Before we jump in today, a warning – the next eight minutes we’ll be having a frank discussion about sex that might not be suitable for all listeners. Over the last few weeks, we have been bringing you stories about sex – the conversations we have about sex, the ones we don’t and how those conversations shape society. We have heard about LGBTQ sex education, waiting for marriage, and porn literacy. Today, my co-host Ailsa Chang brings us a story about a community we rarely hear about on public radio or otherwise.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: The kink community – kinksters, as they’re known. Specifically, we’re looking at what the rest of the world can learn from kinksters about sex and communication. And again, we’re going to be spending the next seven minutes talking frankly about sex, which might not be suitable for all listeners. And NPR’s Mallory Yu recently sat down with a group of these folks. She joins me now. Hey, Mallory.


CHANG: All right. I just want to get some terms out of the way first, starting with the word kink.

YU: I’m going to let Evan, who is part of my roundtable, handle this one. We didn’t use last names of several of the people at this roundtable because they were worried about current or future employment. Anyway, here’s Evan.

EVAN: Kinky is anything that is outside of the, you know, fictional narrative that we have of the norm of sexuality.

CHANG: Outside the norm.

YU: Exactly. So we’re talking about things like BDSM, which is a subset of kink. And people might be familiar with some of those terms from the movie “Fifty Shades Of Grey,” which was very controversial in the kink community.

CHANG: Because they felt it misportrayed a lot of things in that community.

YU: Exactly. But it was a lot of people’s introductions to that kind of sex. And then there’s vanilla, which is sex that’s not kinky.

CHANG: Wait. Vanilla – is that like a put-down, like anybody who’s vanilla is boring?

YU: No, not necessarily. It’s more just a way to differentiate between what is kinky versus not kinky.

CHANG: All right. So a lot of our series is about how we talk about sex, how we don’t communicate enough about sex, or when we do communicate, we do it very badly. And that is exactly why you and I wanted to focus on the kink community here.

YU: So something that I heard a lot in my reporting was this idea that everyone is a little bit kinky, right? And I think that’s supported in the research because there’s this guy, Dr. Justin Lehmiller. He’s with the Kinsey Institute. He interviewed 4,000 Americans about their sexual fantasies. And what he found was that a vast majority of them, both men and women, had fantasized about some form of BDSM.

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Demystifying Kink by All Things Considered

May 17th, 2019