The combination of asexuality and kink isn’t one I suspect many people realise exists, given there’s a fundamental feeling kink is a sexual act, but let me rid you of that misconception right at the start of this post. Remember, I have a freakin’ rope tattoo on my left ankle, which, despite many people’s first thoughts, is not there because I like sailing.
Close-up of my rope tattoo. It was done by a friend of mine who was training to be a tattoo artist and I was her guinea-pig. One day I might get it completed.
For the purposes of this post, I’m defining ‘kink’ to be largely BDSM-type activities, with some additional associated play, for example spanking and role-play. But let’s start with something even more fundamental and basic.
Do asexuals have sex? Can asexuals enjoy sex?
While asexuals often tend to be sex-averse or sex-repulsed, many asexuals not only have sex and sexual activity, but actively enjoy it. For them, there is a disconnect between the act of sex and the feeling of sexual attraction. If that sounds a little strange, then I ask you to cast your minds to when you were first discovering what your body was capable of doing. I’d imagine many of your first sexual encounters (or those of your friends, at least) weren’t necessarily with people you found sexually attractive, but rather with people who were sexually available and willing, probably with the same mindset as yourself. In addition, you can have sexual encounters, or even experiments, with close friends you get along with platonically or even romantically – neither change your lack of sexual attraction. Obviously you can enjoy the feelings your body creates without ever thinking someone is ‘hot’ – asexuals can and do masturbate. Admittedly in my case it’s 95% because I need to be doing something with my hands to allow me to focus on something else, and is completely non-sexual in nature, but ADHD is a bummer.
Remember, I’m just one example of an asexual. As I may have mentioned previously, I’ve never been fond of sex. This is, of course, separate to my asexuality, although fundamentally linked to it – my lack of sexual attraction means, for me at least, I have little sexual desire, and honestly there are things I’d rather do with someone than share some horizontal refreshment. I’m one of those people for whom ‘Netflix and Chill’ is a literal preference rather than a symbolic one.
That doesn’t mean I’ve never partaken in grinding corn; indeed the main reason I know I don’t have much desire in that field is because I’ve tried it and not been keen. This has been irrespective of who I’ve been with – and while this is very definitely TMI I’m going to say it anyway; even when people are physically touching my genitals, even if I find them aesthetically attractive and have deep platonic feelings for them, I’m not particularly reactive to their touch.
However, all sex is not created equal; there are some activities involving genitalia that I do like and enjoy. Importantly though, there’s something that connects them – they involve my pleasing other people. For example, I’m particularly fond of oral sex, of going down on people and arousing them that way.
There are two points to note here:
Firstly, remember that asexuality doesn’t mean you don’t have sex, it means you don’t have (much) sexual attraction. My eating them out as if they were some kind of cake or creamy eclair doesn’t invalidate my asexuality.
Secondly, and perhaps controversially, I don’t see it as a sexual act. This is because it’s not sexual for me; it doesn’t arouse me and I’m not doing it for sexual reasons. For me, playing with someone like that is no different from my playing with, say, a musical instrument. And you don’t get aroused by blowing a clarinet; same principle, just a different flavour and texture. I don’t doubt it’s sexual for them, indeed that’s largely the point for them, but for me it’s just a mild hobby.
What it is, is an example of my people-pleasing mentality, that’s evident more with pleasures of the flesh than in most other aspects of my life. I’m inherently submissive. This comes out in another way, something that again most people consider is more sexual than it really is.
Can asexual people be kinky?
I’m relatively kinky – more so than the average person I think. For me, my ‘kink’ is mainly bondage; I like rope play and being tied up, and I think I always have, since long before I even had sexual encounters. Although my earliest adventures in kink play (leaving aside experiments with self-bondage) were with an early girlfriend when I was at university, even back then I never associated kink with sex – it’s always been a non-sexual thing to me. Indeed, as far as I can remember, my first tentative steps weren’t (like so many other people) driven by cartoons or detective stories, rather it’s because I always used to like to feel the lines on the skin that things made if they were wrapped too tightly. Like watches. So I always used to wear my watch too tight, then take it off after a while and feel the indents in the skin. So even before I knew about asexuality, kink was part of who I was.
There’ve been two different types of experiences I’ve had with people; one has been occasional play within the confines of a relationship, which has been quite rare as most of my partners have frustratingly been quite ‘vanilla’, while the other has been specific and often one-off play with people I’ve come across alone (and almost entirely with men). These latter experiences have tended to be more asexual in aspect (aside from, you know, my going down on them), and probably more enjoyable as a result. I’ve even had some kinky experiences while I’ve been travelling, including attending a tickle-play-party in New York City, and meeting men for bondage and tickle play in both Alabama and Sweden. One may raise an eyebrow at the safety of meeting random people on the internet in a foreign country and letting them tie you up in their own house, but as I often say, I am not a role model, and I do these things so you don’t have to.
