My Kink Workshop for Vanilla Folks

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I recently gave a workshop on kink to several vanilla people at the New Culture Spring Camp in Yucca Valley. It was the hardest workshop that I have ever given.

Here’s why:

1. Some of the people viewed kink as some kind of weird lifestyle and thought it was wrong or that kinky people were troubled or deviant. Of course, they also thought kink was all about pain and were unaware of the head space and the power exchange.

2. Some of the people wanted to “get into kink” in order to get dates. They said that their dating pool was small, and that they often got rejected by people who weren’t looking for vanilla.

3. Some of the people had dated folks who were kinky in the past and forced themselves to do kinky things that they didn’t enjoy for the sake of their partner.

Keep in mind; I have only ever done workshops for kinky people before. I talk about scene negotiation, specific fetishes, and all sort of other stuff; but I do this with folks who are open and accepting of the material because they are already kinky. I knew going in that this workshop would be a challenge, but I had no idea how much of a challenge it would be until I was actually giving it.

It turns out that I don’t even know where to start when trying to explain what kink is. If someone thinks it is all folks who dress up in animal costumes or whip each other with barbed wire, where do I even begin? Obviously I wanted to try to convey the fact that it’s a power exchange more than anything else. I wanted to say that not everyone even likes pain, and that there are a lot of different kind of kinks. And yet, with a time limit of an hour, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of material I would need to explain.

Don’t worry. I did my best to represent us in a positive light. I tried to focus on how we are an open and tolerant community, and how our motto is “safe, sane, and consensual.” I did my best to explain that we are not scary, nor are we dangerous. I wanted them to see us as normal people who just happen to enjoy different things in bed.

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The truth is, it was the people who wanted to “become” kinky to get dates that I felt the most empathy for. How many of us have found a person we really like, only to discover that they are vanilla? It is the subject of blog after blog, and article after article. On the BDSM subreddit there are always posts by kinky people who are trying to decide if they can be satisfied by vanilla sex because their partner is vanilla and won’t try anything kinky.

I hate to say it, but I think the sad truth is that we are born how we are born. I know that I was masturbating to kidnapping fantasies and spanking fantasies when I first figured out how to get off (around 5 years of age for most girls.) At the time, I didn’t even know what sex was. I didn’t know that boys had penises, and I hadn’t even discovered yet that I had a vagina.

(For the confused: women don’t cum from penetration, we cum from clitoral stimulation. I feel like I have to explain that because I know at least one person who reads this will wonder “how could she be masturbating before she found her vagina?”)

At many munches, we have gone around the table and talked about when we knew we were kinky. For all of us, it was when we were very young. Some folks even figured out that we were kinky before we knew we were gay/bi/straight. You don’t have to focus on what gender person is doing things to you in your fantasies if you are blindfolded.

For those who want to “get into kink” to get dates, I guess I have to pause and wonder if you can.

And then of course there were the folks who forced themselves to do kinky things to please their partners. It is not my place to judge what you do for love. Obviously you should do whatever you need to do to be happy. However, it did rub me the wrong way. It sounds so rapey to be pressured into something you don’t want to do, doesn’t it?

In the end, I walked away hoping that I represented myself as a normal human (not a scary monster) and that those vanilla folks at least thought of us in a more positive light. I don’t know if I succeeded or not, but I did my very best to be patient, enthusiastic, and positive.

I respect that some folks are just looking for vanilla sex. I am sure there are lots of exciting things to do within those boundaries. And, as kinksters, I hope we can all do our best out in the world to be respectful of vanilla people and to put our best foot forward, showing them the same tolerance and acceptance that we show each other. Your kink is not my kink, but that’s okay.

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Generally Accepted Terms

I have lamented before that every community used different terminology for different things, and how this can be confusing if you travel a lot. Every scene has their own inside jokes. However, there definitely are some terms that are generally accepted in all scenes, and it’s important to get them right. People can’t make informed and consensual decisions if they are not properly informed of what is going to happen, after all. And we do always strive for safe, sane, and consensual fun.

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Munch: A munch is when a group of kinky folks get together in a vanilla setting. This often involves going somewhere that serves food, so the term “munch” refers to that. However, I have also attended munches at theme parks, disused prisons, and various other interesting locations.

Note: When you agree to go to a munch, you are expected to dress vanilla unless otherwise specified. It is mostly about getting a chance to meet people, and it is generally assumed that the discussion of kink will be saved for more private areas where no one can be overheard and “outed” by accident to a co-worker of family member.

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Workshop: This is when someone who has some sort of area of expertise chooses to teach the basics to others. This is generally in a private space, like a home or rented club. Dress as specified, because sometimes a group doesn’t want to attract attention, and will ask for vanilla dress. My favorite workshop that I have attended was at a public dungeon called the CSPC, and again, this was strictly for learning purposes. Play is not on the table for such events.

Note: When you agree to go to a workshop, you realize there will be frank discussions about kink-related things. A good presenter usually makes handouts, and sometimes brings another person to demonstrate a specific thing (for proper flogging techniques, I might bring my husband and demonstrate on him.)

play party

Play Party: For a play party, you can expect it to be at a private home because most are. Usually you will be invited to bring your own toys, and other people will bring theirs. It is okay to actually use the toys, and sometimes toys can be shared between consenting folks, so make sure to bring cleaning agents if you plan to bring toys and loan them out. Again, you may be asked to dress vanilla so as not to attract attention to the house of the host, or you may be invited to dress in kink attire. Always ask.

Note: When you agree to go to a play party, you are obviously consenting to seeing people naked. After all, a good flogging session doesn’t involve clothes. You will see other people playing. Note that you must always give a decent amount of space for a scene, so the Dom has room to swing things and not hit you. Remember that it is never okay to interrupt someone else scene or try to involve yourself if you were not invited, and it is never okay to touch someone else’s toys without permission.

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Orgy: These can be at swinger’s clubs like The Velvet Rope and Club Desire, or they can be at a private home. Generally it is expected that you will bring condoms (regardless of your gender) and that you will follow the same rules as a play party in terms of respecting someone’s space unless invited. Even at an orgy, rape is still not okay. Dress, again, depends on the host. Many people who host parties do not want their neighbors to know, so vanilla clothing is often expected.

Note: Going to an orgy does not mean you consent to sex. You can just go and watch. People are still expected to respect your personal space unless invited into it, and you should still negotiate all scenes before they take place. You are consenting to see people naked, but this does not mean you have to be naked. Remember to give everyone space and, as was the motto of Club Sesso, “Don’t be a creep.”

Remember: If you organize events, you need to use the correct terms. People need to know what they are consenting to in advance. You do not want to create an atmosphere where people feel uncomfortable, because this reflects poorly on the community as a whole, and no one should want to do that.