Exploring the 'kinkier' things in life
The joys, trials and stereotypes of kinky sex in college were among the topics brought up during "Kinky in College," a panel-led discussion hosted by the student organization DARTS (Diverse Approaches to Relationship Types and Sexualities) in the Rainbow Center on Friday afternoon.
Most of the six panelists preferred not to disclose their names. Rowan, a member of DARTS who hosted the discussion, explained that a person's future employment and family relationships could be put in jeopardy if that person was revealed to be associated with BDSM.
About 30 people attended the discussion, which Rowan explained was part of an effort to "give people a better understanding of what it means to be kinky."
"Kink is becoming more of a public phenomenon," Rowan said. "We're trying to dispel a lot of myths."
According to the panelists, many of these myths and negative stereotypes have been propagated through "50 Shades of Grey," a popular erotic romance novel.
In "50 Shades," Christian Grey is the dominant, which means that he has control over the sexual situations that take place between him and Anastasia Steele, who submits to Grey's will as the submissive.
"50 Shades is a romance novel, and romance novels are not necessarily indicative of how sex actually happens," said a panelist who explained that one of Grey's problems is his failure to comply with safe words.
Safe words are specific words that are discussed by participants beforehand that act as a means of telling a person to stop what he or she is doing. These are especially important in BDSM scenes in which "no" doesn't necessarily mean "no."
The panelists explained that it's important to distinguish between BDSM scenes and the actual relationship between two or more people.
"It's bounded by the knowledge that this is not the relationship," said one of the panelists. "This is the entertainment, this is the fun, this is the sex."
It's crucial for participants to communicate ahead of time and this doesn't happen very thoroughly in "50 Shades."
"There is not a level of communication within their relationship outside of sex that would carry over to the level of communication that is absolutely necessary during kinky sex," said Jade, a panelist. "BDSM above everything else is about trust and communication."
The panel helped define many terms for the audience, such as tops, bottoms, hard limits, soft limits, impact play, play parties and munches.
Tops are people who give sensation during sex, while bottoms are people who receive the sensation.
Soft limits are activities or sensations that a person may not be interested in but that he or she might consent to if a scene happened to entail it. For instance, if a top accidentally drew blood during a scene, although the bottom is not necessarily interested in it at first, he or she might still consent and continue with the scene. Hard limits, on the other hand, are activities that a person would absolutely never consent to.
Impact play was described as "typically what people would associate with BDSM," including slapping, flogging and anything else in which a person's body is impacted.
Play parties are gatherings that have been designated as a time and place for types of kinky and BDSM activities. Munches, on the other hand, are gatherings for kinky people that typically include going out for food in a public place for the purpose of socializing rather than participating in sexual activities.
The panelists also discussed tips specifically pertaining to college students, such as warning their roommates and floormates about sounds that might come from their room, meeting other people interested in kink and finding supplies such as ropes and riding crops.
"What do you do to make it seem like you're not murdering someone in your dorm room?" asked one of the panelists. They discussed the importance of explaining the situation to neighbors beforehand.
"A huge part of BDSM is consent," said one of the panelists. "This includes making sure that people around you aren't uncomfortable."
As far as meeting other people interested in kink/BDSM, FetLife.com was recommended as a sort of "Facebook for kinky people." Panelists also advised that when people from the internet meet each other, they should always do so in groups rather than alone.
Panelists also recommended stores and websites from which toys and other materials could be purchased, citing Walmart and Tractor Supply Co. as good places to buy rope and riding crops.
Those interested in attending a DARTS meeting can stop by the Rainbow Center, Room 403 of the Student Union, at 8 p.m. every Wednesday.
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