A Beginner’s Kink

Leather cuffs, BDSM

Here’s where we try to gather some vocabulary and resources about kink and open relationships for those who are exploring or are merely curious. Feel free to comment with your own pearls of wisdom. Or is that anal beads I’m thinking of…

Kink is used as an inclusive term that covers BDSM, sadomasochism, kinky sex, dominance and submission, role play, sex games, fantasy, fetish and other alternative erotic expressions.

BDSM is an erotic preference and a form of sexual expression involving the consensual use of restraint, intense sensory stimulation, and fantasy power role play. The compound initialism BDSM is derived from the terms bondage and discipline (B&D or B/D), dominance and submission (D&S or D/s), and sadism and masochism (S&M or S/M). BDSM includes a wide spectrum of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships, and distinct subcultures. Here’s the Wikipedia page to read more.

Dominant can mean a male Dom or female Domme, Femdomme or Dominatrix. In general terms, kinky folk enact fantasies in which one person is powerful – maybe an owner, a disciplinarian, an abductor, a parent – and the other is submissive. The submissive or sub can be many things, perhaps a slave, an animal or captive. The Dom and sub may  play with these roles for a short time as an erotic escapade or for much longer.

In a scene, the Dominant or Top is the “doer,” the person in charge who initiates activities and does things to the submissive or bottom. A bottom follows the Dominant’s lead and has things done to him or her. Top and bottom can also be used as verbs, “I topped my girlfriend last night.”

A switch is someone who enjoys playing both roles, sometimes switching roles in the same scene.

A scene is a play space where kinky people act out their fantasies. Play is a common term used to describe the practice of BDSM, as in “I had my play partner flog me at the play party.”

Limits – Everyone has them. Before a scene, the players should discuss what they like and don’t like. Negotiation should happen before consent is given, and everyone should have a safeword picked out beforehand. There are physical limits we must respect as well as mental. The mantra is “safe, sane and concensual.”

Safeword – A safeword should be an uncommon word, and when it’s uttered, all play stops immediately. The scene comes to a halt right away. Many kinksters like to use the words “yellow” and “red.” Yellow will slow down the play and give the players in the scene a chance to regroup or change the pace of a scene. Red stops everything.

CONSENT – Consent means explicit, informed verbal approval. Consent means a confident and secure YES! to what is about to happen between play partners. Consent is the bedrock of kink and the most significant element of healthy sexual relationships. Consent is the difference between kink and abuse.





When Someone You Love is Kinky by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt    “Many, many people in this world have sexual interests or practices that are in some way unusual. These people may enjoy bondage or spanking, erotic role-playing, dressing in special clothes that turn them on, or a host of other activities that place them outside the sexual mainstream. Your mechanic might have an alternative sexuality, or your librarian, or your kids’ teacher, or your boss…If someone you love has a sexual kink, or if you suspect that she may, and you want to know more about what that means to her and how you can deal with what it means to you, this book is for you.”

The Ultimate Guide to Kink by Tristan Taormino – Award-winning author, filmmaker and sex educator Tristan Taormino presents this bold and sexy treasury that runs the gamut from expert tutorials on kinky erotic practices to thought-provoking essays that delve into complex questions about desire, power and pleasure. The Ultimate Guide to Kink features the expertise of renowned educators writing passionately on their favorite subjects.

“This is more than just a guide to kink, it’s more than a sex manual. Editor Tristan Taormino has brought the players, thinkers and rock stars of the kink scene and together they have created a book that not only lets people know where to start, but why to start, and what they’ll get out of it. Vanillas, novices, old hands, old guard-everyone can learn from this collection.” – Dan Savage

Playing Well with Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities by Lee Harrington and Mollena Williams – Whether you’re a trembling novice or a jaded expert, there’s always something new to be discovered in the endlessly changing, complex and titillating world of kink. While there are plenty of other books out there that explain how to give a spanking or tie a half-hitch, Playing Well With Others is the first book that explains kink *culture* — the munches, parties, leather bars, conferences, workshops, fetish nights, exploratoriums and all the other gatherings of kinksters that turn BDSM and leather from a bedroom predilection to a lifestyle and a community. You’ll learn to: * Examine your own motivations, needs, wants and desires * Ease your way into established communities * Understand etiquette in different adventurous sex communities * Familiarize yourself with the many types of events available to you * Care for your relationships as you explore new territory * Negotiate for play and aftercare * Go back to the “world at large” without ruffling feathers * …and, of course, answer the all-important question: What do you wear?!

The Loving Dominant by John Warren and Libby Warren – Everything the amateur player needs to know about heterosexual, male-dominant love-making. Warrenaka Mentoris is a longtime participant in the dominance/submission scene. As he guides readers through this rarely seen world, he offers clear-eyed advice that will refresh and enlighten the most well-informed erotic explorers. Most importantly, Mentor discusses the hidden basis of the D/S relationship: the care, trust and love between partners.

The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy – Many students of open relationships view this as *the* essential primer to beginning polyamorous relationships.

For anyone who has ever dreamed of love, sex, and companionship beyond the limits of traditional monogamy, this groundbreaking guide navigates the infinite possibilities that open relationships can offer. Experienced ethical sluts Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy dispel myths and cover all the skills necessary to maintain a successful and responsible polyamorous lifestyle–from self-reflection and honest communication to practicing safe sex and raising a family. Individuals and their partners will learn how to discuss and honor boundaries, resolve conflicts, and to define relationships on their own terms.

“I couldn’t stop reading it, and I for one identify as an ethical slut. This is a book for anyone interested in creating more pleasure in their lives . . . a complete guide to improving any style of relating, from going steady to having an extended family of sexual friends.” –Betty Dodson, PhD, author of Sex for One

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino –  Relationship expert and bestselling author Tristan Taormino offers a bold new strategy for creating loving, lasting relationships. Drawing on in-depth interviews with over a hundred women and men, Opening Up explores the real-life benefits and challenges of all styles of open relationships — from partnered non-monogamy to solo polyamory. With her refreshingly down-to-earth style and sharp wit, Taormino offers solutions for making an open relationship work, including tips on dealing with jealousy, negotiating boundaries, finding community, parenting and time management. Opening Up will change the way you think about intimacy.

Polyamory: Roadmaps for the Clueless & Hopeful  by Anthony Ravenscroft – Polyamory (the book) is for everyone with any interest in the subject. Whether you’re merely curious, or already embroiled in a complex responsibly non-monogamous life, you will find a greater understanding of what is going on. Even if you are happily married for the rest of your life, you will improve your relationships with the other people in your life.

Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What it Means for Modern Relationships by Christopher Ryan

“Sex at Dawn challenges conventional wisdom about sex in a big way. By examining the prehistoric origins of human sexual behavior the authors are able to expose the fallacies and weaknesses of standard theories proposed by most experts. This is a provocative, entertaining, and pioneering book. I learned a lot from it and recommend it highly.” — Andrew Weil, M.D.

“Sex at Dawn irrefutably shows that what is obvious—that human beings, both male and female, are lustful—is true, and has always been so…. The more dubious its evidentiary basis and lack of connection with current reality, the more ardently the scientific inevitability of monogamy is maintained—even as it falls away around us.” — Stanton Peele, Ph.D.

A controversial, idea-driven book that challenges everything you (think you) know about sex, monogamy, marriage, and family. In the words of Steve Taylor (The Fall, Waking From Sleep), Sex at Dawn is “a wonderfully provocative and well-written book which completely re-evaluates human sexual behavior and gets to the root of many of our social and psychological ills.”