I forget whom I saw write about how some of the ways that nonBDSM people are free to talk about sexuality while hinting at kink, or at least “vanilla with sprinkles”, but it was probably Clarisse Thorn (though it may have been Pandora Blake). Whoever it was, she was talking about political or business or platonic circumstances.
I have made no secret of my investigations of the more “ethical” versions of pick-up artistry (those that seem genuinely to care about such things even if, in my opinion, they are not always on the right page) in trying to figure out how to improve my capabilities when it comes to relating to other humans in a romantic/sexual relationship kind of way. And I’m running across a similar thing of “ways that ‘nillas can talk kinky but BDSMers can’t”, when advisers like Daygame, or Hayley Quinn, talk about how to create sexual tension on a date.
Both of them suggest using hints about being naughty or needing punishment: the one I remember from the Daygame site is using the line, “You clearly weren’t spanked enough when you were young!” (which, needless to say, is a very risky thing to say if you don’t know their history).
In Hayley Quinn’s product “Best She Ever Had”, which is about sexual technique, she talks about “verbal sex”, meaning how you imply sexuality to get a (presumed female) partner in the mood. She suggests saying things like “Good girl”, “You’re in trouble”, “Naughty”, or using words like “restraint” (as in, I kid you not, “I’m needing to show a lot of restraint around you” – which, how rapey does that sound?) Then she adds, “She shouldn’t be thinking OMG he’s going to tie me up later for sure, but just that question mark.”
But if your primary sexuality is BDSM then either there is tying up (or spanking, or SM, or proper power exchange) or there isn’t sex (or at least, there isn’t much point to the sex). If tying up, etc, is what you’re looking for, then it’s a problem.
Similarly, if you meet someone and you are both looking for a D/s or BDSM relationship, if you use words like “you need a spanking”, or “you’re in trouble”, or “good girl”, when you have not established that you have that power exchange in place yet, it can (and often does) backfire spectacularly. I have lost count of the times Subs have described meeting (would-be) Doms for dates and the Doms have pulled that kind of thing and it’s killed everything.
I can see why it works for a ‘nilla couple to create a sense of make-believe danger or sexual tension. But Quinn’s advice is about avoiding seeming like the “horny teenage boy who just wants to stick his dick in her”, and when your sexuality is BDSM, then saying things like Quinn suggests (or the Daygame site suggests) is no different that diving straight in with the bad, “horny teenager” language Quinn is advising against.
I could, in theory, drop those lines into a date with a woman whom I have met through ‘nilla dating and whom I suspect may have “latent kink” (unlike some, I refuse to rule out the possibility of “corrupting the ‘nilla”, i.e. having a working relationship with someone who hasn’t done BDSM before). But doing so would be awkward: it will obscure the genuine message of “I’m kinky, are you?” that needs to be negotiated, and of course, what if she thinks it’s a joke, and suddenly realises it’s not? To me, that feels like an episode of “OMG He’s Creepy All Along!” (which is a programme that totally shouldn’t exist but I can think of half a dozen channels that might commission it, or at least buy the rights to show it).
Hayley includes a small section on BDSM in her closing section, “Advanced Sexual Techniques”, dedicated to “slightly more edgy or out there sexual acts”. She leaves out the D/s part of the definition, and thinks it sounds “scary”, then says:
In reality, rather than being whips and chains and 50 Shades of Grey, it can just mean experimenting with you being in a strong masculine role and her being in a strong feminine role, or her being dominant and you being a bit more submissive.
For her, BDSM is purely something that you add on later to create some “spice”. It’s not actually about masochism, or sadism, it’s about a little naughty thrill, a game that helps couples connect. And yes, BDSM is that, but it’s not just that, for those of us whose sex lives and sexual experience/identity/expression are defined by power exchange, pleasure through pain (or through enduring/inducing suffering), and deep obedience or restraint. I accept that the product is aimed at people who aren’t like me (for one thing, it’s aimed at people who identify with “male”; and of course, the author wants to aim it at the broadest market possible, so the “average” sexual man), but all the same, it feels insulting and dismissive to treat what is a core element of my sexuality in such a casual and offhand manner.
BDSM needs so much more than Quinn bothers to address. In one way, I feel, it really is “advanced sexual technique”, because I find that much of the good advice earlier in the course comes naturally through my BDSM identity. Things like “teasing through the day to get her in the mood” – second nature in a D/s dynamic (especially the suggestion to tell a partner to “wear heels” or a similar instruction, before the date), and when that dynamic is established, of course, it does use all those little “hints” that Quinn mentions. Simply because “What It Is That We Do” needs a more aware, alert, and connected sense of self than the presumed vanilla relationship style, things that Quinn explains (the things that are more about style than about negotiation) seem obvious. (Of course, some of them seem obvious to me because of my genderfluid/non-binary feminine side).
But other things, particularly things that depend heavily on assumed or implicit consent, taking assumed leadership in decisions, or that depend on making those joking references – are things that both mean something different, and can be extremely dangerous when you engage with BDSM (they can be dangerous in ‘nillaland too, of course).