What Works And What Does Not: Boundaries Of Kinks And Fetishes
[TRIGGER WARNING! THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS MENTIONS OF RAPE, KINDLY PROCEED WITH CAUTION!]
Let’s look at this hypothetical scenario. Two people, let’s call them Dara and Dylan, who engage in sexual intercourse with each other want to “Spice things up.” Dylan wants to be the dominant one in bed and Dara is okay with it. However when he tries to slap her as a part of the dominance, Dara objects as it makes her uncomfortable. To which he agrees. If Dara didn’t stop Dylan from slapping them, her experience with Dylan would have been very uncomfortable. It is always okay to draw a line or set a boundary when it comes to sexual experiences involving kinks and fetishes. It’s completely okay to say no when it becomes uncomfortable.
Before talking about boundaries, we need to talk about what a kink and a fetish exactly mean. A kink is a kind of experience people enjoy which are usually unconventional to someone else. Fetish or Fetishism on the other hand is when an individual is strongly attracted to one specific object or a part of the human body. With that being said, let’s look at why it’s important to have boundaries for talks and practices on kinks and fetishes.
Why Are Boundaries Important For Kinks And Fetishes?
Conversing about kinks and fetishes to practicing it — it all boils down to how comfortable the partners are with each other. Maya, a student in her final year of studying psychology, Journalism and English Literature had to say this when asked about why it’s important to have conversations around kinks and fetishes, “it is very important to discuss kinks and fetishes with your partner as the relationship is a two-way bond built on trust mainly. consent is another important thing to be considered as comfort and pleasure to both the parties is the goal.“
While that is valid, it is important to draw a line between what can be a kink and fetish. When asked whether limitations are important, Rithvik Kiran a 21-year-old student says “When somebody’s fetish or kink involves violence over a level that I deem to be alright, or when a minor is involved.” Which implies that there is a difference between a fetish, kink, and crime.
Let us understand it better with an example of “Rape kink” or “Rape fantasy.” TRIGGER WARNING! The following content contains a topic that might trigger the readers. Kindly refrain from reading further if any discomfort is faced.
It's More Of Fantasy VS Reality
Rape fantasy, or a ravishment is a sexual fantasy involving imagining or pretending being coerced or coercing another into sexual activity. This spells out forced sex. Most individuals know kinks like rape fantasy through porn. “The porn industry in itself is an exaggeration. The real pleasure may be or may not be so dramatic at times,” says Vish, a 20-year-old female when asked about how exaggerated porn is.
There is a vast difference between reality and fantasy that some fail to understand. Let us look in detail about fantasies along these lines and where they need to stop.
To Like It Or Not Like It? That's The Question!
Kinks and fetishes like Rape fantasy are usually deemed morally unethical because they do not involve consent like other kinks like BDSM, Dom/Sub. Morally, this fantasy becomes questionable. Mihir is somebody who is well aware about ‘Rape Culture’ and he said this when asked about rape fantasy “Rape is very liner, violent, and very inhumane. Though both (BDSM and Rape) are of same sexual nature, there is a sense of morality that is lost when it comes to rape and that that is not lost in BDSM.”
The question of consent is non-existent in rape fantasy. An article from Psychology Today says “rape fantasies raise thorny issues. Many women who have them can’t shake the feeling that they are abnormal or perverted.” The same article says women are said to enjoy the “I’m being forced and I enjoy it” part of the experience. Consent itself being something that stays in the grey area makes it a little difficult but it’s never impossible! And when it comes to a fantasy rape or fetishes that does not involve consent, it becomes difficult to draw a line between a fantasy and reality, because not everyone enjoys it right?
When asked about consent in rape fantasy, Mihir, also said “There is no question of consent in rape.” He further adds that he thinks rape fantasy and kink come out of a place of hetero-patriarchal mindset and the thought that a man can dominate the other person. Hence, there is no consent that happens. This re-directs us to think about how important it is to have boundaries to kinks and fetishes and why it is very important to not cross it. Let’s see how we can draw them effectively.
How Do I Draw The Lines?
While the discussions about these limitations have been put down, let’s talk about how we can do it. These might be small steps, but these are very effective nevertheless.
- Talking to your partner: Talking to your partner about what makes you comfortable and what does not builds trust and a better relationship with your partner. Parth who is a 20-year-old engineering student says “Yes, as it (conversations) can help with better sexual gratification from your partner and an increase in trust and comfort in the relationship in general”.
- Consent and withdraw: While giving consent is important, it is also important to know when to withdraw it. It is completely okay to withdraw consent when it becomes uncomfortable. While saying ‘Yes’ is important saying ‘No’ is equally important because you don’t have to play the game if you are not inclined to lose at, you don’t have to continue to play if you consider it risky Hence figuring out where to stop even when it’s in between intercourse, is completely valid if you do.
- Do your research: There are a lot of sources from where you can access sexual kinks and fetishes. From which, Porn is a great source to know what you find pleasurable. If it does not excite you, then it’s probably not your cup of tea. It’s a great way to know what you like and don’t like. Sometimes porn can get too intense. In that case, reading erotica can help you decide.
Talking about what kinks and fetishes is a step towards breaking the stigma around sex. But it is important to know the limit to which the discussion or practice needs to stop.
Parth says “If there isn’t (a limit to kinks and fetishes), one could claim that decapitation is his fetish. There’s a thin line between a fetish and a crime beyond which consent doesn’t matter“ when asked whether there needs to be limitations to kinks and boundaries. Maya believes that kink and fetish is “something which is enjoyed by the people involved during the intercourse,” which means it never has to be uncomfortable and it’s okay to draw lines because in the end it boils down to consent and comfort the people involved in the sexual experience have.
Consent is important as it ensures one to have a safe and pleasurable experience for the people and anything beyond consent is a crime.
Cover illustration by: Tanvi Mohanty