The Key to Kink

This sex positive story excerpt from All The F*cking Mistakes by Gigi Engle is published with permission.

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What’s the difference between a kink and a fetish?

Are they one and the same? Is that foot thing I like wherein a toe goes up my butthole a kink or what? It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s confusing AF. A kink is an idea of something you want to try or something you enjoy doing—something you add on to playtime, but it is not consuming, whereas fetish is a part of you. A fetish is forever. It’s a part of your system. It never goes away.

Kink is in your control.

Trying kink is totally in your control. I cannot emphasize this enough. What scares people shitless about bondage is the idea that they are going to submit to something they aren’t comfortable with and wind up flipping out or dying.

Just because you are a sexually empowered woman does not mean you have to be down for weird sex stuff whenever (or at all, boo). If this is something you want to try, that’s fantastic. It is a choice. It doesn’t mean you have to do kink all the time. Your sex life does not have to transform into a dom-sub situation à la Christian and Ana if that isn’t what you want. You can do some kink here and there, you can do it all the time, or you can do it not at all.

Consent is key.

If you want to try kink, it in no way implies that consent goes out the window. Sandra LaMorgese, a dominatrix with a Ph.D., says that consent is just as important as it is during vanilla sex practices. Consent is a big part of kink because when you’re taking on different roles and trying new, potentially dangerous things, you can’t not talk about it. One of the things that makes BDSM and kink so magical is the power you willingly give away or take. It lets you be in the moment and be very present.


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The choice and consent aspects of kink are foundational to its success. When I was in my early twenties, I was casually hooking up with a guy I thought I trusted. Looking back, I clearly didn’t know him that well and didn’t trust him that much. He also had no idea what he was doing, but I was a child and didn’t know that. For all his big talk about getting kinky, he was a novice at best.

I had never done bondage before, not even light choking. This man was quite a bit older than I, and I wanted to come across as very sexy and worldly. You know, super rad and down for anything. I decided to just dive in with a reckless abandon to maintain my cool-girl aesthetic.

In the span of about four minutes, I was tied up and ball-gagged, feet and wrists tied to each corner of the bed. The ball gag was sickly sweet; a jawbreaker meant to make it more fun, I guess? It hurt my teeth and mouth, stretching the corners of my cheeks uncomfortably. I was blindfolded. I couldn’t tell him if this was okay or if it wasn’t okay. I felt claustrophobic and afraid. I had a panic attack. I started screaming as much as I could and was shaking uncontrollably. He untied me. He was clearly shaken. We popped some champagne, watched Modern Family, and then had regular vanilla sex later.

This is a tale of caution. I wanted to be impressive so badly that I compromised my comfort and safety.

This is not how you want your experiences with kink to be. I’m not entirely sure how much BDSM experience this guy had with kink or if he had decided to stock up on a ton of expensive gear on a whim. Regardless, as the dominant in this situation, he had a responsibility to make sure I was feeling safe and comfortable. He wasn’t thinking about this during the sexual play. I’m no mind reader, but I don’t believe he’d even considered it. Don’t play dom-sub games with random people who don’t know what they’re doing. You might end up in a shit-your-pants-scary situation like I did. The dom has responsibility to the sub. Always.

I don’t want this tale of woe to stop you from trying kink. Quite the contrary. I want to set you on a path of well-informed experiences that don’t end in heart palpitations. As far as bad first times go, mine was tame. No lasting harm was done. But it’s important to know that when you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t trust the person you’re doing those things with, it can go awry.

Remember that you are exploring these things for your own pleasure. You do not need to do kink to fit into some lens of what makes a sexy partner. Do not do anything that you do not want to do. You’re not less sexy or cool or dope if you don’t want to be tied up and gagged. If you’re going to try kink, do it for yourself, not to please someone else. It’s great to open yourself up to something your partner wants to try, but only if you feel safe doing it. You are your own fantasy, okay, boo?

You hear a lot about BDSM but, like, do you really know what it even is?

Not many people do, so it’s fine. BDSM stands for bondage, dominance, submission, masochism. (It also includes discipline, sadism, and sometimes the S and M are referred to as sadomasochism.)

When I asked Dr. Kristie Overstreet, a clinical sexologist and psychotherapist, about BDSM, she really summed up how disorienting the understanding can be in a nutshell: “BDSM is consensual sexual expression, and it is not abuse. If you see a BDSM scene that involves knife or blood play, you may have a strong reaction to it, because it is outside of your comfort level. However, the participants in the scene consented and discussed the rules of the scene beforehand. Just because you may think it is abuse doesn’t mean that it is.”Good sexy stories for women


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BDSM comes in many shapes and sizes. On its surface, it may well look like abuse. Many scenes involve a person tied up, ruthlessly spanked or beaten, and yes, it can involve blood sometimes. The difference is the consent and understanding. All the people engaging have discussed their boundaries, how they want the scene to take place, and what they are and are not comfortable doing.

They are doing this for their own pleasure, not because another person(s) forced them to take part. It is not coerced behavior in any way.

I’d love to delve into the intricacies of BDSM, shame, and lust, but I have to break down the basics. We can’t possibly cover everything about how society feels about BDSM in one chapter. So we can only munch on the bones. The majority of people don’t want to engage in sex like this (or, at least, don’t admit it). Society is scared of BDSM. It bolsters the power of sexual freedom. It openly promotes and advocates for the human desire to give up or take control. That’s some scary shit. So we censor it, and therefore, we can’t talk about it. Our culture doesn’t know how to talk about sex at all, let alone bondage and whether or not you’re a sub, dom, or switch.

Want to read more? You can buy All the F*cking Mistakes here.

Gigi Engle (CSE, CSC) is an award-winning feminist author, certified sex coach, sexologist, and sex educator. Her work regularly appears in Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire,  Elle Magazine, Teen Vogue, Glamour and Women’s Health. Gigi also writes an advice column : Ask Gigi and is an original member of The Women of Sex Tech. In 2019, Gigi was named Journalist of The Year at the Sexual Freedom Awards.