Just the Tips

Ethical Kink: 7 Values for Responsible Dating

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I was talking with my friend and sometimes lover about ethical kink, and the joys and pitfalls of kinky dating.

Since both of us live unconventional lives, are both what is sometimes disparagingly referred to as *cringe* promiscuous, and both into some pretty crazy fetish stuff, we don’t like passing judgement on others for their sexuality—for the most part.

My friend Nadia had been getting unwanted texts from someone she had politely turned down, with vulgar pictures of him in a soiled diaper. “Come and change my nappy, Mama,” one message read.

“God, is there no such thing anymore as a pervert!” Nadia spat.

Good question. Once upon a time, when someone had a sexual practice considered deviant, there was social sanction against them: we called them perverts.

Now we consider it intolerant, even abusive, to express disgust or condemn anyone’s sexual practices.

I was at a web seminar where they were openly defending the rights of “minor-attracted persons.” It felt creepy to be talking about these things with smiles.

So which is it? Is it okay to have kink boundaries, and call out icky fetishes? Or is it intolerant, or even abusive, to condemn someone’s kinky attractions and practices?

With so many things going through my mind, it seemed like a good time to review the tenets of ethical kink.

Here are some important things to consider when it comes to keeping kink healthy and sane.

7 Ethical Kink Considerations

1. An “anything goes” attitude leads straight to hell.

As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

And sometimes, in an effort to protect folks with unconventional desires from discrimination, prison, shunning, violence, and other harm, we assume we have to be open to and tolerate everything.

But there are lots of desires that are not healthy for us, and we do not have to accept them or indulge them. Kinky people aren’t babies, and should be able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality when that line protects them or others.

To use an extreme example, someone might be turned on by the idea of raping and killing a woman. Any glance through crime records shows this is common!

Clearly, someone who acts on these impulses is not ethically kinky. If we do have dark desires, we have the choice and the responsibility not to act on them.

Read: When Good Kinks Turn Bad

2. Boundaries are essential, protective, and mature.

A secure person understands their own boundaries and even if pushing the boundaries is an exciting part of exploring kink, we have them for good reasons.

Everyone has a different comfort level and different rules for what they can entertain or experiment with. Respecting boundaries is not just about respecting someone else’s boundaries, but also your own.

Boundaries can be flexible, they can change with different partners, they can shift over time as you better understand your identity or become comfortable or uncomfortable with various fetishes and experiences. But they serve as important guidelines.

Read: Boundaries to Discuss in BDSM Relationships

3. Condemn harm, not people.

Kinky people have faced enough discrimination and misunderstanding, and we know intimately that we can’t always help how we are wired.

We know it’s one thing to have a personal boundary—no diapers for Nadia, for example—and another to make a blanket judgement about someone’s desires.

We know that a fantasy that compels someone doesn’t mean they are practicing harm.

Someone may have violent fantasies—most of us do—but never act them out.

4. Consent is always key.

The guy sending unsolicited adult baby photos was a douche because he didn’t take no for an answer, not because he had a popular fetish that doesn’t appeal to Nadia.

His sin isn’t the kink itself, but the fact that he imposed unsolicited imagery and attention on a woman who had made NO very clear.

It’s unfortunate if your particular kink comes with impossible consent. For example, animals cannot consent, or some developmentally challenged people. This means that to be ethically kinky, you cannot always have what you want.

But most fetishes, even the most extreme limits of the human imagination, have a match that wants the other side of that.

Learn more: Implied Consent or Expressed Consent?

5. Consent must be freely given and informed, not bullied, manipulated, or assumed.

There are many gray areas, yes. For myself, I am uncomfortable with financial domination, whether a bread-earning man keeps a submissive woman holed up with the babies or a dominatrix accepts bank accounts from groveling guys. In both of these cases, the submissive may consent to the lifestyle, but I personally don’t agree that they can make that call in their state of mind. Many may disagree with me, but this is one of my personal boundaries.

Most areas are not gray. They are black and white. Don’t send unsolicited dick pics. Don’t cheat on your wife and call it polyamory. Don’t pretend a troubled twelve year old wanted it. Don’t ignore a sub’s safe words and keep beating them, saying she really wanted it because she signed something.

6. Prioritize your partner.

If your partner’s safety and pleasure is truly your priority, you won’t have any issues practicing ethical kink.

We get into trouble when we care first about ourselves and act selfishly instead of putting our partners first. This is true whether it is a kinky hookup for one night only, or your wife of sixty years. Period.

If both of you are thinking of your partner first, nothing can be wrong or go wrong.

7. Prioritize safe sex in every way.

Ethical kink is safe sex. Condoms, yes, but there is so much more. Learn BDSM safety practices of your fetish, whether it is rope bondage, erotic asphyxiation, crushing, whipping, or pegging.

Read: BDSM Education: Where to Learn Online

Provide a clean and comfortable bedroom and bathroom for your guests. Don’t drink too much. Don’t risk a slippery shower if your partner is older. Provide a taxi or see a woman safely home. Don’t prey on kinky women who are drunk and confused even if they are “legal.” Don’t hook up if you have a cold or communicable disease. If something goes wrong, see a doctor right away and put your pride or embarrassment away. Don’t expose someone to something they may find disturbing.

It’s common sense stuff, but if you truly want to practice ethical kink, it will be important to you, even when you and your partner don’t agree on everything.

Enjoy the wonderful buffet that is fetish life!

Have you faced ethical dilemmas in your kinky relationships?

Tell us what you think!

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Kink Lovers is the online magazine for kinky people into BDSM, fetish, and kink. If you want to explore your kinky side, spice up your love life, or meet new kinky partners - enter the world of Kink Lovers. Enjoy D/s relationship advice, kink education and resources, BDSM and kink dating tips, fetish facts, and reader confessions.

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