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I'm Kinky, and You're Probably Kinky Too

This past weekend, I attended a continuing-education conference that delved into the psychobiology of kink. The presentations covered a variety of in-depth sub-topics, from using kink to modulate chronic pain, to consensual non-consent. Yes, those are real things, and no, no-one got naked or spanked—-at least not in the conference room where I was.

Though this isn’t the first time I’ve thought about this, at the conclusion of the conference I reflected again on how non-specific the word “kink” is and how it can mean almost anything depending on who’s using the word and if they want to be considered kinky or not.


Depending on what a researcher wants, she may not specify what kink means and just leave the definition up to the participant. For some, sex with the lights on is kinky, for others that’s just considered “safer sex”. Other investigators will avoid the term entirely because of its impossibly varied definitions and its connotations. Instead, they will inquire about 137 discrete sexual behaviors, then using statistical analysis, determine which are more common (i.e. traditional/vanilla) and which are on the fringes. A standard deviation cutoff can then define “kinky”. I don’t even need to conduct a survey to know that most people do something at sometime that is outside of one standard deviation. So, if most people are kinky, is it still kinky?

Because sexuality conferences are so open minded, it’s easy to forget that there is a conservative world out there that just can’t seem to consider the possibility that most people are kinky in some way. We pretend that there’s a staid majority who are only into basic, traditional sex—whatever that is. My belief and experience is that as an adult population, we’re all-over-the-board when it comes to sexual interests. Sure, most people like hamburgers, but that doesn’t exclude all of us from eating things other than hamburgers for most meals. If our varied tastes in food is any indication of our varied sexual tastes, then we’re all a lot more kinky than we think or project. So while you may not have the same kink as me or as someone else, and you may not even identify with the term, I’m still willing to bet that you’re kinky.

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