Content warning: This article discusses controversial kinks such as consensual non-consent that might be triggering to some readers.
One thing that the internet has provided us with is exposure to a plethora of kinks and fetishes that we might not otherwise have access to. This allows us to more easily find information about our sexual curiosities and helps us connect with like-minded communities where we can safely explore such desires. On a collective level, it has helped us understand that regardless of what we might be into, there’s someone out there who is craving the exact same thing.
As long as our sexual desires fall under the umbrella of safe, sane, and consensual1, we should not be ashamed of them, regardless of how unusual they might seem. What we should do is endeavor to understand where they stem from and why we are inclined towards them.
When I became sexually active in my young adulthood, I noticed that a lot of my masturbatory fantasies revolved around domination and consensual non-consent. I loved the idea of relinquishing control, of being made helpless through bondage and my partner having their way with me. I fantasized about my partner coming home while I was asleep and using my body for pleasure while I remained unconscious. In other scenarios, I would imagine myself pleading for mercy and being ignored while my partner asserted that they knew better than me what my body needed.
At first, I was very ashamed and confused by these desires. I thought that they indicated some buried sexual trauma, even though I consciously knew that wasn’t the case. I knew that I wasn’t fantasizing about actually being sexual abused, but about role playing a scene with a consenting partner who was aware of my boundaries and would respect my wishes if I chose to stop. Still, the reality of sexual abuse as a trauma that many people face made me feel wrong for wanting to reenact it in my sex life.
It was around this time that I discovered FetLife and was introduced to a range of kinks and fetishes, many more extreme than mine. I have always found sex to be an fascinating topic for conversation, but realized very early on that most people, and men in particular, would misinterpret my intrigue as expressing sexual interest, so I learned to keep my mouth shut. FetLife was the first place where I was able to have discussions with people about my fetishes and kinks without them making the assumption that I wanted to be sexual with them.2
At the time, the general attitude that I encountered was that it didn’t matter why we liked what we liked. The only thing that mattered was that we acknowledge our desires and find someone (or someones) with whom we could consensually play them out.
In retrospect, I think this approach was helpful as it allowed me to release self-judgment and give myself permission to begin trying to actualize my fantasies. At that time, I do not think I would have been able to critically examine why I was gravitating to these acts without falling into a shame spiral.
As I found partners with whom I felt safe roleplaying my fantasies, my desires began to evolve. I learned that it did not always feel safe or good to replicate my fantasies exactly as I had imagined them. I realized that the type of dominance I was craving was more nurturing as opposed to sadistic. I learned that I needed a lot of aftercare and reassurance after a scene in order to show my subconscious mind that these acts, which felt extreme in the moment, were being done by someone who cared about my well-being.
Recently, I noticed that my sexual fantasies had shifted dramatically, which encouraged me to explore why I was drawn to consensual non-consent and other similar acts in the first place. At this point it had been more than a decade since I first began to acknowledge these desires and I had explored them with many partners many times over.
Looking back and considering the entirety of my sexual history and education, I was able to see that the ideas of sex being obligatory and my pleasure being secondary were reinforced throughout my childhood. I was sold abstinence as the primary method for avoiding pregnancy and was not given much information about sex other than I should wait until I was married. No one acknowledged that I possessed sexual and sensual desires that existed outside of my relationship to men and that were mine alone.
Taking this history into account, it’s no wonder that when I first became sexually active, it felt safest and most natural to fantasize about someone else making decisions about my pleasure. This was a way for me to acknowledge my sexual desires while giving someone else the responsibility of executing them. However, the fact that this person was helping me act out a personal fantasy validated on some level that I was worthy of having my needs met. Over time, it helped me become more comfortable with my sexuality and more capable of asserting my desires. Eventually, I found myself drawn to a broader range of fantasies and no longer felt beholden to play a submissive role.
This mental exploration is especially important for those who have problematic kinks, for example, those who want to act out racism or extreme degradation. In my experience, it is never as simple as “I like what I like,” and to dismiss your desires as such will only curtail your sexual evolution.
You can approach this by first researching about your kinks to see how they look in practice and to understand why other people enjoy it. When I say research, I’m not referring to porn, as porn often depicts fantasies. While the actors might be willing to engage in certain kinks or sexual acts, that doesn’t mean that they prefer them in their personal sex lives.
After you’ve learned more about your kinks, you can find a consenting partner (or partners) who shares similar curiosities that you can explore together. This allows you to be in conversation with a real person and will also give you a different perspective on your kinks. It’s more likely that you will fixate on a kink if your only engagement with it is through porn or fantasy. Understanding how to navigate your kinks with real people without causing harm will encourage you to be mindful of potential consequences. It will also encourage you to be creative and take different approaches to actualizing your fantasy.
After you’ve had a chance to sate your appetite, you can begin to take a more critical approach and try to find links between your controversial cravings and your sexual history and education, as well as your personal beliefs. Observe whether anything has shifted since you first recognized this fantasy and began to put it into practice. If you can’t perceive any changes, that is also something to look into.
Humans are habitual creatures and it’s easy to get stuck replaying the same fantasies even though on some level we know we are ready to evolve. Exploring what drives our desires and discovering their origins can help us release those we’ve outgrown and make space for new yearnings.
1 – For more information on safe, sane, and consensual (SSC), risk-aware consensual kink (RACK), and the 4Cs, visit these links:
2 – I want to be very clear that FetLife is not the same site that I found over ten years ago. Proceed with caution and know that there are multiple avenues for exploring your kinks. In my experience, Meetup is also a great tool for finding communities and events of all types.
Feature Image by Tina Maria Elena