Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Asexual Awareness Week: Kinky Orientations

As part of Asexual Awareness Week, I offer an exploration of kinky orientations. This post is not work-safe for most professions. Me, I'm a gender scholar so I don't have that problem, but YMMV so be forewarned.


Kink or BDSM is a vast swath of activities that typically include power exchange and intense sensations. Common examples include bondage, pain play, costumes, roleplaying, and sensation play. Relationships can be short-term or long-term. Kink can involve sex and/or romance, but it doesn't have to. Some people consider it part of the queer spectrum. However, it spans the entire range of human sexuality: kinky people can be straight, gay, ace, or anything else -- any of which might or might not affect how they pursue their kink(s). An interesting quirk is that many people have a kink orientation that differs from their sexual or romantic orientation; usually the kinky one is wider (e.g. a lot of folks are heterosexual but omnisensual). Gender can also affect kink: while some people are strictly dominant or submissive and others are switches, a handmaiden is submissive to women but dominant to men, and a squire is submissive to men but dominant to women. Likely there are variations for other genders as well. Kink is an orientation, but not always a sexual or romantic orientation, although it can overlap with either or both of those.

Here is a glossary of kinky terms. As with the asexual spectrum, the definitions are rarely rigid, and there are many more terms than will fit on any one glossary. That's okay. Call it what you like, as long as you and your playpartner(s) agree on meanings.


Now let's look at some terms relating to orientations ...

Alligiplatonic - feeling affectionate attraction toward switches in kink, without aspects of sex or romance. From Greek αλλαγή (allagí̱) meaning switch or change.

Alligiromantic - feeling erotic attraction toward switches in kink. From Greek αλλαγή (allagí̱) meaning switch or change.

Alligisensual - feeling tactile attraction toward switches in kink. From Greek αλλαγή (allagí̱) meaning switch or change.

Alligisexual: feeling erotic attraction toward switches in kink. From Greek αλλαγή (allagí̱) meaning switch or change.

Alligitractive - a desire to form a deep, long-term relationship with a kinky switch. This usually, but not always, implies doing kinky things together; some people are just attracted by the personality traits, not the practice. From Greek αλλαγή (allagí̱) meaning switch or change.

Demiromantic - Is someone who only experiences romantic attraction after developing an emotional connection beforehand. Demiromantics do not experience primary romantic attraction, but they are capable of secondary romantic attraction.

Demikinky - someone who does not have kinky feelings with strangers, only people they already know and like. They do not pick up strangers to play with, and only do scenes with their close companions.

Demisensual - not wanting close physical contact such as snuggling with anyone, until a close emotional connection develops, after which an attraction for sensual activities may develop.

Dominiplatonic - feeling affectionate attraction to a dominant person in kink, without aspects of sex or romance. From Latin dominus for master.

Dominiromantic - feeling romantic attraction to a dominant person in kink. From Latin dominus for master.

Dominisensual - feeling tactile attraction to a dominant person in kink. From Latin dominus for master.

Dominusexual: feeling erotic attraction toward dominant people in kink. From Latin dominus for master. From Latin dominus for master.

Dominitractive - a desire to form a deep, long-term relationship with a dominant person in kink. This usually, but not always, implies doing kinky things together; some people are just attracted by the personality traits, not the practice. From Latin dominus for master.

Graykinky - someone with minor or fleeting interest in kink, for whom it is a not a strong drive or a major feature of their identity, yet who has enough attraction to set them aside from the vanilla folks with zero interest. This is sometimes called "French vanilla."

Grayromantic - Is someone whose romantic orientation is somewhere between aromantic and romantic.
For example, a gray-romantic may:
Experience romantic attraction but not very often. But when so, it is usual strong attraction.
Experience romantic attraction, but not desire romantic relationships.
Also used as a catch-all for other non aromantic, non alloromantic/zedromantic orientations, like demiromantic and lithromantic.