I met a chap in Huntsville Alabama, and this was his setup. My feet were locked in those stocks and ticked for a couple of hours.
As I say, being tied doesn’t arouse me or make me think in sexual terms; indeed quite the opposite – I’ve almost fallen asleep whilst hogtied before, simply because it relaxes me so much. In my everyday life I’m prone to overthinking, plus I find I get easily distracted by ‘shiny things’, so being tied up is my ‘release’ from that; it’s somewhere where I know ‘I can’t do anything right now, so there’s no need to worry about anything because I can’t change it anyway’. I’m also a bit of a control-freak in a way – I always need to know what the time is, or where I am, or what’s going to happen next in a story or something, so having that control taken away from me also helps me chill a bit more. There’s a connection with travel here too, which I wrote about in another post; I tend to travel off-the-beaten-track travel and the two are very similar in terms of pushing your limits, having to completely put your trust in people etc.
Because I find it relaxing I also kind of use it almost as ‘self-care’ in a way; I hate to use the word ‘therapy’ but I guess that’s what it is – a means by which I have the mental ability to turn inwards at peace and let all my worries and stresses dissipate healthily. Hmmm, bondage therapy.
As mentioned earlier, there are some sexual acts I will do, and this is true even when mixed with kink – indeed sometimes I feel it’s inseparable (because of my control-freak tendencies I think). Yet, here too, I don’t see them as sexual to me – rather when kink is involved I mentally take on the role of ‘object’, of my being a ‘useful device’ that the other person (or people) can use to get themselves off. I feel as sexual as, say, a blow-up doll or a robot would feel, rather than how the other people feel – again showing how my asexuality and kink preferences connect.
There’s another way my asexuality affects my kink, and it’s a bit more conceptual. A lot of the kink I’m into involves an amount of domination/submission play, and there does very strongly seem there’s ‘gender expectations’. For example, in heterosexual play partnerships between romantic/platonic partners, it’s relatively more common to find the dominant to be male and the submissive to be female. But, more specifically, in such relationships, there’s a varied style of both domination and submission, from rope bunnies and human pets to ‘owned submissives’ and ‘pain sluts’. Conversely, there always seems to be a more specific ‘FemDom’ culture with male submissives – involving leather, heels, and humiliation play. It’s much less ‘sweet’ and much more ‘dry’. In addition, male doms and subs, especially my age or older, always seem to be into things like corporal punishment, genital torture, and dressing up as women. Obviously not all FemDoms, not all male submissives, conform to these stereotypes, but in my experience that seems to be the most common theme.
The thing is, when it comes to kink, I always identify much more with the role usually taken by the submissive woman in a heterosexual environment. Indeed I’ll often imagine such scenarios in which I *am* a woman, or at least someone whose gender is undefined & irrelevant. I’m not interested in pain play, in caning, in whips, in being told I’m worthless, in fetish object play, or aspects like that; I like rope, casual play, a bit of objectification, and some minor kinky practices. It’s almost, dare I say it, romantic bondage rather than sexual or punch-card bondage. That might just be my reacting to heterosexual norms, or possibly me channelling some kind of latent non-binary vibes, but I think mainly it’s because my ideas and preferences of kink play are ones that are fun, organic, and platonic (rather than pseudo-sexual or fetishistic).
‘Damsel in Distress’ type bondage appeals to me. “Tied down to the track, such a dangerous feeling”. Caveat: the line hasn’t been connected to anything in my lifetime.
How do asexuals manage in kink spaces?
There’s a couple of issues at play here. One is that most people, regardless of orientation, consider kink to be sexual, even if the people involved in any particular session aren’t using it as a way to get jiggy with it. Rather, there’s often an underlying vibe, an expectation that if you have a kink play partner, there will be sexual contact at some point, and therefore the preference is to choose a play partner you’re sexually attracted to, not just someone you have a kink connection with.
It’s unusual to find asexuality in the kink world. This makes it hard to really get involved in it, since there always seems to be that subtext. It’s seen a lot on posts on forum boards on Fetlife, even on the purely rope and other fetish groups:
– “I just need someone to practice with”
– “Then why do you only want [insert gender here]?”
There’s an added complication when you get a bit older, since many people my age are in committed relationships so tend to only play with their life partner. Understandably, because people see it as sexual, there’s a reluctance for people to kink play with people widely variant from them in age.
