What kink shaming is and how NOT to do it

There are plenty of kinks out there. Some are a dime a dozen (foot fetish, we’re looking at you) and some are a bit more unique (ever heard of formicophilia, being turned on by insects crawling over the body?) 

Yep, the broad spectrum of human desire is a wild, wacky, and beautiful thing. From role play to watersports to voyeurism, no one should be made to feel bad about expressing their sexuality with enthusiasm - and importantly, consent. 

What IS kink shaming? 

Remember that episode of Sex and the City when Carrie met Bill Kelley, the dreamy politician, dumped him upon learning he was into golden showers, and then wrote a big old newspaper column about how gross it made him? That was textbook kink shaming. 

Kink shaming literally means making another person feel guilty or embarrassed about their sexual fantasies. It’s saying, “Ew, that’s gross,” or “Why would anyone like that?” 

Kink shaming isn’t always deliberate. Some people are just gunning for a cheap laugh at the expense of a furry convention, or projecting insecurity about aspects of their own sexuality onto others. But whatever the reason, it isn’t ok to yuck someone’s yum. 

What ISN’T kink shaming? 

Saying, “That doesn’t turn me on,” or “I’m not comfortable with that” is not kink shaming. You always have the right to set firm, healthy boundaries, especially when it comes to sex. Being kink friendly does not mean saying yes to everything. 

Calling out unsafe and nonconsensual sexual practices is not kink shaming. 

Nor is condemning people who exploit kink as an excuse to mistreat others.

Why is kink shaming bad? 

Kink shaming statements can make the people around you feel broken, weird or misunderstood, without you even realising it. It stems from sex-negative attitudes of centuries past, and demonstrates a failure to understand and empathise with others. 

Plus, being closed-minded limits you from exploring your sexuality, and maybe even discovering that kink you never knew you had…

How can we avoid kink shaming? 

Some people are loud and proud about disclosing their kinks. Others find it super vulnerable. Create a safe space for your friends and partners to share their desires without fear of being mocked. 

If your partner wants to explore their kink with you, seek first to understand, not to judge. If you’re into it too, or open to finding out, go get it! If not, that’s fine too. Convey that to your partner the way you’d like to receive it, keeping your language gentle, and using “I” statements instead of “you” statements. 

Finally, practise self acceptance. Some of the most common kink-shaming occurs within the self, when people feel embarrassed by their own desires. And that’s the real shame. 

By stopping kink shaming we can create a culture of sex positivity and allow our sexual wellness to thrive. Don’t be like Carrie Bradshaw, television’s most sex-negative sex columnist.

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