In Praise of Vanilla: Sexual Expression and Acceptance

Things on here have been seriously heavy on the kink side lately, so I think it’s time to dial it back a notch, and give some equal share time to the other tasty aspects of sexuality.  When I started this blog I didn’t want to focus on just the kinky aspects alone, because my sexuality has really run the gamut, and all of it has been a delicious and valid.  Actually, I think experiencing various forms of kink has made vanilla even better.  Maybe this is because my vanilla isn’t really vanilla, but who is to say for sure.  Sometimes vanilla gets a bad rap in the kink community, and I think unfairly so.  If we can hold space for everyone to have and enjoy their own personal kink of choice without judgement, then why can we not extend that same acceptance to those for whom vanilla is their lovestyle of choice?

Photo Courtesy of Make Better Food

I’m the kind of gal who likes to sample all the flavors, and my tastes are continually changing.  I find it difficult to pick a “favorite” anything.  I have certain things I enjoy more than others, and just what that “flavor” may be, vacillates depending on any number of variables.  I think it’s fair to say that the majority of us are also not static creatures; our desires and tastes ebb and flow, grow and change as we do as individuals.  I don’t experience and express my sexuality the same way I did as a teenager, or even as I did throughout my 20’s, because I’m just not the same person I was then that I am now.  What I think of as vanilla sex now, is definitely not even close to what I once might have defined it as, but that doesn’t mean that one is any less valid than the other.  My sexuality at each stage was congruent to who I was as a person, and where I was along my own path of growth.

As we move through our lives, we continually meet people who will alter the person we know ourselves to be currently. Through our intimate connections with others, whether emotional or physical, or a combination thereof, we are transformed.  With the addition of each interaction, and the intensity and depth of the connection, we are inextricably changed.  Whether this change is conscious or unconscious, by choice or consequence, it is impossible to remain a constant in the wake of such forces.

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical
substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed”  – Carl Jung, psychiatrist (1875-1961)

I think those of us who have been involved with either the kink community, or even just exploring kink privately, feel like we have been so unfairly judged, and wrongfully dismissed, by those who are purely vanilla, that there is some residual anger and resentment there.  We’re a little raw from being called “weird” or “wrong” by those who have a more closed-minded, color inside the lines idea of what sexual expression is, and so we tend to transfer all of those feelings of being rejected and sullied, onto the entire vanilla lovestyle.  Unfortunately, that’s a blanket judgement made about an entire group of people, when perhaps only a percentage of that group feels that way.  In reality, this is just as unfair to those who practice vanilla sex solely, as it is to those of us who are unfairly labeled for exploring and enjoying kink.  Those of us that do so are only perpetuating that same rigidity.  And that means that those of us who think we are somehow more open-minded, more advanced in our being because of this, are in actuality, hypocrites.

While I have been using the terms of “vanilla” vs. “kink” speaking about the expression of sexuality as if it were these two areas were polar opposites, it’s important to remember and acknowledge that there is a lot of gray area here in both.  It brings to mind the Kinsey Scale of Sexual Orientation in which Kinsey proposed that only a small minority of us are actually completely straight or gay, and that most of us are on a varying scale of degrees of bisexuality.

“Males/Females do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories… The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects.” – Kinsey, (1948)

These kinds of dichotomies can often be witnessed in other areas related to sexuality and relationships, such as in the great debate that exists between those who are monogamous vs. polyamorous.  The Poly community, while professing a more progressive stance on love and relationship, discounts those who would consider themselves monogamous, as people who are somehow emotionally or spiritually stunted in their understanding and expression of love.  The monogamy community, while not wanting to be discounted and belittled for their choice of a single partner relationship, condemns those who choose Polyamory (multiple-partner relationships with full disclosure), as unscrupulous and promiscuous heathens, who only seek pleasure for pleasure’s sake, at the cost of experiencing real emotional depth and connection.  Essentially, both communities want the same thing: to both be seen as valid and acceptable relationship choices, with neither one or the other being the superior choice.  Regardless, the argument between them still remains despite this, with both sides failing to understand that by invalidating the other, they also invalidate their own position as well.  It is imperative that both sides understand this in order to move past this impasse, and grow.

Photo Courtesy of The Cut AboveI do not ascribe my lovemaking to any singular definition. The expression of my sexuality is fluid, and without the confines of a if “this, than “that”” mentality.  I am neither vanilla or kink solely.  It may seem trite to say, but I am much more a connoisseur of “swirl”, when faced with the choice of either vanilla or chocolate.  I want the freedom to choose what I want sexually in the moment, instead of feeling like I have somehow backslid in my personal evolution because I don’t always want sex to include some level of BD/SM or kink play.  Sometimes, just two naked people, physically and emotionally, is pretty damn hot.  And sometimes two people with some wrists restraints, a spreader bar, and a paddle is too.  Both are equally capable of producing mind-blowing, ecstatically juicy results!

It’s important that we all recognize that sexuality and relationship born of consent, is an individual expression, and that no one’s personal expression of it is any more valid than any other.  We all bring to our sexuality a unique bouquet of biology, background, and experience, and that these are often in relation to who we are in that moment; no more or less progressive or evolved than another.  Embrace each others differences, respect each others boundaries, and be open to the possibility that sexuality is more than just how you experience it as an individual.

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Everyone Has Layers, I Too, Am A Parfait

I’m human, and as sex-positive as I am, I still feel the occasional bout of guilt or tinge of shame from allowing myself to be open and vulnerable, written or verbally spoken,  about all the various places my explorations in my sexuality have taken me.  Recently, as I have been sharing these details of times waned, and those waxing in my erotic life, I’ve noticed a recoil within myself; a judgement, or a fear of judgement, about the kind of person I am, by the people I know, and those I hope to know in the future.

