Vanilla Who? Who Cares

Words by: Celine S-F
Art by: Rachelle Lee

Is ‘vanilla sex’ really a thing of the past or are uwu choke me, daddy memes and cute baby-pink collars shaming the not so kinky into being kinkier?

It appears that no matter where you go outside or online, the talk of fetishes comes up whether invited or not. Everyone seems to be having kinky sex or at least wishing they had. What is often left out of these conversations is the discussion of how kink and BDSM relationships actually work.

In the 2020 Netflix series, Sex, Explained viewers learn that such relationships are built on trust, communication and respect. If one’s fantasies are more on the ‘violent’ side of things, understanding your playmate’s boundaries, preferences and having safe words are a must, earning you your ass punching privileges. Of course, you could also take advice from 50 Shades of Grey and try to fix your partner’s “dominant curse” while he begs you to try anal fisting…

If you want a thoughtful intro to BDSM, do yourself a favour and toss 50 Shades of Grey into the nearest
burning bin for a copy of the film, Secretary starring Maggie Gyllenhaal. While both works are based on Mary
Gaitskill’s short story collection Bad Behaviour, the Mr. Grey in Secretary doesn’t try to manipulate his assis-
tant, Lee into being a submissive. Throughout the story both parties learn about their sexuality and their struggle to be open about their unconventional desires. Their relationship is interesting, empowering and most importantly, the sex is hot as hell. 50 Shades of Grey achieved none of the above yet has received world-wide attention despite it portraying BDSM as abusive and more toy-obsessed than love-obsessed.

In pop culture, fetishes seem to be more about ticking a checklist rather than adding fun to an already loving relationship. Who can blame us when our feeds are filled with influencers looking bangin’ in Creepyyeha bondage-inspired lingerie and every second friend wearing a leather harness to Strawberry Fields. We all have our own way of expressing sexuality but what if fitting in means being into kinky sex when all you wanted was
the heart-shaped choker?

As young people are typically in the early stages of relationships, we are usually still wanting to impress our
partner; and in fear of being seen as boring, we might even consent to something we don’t want or aren’t ready for. An example of this might be a dom demanding submission or trust from their partner before they have established a solid relationship with them. This lack of respect and communication can have a hugely detrimental effect on the sub’s understanding of their sexuality and the future relationships of everyone involved.

But is being into kinky sex key to a good relationship? Of course not!

The fact of the matter is though that if you aren’t into all the bells and whistles, you might get called ‘vanilla’, which speaks volumes as to why young people might fake it till they make it. ‘Vanilla sex’ is seen as plain, rigid and often defined by what it isn’t rather than what it is, perpetuating this idea that you have to be kinky to be worth it.

This affects not only people who are pressured into kink culture, but it also affects the kink community as a whole. It taints the non-judgemental nature of the community and devalues the grave importance they place on consent.

Besides, if all that’s driving you to be kinky is a fear of being vanilla, you’re fighting a losing battle. Sexuality and intimacy are exciting and confusing parts of everyone’s lives, so what might be considered vanilla today probably won’t be what’s vanilla tomorrow. Your best bet is to just explore what feels good for you in a comfy
environment where you can get your freak on with or without a butt-plug.

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