So you’re curious to explore your kinkier side but don’t know where to start? Samantha Bitty, relationship coach, and sexual health educator and advocate, helps cast off some of the shame that too often accompanies women and sexuality. And while kink may have been taboo not long ago, Bitty explains that’s less the case these days: “People have so much exposure to kinks now. It’s so much more normalized in the mainstream and people feel more liberated to be more openly kinky,” says Bitty. She offers these five tips to help you get started with exploring your inner vixen.
Tip 1: Go in eyes wide open
Before you jump into something new, the first thing you want to do is to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. “If you were going rock climbing, you wouldn’t go rock climbing if you aren’t equipped,” says Bitty. Kink can be loaded because, “kink can be a tool for processing anxiety, for transformation, for healing trauma even,” says Bitty. So you may want to go slow and educate yourself before diving into your desires. Ask yourself, “How do I prepare myself to enter into these explorations?” Get to know the norms of that kink, and get to the bottom of your own connections to it.
Tip 2: Remember, it’s about power
Bitty’s work is always rooted in an intersectional framework, which means understanding how your distinct identity is shaped by our relationships with race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and more.
Sex is exploratory and it’s not separate from all the other prior dynamics that exist in the world around us. “Reflect on the value systems that are coming into sex. So, particularly, when we think about power narratives, domination and submission are about consent. They’re about trust, and about care. And it comes down to holding alternate ideas together in the same space,” advises Bitty. “A lot of that has to do with asking yourself ‘do I need to unlearn internalized misogyny to participate in this kink in a way that’s going to be liberating?’” Play with notions of power, and define what they mean for you.
Related: 10 signs you might be sexually curious.
Tip 3: Learn the difference between discomfort and harm
Pay close attention to how you’ve been socialized and the ways you socialize. “It’s typically ‘avoid discomfort at all costs,’” says Bitty, but growth can also happen in those areas where we aren’t yet familiar or comfortable.
“It’s about knowing the difference between discomfort and harm…people might have a certain desire that’s not rooted in actual harm, but they might be uncomfortable with that [idea]. There might be a way for them to work through that discomfort in a way that isn’t harmful.” She adds, “It’s about consent, love, safety, visibility, communication – all those things. Once those are your values, you can do some weird shit and it can be really fun and healthy.”
Related: The pros and cons of joining a threesome.
Tip 4: Unlearn sexual shame
Relationships are constructs and even though your bedroom is private, it’s the government of the day that often decides what type of sex is appropriate, reminds Bitty. This is often at the root of our society’s tendency to police women’s bodies, and what follows is sexual shame.
“Sexual shame is like some of our deepest shame – we’re told not to touch ourselves, but that’s how we learn. And then we start policing each other, and regulating each other.” Bitty likens sexual shame to a panopticon – that all-seeing lens informing our self-view and world-view, and guiding our actions, even subconsciously.
“When you just let [sex] be, it can become a place of joy and transformation and exploration,” says Bitty. This is the space from which you want to explore your more carnal urges.
Tip 5: Find your people
Yes, there’s an app for that. Bitty recommends Feeld for Couples and Singles. “It’s for people who have kinkier lifestyles, more queer, for couples looking to swap, that sort of thing – but it’s sex-positive and it’s a positive community.” And of course, you need not limit yourself to that (in non-pandemic times), so if IRL is more your thing, find what works for you.
Related: 10 signs you are probably asexual.