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Sex In The City: Don’t iron out your kinks

Emma-Louise Boynton asks whether kink can heal us...

Kinky boots

/ Kinky boots | @hardcoredecor
22 September 2022

I used to feel ashamed of what turned me on,’ a friend recently confided. ‘I felt guilty and grossed out by what I wanted to explore sexually, the porn I watched, what made me orgasm…’

Then they found the kink community. And had a sexual revolution of sorts.

‘Kink can actually be really healing,’ they concluded. I was intrigued. ‘Kink’ refers to everything from role-play to bondage, impact play, power exchange and beyond. According to the US-based Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center, kink can help people work through — and even overwrite — trauma by creating an environment in which someone can choose what they want to experience during sex.

‘I’ve watched many people grow and come through difficult times through exploring kink,’ says Alex Warren, founder of the kink and fetish party, Crossbreed. ‘Lots of the practices that kink involves can be translated and utilised among those who aren’t necessarily into kink itself,’ they explain.

Chiefly, these practices emphasise communication through negotiation (setting out what you and your sexual partner want), boundary-setting (choosing ‘safe-words’ to use if/when you don’t feel comfortable) and aftercare (checking in with each other and discussing what did and didn’t work).

As someone who struggles to communicate during sex, I squirm at the thought of verbalising exactly what I want to a prospective sexual partner. More so the prospect of a post-coital evaluation. But for Florence Bark, co-host of the F***s Given podcast, getting into the kink scene was key to her sexual (re)exploration following a traumatic break-up. A self-described control freak, she says she has found a place to let go and be vulnerable, while the emphasis on communication keeps her feeling safe. So what is her advice for those looking to explore kink, I asked? (For a friend, of course.)

‘Klub Verboten and Crossbreed have mixers where you can meet people without going straight into a sex party,’ she advises. ‘And dating app Feeld is also great, but always use online platforms with caution’. And when it comes to the actual play? ‘Voice everything you’re thinking and feeling. Never be embarrassed to say “no” or to ask for things to be explained. And take it slow — find someone to explore with who you fully trust.’

Need a sex question answered? Email Emma-Louise at Emma-Louise.Boynton

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