My friend Mona Darling wrote a book, and I love it and need to share. Kinky Sex Tips for Curious Girls provides approachable, shame-free pleasure education for adults. Her scintillating sexual honesty paired with kinky puzzles and coloring pages have made this book a favorite in my bedroom. For this vanilla girl, it’s given me a hell of a lot to ponder and challenged my fundamentalism-induced negativity and shame regarding kink and BDSM.
She says, “Society giggles when they are uncomfortable, and kink always makes society giggle. We have all grown up feeling like our kinks are the punchline of a joke. The best way to move past shame is to face it head on. Acknowledge it. Talk about it. Shame flourishes in secrecy.”
Shame flourishes in secrecy – this sentence has been knocking around in my brain since I first read it a couple of months ago. I see religious and cultural shaming as the main source of my own sexual repression, and through this blog and honest (dare I say blunt!?) conversations with my partner and trusted friends in my life, I’m drawing shame out of the shadows. When shame is small, I can look at my naked self in the mirror without fighting the urge to look away or cover up. When shame is small, I can spread my pussy lips for Beard Man and feel fucking fantastic. When shame is small, my pleasure is big.
The biggest paradigm shift I experienced reading Mona’s book came from her discussion of sex as PLAY. Childhood play was never a fun or imaginative pastime for me. Growing up in a doomsday cult, the world was too serious. The end of days were upon us, and I’d be cast into the Lake of Fire if I failed to be obedient to rules set before me. It’s hard to run around the field with friends pretending to be a squirrel collecting acorns, knowing Satan has dominion over the earth and God is poised to smite. I’m thankful to have let go of the bonds of fundamentalism and to have support from my partner, good friends who listen, and cannabis plant medicine, as I work to revive the spirit of play in my life.
The way we play in the bedroom may not be equivalent to the way we played as a kid, but I can see definite parallels. As a homeschooling mom, I spend a lot of time studying how my children learn. Watching my children engage their senses when they are handling slime, sticking their feet in the mud, or running a feather over their own face, I note the value of sensory play in how they connect to the environment and people around them. When my children engage in role play games, I am affirmed of the value of play in developing self-knowledge, collaborative innovation, and empathetic social justice. My children occasionally act out dark scenarios to test what they would do if faced with their fear. For example, they often play role play that their characters are orphaned children, navigating the world without parents, a Boxcar Children mystery of their own design. Play is how children learn and prepare for the future.
As we grow into our sexuality, what if our maturation could retain the best of childhood play, to appreciate sensations and the exploration of pretend, while taking on new content as we deepen our body play? Sex is an adult adaptation of play, with all the same benefits to our growth as lifelong learners and contributors to society. The addition of kink and BDSM has potential to help overcome our insecurities, finding pleasure in our bodies and moaning in defiance of our fears. That sounds like good therapy to me.
In Mona’s book, a chapter titled “The Kinky Cycle of Play” details the pattern of negotiation, play, and aftercare. It reminded me that I get to set the rules, or limits, about my own body, without feeling like I have to be coquettish, falsely sultry, or apologetic for anything I don’t wish to do. Mona had this to say about negotiation:
“A safe space is created when two people trust each other. When neither is worried that the other will violate limits. When neither is worried about their safety, emotionally or physically. When both people know they will not be judged and both people know they are free to speak and ask any questions they might have about interests or fetishes that they don’t fully understand.”
Negotiation sounds like the OG shame-buster.
Since accepting the idea of sex as play, I appreciate my partner’s genitals more than ever, finding my own pleasure as I tug my partner’s foreskin up over the glans and roll his testicles in my hand like a stress toy. We’ve edged toward the kinky side hesitantly, still giggling when we feel uncomfortable. I have tied up his cock with a shoelace, and I’ve purchased a set of some still-unused nipple clamps. The chained nipple clamps do make a fabulous bedroom necklace, however, and we’ve enjoyed the tantalizing idea that someday I’ll be ready to try them.
Discover more about Mona Darling and shame-free kink education at darlingpropaganda.com.