions.
Submission: When one person submits to another person’s will and obeys their instructions.
Sadism: The practice of inflicting or inducing pain on or in someone else.
Masochism: The state of enjoying pain that is inflicted or induced upon oneself.
Roleplay: When participants take on “roles” for the purpose of enacting erotic scenarios. (Master/slave, Doctor/patient, Teacher/student, Policeman/criminal, etc.)
Age Play: When participants take on personas who are of different ages than they actually are, for the purpose of widening the age gap between them.
Impact Play: The practice of striking someone or being struck, usually with an implement like a crop, flogger, or whip.
Pup Play: When someone takes on a canine persona (with or without gear) for a period of time.
Furry/Pet Play: Similar to Pup Play. Taking on an animal persona, usually mammalian, for a period of time.
Common fetishes include leather, rubber, latex, neoprene, undergarments/lingerie, feet, shoes/boots, sports gear, hats, and gloves.
Endless variations and possibilities exist within each of these categories. There can also be much overlap among them. And this is only a tiny sampling of what’s out there. The truth is, kink is infinite because the human imagination is infinite. Anything that excites someone sexually can be a kink. However, only practices that are safe and consensual should actually be engaged in. That’s the difference between kink and fantasy.
Are you kink-curious? Want to explore but aren’t sure how to start? I can help. An easy and fun way to look into the kink world is to visit FetLife.com. It’s very much like Facebook, but for kinky folk. Create an account and explore the entire world of kinky writings, message boards, photos, videos, and artwork. FetLife has hundreds of thousands of members worldwide, of all genders, expressions, and orientations. You can make friends, follow people, be followed, or just observe. It’s a great way to explore the Kink community from the safety and privacy of your own device.
If you’d like to do something IRL (in real life) here in Salt Lake, Club Try-Angles hosts kinky events every month. Every second Friday of the month is Leather & Gear Night, and every fourth Friday of the month is Fluff Night (furries/pets.) Stop by and check out the scene. You might make a friend or two. Club Try-Angles is located at 251 W Harvey Milk Blvd. and their website is ClubTryAngles.com.
The most important thing I can tell you about kink is that there is nothing wrong with it. Much like homosexuality and transgenderism have traditionally been labeled as perverted, dangerous, and evidence of mental illness by Republicans and other small-minded people, so too has kink been identically labeled, not only by those same people but within our own LGBTQ+ community. I repeat: There is nothing wrong with being kinky. Real kink/leather/fetish/BDSM takes place between consenting adults. If there is no victim, what crime has been committed? Just like with prejudice and bigotry directed toward homosexuals and transgendered individuals, just because someone doesn’t understand kinky people and what we do gives them no right to criminalize the practices or demonize us. As Hamlet reminded Horatio, “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
I hope this very short introduction to the kink community has been enjoyable for you. Have questions about kink/leather/fetish/BDSM? Disagree with my definitions of kinky practices? Awesome! Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll print them and answer them in an upcoming column. Be safe and have fun out there!
In Kink We Trust.