What do kinky people mean when they say ‘vanilla’?

Q: I’m new to kink, and probably fairly ‘vanilla’, and am wondering if there is sometimes a problem with this? It seems like the word is sometimes used to put people and their opinions down, or am I being sensitive? What do kinky people mean when they say ‘vanilla’?

A.  It’s a really interesting question, and I opened it up to some of my friends and colleagues, both kinksters, and not. This answer is a culmination of around a dozen people’s thoughts. 

Due to being the world’s most popular flavouring, vanilla has a connection with convention and normality - it’s something almost everyone likes, and therefore can be seen as nothing special. But maybe everyone likes it cos it’s just so GOOD…? I prefer to think of vanilla as a starting point - it’s something pretty tasty by itself, but it’s also flexible enough to accommodate an array of additions. On the other hand, a bunch of tasty treats can be improved with a lil scoop of ‘nilla ice cream on the side. 

So in terms of sex, vanilla refers to anything normative or ‘traditional’, however the cultural and sub-cultural ideals of ‘normal’ are many and varied. This means the terminology is in a state of constant flux, and possibly explains why there is confusion about the definition and connotations. For kinksters, vanilla is generally used as a descriptor for behaviours that are specifically non-kink; again ‘normal’ or part of the mainstream. To some degree everyone engages in vanilla activities. In terms of people judging you, it should never be a problem, if it is remind them they started somewhere too.

You’re not being over-sensitive. The consensus from my Hive Mind is that people do indeed use the word disparagingly at times; sometimes with an air of superiority, sometimes outright contempt. Several of my colleagues have stopped using ‘vanilla’ to describe anything other than their own personal dynamics and interactions as they had noticed a sharp increase in ‘vanilla’ being used as a put down on people, rather than as a descriptor of certain interactions. There are of course other words we can use as alternatives – some use ‘non-kink’ or ‘mainstream’, but those words can be used with the same belittling tone, so really it all comes down to context.

There are relatively few words in existence that are plainly and definitively offensive; offense is made in the way the words are used, in the way they are delivered, particularly online. Be aware of how people are using terminology, and what it’s directed at. In turn, be aware of the way you put across your ideas, and beliefs. With a little bit of mutual respect and understanding we could all accept each other for where we’re at on our individual journey. 

11 Comments

  • Discreetstatus Photo
    Discreetstatus
    More than a month ago

    Something xotik and nice taste and to go back 2it as pleased... lol

  • nativeboi Photo
    nativeboi
    More than a month ago

    vanilla bean not xaramel or chokolate bless but wen u add nee of those flavaz two vanilla adds spice jus like inn life...with a twist its the new black???????

  • stay2play Photo
    stay2play
    More than a month ago

    By the fact you are sitting here reading this on this site you have "all be it differing degrees" shifted your personal flavour from Vanilla. You may not be a totally out there kinkster but you have moved toward it, it's up to you how far you grow and enjoy your journey ??.

  • wetpusse
    More than a month ago

    I tell people I'm milk chocolate which to me is soft kink, and hard core sex but even this is open to different meanings

  • 1thatlikesthat
    More than a month ago

    yeah I'm not a fan of vanilla, i need a little flavour... it just has none.

  • FullMast
    More than a month ago

    A more interesting discussion might be around why some people demean others that don't share their interpretation of 'kink'.

    The definition of what is kinky is very subjective. To someone whose entire sex life revolves around the missionary position, oral sex might be considered kinky, whereas to someone whose already had a taste of the lash, blood letting might be a step too far.

    What isn't fine is when people look down on other's that don't share their tastes or experience. That always strikes me as a manifestation of their own insecurities.

    True sexual liberation is embracing everyone's individual choice to experiment as much or as little as they desire... without judgement or limitation.

    What's vanilla to you might be outrageous to your neighbor.

    I have little time for those that think being 'kinky' is a competition to see who can be the most extreme. That's too much like schoolyard bullying for me.

    • AMM.Editor Photo
      AMM.Editor
      More than a month ago

      YKNMKTOK

    • SerenDPTY Photo
      SerenDPTY
      More than a month ago

      Extremely well articulated x

    • nopaperbag Photo
      nopaperbag
      More than a month ago

      Very well said .

    • triXXXi66 Photo
      triXXXi66
      More than a month ago

      yes, agree with your comment totally..but cant agree with the editors reply to you , cant work out what it means! lol

    • AMM.Events Photo
      AMM.Events
      More than a month ago

      @triXXXi66 it means: Your Kink’s Not My Kink But That’s OK (YKNMKTOK) It's a common term in the bdsm lifestyle which basically sums up this comment.

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