Kink, I think, is play.
What else defines it apart from “vanilla”? After all, kink may not necessarily involve whips, chains, stilettos, or anything the 50 Shades culture associates with kink. Kink, I hope!, is not a means of feeling superior or enlightened. Nor using code words to make others feel disconnected from the conversation. So why not say that kink is play? Vanilla could even be seen as a kind of kink, just with different rules than many of us here prefer.
This may involve pain, as well as more socially understood pleasure (hugs, kisses, etc.). But consensual- even pleasurable- pain. What if a person does not actually like the pain they ask for? For simplicity’s sake, I’ll say in this context it still is a form of pleasure for them. Because they like how that pain makes them feel, even if it hurts. Some, too, want the pain, but for pain’s sake only. Yet they still derive pleasure at some point in the process, even if it is strictly how much they can take. “Pleasure” is not easily defined, but I’ll make an attempt here.
But more than “pleasure,” “play,” too, can mean different things. Since I am a list person, I will defer to the following list. Play is made up of, roughly, two types. “Free play” and “game play.” Allow me to clarify, please.
What is free play?
Imagine when you were little (or perhaps you still are one at heart?) and a friend came over to play with you. Instead of tag or hide and seek, you brought out a puzzle or Legos. There may be effective strategies, but no specific rules. It’s not like building the outside edges first is “wrong.” Nothing can be right or wrong, because all there is is the goal. The in between part is just what works for you.
Any “beginnings” and “ends” to play are ill defined. Maybe you even leave the puzzle half finished. Only to come back at various times to keep working until you achieve satisfaction placing the final piece into the hole…and, um, I think I’m getting side tracked.
This kind of play is similar in kink. A sort of free flowing (so to speak) way of engaging with another. Something you start and stop as you please. Or maybe it never really “stops.” Depends on your level of interest and engagement.
This might look, say, like two people switching with each other and respectively tying each other up. It might be an intimate circle exploring with exhibitionism and voyeurism. Or splashing wax on each other. There may be safety standards or even safe words involved. But it’s still simply two (or more) folk having some mutual fun.
But many other games do have rules, i.e. “game play.”
Unlike free play, this has rules, goals, etc. There is a way to “win.” (I’m just going to make another assumption here, which I know isn’t true for all, that you didn’t “win” at Legos, but only Monopoly, chess, etc.) This does not make one way “right” or “wrong,” but in that specific game, designed by one or more specific persons, there is a way to “win”and “lose.”
There are many, many “rules” you could make in kink. I say “rules,” because that word may refer to traditional rules, boundaries, or…something else I haven’t thought of that has been used. Because in this kind of play, rules make the game. It’s not fun without rules. If the masochist cannot break a rule for the sadist, it loses much of the punch (again, so to speak).
Or maybe it is even a third kind, “mixed play.”
This kind of play might even become more complex, resembling something like an MMORPG. This has defined rules on how the game works, but is flexible in which piece of the game you play at any given moment. Some of which are very much “free play” within the “game play.” Like in World of Warcraft. My guildmates and I would sometimes have “socials,” where we just hung out and talked in game. As opposed to, for example, when we raided together. Different ways of playing but still within a defined game play where we left the “non game play” world and entered the “game play” world.
As 24/7 M/s, with a focus in mental domination, I absolutely need structured (game play) as well as unstructured (free play) time. Times where I can playfully be myself. And times where it’s possible for me to break a rule. Or, altering the perspective, to win a challenge.
Whichever style works for you, works for you.
I’m not trying to get anyone to choose. You can do any sort of play you like, but, please, understand it is play, games, entertainment, however you define it. But it is not abuse. Nor is it not coercion to disguise abuse. If you are experiencing that, IT IS NOT KINK.
Whatever you do, please do not forget it should be play above all.