Kink, Consent & Coronavirus

Posted by on

memes provided by Lina Dune (she/her)
@askasub

What Boundary Setting in BDSM Culture Teaches Us About Life Outside of the Bedroom

Much like the novel coronavirus, there are a lot of misconceptions and downright fallacies surrounding BDSM. Pop cultural representations are often stereotypical, misleading, or straight-up inaccurate (*cough* 50 Shades of Grey *cough*). It’s not something the general population is an expert in, so they’re left to make assumptions in an attempt to make sense of what it all means

For those of you who are unfamiliar with alternative lifestyles, BDSM stands for Bondage/Discipline, Sadism/Masochism. As an oftentimes (but not exclusively) sexual practice, BDSM can offer opportunities for personal growth, deeper intimacy with your partner(s), and healthier non-sexual relationships.  

The basic principles of BDSM culture are SSC, or Safe, Sane, and Consensual. It’s not much of a stretch to compare the importance of these core tenets to our daily lives. Understanding the different aspects of our (sexual) preferences and boundaries should be explored, understood, and navigated with care, not only in terms of our sexuality, but our relationships—with ourselves and one another. 

We recently sat down with the self-proclaimed fairy submother Lina Dune of Ask a Sub to discuss the link between kink, capitalism, and control as we navigate the upending of our lives during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Boundaries are a good thing and we need them to thrive,” Lina explains. “Submission is nothing more or less than an opportunity to safely experiment with letting go.” Setting boundaries is a way to solidify understanding your limits, and can help you tune into empathy, compassion, and ability to listen to your own needs, as well as the needs of others. 

Read on to hear how the transformative experience of “letting go” as a submissive veritably grants us the control we may feel we have lost—whether that be in our past, in present relationships, or during times of uncertainty. Lina sums it up nicely: "You can't give away power you don't have." 

And even though we can’t control the world around us, we can control how we choose to deal with it—and what (or who) we’re willing to let in.  

What are your top 3 things you need to know before entering into a submissive relationship?

Know who you are. The intense nature of BDSM calls us to bring our whole selves to the table. All BDSM practices—whether they’re with a committed partner or casual partners—can have a transformative effect on the practitioners, and that is only deepened when you are unapologetically and holistically aware of yourself.

Just as you have to rely on yourself to call a safe word whenever you need it, without judgement, you also have to rely on yourself to find those experiences that have the most depth and resonance for your own desires. Submission can teach you to open your ears and heart to your true self unlike anything else. It does not require you to be “perfect” or “fixed” by any means, but deepens when you meet yourself where you are. 

Know what you want. Because all responsible BDSM practice relies on a system of identifying hard and soft limits, you get to say what you will and won’t do from the get-go.

This can be 
so liberating for those of us who have followed the sexual scripts set forth by compulsory heteronormativity. It gives you the opportunity to evaluate every sexual act (and all the kinks under the sun) and say “Do I really like this? Would I include this if I were building my sexuality from the ground up?”

Just as you have to rely on yourself to call a safe word whenever you need it, without judgement, you also have to rely on yourself to find those experiences that have the most depth and resonance for your own desires.

Any responsible Dom will say that they won’t play with subs who don’t have limits, because it flags that they are not considerate players. So make that list! And know it could shift or change, but you’re the only one who gets to say what you want to do. 

Know why you want it. You won’t have perfect origin stories for each of your kinks. But as you begin to explore new things, it will be essential to try your best to put into words what works for you about each thing you enjoy, and what doesn’t work for you about things you want to avoid.

As you develop a vocabulary around your own desires, it equips you with the self-knowledge to explore confidently in uncharted territory. This is why I recommend that every new sub keep a journal where they describe their experiences (solo & partnered alike) and track their own feelings around all the new adventures they’re having!


In times of crisis how might understanding the core values of the Dom/sub world help us? What are ways that these types of practices influence our everyday life?

The two biggest components of D/S play that are coming to the forefront in our changing world are intuition and boundary-setting. Subs have to learn to listen to their intuition above all else. Picking a partner? If they give you a bad vibe, get out of there. Looking at a new toy? If it gives you a thrill, try it!

Capitalism discourages anything that isn’t logically defensible, but now, as all of this breaks down, we’re seeing the ways that intuition has been neglected by the patriarchal mainstream, clearly to the detriment of our communities.

We know intuitively that people deserve access to healthcare, affordable housing, and compassionate employment practices. But capitalism has gaslit us into believing that these basic human rights are somehow inaccessible, or asking too much. 


The second practice of D/S play I’m thinking about a lot lately is firm but gentle boundary setting. We discuss boundaries a lot in the BDSM world, and how they have to be set and reacted to without ego getting involved.

Right now, boundary-setting might look like setting down your phone, limiting talk about the news with a loved one, or even gently asking someone in public to give you a little more personal space. Always remember:
anyone who reacts negatively to you setting a boundary is benefitting somehow from you not having one.



Before negotiation starts, what are ways we can introduce exploring the world of BDSM with a partner who may have little to no experience in it. 

I think the best way to tell a partner you’re interested in trying something new is to introduce it like you’re giving good news! If it feels like it’s coming out of the blue, acknowledge that. Be clear that you being interested in something new isn’t an indictment of them or your status quo, but could only serve to enhance both of your lives!

Also, I highly recommend having these convos outside of a sexual setting. If you do indeed proceed down the kinky brick road, it will be important to normalize having light  meta conversations about sex, and the best way to do this is bring it up outside of the bedroom. Or if you, like me, are social distancing inside a studio apartment where technically the whole thing is your bedroom, at least have the convo clothed or over a meal!

Culture & Society sex ed

← Older Post Newer Post →



Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published