Writer: Victoria Loizides Artist: Griffin McGrath
It’s about to get saucy.
So, you’ve made it back to your place, and staggering behind you is your date, so close that even the jimmying of the key in the lock of your front door won’t blur the sound of their heavy breath. You’ve just come back from a pool bar (the universal symbol that almost promises a sexy time). They won twice, and you, once. Sparks fly.
“It’s down the corridor, second door to your left,” you say.
“I’ll be there in a minute,” you say.
They have other plans, grabbing your waist with urgency until somehow you’re both almost stark naked outside your housemate’s bedroom door. Quickly now, you make your way into your room, and the fun begins. There was definitely touching, a lot of kissing, some hip-moving action. All welcome in the story of first-date sex. And then there was slapping, hair-pulling and choking.
Lived experience and discussions with friends have taught me that the intersection of pain and pleasure in sex is common practice. Now, let’s be clear; fetishes and sexual preferences are normal, healthy extensions of ourselves. Kink practitioners — those who engage in unconventional sexual behaviour — deserve space to feel safe and warranted. But at times, kinks can be wrongly performed without the affirmative consent of a sexual partner. Even more so, kinks can perceived as the be-all and end-all of good, sexy sex — so much so that there sometimes exists a certain pressure to just go along with it, despite not wanting to.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the date you just perved in on is how a lot of my first dates go down with cis, heterosexual men. Neither of us bat an eyelid when we later cuddle on top of my cum-stained sheets. Sweet, sweet sleep.
So when I reflect on these performances of pain-meets-pleasure, wrongly or rightly they don’t usually slot in with my idea of kinky sex, because to me it’s just sex, and that’s just what happens during sex, right? It’s also not entirely surprising that first dates, second dates, and long-term partners seek to spice things up in the bedroom with dominance and discipline when the vast array of porn websites suggest you watch a ‘tiny teen getting face fucked and slapped’. Whether we like it or not, our actions in bed reflect what is freely accessible online, as we navigate this path in the absence of the sex education we deserved. This is an official call-out to Pornhub: NO MORE TINY TEENS — DO BETTER!
However, the problem goes beyond mainstream pornography and its desire to exclude real people having fun, safe, queer, feminist, representative, bushy-pubed, hairy-nippled, sexy sex. It’s that, generally speaking, and without a word, choking and the like has become so incorporated into most of our sex lives that these previously naughty and exciting kinks can’t even be classified as kinky anymore. They seem to live in the conventional sex realm now. Like I said, that’s just what happens during sex, isn’t it? To put it plainly, some kinks have become so mainstream and normalised that we have come to accept them as just plain old sex. The sexiness feels like a veneer to the truth; that painful pleasure is becoming somewhat of an expectation in bed.
Instead, our expectations should be drawn from what a sexual partner feels comfortable with in the moment. And whilst kinky sex has always had a place in the sex lives of those who choose it, that’s not to say that kinkless sex is any less worthy, pleasurable or valid. I guess to put it more broadly, it’s important to emotionally and physically understand the sexual behaviours that incorporate pain and pleasure in order to establish their place in our lives, and the measures of care that must follow.
Consent, care and old-fashioned horniness can help us draw the line for kink in 2022. Let’s get wet, respectfully.