How Do I Know If My Kink Is Good Or Bad? And What Can I Do About It?

Do you feel unsure about your sexuality, specifically your kinks? Have you been concerned whether what you enjoy is “good” or if it’s “bad”? Have you asked yourself, “Is it OK that I’m doing this?” or “Is there something wrong with me?” If you have, it’s normal. People have these concerns — sometimes to the point of causing great distress — that something is just not right about the “kinky” things they enjoy, but they have difficulty considering this objectively.

When trying to get some insight, it’s important to remember that since everyone has different likes, dislikes, levels of comfort, etc., and what feels good for one person may not be for another. “Good” and “bad” can be used as a shorthand for a value judgment and these values don’t necessarily apply to everyone. Because of this, I encourage you to instead think of them as either “healthy” or “unhealthy”.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help evaluate where yours fall:

When engaging in your kink, do you…

MistressTissa_Strippedrequire that you first become intoxicated? Are you unable to engage in your interest without first needing to get drunk or do drugs?

…ignore boundaries — whether your own or someone else’s? Do you routinely allow yourself to be pressured to do things you don’t want to do? Or do you pressure or “trick” someone else into doing things? Is “consent” something you let someone else decide for you or something you believe you should decide for others? (This does not include the practice of “consensual non-consent”.)

…not know when or how to stop? Do you have a compulsive need to do your kink? Does it feel like you’re “addicted” to it? Do you want to stop but you believe you can’t?

 …feel guilt or regret afterward? Do you wish you hadn’t done what you just did? Do you experience anxiety or depression afterward? Perhaps feeling bad about yourself, beating yourself up, or even go so far as to have thoughts of self-harm?

…see that it has had an overall negative impact on your life? Such as preoccupying much of your thoughts at the expense of other important things? Compelling you to recklessly spend money? Causing you be late for or miss work? Affecting your interpersonal relationships, such as with family or friends? Or generally decreasing your quality of life?

If you said yes to any of these questions, you may have an unhealthy relationship to your kink. (If you didn’t then your relationship may be healthy.)

What’s important to note with feelings of guilt or regret is that while they may indicate a problem they don’t necessarily mean that the kink itself is the problem. Sometimes people feel guilt or regret because of their own beliefs about their kink; such as that they are a defective or bad person, something which our culture may teach us but may not be true. Some people feel guilt or regret after secretly engaging in their kink because they assume the people in their lives will not understand or approve. In both these cases, the issue may not be the kink but the attitudes and circumstances surrounding the kink.

What do you do if you think you might have an unhealthy relationship to your kink?

I recommend finding a qualified professional who is trained in mental health and has competency with human sexuality, particularly kink, and experience helping people with the kinds of emotions you’re having (e.g. shame, guilt, anger, addiction).

Where can you get a kink-competent* provider?

One place I’d recommend looking is the National Coalition of Sexual Freedom’s Kink-Aware Professional database. This database does not include all providers; only those that have requested to be listed. So, if you don’t see someone in your area, that does not mean there isn’t someone out there.

Another place to look is a search engine. Try searching for “therapy” or “counseling” or even “coaching”; your city or state; and your specific kink, or just “kink”, or even “sexuality”. See who comes up. If anyone looks interesting, give them a call. You may find other directories this way as well.

What if I have/don’t have insurance?

If you have insurance and need the provider to be in-network, contact your insurer for a list of mental health professionals in your area and then do a quick web search for each of them. See if they have a website with information about their competencies. If you’re unclear, give them a quick call. Most providers will be happy to answer a few questions about their qualifications and if they think they might be able to help you.

If you can’t find someone in-network, don’t despair. Sometimes insurers will cover out-of-network providers if their rate is comparable to those in-network. Or, they will cover a certain amount and you pay the rest. Ask your insurer about this. Then ask the provider you’re interested in if they are willing to work with your insurer.

