About kink and BDSM

Over the last decade BDSM and other areas of kink have leaped out of the dungeons and exploded into main stream society. Hollywood movies like “50 Shades of Grey“ have romanticized kink, making it more main stream. Now more than ever, greater numbers of heterosexual and LGBTQ individails are starting to explore some form of kink. However, the sudden surge of interest and excitement has brought with it profound misunderstanding and a lack of knowledge that if unchecked with proper education and mentoring may eventually lead to unintentional physical and psychological harm. [1] 

What is Kink?

Kink, in human sexuality, refers to non-conventional sexual practices, concepts or fantasies. The word kink started as a colloquial or slang term referring to the "bend" (or kink) in one's “straight” sexual behavior. In contrast to kink, the non-kinky are referred to as "straight" or "vanilla." A kinky or BDSM "scene" is the  physical act of exploring a fetish. One or more kinksters will negotiate scenes for play with each other. The details of a scene are always pre-arranged, consensual, and conducted in a psychologically and physiologically safe manor [1]


Kink involves the practice of sexual fetishism including an almost limitless range of sexual practices from playfully sensual to more intense sexual objectification and BDSM. According to an extensive survey conducted by Susan Wright, the most frequent kink behaviors engaged in by 75% to 90% of practitioners were bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, spanking, leather, role-playing, exhibitionism, polyamory, clothing fetish, and voyeurism.[2]

More Then Simply Whips and Chains

It’s important to understand that for some kink is not a choice, or just a lifestyle. For many within the kink community, they are only attracted to, or feel they can form a meaningful relationships with, other kinksters. As psychologist Tess Gemberling and colleagues summarized:


"Specifically, although theories describing its origin abound, it remains unclear whether BDSM is best conceptualized as a sexual behavior, sexual attraction, sexual identity, and/or sexual orientation for those who practice for sexual purposes … Consistent with a sex-positive framework, BDSM may be best conceptualized as another form of sexual orientation for a percentage of practitioners." [3]


Psychologist Margie Nichols describes kink as one of the "variations that make up the 'Q' in LGBTQ".[2] This has brought kink to a whole different level of understanding and acceptance. Many organizations, businesses and even universities have begun to feature support groups or student organizations focused on kink, within the context of wider LGBTQ concerns.[4]

Page Citations

[1] Shahbaz, Caroline; Chirinos, Peter (2016). Becoming a Kink Aware Therapist. Routledge. ISBN 9781315295312.

[2} Savin-Williams, Ritch C. (2019-01-22) What Is Kink? Kink behaviors generate a power dynamic through sexual acivities. Psychology Today. 

[3] Gemberling, Tess; Cramer, Robert; Miller, Rowland; (2015-11) “BDSM as Sexual Orientation: A Comparison to Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Sexuality” (PDF). Journal of Positive Sexuality, Vol. 1.
[4] Coslor, Erica; Crawford, Brett; Brents, Barbara (2017-01-01). "Whips, Chains and Books on Campus: How Organizations Legitimate Their Stigmatized Practices" (PDF). Academy of Management Proceedings. 2017. ISSN 0065-0668.

[4] Dossie Easton, Catherine A. Liszt, When Someone You Love Is Kinky, Greenery Press, 2000. ISBN 1-890159-23-9.