It is so exciting to see the kink space finally gaining visibility in India, irrespective of these events been seen as “underground”. I suppose the fact that it’s somewhat hidden makes it even more titillating to a kinkster. I’ve been interested in kink for a long time. However, it’s been a very lonely exploration. I’ve hooked up with men who were into dom/sub play but I found that no one really understood the nuances, and therefore going further was always a complication. Through my own reading and exploration online, I understood that being the dominant partner in the scene doesn’t mean you have to be rough and aggressive throughout. On the other hand, being submissive doesn’t mean you give up your agency and accept what the dominant partner is doing even if you don’t like it very much, or at all. Unfortunately this wasn’t something I could speak to any of my friends about. I’m sure they would have understood, but there’s a certain comfort that comes with being in a group of people and knowing that they’ve navigated these spaces. A lot of my understanding has come from Tumblr. In addition to a large amount of pornographic content, the BDSM-themed blogs also offer substantial amount of valuable instructions from people who have been playing for many years. One of my favourite blogs is CastroKink (NSFW CONTENT) This blog documents the sexual adventures of a “master” who lives in San Francisco along with his “slaves.” I love this blog because it not only includes graphic images of play sessions, but also exhibit the masters and slaves being friends and having a regular relationship outside of this dynamic.
K Se Kink was moderated by a member of Gaysi Family and structured mostly as a presentation and Q & A with N* (a kink practitioner with over 10 years of experience), Raj (a member of LABIA and The Kinky Collective, and Paromita Vohra (filmmaker and writer).
The very first question that came up was “What is kink? Is it a state of mind, is it an experience, and is it an activity?” Personally I don’t think this question can ever have an answer, because as N said- what’s kinky for you may not be kinky for me.
The idea of being kinky comes with a number of negative connotations. It is commonly understood as being abnormal, weird, a little bit too out there. But a dictionary definition of the term refers to something unusual, and in sexual terms can be understood as pushing the boundaries (as an individual). P added that kink can perhaps be understood as an umbrella term, in a similar way that queer is used as a term to encompass alternative sexual identities. A large amount of kinky play takes place as part of BDSM- Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism. Nevertheless, kink can take a wide range of forms, including tickling, edging, exhibitionism and voyeurism.
They then went on to show The Amorous Adventures of Megha and Shakku in the Valley of Consent (if you haven’t seen this yet, you should), a wonderful video that Agents of Ishq created to talk about sexual consent much more openly and without the use of analogies. As Paromita pointed out, to refer to consent as a cup of tea (I still think this has its merits) and not in sexual terms, waters down the entire purpose. I do agree that these analogies sometimes present consent as simply black and white, whereas it’s quite a complicated phenomenon. Most of the questions that followed discussed exactly this- Is consent in Indian culture quite a peculiar phenomenon? And what happens during group play?
Before a play session, mutual consent can be negotiated in several ways. Some people prefer a more formal method by giving the partner an excel sheet or form with a range of activities. Each activity may have certain degrees- comfortable, unsure, not interested- which then gives both partners a fair idea of what will happen during the play session.
Others might prefer a more informal method of understanding consent, because an excel sheet may take away from the excitement.
During the play session, it is very important to keep all lines of communication open with the respective partner. N spoke about an experience where he was playing with a couple, and they would constantly look into each other’s eyes to ensure that things were safe and pleasurable.
A safe word is essential. Safe words communicate the submissive partner’s current state of mind. They may have varying degrees. For example- red may mean stop, orange may mean I’m enjoying it but go slower, and green could mean give me more.
N pointed out that he used a simple pinch to indicate his pleasure or displeasure if he was gagged and not in a position to speak.
In the context of role-play, it is very important to choose safe words or actions that are disconnected from the scenario. Screaming “No, please stop!” can be rather confusing. It can be a part of the role-play, but if a safe word has not been decided beforehand, the partner may actually be in pain!
The moderator then moved on to the concept of aftercare- which usually refers to the dominant partner providing some comfort to the submissive partner who has been abused or humiliated during the play session. It also involves talking to one another about the experience and what worked and didn’t work for the concerned parties. Aftercare, in its various forms, is important because it underlines the fact that it was a play session with mutual consent. From personal experience, if aftercare is not properly carried out, there is a chance that the play sessions might bleed into real life- with the submissive partner having feelings of low self-worth and leaving the dominant partner with delusional notions of grandeur. Of course there are partnerships (like Castrokink and his boys) where the play carries on outside of the bedroom. But the partners who are involved go through a detailed negotiation.
The session came to an end with a little demonstration that the moderators carried out with the help of some toys from Imbesharam.com. Someone volunteered to have their butt flogged, while another volunteered to be tied up with restraints on all limbs. It was quite exciting to watch, but most of us who had gathered simply laughed when these actions were carried out. It was probably a nervous laughter, but I feel the demonstration should have been more purposeful and perhaps the volunteers needed to be people who had already experienced being flogged or tied up, so that those of us who were watching could have been far more involved with the experience. I also felt that the event needed to be a little more inclusive in terms of language. Or there is a possibility of it becoming a rather niche space.
As we were winding up, someone asked whether after years of indulging in it, you eventually get bored of kinky play. This question scared me, because my fear is exactly the opposite- that I will only be able to gain pleasure from kinky play. Thereafter, I read this article shared by the folks over at The Kinky Collective which calmed me down a whole lot.
Kink doesn’t mean radically changing your lifestyle, wearing leather 24/7 and going out in public with a whip. It simply means pushing your own personal boundaries, and the boundaries that society has set out for you. I think this talk was a test run for Gaysi to understand the response such an event would get. I do hope they’re going to push the boundaries a little bit more for the next event. We’re on the verge of exploring a very exciting world!