If you are able to pay out of pocket you are likely to have more options. So consider if you’re willing to go that route and how much you are able to afford. I recommend thinking about this before you make any calls so you’re prepared to discuss it if you find a provider that interests you. (Note: unlicensed providers are not able to take insurance.)

How do you know if the person is right for you?

This is usually not immediately apparent. It’s like going to a doctor or restaurant or even meeting a new friend. Sometimes you may feel like it’s a good fit from the first visit, sometimes it takes a little more time. Prepare yourself for there to be some trial and error.

Before you make an appointment with someone, know that you are completely within your right to vet the person with whom you will be sharing many personal details of your life. This means you’re allowed to ask them about their education, experience, attitudes toward and competency with your specific kink (and even kinks, in general), and how they have helped people like you in the past. If they do not welcome your questions, this is, in my view, a red flag.

Also important is to be aware that if you do find someone and they in any way try to shame and tell you that you should not be kinky and are bad for being this way, I recommend that you STOP seeing them. This is not the behavior of a kink-friendly or competent provider and is not an appropriate match for kinky people. (They are also likely to not be a good mental health practitioner in general.) Seeing someone like this would be like a gay person wanting support for being gay and the provider telling them that being gay is bad and to stop being gay. If you do not feel they are offering reasonable support, then try someone else.

Does having unhealthy thoughts or feelings make you “crazy”?

If you are worried about the possibility that because you might have an unhealthy relationship to your kink that you are in some way “crazy”, please understand that having any of the above thoughts or feelings doesn’t necessarily mean you’re “mentally ill” in the way a lot of people think of it, but that understanding unhealthy thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and the processing and modification of those things, is what therapists, counselors, and even some coaches are trained to do. This is why they are a good choice to support you through these types of issues.

(*Not just kink-friendly. Anyone can be “friendly” to a situation or type of person; it doesn’t mean that have any idea of how to appropriately help and support them.)

Article: Kinky Sex Could Be the Secret to Your Success

“Many successful visionaries throughout history, from artists to scientists and even politicians, have had well-documented kinks and fetishes that affected how they operated in their daily lives.

A wave of recent research has confirmed this: If it’s something you desire in the first place, kinky sex can benefit you not just in the bedroom, but outside of it as well. “Unconventional” sexual practices and fantasies, such as BDSM, group sex, or role play, have been shown to reduce psychological stress, improve mental health and can help with satisfying and communicative relationships. Kinky people have also been found to have higher self-worth than those who are too afraid or ashamed to pursue their fantasies

People who engage in BDSM and kink have been found to be happier, more conscientious and less neurotic than people who don’t engage in so-called “deviant” sex. “

More confirmation of what many of us have known all along: kink is healthy and has tangible benefits.

Full article here: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a12231118/how-kinky-sex-leads-to-career-success/ (worth the read)

Interview with Coalition Radio

On Friday the 16th, I was interviewed by Pat of Coalition Radio. In the interview, I discuss the SESTA bill. I touch on various related issues, but focus on what I believe are the psychosocial origins of the legislation.

You can listen here:

(This is an hour-long interview. Those who have attention issues [raises hand] may find it more palatable to listen to it in smaller chunks.)

Article: “The Thrilling, Messy Lives of New York’s Freelance Dominatrices”

I find most of this article problematic, but there is one part I did very much appreciate.

What I had issue with were that the examples they use of “freelance” (i.e. independent) Dominatrices are kind of odd, and ironically paint them (Us?) in an unprofessional light. The two Dommes they selected to represent New York’s independent were portrayed in a very unflattering way — one of which is running a Cyrano-de-Bergerac-esque operation. I can’t help but wonder if this was a ploy to draw business to houses by making independents look, well, “messy” —  and even dangerous.

