Now BDSM covers a lot of aspects, but in order to be considered BDSM it stands to reasons that one of three aspects has to be present – B/D (bondage and discipline), S/M (sadism and masochism) or D/s (Dominance and submission). Anything that doesn’t fall into these three categories is considered non-kinky or ‘vanilla.’ However are non-kinky and vanilla really synonymous? Vanilla is often categorised as ‘boring,’ conjuring images of heterosexual sex in the missionary position with the lights off – but if Vanilla is simply sex not covered by BDSM, is it not possible to be kinky in its own right? Therein lies ‘vanilla kink,’ (or perhaps French Vanilla if you prefer). (There is also the argument that vanilla sex doesn’t include kink at all, regardless of whether it lies within the boundaries of BDSM – but I don’t see why this should be the case, as vanilla is often used as a term for people not into BDSM itself).
For example, does doing a bit of dressing up in the bedroom count as BDSM? Not really, unless the roles involve a Dominant and submissive character. Does anal play count? Not really – even a lot of toys that can be introduced into the bedroom don’t necessarily come under BDSM; butt plugs, dildoes, vibrators, vibrating eggs, anal beads, etc. Or what about foot fetishes? Hot oil massages? Trying out different sex positions? Pretty much anything in the Karma Sutra? Although all these will probably seem pretty vanilla to someone into BDSM, to others they definitely come under the category of kink – ergo, Vanilla Kink.
This really makes the Them vs Us argument present on BOTH sides pretty pointless. There isn’t always a clear cut line, it’s a continuum and a person can fall anywhere on it. What is kinky to some is vanilla to others and vice versa. As well as this, the ‘vanilla is boring’ argument also loses its credibility – although there’s not as many options as within BDSM, there certainly is a lot of room for variety.
Aside from overcoming stereotypes, this offers a middle ground between totally vanilla and hardcore kink. This is especially useful for people who want to spice things up in the bedroom but aren’t ready to venture into the world of BDSM just yet, or as a stepping-stone to BDSM – especially when introducing it to a nervous spouse. Kink doesn’t always mean painful, embarrassing, or anything else for that matter! It’s whatever YOU want and YOU need it to be.
What we need people to realise is that something that works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. What may seem tame to one may be way too extreme for others – but within and outside of BDSM, there’s always room for experimentation and variety. So why the stereotypes? Vanilla isn’t always boring and BDSM isn’t always extreme (not to say it can’t be ;P) – it all depends on the person and what they want out of it.
The whole argument seems a bit silly really.