1. What “real” bodies look like.
If you’ve never been to a kink party or a BDSM dungeon, I’ve got news for you. You see a lot of flesh. People wear sexy and revealing clothing or no clothing at all. People have sex where you can watch. There are boobs and butts and dicks. Some belong to your lovers and friends and others belong to strangers.
And what you learn is that few people have “perfect” bodies, and sexy doesn’t always mean “skinny” or “muscular.” You learn that what’s attractive to you and to others isn’t always what you thought or what the media wants you to think. You learn that you, too, are desirable and that you make more of your “flaws” than others do.
You learn to embrace your body as it is because this is the one you’ve got.
2. How to say no.
When you’re among kinky friends, especially at a party where sex happens (see above), asking and receiving consent before touching anyone is vital.
Just because I’m walking around with my breasts out is not an invitation for you to touch them. Just because that guy over there was sucking on them doesn’t mean I want you, a stranger, to do so.
So the most important question becomes, “May I …?” May I touch your breasts? May I give you a hug? And you wait for the other person to say, “Oh, sure!” or “Yes!” or “Please do!” before making physical contact.
It can be scary to say no to someone, but being in an environment where everyone is expected to behave with consent in mind, it’s a lot easier to learn to say no.
An exchange like this one happens often at kink parties:
“Can I touch your boobs?”
“Okay. I just find you super sexy, is all.”
No anger. No violence. No resentment. The dialog occurs with the same intensity as asking someone if they want a cookie. Being told “no” isn’t rejection. It’s a person’s own comfort level with you, with themself, with the environment. And everyone’s comfort level is different. Some people love being groped and fondled as they walk around. But make sure, before you grope or fondle someone, that you ask if you can!
Further, if someone does touch you without asking, you learn how to tell them to back off. “Please don’t do that,” or “Don’t touch me,” or “No thanks,” are usually sufficient.
If they aren’t, there should be others at the party or dungeon who can escort the offender off the premises or intervene on your behalf. Sometimes the person just needs a gentle reminder that sex parties are not free-for-alls, and I’ve found that there are always a few people who will step in and provide that reminder.
3. How to talk about sex without shame.
In the kink world, sex and related activities are everywhere, and being able to talk about what you like and don’t like is absolutely vital (see #2). Knowing that whatever you’re into, someone else is probably into it too helps a lot.
I like being flogged. Guess what? So do a lot of other people! And a corresponding number of people like doing the flogging! But if I didn’t speak up and say, “I really like being flogged,” I’d never be flogged.
We should be able to discuss our sexual desires and likes and dislikes with as much ease as we talk about what foods we like, the movies we enjoy, and the weather.
4. That we’re all weird, and that’s normal.
One thing I’ve definitely found is that so many of the things about myself that I think are weird or unusual are actually super common. We often have discussions that start with, “Does anyone else ever …?” and end up with dozens of affirmative responses.
So this thing you thought was totally weird about yourself? Turns out, you’re just human like everyone else! It’s incredibly liberating, and it enables us to talk about what we want and don’t want, what we like and don’t like, without shame or embarrassment (see #3).
5. That kink comes in all forms, and no one has to like everything.
One of my favorite acronyms is “NMK,” which stands for “Not My Kink.” It’s a shorthand way of saying, “Cool that you like that. It isn’t for me.” There’s no judgment inherent in the statement. It’s just like, “Oh, you like black licorice? Enjoy. I don’t want any, though, thanks.” Or, “I know you really like horror movies, but I don’t really enjoy watching them, so I’ll skip it.”
As I mentioned in #3, in the kink world, you’re very likely to find someone else who shares your interest or fetish. You like being peed on? You’ll find someone who wants to pee on you. You like being choked and called names? You’ll find someone who wants to choke you and call you names.
Conversely, maybe you’re with someone who wants to worship your feet, and you aren’t into foot worship. “No thanks. That isn’t really my thing,” should be enough. No doubt they will have little trouble finding someone else who would enjoy it.
(I would add one caveat here, that there are “kinks” that are almost universally unacceptable, like necrophilia, true rape (as opposed to rape play or consensual non-consent), and other practices that are potentially deadly or dangerous, that might do irrevocable harm to someone physically or mentally, or that inherently negate the most crucial aspect of kink: consent.
And, yes, you could potentially “consent” to something like having someone cut off your arm if you think you might get off on that, and I’m not here to judge, but really, that’s probably not a good idea.)
6. That this world is full of diversity and wonder, and everyone has something to offer.
My kinky friends have taught me so much about myself, about life, and about so much more than just sex. They are the most diverse friend group I’ve ever had, with humans of all backgrounds, orientations, and identities, with amazing insight and sensitivity to social issues and the world we live in. I’m incredibly grateful to have these wonderful humans in my life.