The part I did like discusses the pathologization of kink:

The American Psychological Association defines a mental disorder as a “clinically significant behavior” associated with “present distress, disability, or a significant increased risk of suffering.” The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, a compendium of these disorders, is the text American psychologists use to diagnose patients.When the DSM was first published in 1952, it included “sexual deviation”—a category that included transvestism, pedophilia, homosexuality, fetishism, and sexual sadism. The second edition included masochism. The all-encompassing term was changed to the less-pejorative “paraphilias” in the third edition. When the fifth edition comes out in May, people who practice BDSM and feel distress about it will have a “paraphilic disorder.”This distresses the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, an advocacy group which considers DSM revision a “key project.” “We want to make sure that distress from society doesn’t mean a mental disorder,” says National Coalition of Sexual Freedom spokeswoman Susan Wright.

The DSM listed homosexuality as a sexual disorder until 1973, when extensive empirical evidence concluded that homosexuals performed no differently on psychological tests than their straight counterparts. Five different studies conducted on masochists since 1977 point to high functioning—measured by high educational level, income and occupational status—compared to the general population. Furthermore, other studies show there is no link between masochism and past abuse. Why should one atypical orientation be treated differently than another?

Charles Moser, a California researcher who asks exactly that, has emerged as the psychologist most active in advocating for BDSM’s removal from the manual. In an article co-authored with Peggy Kleinplatz this year, he wrote: “The situation of the Paraphilias at present parallels that of homosexuality in the early 1970s. Without the support or political astuteness of those who fought for the removal of homosexuality, the Paraphilias continue to be listed in the DSM.” No characteristic unifies paraphiliacs other than their sexual interests, he points out, just as no single trait is shared by all homosexuals besides same-sex attraction.

On the other hand, Richard Krueger, a Columbia University researcher who was part of the workgroup that authors the paraphilias section, is among those favoring retention. He cites people like Richard Benjamin who asphyxiate for sexual excitement: “There are people who hang themselves, and we felt universally that dying that way is very different from accidentally hanging yourself in the process of becoming sexually excited.” Indeed, a study conducted in 1972 found 50 people died each year in the United States from this practice. Thus the reasoning: Homosexuality isn’t innately dangerous; some forms of masochism are.

How dangerous is BDSM? “It is said that the most common reason for an emergency room visit in New York City on Sunday mornings is a hand laceration from cutting a bagel,” Moser says. “I can find essentially no emergency room visits related to S&M injuries in the professional literature. So if danger or injury is your criteria, then cutting a bagel is the sign of a mental disorder, and S&M is healthy.”

One thing Moser and Krueger agree on is the lack of studies on BDSM. Michael W. Wiederman’s 2003 article “Paraphilia and Fetishism,” which appeared in the Family Journal, argues that this lack of research could stem from the misconception that sexuality researchers study topics of personal relevance which makes them want to avoid taboo subjects. Meg Kaplan, a psychologist who also happens to be Krueger’s wife, says she frequently receives referrals from other doctors who are either unable or unwilling to discuss BDSM fantasies with clients.

“There’s very little money for studying typical sexual behavior, nevermind atypical sexual behavior,” Kaplan says.

[Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/04/the-thrilling-messy-lives-of-new-yorks-freelance-dominatrices/274582/]

You are not having 40 orgasms

You know when you hear people say they “make [their] girlfriend have 40 orgasms”? Or, “omg he made me cum a hundred times!”

Well, I have a newsflash for all of you: those are not orgasms you’re having because that is physiologically impossible.

Let’s start at the beginning. In the womb, we all begin with the “female” physical template. Different events occur to cause a body to develop “male”; hormones are one of them. From this template, we naturally have homologous body parts. “Homologous” means they have a shared point of origin.

Since these organs come from the same place in our physical development, they have similarities. Some of them are obvious, like arms and nipples, others are maybe a little less obvious, such as the clitoris and penis. If you look closely, you will notice that the clitoris resembles a tiny version of a penis (i.e. glans, “foreskin”, becomes erect). Or, really, a more correct way to look at it is that the penis is like an overgrown clitoris. (This is due to androgens that occur during development while in utero.)

Another homologous part is the outer labia and scrotum. For “female”-bodied people, the outer labia are separate; and, for “male”-bodied people, they fuse to form the scrotal sack into which the testes descend (they were ovaries before they dropped). Yes, this is why you have a line down the middle of your sack: it’s the seam from your former labia.