Kinky - attracted to people and activities in the BDSM scene. This includes a vast range of possibilities such as bondage, spanking, roleplaying, and sensation play.

Omnisensual - someone open to tactile activities with a partner of any sex/gender. Sensual orientation is often, though not always, wider than sexual orientation. A person might be heterosexual but omnisensual. Some people only want massage from a person of the same sex/gender while others prefer the opposite.

Submiplatonic - feeling affectionate attraction to a dominant person in kink, without aspects of sex or romance. From Latin submissus for submissive.

Submiromantic - feeling romantic attraction to a submissive person in kink. From Latin submissus for submissive.

Submisensual - feeling tactile attraction to a dominant person in kink. From Latin submissus for submissive.

Submisexual: feeling erotic attraction to a submissive person in kink. From Latin submissus for submissive.

Submitractive - a desire to form a deep, long-term relationship with a dominant person in kink. This usually, but not always, implies doing kinky things together; some people are just attracted by the personality traits, not the practice. From Latin submissus for submissive.

Vanilla - a person who does not feel attracted to kinky people or activities at all.
It is worth noting that this use of "vanilla" has spawned other vocabulary of "ice cream sexuality." Kink is typically represented by less common and popular flavors such as "pistachio" or "rocky road." The "gray" range for people who like only the mildest kink is sometimes called "French vanilla."


Some people only do erotic kink, some people only do platonic kink, and some people can go either way. It's all fine. Do whatever you and your partner(s) find mutually enjoyable. Note the demi and gray entries above. These people fall in between the other orientations, and that happens with kink as much as anything else. Some people can walk into a playparty, find a mutually interesting stranger, and play a scene right there. Demikinky people can't do that. They only scene with people they already know and like. Graykinky people have some interest in kink, but not a lot, which may come and go. This causes a lot of people to say they're not "really" kinky. Don't do that. Kink runs the spectrum from 24/7 lifestyle through people who see it as a fundamental part of their identity and people who can take it or leave it to vanilla.

You may find it helpful to use a body maps for nonverbal communication, relationship contact, personal history, or boundaries. Discuss what you want and don't want. This is vital for any kink scene, but especially important for acespec people or other folks doing nonsexual scenes. Make sure you distinguish between hard and soft limits. Some kink checklists allow you to indicate your level of attraction or aversion to specific activities. Here are some ideas on finding playpartners.

Not everyone understands the appeal of platonic kink. That's okay, but there is a LOT to go on other than crotch feelings or twitterpation. Kink is one of the most intense things that people can do together. It's extremely powerful and deeply intimate. You can have a casual fuck and not get 1% of the connection as people can get from a good beating. (There's nothing wrong with fucking for the sheer sensation of it, if that's a thing you like to do. Many aromantics just look at it as a fun thing to do with bodies.) So for people who don't want sex and/or romance, kink can provide a similar level of thrilling experience and human bonding through a completely different avenue. \o/

For many people, part or all of the appeal is biochemical. The human body makes some seriously trippy shit including but not limited to adrenaline, oxytocin, testosterone, endorphins, and cortisol. These things can make major alterations in your state of consciousness. Read a superlative discussion of this process. Because of this trippiness, kink can open up imprint vulnerability, which is why some people use it to do headwork, healing, or other self-improvement. This also means that aftercare is crucial, although it can take many forms. Basically, aftercare is how you put your skin back on when you feel like a giant exposed nerve. I have written nonspecific guidelines for coping with emotional drop, which can be useful in other nonsexual intimacies. On occasion, someone hates aftercare and refuses to have anything to do with it, in which case the dominant's responsibility is to make sure they're safe (e.g. not trying to drive while still high as a kite) and that's it. But for acespec people, the opportunity for deep intimacy through giving and receiving care is much of what draws them to kink.

What are your feelings about kink as an orientation?
Tags: activism, community, family skills, gender studies, holiday, life lessons, linguistics, reading, safety, vocabulary, writing
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