KINK draws curious students, corrects misconceptions

BDSM+Illustration

BDSM Illustration

Rachel Duthie

Inside the confines of Bowman 224, students gather around two lecturers speaking before a PowerPoint presentation, ready to begin class. Today’s lesson: how to properly use hot wax on a partner during sex.

Despite being an organization devoted to bondage and domination, Kent State is Now Kinky (K.I.N.K.) looks more like an educational seminar than a fetishized sex club.

“While I would love to run my own dungeon, this isn’t what college students need,” David Rosen, a senior philosophy major and treasurer of K.I.N.K., said. “It’s about providing resources that are not there. It’s about teaching students how to get started in the BDSM world, and how to do that safely.”

After being active on campus for five semesters, K.I.N.K. members said they believe they’ve had success in debunking myths regarding the BDSM culture, teaching students how to safely and easily explore it.

Most meetings revolve around giving lessons like how to properly tie your partner with a rope or use certain equipment during intercourse. Students even sometimes share their own personal experiences in order to help others.

The group became an official student organization in 2015 in response to students who desired a safe, private environment where they could learn how to safely perform BDSM acts.

The organization has since then doubled in membership, with an average of 15 to 25 members a week. It has also held a variety of educational seminars on campus.

“We offer a community to everyone who is curious about exploring outside the usual sexual spectrum,” Rosen said. “While the group does have a strong social aspect, it really is about safety. We want to make sure that everyone who is doing this is doing it right. There is a lot of interest here.”

Alice Freitas, a sophomore psychology major and president of K.I.N.K., attributes most of the group’s success to the curiosity of members who are often young and inexperienced in the BDSM community.

“We definitely get those entry-level fetishes,” Freitas said. “This is your typical bondage and sensations. It is mostly college students, so really these are people who want to learn.”

In order to guarantee privacy to its members, everyone is expected to sign a non-disclosure agreement before the start of every meeting.

This effort is coupled with a low social media profile and complete anonymity outside meetings. Rosen notes that most members do not discuss the organization publicly — and he doesn’t want them to either.

“Everyone believes we just come together to have wild sex parties,” Rosen said. “That isn’t the case at all. In fact, it is probably the furthest thing from that. We want to educate these experiences on a relatable level.”

Freitas said most of the stigma exists in popularized BDSM media like the “Fifty Shades of Grey” franchise, which she argues gives the culture a bad name. K.I.N.K. will likely have some BDSM damage control to issue this weekend as sequel “Fifty Shades Darker” hits 3,705 movie theater screens in North America this weekend.

“The media, as we all know, is notorious for showing you the wrong way to do things,” Freitas said. “The media environment still has a long way to go. While we appreciate how BDSM is becoming normalized, most of what you see is not what it really is. We gawk at the same things people gawk about when they see BDSM in TV or music. It’s not what it really is.”

Consent and comfortability are the main focuses of the organization.

“I invite people to come to our meetings and see (for) themselves, it’s not what you think,” Rosen said. “We are what BDSM really is.”

Rachel Duthie is the student life reporter, contact her at [email protected]