The point of this is: our genitals come from the same stuff and work more similarly than people tend to think. (If you want to know more, read up on the development of human reproductive organs and sexual differentiation.)

Now, because they work similarly, the orgasm that a female-bodied person has is like the one a male-bodied person has. The clitoris, like the penis, usually, but not always, needs direct stimulation in order to have one. Orgasms, regardless of one’s sex, have the same stages of excitation, plateau, climax, and resolution. The muscle contractions that occur during the “throes” are also similar and, though some argue about this, some people with a vagina ejaculate similarly to those with a penis. However, they don’t gush like they do in porn; that’s just for show. (Sorry to burst your bubble.)

So, why do people say they cum “a hundred times”? I believe it’s because they’ve actually never experienced an orgasm. I hate to say it but I think a number of women don’t actually know what one feels like. So, they are confusing those rushes of pleasure that one can get during sexual stimulation with an actual orgasm. See, it’s not uncommon for people with the clitoris/vagina combo to have difficulty achieving one, so when someone who’s never had an orgasm feels those pleasure rushes they may mistake those for climax and that’s why they think they had one hundred of them.

Orgasm is not a confusing experience. It may be confusing as to how to get there, but once you do, it’s unmistakable. The signs you’re on your way?

  • As you move closer, your heart rate and breathing increase, and your skin flushes.
  • Without manual stimulation, your nipples became more and more erect. This is true for people of all sexes — unless someone has nerve damage which may prohibit this. (This is also a good way to see that in most porn, women aren’t actually having orgasms. Look at their nipples. If they’re not erect when they’re squeaking about cumming all over the guys cock, they’re just acting.)
  • Things get juicier. The vagina’s lubricants increase. “Pre-cum” is the penis’s contribution to lubrication.
  • During climax, the vaginal muscles contract rhythmically; it feels like they grip and squeeze. Male-bodied people experience this rhythmic contraction in their penile muscles near their anal area.
  • Once it’s over? You are out of breath, probably sweating somewhere, your clit or penis becomes very sensitive to touch, your clit or penis loses its erection, and your interest in sex makes a sharp decline. You may even want to roll over and take a nap.

That said, I am quite aware that it is possible for people to be “multi-orgasmic”, but being “multi-orgasmic” is not 40 fucking orgasms. Have you ever heard a male-bodied person say they came 40 times during one instance of sex? No. And a lot of them would probably look at you funny; maybe even laugh at the idea.

Then what does “multi-orgasmic” mean? In My extensive experience, you will only need one hand to count. If you know your body well and know how to ration your sexual energy — or you just have a surplus of it — you may be able to artfully rub out like 2 to 4 in a short amount of time, but any more than that seems 99.999% impossible. (I don’t know any cis men or trans women who have shared with Me their experience with being multi-orgasmic, so I can’t say how it works for them.)

Speaking for Myself, when I’m feeling especially sexually charged, I can do about 3 in five to ten minutes before they lose nearly all of the intensity that makes them desirable and before I lose all, or nearly all, sexual interest. Normally, though, I have one. I know My body so well and know how to harness the energy and channel it, that I make it one very good one and I don’t really feel the need to have three not-as-good ones.

Of course, as with anyone’s experience, YMMV. Feel free to share how you differ, or are the same.

NB: I prefer to write from a trans-inclusive perspective so I try to separate the body type from the gender identity that goes with it. If I say “female-bodied”, I’m referring to AFAB/cis women/trans men and “male-bodied” to speak of AMAB/cis men/trans women. I realize that “female-bodied” and “male-bodied” can be problematic labels for trans men and trans women, respectively, and that trans* and gender-variant people may use different language and have different experiences. I also say “vagina” and “penis” to describe the conventional anatomical description for these body parts. I am not including the ways in which trans* and gender-variant people may use other language which is comfortable for them (e.g. manhole, boipussy, clitty, gurlcock, etc).