That’s not to say kinksters are acephobes – quite the opposite in fact. Indeed I’ve found the intersection between kinksters and ‘Allies’ is quite large. As a rule, they tend to be open to the concept of different ideas even if they’re not ones they partake in – one phrase often used is “your kink is not my kink” (but it’s still a valid one), and this applies to sexuality just as much as kink; at rope jam sessions you’ll find goths, geeks, homosexuals, trans people, all happily tying away next to each other and even offering assistance. Also, kinksters are in general heavily into concepts like consent, more so than any other sex/romance grouping, so it always feels like a very safe space.
It’s just, because it’s also quite a sexualised concept for most people, we are seen as a little ‘odd’. I mean, go figure. Whips, ‘sounding’, electro-play, Littles, hanging from wooden beams with hooks in their skin, breath play, wet-and-messy (gunge) play, rubber, nettles, tickling, and confinement in small boxes are all seen as less ‘unusual’ than doing any of them, or even something as simple as playing video games with your hands tied behind you, with no sexual subtext. Hence the conversations above. Asexuality in kink is, I think, unexpected by many people.
Fortunately, my asexuality means of course that I don’t have any orientation preferences as to who I kink with. It is a little more complicated than that, in that while I can ‘submit’ to pretty much anyone, I tend to not mentally be able to ‘dominate’ men, tho I’m not certain why. In addition, it means I’m most comfortable kinking with friends, and doing so is another aspect of my (queer) platonic relationships with them. It’s actually quite intimate in a way, since it’s a sure way to ensure trust, faith, and understanding of each other.
You need not know how awkward this picture was to take.
How does my asexuality affect my kink preferences?
It’s interesting to see what my kinks are.
My main passion is for rope play. Indeed when I’ve done those BDSM tests that are so popular on Fetlife profiles, “rope bunny” always comes out on top, and other submissive traits are, though still high, relatively lower in % match than you might expect. This, I think, reflects my asexuality – kink for me is the play and the bondage itself, rather than anything that happens afterwards. Unlike most people, for me the bondage is often the whole point, and where my emotions are strongest.
Indeed, my preferences after the rope has been tied are pretty much largely ‘vanilla’ and ‘platonic’ in content – playing games, reading, watching media, going for walks, or simply just having me tied while the other person (or people) go about their everyday life. There’s pretty much no difference in what my friends and I would do between my being tied and my not being tied. I so tend to be the bunny and not the rope wielder; the reasons for this include a mix of low self-confidence, dyspraxia, and a lack of overall ‘vision’ to know the best way to do it, all meaning I wouldn’t trust myself to give someone a good experience.
That said, I have done ropeage (and resulting photography) with friends, and it’s something I’ll practice more going forward, but it’s even more platonic and ‘vanilla’ than when I’m tied – it’s often just so they can have photographs of themselves tied up. This is appreciated by my friends of course; because of my asexuality, kink play doesn’t affect our friendship because we all know it’s not sexual.
An example of my attempt at ropework; my friend CleoNolani is the model, and has given express permission for me to use this image.
I suspect also my asexuality and aromanticism mean I prefer to be the one tied as it gives me a sense of feeling … well, ‘wanted’, I guess, but in a niche way that’s beyond platonic but not quite standard romantic. And the closeness and intimacy, and control that kink provides is a great envelope for that. It’s a bit like being hugged/cuddled, but just not with the arms. And that adds some mental intimacy too, a sense of belonging, almost? Where some people get that from romantic and sexual activities (‘oh baby, hold me, thrill me’), I get it from being someone’s rope toy.
I do like being cuddled though, and doubly so when bound. It adds extra to that feeling of being wanted and loved. A couple of my kinks beyond pure rope play involve being touched; I love my hair ruffled for instance, and I really like to be tickled. It’s another reason why I’ve questioned whether this was a platonic or romantic attribute, but I’m more than happy to be tied (and eg tickled) in the company of friends and not just exclusively with one person, so even here I’m taking it as an aspect of my QPR preferences rather than any exclusively romantic tendencies.
In general, then, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy kink play as an asexual, and there’s no reason why asexuality and kink should be opposites. The main problem is often simply finding someone to have kink play with who’s willing to accept that, no, it’s very likely that nothing sexual will happen. But there’s no reason to associate kink with sex anyway – just because most people do doesn’t make it a rule. I’d like to think also that by removing the subtext, and making it more about the rope and the play, you could take your time and make it a more intricate, intimate, and interesting experience.
For a broader summary, take a listen to Episode 32 of my podcast.