what is Kink?

what is Kink?

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series lexicon

I met her in a club down in old Soho
Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca-Cola
C-O-L-A . . . Cola
She walked up to me and she asked me to dance
I asked her her name and in a dark brown voice she said Lola
L-O-L-A . . . Lola, la-la-la-la Lola!
     ~ Ray Davies / Lola

kinky offeringThe English language is an ever interesting construct, evolving and growing with usage in ways we might once have never imagined. Even for folks who do not find our language fascinating, there’s no escaping the need to grow and adapt with society’s chosen method of communication, the written and spoken word. That’s at the heart of this series of posts, it’s an ongoing attempt to define the specialized language that has evolved within the community of people who practice alternative sexual lifestyles.

As a young boy growing up, I never thought the word “kink” meant anything but having some extra curl in one’s hair, the kind of curl that I didn’t have. In my teens, I would have immediately thought of All Day and All of the Night, You Really Got Me, and Lola instead. At that age, I couldn’t help associating the word with the iconic rock band, The Kinks. At least we’re moving a little closer to the mark for a contemporary adult definition of the work kink by discussing the namesake band, at least in terms of the definition we are working towards here. There’s no denying that the song Lola isn’t just by the Kinks, it’s about a form of kink too . . .


“Kink” is simply a name used for the world of alternative sexuality.  In first trying to get a working knowledge of this term for use here at Michael Samadhi’s Joy of Kink, let’s look to Wikipedia for a definition:

In human sexuality, kink describes a range of practices: spanking, tickling, bondage, dominance and submission, sadomasochism (BDSM), cuckoldry and sexual fetishism. Kinky practices go beyond what are considered conventional sexual practices as a means of heightening the intimacy between sexual partners. Some draw a distinction between kink and fetishism, defining the former as enhancing partner intimacy, and the latter as replacing it. While others define “kink” as lesser (possibly socially acceptable) form of fetishism. Because of its relation to “normal” sexual boundaries, which themselves vary by time and place, the definition of what is and is not kink varies widely as well. Practitioners are sometimes considered to be perverts by “outsiders”.

That’s a pretty wide-ranging definition, and it doesn’t give a lot of clarity or understanding to the term kink, perhaps another alternative definition might help . . .

We will be using “kink” as shorthand for: The great big world of sexual adventure, including, but not limited to, voyeurism, exhibitionism, fetishism, fantasy role-playing, cross-dressing, power exchange, swinging, leather identity, erotic restraint, consensual non-monogamy, ‘naughty sex’ and BDSM between consenting adults. In short, the realm of sexuality perceived to be outside the mainstream.

That definition comes from alternative sexuality educators Lee Harrington and Molena Williams.   It’s the last sentence that provides what I consider to be the best insight into what kink is, or isn’t.  Perhaps my favorite of all definitions comes from the introduction to Tristan Taormino’s The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge.

This book is for everyone who dares to expand their erotic horizons beyond the ordinary. For all those who like to give and receive intense sensations. For the people who eroticize power and cultivate consciousness in sex and relationships. For anyone who loves to dance on the line between pleasure and pain. For folks who nurture naked creativity and make fantasies come to life. This book is about kink.

To my mind, it’s actually far easier to define the world of kink by what it isn’t than by what it is – Kink isn’t standard procreative sex as condoned by dogma in many religions.  In other words, if it’s not something that has been given the “Good God Seal of Approval” from pastors, ministers, priests, and/or monks (not the twisted kind) – then it’s probably part of the world of kink.

Kink is the wife who enjoys having her bottom warmed by a spanking given by her husband, kink is the husband who likes to follow the bedroom directions of an assertive wife.  Kink is the guy who’s especially attracted to women’s stockings or underwear, and kink is also the lady who harbors secret “rape” fantasies.  Kink happens when people tie each other up for sexual excitement, or when one partner takes charge of the other’s sexual play, whether for a minute, an hour, a day, or a lifetime.

“Kink”, very simply defined, is the realm of sexual adventure and sexual play.  That’s really all there is to it!    Kink is nothing scary or difficult, kink is adult playtime.  And, that’s the very reason I’m taking the time to write this today; when I look around, I see very few people who couldn’t use, or enjoy, some more sexual adventure in their lives.  If that describes you, then you may very well be ready to embark on your own explorations of the joy of kink . . .

what is BDSM?

what is BDSM?

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series lexicon

Defining BDSM

There are many things that can draw a person to explore BDSM and the joy of kink.  For one group of folks it’s a specific fetish desire.  For some it’s an experimental nature leading them to kink.  Others are attracted exclusively to things that are taboo.  For me, it was an inescapable attraction to games of power and control, which along with the uses of sensation, are the foundations of BDSM play.  When looking at the wide variety of kink expressed by the human animal, we find that BDSM is one of the most important elements, a central pillar (to use a construction metaphor) of the world of kink.

Kink is the wider classification.  All of the many and varied protocols and play associated with BDSM are part of the world of kink.  But, not all kink is BDSM.  To my mind, BDSM is a sub-category of kink for that very reason.  All things BDSM fit inside the kink umbrella, while some kink activities aren’t considered part of BDSM.

Wikipedia actually defines BDSM this way:

“A continuum of erotic practice and expression involving the consensual use of restraint, intense sensory stimulation, and fantasy power role-play.”

When viewing things from a relativistic view, I figure that all human behavior is really part of a continuum.  So, only the last half of the definition seems very useful to my eyes.  The consensual use of restraint, intense sensory stimulation, and fantasy power role-play defines BDSM.  That covers activities ranging from playful restraint and light sensation play (like tickling) – to spanking and role-playing – and from there on to more intense activities like suspension, mummification, flogging, and whipping.

Some fantasies go still further still to the extreme.  For instance, there are entire online communities devoted to people who fantasize about being crushed.  Other groups are devoted to rape and force fantasies.  If you join FetLife, you may very well encounter men who dream of being castrated.  Another group dreams of being subjected to some sort of real medieval torture. I tend to view those sorts of fantasies as being a sub-set of the BDSM world. But, it could be argued that they would be better categorized instead simply as part of the world of kink, as they may not perfectly fit into any of the three subcategories melded together as BDSM.

Odd acronym

BDSM is an odd acronym, in that it is actually three other acronyms joined together. Wikipedia calls such an invention a compound acronym.

B/D or B&D stands for bondage and discipline. Individuals who take part in B/D derive erotic pleasure from activities like being restrained (bondage) and/or being spanked (discipline.)
D/s or D&S stands for dominance and submission. Individuals who practice D/s derive erotic pleasure from activities where one individual relinquishes authority or control to another.
S/M or S&M stands for sadism and masochism or sadomasochism. Individuals who practice S/M derive erotic pleasure from the giving and receiving of strong stimuli, sensations most of us might otherwise consider to be painful or intense.

These days, I prefer to identify with, and place myself under the larger umbrella of “kink”, but when I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I would certainly have told you I was into B&D (not to be confused with D&D, which I was geeky enough to play too) as well as S&M.  Language is a transient thing, and because of that, the way we define ourselves changes and evolves over time. I’ve also found that as a kinky person, my identity and interests are evolving right along with language, at the very same time, seemingly together, and I have no way of really knowing how one affects the other’s development.

When it is all said and done, the term BDSM encompasses a very wide range of activities and subcultures under a single banner. The term kink encompasses and even wider range of cultures and activities under an even larger umbrella. Because these artificial groupings are a relatively recent phenomenon, only time will tell whether such encompassing terms remains useful or meaningful a decade or two in the future.