All of what you will read here in this blog are true life experiences.  I am not telling you stories, or simply recanting fantasies that have crossed my mind.  This is me.  This has been my life so far, and the posts you read from here on out will share what appears on the horizon of the future.  Speaking as someone who considers herself to be an open person, I can still share with you that this openness, this vulnerability, does not come without some reservation deep down inside.  I worry, “If they know the real me, the more forbidden places I have been, will they still like me?  Will they still love me?  Will I still love me?” (writing this sentence has literally welled my eyes up with tears, and this keyboard is getting difficult to make out through the blurred vision).  There must be something there for me in that thought right there, some nugget to bring into the light, that maybe, just maybe, I need to love myself more thoroughly.

If you know me in real life, you would say I was a fairly average person as people go.  I live my life in suburban normalcy; raising a teenage daughter as a single parent, working, and participating in various social circles and events that are completely unrelated to these facets of myself, and I like it this way.  I want my day-to-day life, and those in it, to be stable and rewarding.  That doesn’t mean that I want a boring and uneventful life, or one so riddled with routine that there is no joy found in the living of it.  I guess you could say that I want to be, and am, an “unconventional conventionalist” (Thank you, Rocky Horror Picture Show for that term).

My father once described me perfectly.  He said that as liberal as one might believe me to be, that I really am quite conservative.  He’s right.  I want a fairly traditional life.  I want to be married, in a monogamous relationship, but I “don’t want to be married to some dolt”.  I wasn’t always certain that this was what I wanted, but after exploring various relationship configurations, I am certain of it now.  I want to be married to someone who wants that stability and consistency of the everyday, but who is not a totally rigid and conventional being.  I want someone who is open and expansive in their mind, heart, and way of being.  I want life to have some adventure, vibrancy, and exploration with it.  At some point my father also said to me, “Whatever you do, don’t be mediocre”.

The Jesus picture my Mom has on her dresser

Photo Courtesy of: Today’s Catholic News

I was raised Catholic, but from a very early age challenged that belief system.  I just knew that somehow, it didn’t fit me.  I assume though, that as much as I didn’t resonate with that religion, I couldn’t help but not only absorb it’s core values, which are inherently pretty good (love thy neighbor as thyself, do unto others as you would have done to you, etc), but also, it’s core flaws (guilt, shame, and basic emotional flagellation for anything remotely associated with sexual expression, especially so as a girl/woman).  Plus, I had a really hard time imagining that God was only a man, seeing as most everything around had a masculine and feminine duality.

When you’re raised in any religion, no matter how much you might not fully believe or resonate with it, it’s still very difficult to fully revoke the power of the framework that was laid.  It’s hard to unlearn that programming.  I’m not saying “programming” like as in brainwashing, but rather in learned behavior or belief as programming.  And honestly, not all of it is bad, so it’s like I have to pick and choose what fits and what doesn’t, and go from there, but then you have to reconcile within yourself why certain parts work, if certain parts don’t.

So when you learn from a young age that certain ways of thinking, feeling, or being, are considered bad or wrong, it can’t help but stay with you, and affect how you move through not only the world around you, but your own inner world as well.  I know even as much as I don’t consciously believe it affects me, that it still does.  Yes, what you have heard about Catholic guilt, is true!  It’s all true!

Photo Courtesy of: The Magic Farmhouse

Coloring outside the prescribed lines is not always easy, or effortless.  When the majority of people run in one direction, and you choose the other, there is bound to be some conflict.  Society, as a whole, doesn’t really jive well with differentiations from the “norm” as well as it likes to think it does.  This can be easily seen in any group that thinks it’s all fringey and unconventional, like say “goths” or “emo” kids, when their way of being different often looks the exact same on all of them.  Don’t worry, I have been guilty of this too, so it’s not a judgement.  Yep, celebrate non-conformity with conformity! LOL

I get a kick out of the kids that give me judgmental sneers when I shop in Hot Topic for band shirts, and I’m wearing a plain tank top and a pair of shorts, and basically look like a Gap ad.  I once had multi-color hair and mismatched vintage clothes, and I’m still as unconventional now as I was back then, except now I can count on being gainfully employable.  I actually think it makes me less of a poser than they think I am, because all of my unconventional tendencies are cleverly disguised in this nice, unassuming package.  Or, like my ex-husband who wants everyone to think he’s so avant-garde with the way he dresses or expresses his views, but is really a well-package conservative Republican.

So, although I am a person who is extremely comfortable in her own skin, I still do have the occasional fears that not all of the myriad of layers I have will be palatable to the people I want them to be.  I don’t want to be written into one category because someone assumes something of me, just because I express myself a certain way, or believe as I do.  I guess what I want most out of this blogging experience is for people to realize that I am, and on the grander scale, we as women and men are, simply not one thing or the other.  Life is not black and white.  There are a million shades of grey (not just 50, sorry E. L.)  There is no, “if this, than that”.  Being one way does not mean that we ascribe to all the attributes that one would assume we would, based solely on one way of being.  I am not to be pigeon-holed.

I am not bad, wrong, slutty, easy, loose, whorish, or less than because I embrace my sexuality, and all the intricate workings of figuring out just what that means to me and looks like, personally.

I am a good, loving, intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, kind, quirky, unconventionally conventional woman, and I hope you will take the time to know the real, all-encompassing, me before judging me.