It worries me to wonder whether I might be a sexual deviant. I would never want to be thought of as boring in anything I do. The trouble is, not being straight-edge in sex can quickly earn you a one-way ticket to the psych ward. Admittedly I think I’d rather be considered a total sexual deviant than to be thought of as vanilla, but equally, the thought that I’m falling out of the ‘normal’ category is a concern.
When does it become ‘deviant’?
In my opinion, there’s a hierarchy I would use to label someone as a sexual deviant. At the top spot, we’ve got any play involving blood or feces, rape fantasy and hardcore bondage with whips, chains, and actual physical pain. Stepping one rung down from the downright ‘deviant’ to the weird and wonderful world of ‘exotic’ tastes, there’s anal play, water sports, lighter bondage (tying up, spanking, choking) and sexual encounters with more than one person at the same time.
One more step down on the pyramid leads us to the ‘vanilla+’ section, involving early-days experimenting with the less usual sexual positions (reverse cowgirl, doggy style etc), shower sex and the unusual but painless play like food, and the accompanying realisation that food-play is not sexy but in fact messy and, quite frankly, awful. Finally, we arrive at the old-school, introductory world of ‘vanilla’ featuring our friends, missionary, cowgirl and lacklustre orgasms.
So where’s my worry?
My fear comes from the fact that my hierarchy is no more than my own subjective, heterosexual experience. Even my placement of water sports and light bondage under ‘exotic’ rather than ‘deviant’ probably paints a pretty vivid picture of my level. Also, it’s almost impossible to know whether the things I like are normal because I’ve never been in someone else’s bedroom experience. Even if I talk to my friends about the stranger stuff I like, there’s a feeling that we’re holding something back, scared of being told we have psychological issues stemming from childhood.
Would I even be into the stuff I think I am?
It seems strange to say that I don’t know what I like but I think it’s impossible to know whether we actually do like something before we’ve tried it. I like the idea of having two sexual partners at one time, but would I like it in practice? The idea of being peed on sounds gross to my rational brain, but any time I’ve watched pornography of people engaging in water sports, I’ve absolutely loved it. Equally, I’ve never found anything hot about rape fantasy, but how could I know that I wouldn’t enjoy it if my partner asked me try it out?
I like to think of what I’m into as having broad tastes, rather than thinking of myself as some sort of crazed pervert who has no limits. I like to think that, if my sexual partner asked me to give something a go, I’d be willing to give it a go. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a cutoff point where it’s not on for me; I don’t think I’d find same-sex encounters enjoyable and I don’t even like the idea of having period sex. And indeed, even those limits would seem fine to some people, whilst others might find it totally abhorrent that I admitted to watching pornography.
Open and honest conversation
Perhaps a better barometer for being a sexual deviant is to presume that, unless your desired activity is literally prohibited by law, that your tastes are perfectly acceptable and, provided your sexual partner is 100% consenting (or at least open to the idea of new experiences) then nothing is off the table.
We should stop labelling individuals as ‘normal’ or as a ‘sexual deviant’ and, instead, have honest conversations where we say exactly what it is that we want with no expectation for our partner to follow through. If we were all willing to do that, I have no doubt our sex lives would be improved and, more importantly, my conscience would be cleared over whether my love of anal play is taboo or not.