Heading into Hoxton Square on a damp October Monday night I was excited at the prospect of breaking away from the normality of office chit-chat, and entering an environment where discussing sex and sexuality with open-minded people was encouraged.
I was heading to Better Sex With Fantasy and Taboo, a Q&A hosted by Sex+. I’d discovered the event just a few days earlier whilst browsing Eventbrite for things to do.
The agenda for the night was a collection of questions about the role of fantasy and taboo, answered by a panel of experts; Kim Loliya, Marti from Sound of Birch, Majaeste and Bae Sharam.
All female (although I’m sure they would take argument with being labelled as such. None intended. I just can’t keep up with all the lingo and I’m speaking in a strictly anatomical sense), all with varying backgrounds, and all involved in the kink scene to some degree.
The topics for discussion included:
- Where do fantasies originate from?
- How to turn your fantasies into real life scenarios
- The role of pornography in sexual expression
- The role of shame in desire and arousal
- How to stay safe during play
- Simple steps to get started
The event took place in a room at the back of a Hoxton bar, seating around 35 people. It was a mixed audience, young to old, and varying sexualities. As a straight, white male I definitely felt in a minority, and almost apologetic for being so ’straight-laced’.
Kim Loliya compared the panel wonderfully, asking the questions, and allowing plenty of time for each of the three guest to answer fully.
What was comforting, and what I enjoy most about sex and kink talks, is how open and friendly everyone is. It’s not often you can sit in a room and listen to someone talk about watersports, anal, pornography and non-monogamy without fear of judgement, but that’s exactly what the space provided.
The topic of shame was often circled back to, and described as primary emotion holding us back from having better sex. Many people have been brought up in a way which demonises their sexual desires. We are encouraged to keep our urges well hidden in the darkest corners of our mind, and if we so much as think about touching our pink bits we must be deviants and drenched in holy water until our evil is exorcised.
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How are we supposed to cultivate an incredible sex life with the weight of the beliefs passed down to us by parents, schools, religions and society hanging over our beds?
Simply sitting and listening to four incredibly open and honest people discussing topics which would make the most liberal person blush is incredibly affirming and therapeutic. It arms us with the courage to open up that mental chest filled with ideas and fantasy, inspect its contents, and say to ourselves “Fuck it. If I desire to be tied up, collared and be forced to beg to be used as a play thing then why the hell shouldn’t I get to experience that?”. (Just an example. As a Dom I can’t think of anything worse…)
As an example, an audience member asked a question about Age Play, and what the panellists thought of it. “As long as consent is given and both parties are adults, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, Maybe it is simply about wanting to feel like a child again, to break free from all the responsibilities and chores of adult life, and to return to a state of being able to receive affection and be adored” was the consensus of the panel.
I can imagine an entirely different environment where the notion of someone even asking if acting like a child was acceptable in a sexual context would be made out to be shameful and shut down immediately for fear of encouraging paedophilia.
All though Age Play does nothing for me personally, I am very happy for it to be discussed and certainly don’t see it as immoral. Bravo to the panel for their responses and ability to see the positives – the wonder and creativity of all that kink has to offer.
Another theme of the evening was the subjectiveness of taboo. Having sex before marriage is taboo in some cultures, whereas by many people it is considered normal. What you personally deem taboo is worth looking in to. Really examine it to understand if you have written it off because you don’t want to do it, in which case fair enough, or because someone else has told you it isn’t ‘right’, which is absolutely not okay. Personally I love to explore fantasies and taboos with partners, because often something which is considered ‘naughty’ is highly erotic.
If everyone in the world was willing to embrace this attitude, the world would be a happier place, and everyone would be having far hotter sex.
What did I learn from the evening?
I’m not new to the scene, and nothing mentioned was shocking to me. However one area that did peak my interest was the concept of a Sex Menu. I hadn’t heard this term before. I thought it might mean a list of sexual acts you wanted to perform, but the explanation given at the talk went a little deeper and made me think.
As well as writing out a list of what you ‘want’, a Sex Menu also encourages you to think about what you ‘need’, a subtle but important distinction. Needs are especially important in a kink setting where after care is essential. Examples of needs given were ‘to spend the night after sex’ or ’to have alone time’, or ’to smoke a cigarette’. Some needs might be sexual, but they are more likely to be structures put in place o make you feel safe before, during and after sex.
All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours on a Monday evening. I highly encourage anyone who feels the slightest bit of shame about sex, is hesitant about asking for what they want in bed, or feels there must be more to sex than what they are currently experiencing, to attend such talks.
Even if you are not in to kink, being in a room with a group of sex positive people can help you overcome your fears, and may even give you a few ideas to try out.
Event date: 14th October 2019
Location: Shoreditch, London