|Via tumblr happybdsm, which is awesome|
For all the problems in the reality of kink, I love the ideals. Kinksters may not practice perfect consent and communication (or, sometimes, any), but at least we know we're supposed to. We talk about these things, we have classes and workshops on them, we even pass out little flyers about consent and communication. I wish everyone did that. I wish everyone, in this way, had sex the way kinksters do.
You can't avoid communication in kink, because the category of "kink" is too wide open for there to be any "default" script for play. "Wanna hmm-hmm y'know? [meaningful eyebrow wiggle]" is just not ever going to convey "wanna tie me to a chair and verbally humiliate and lightly beat me?" You've got to come out and say it, because there's just no other way your partner will have a clue what you're thinking.
You can't be fuzzy about consent in kink, because what you're doing would be literally torture if it weren't for consent. You can't beat a person black and blue with a cane because they seem like they want you to. You really have to reconsider your life choices if you start tying a person immobile because they didn't tell you to stop. I mean, that doesn't make you a little insensitive or "bad at communicating," that makes you a few steps shy of being the goddamn Jigsaw killer.
Is either of these things really unique to kink? I don't think so. There's certainly a cultural "default" script for heterosexual vanilla intercourse, but is that the only sex you want to have your whole life? And there's certainly more tolerance in society for "I kissed him so he should've known I wanted to have sex" than there is for "I kissed him so he should've known to handcuff my wrists to my ankles," but I'm not sure the first is any less absurd or dangerous.
Sex is a scene. Even if there's not a bit of kink to it, if it's entirely gentle and egalitarian and "normal," it's a scene. It's an intense manipulation of another person's body purely (or hopefully at least partly) for the purpose of pleasure.
So what are the rules for a scene?
-You have to negotiate, whether you find negotiation sexy in itself or not.
-You have to be honest with your partner what you're looking for, and expect them to be honest with you.
-You have to take safety precautions, and consciously accept the risks that exist even with precautions.
-You have to respect safewords. ("No," "stop," "wait," and such are safewords unless otherwise negotiated.)
-You have to be aware of your partner's responses and check in with them if things seem off.
-You have to be able to distinguish--and doublethink a little bit--between the fantasy that makes it hot and the reality that makes it ethical.
That's a lot of concepts but not necessarily a ton of work. In an established relationship you can do it with one sentence sometimes. Zero sentences if you have pre-negotiated understandings. What really matters is the mindset--that sex is not a thing that just happens. Sex is a thing you do, and it's worth doing deliberately.
As with most of my "Cliff's Super Confident Sounding Guide To Life" posts, this is something I'm still working on myself. I'm guilty of asking for sex with "mmhm y'know" when I really had a lot more to say, and I wish I hadn't, but I still do it sometimes. Learning to have sex deliberately is a process and not an easy one. But the rewards (amazing orgasms, snugglywugglies, no "does he really like this" doubts, no "that coulda been better" regrets) are so worth it. And kink has helped me tremendously on this journey.
I don't think the specific activities of kink are any use to vanilla people. If you're not wired for this stuff then you're not wired for it. But I think everyone, kinky or vanilla, should learn how to practice Risk Aware Consensual Fuckin'.