Feature by Nikita Fernandes
If you’re curious about kinks, you’ve come to the right place. Chances are you’ve heard the word kink before, as we move towards a society where sex is less stigmatized and people are having more open conversations about it. Psychological researcher Samuel Hughes defines kinks as “consensual, non-traditional sexual, sensual, and intimate behaviors such as sadomasochism, domination and submission, erotic roleplaying, fetishism, and erotic forms of discipline.” Kinks provide a way for us to engage in non-traditional sex through the lens of consent and mutual agreement. It takes people beyond the heteronormative context and allows us to question and challenge the set norms of society. Seeking kink affirming spaces offer a wonderful way to meet like-minded people and learn more about the experience. New York City offers a myriad of ways to get involved in kink or sex-positive communities be it attending a BDSM conference, attending a play party, or getting a Fetlife profile, which is essentially a social platform that connects people with similar kinks.
Exploring the kink community can be an awakening and empowering experience for people who previously felt isolated and stigmatized about their kink identity before. People with kinks were historically pathologized which took away people’s access to education about it from a non-pathologizing standpoint. This can lead to people engaging in kink without the awareness that they need to do so in a safe way. While navigating a new kink space, it is crucial to gain awareness and education about how people participate in kink dynamics. Sex-positive groups have been advocating for education in these spaces and often host guest speakers that give talks about non-monogamy, the leather community, and other topics that one might not be exposed to in their everyday life. Awareness about consent, boundaries, preparation, and after-care are emphasized and often get overlooked by people who are starting out. Learning about kink can give them a new understanding of kink and fetishes and how to navigate sex-affirming spaces in a way that feels comfortable to them.
There is a wealth of knowledge to be absorbed about the kink world. A good place to start would be to pick up a book or search for community educational events. Playing Well With Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Navigating and Exploring the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities, by Lee Harrington for example explores a variety of topics including easing into sex communities, navigating kink aftercare, and exploring play parties.
Kink will feel more approachable and less intimidating when we arm ourselves with knowledge before diving in.