Vanilla Sex OUT, Kinky IN: Brits Wanting More Than Missionary Is A New Thing, Apparently

We can’t blame porn for vanilla being less desirable - it never really was in the first place. Sure it can be lovely, but missionary every day? No way, Jose.

Jan 21, 2013 at 12:30pm | Leave a comment

There are so many reasons to ignore this ‘news’ (pillaged by the Mail, based on a study by Cosmopolitan, on the grounds of about two people) but I’m going to talk about it anyway. Obviously.

Apparently vanilla is out, and porny kink is IN. And we’re all feeling bad about it.

The steam of this article is based on a survey by Cosmopolitan magazine, claiming that men’s addiction to porn is damaging their romantic relationships, but I’m going to ignore that. Not because it isn’t an important subject that warrants discussion, but because I can’t approach the issue based on a study in a glossy women’s magazine that also claims – and it’s hard to swallow the sheer irony of the thing - ‘eighty five per cent of experts think porn has had a negative effect on women’s confidence’.

Yes, it’s definitely just porn doing that. Excuse me while I choke on this month’s coverline: ‘Kimberly Walsh: My Bum Has Its Own Twitter Page!’.

The Daily Mail has taken the sweet angle. Porn is ‘making vanilla sex less desirable’. (REMEMBER GUYS! Porn: Bad. Missionary and matrimony and moaning: Good.) But, since when was vanilla sex desirable anyway? Since never.

Kink isn’t really a new thing. We can’t blame porn for vanilla being less desirable. It never really was in the first place. Sure it can be lovely, but missionary every day? No way, Jose. 

The one redeemable feature of this Daily Mail article (I never thought I would type that sentence) is that for once they haven’t hooked the story on some tenuous link to Fifties Shades of Grey. (‘Oh dear! Fifty Shades Gets To Politicians Too As Ed Miliband Sports Grey Suit,’ ‘Price Of Petrol Giving Us Cancer Because Of Fifty Shades Trilogy etc. etc.) Which is correct because that would be stupid.

Let’s not attribute this to E.L. James - it’s not men beating off furiously to Christian I’m-So-Misunderstood Grey. And since when did British KINK start with a trilogy published in 2011?

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If you haven’t read this, do it now

Quite apart from the fact Jilly Cooper never gets any credit (1985, HELLO?), Brits – humans - have always been a bit like that. Repressed, overcompensatey and awkward? Yes. Vanilla? No.

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Jilly Cooper, OBE. Butter wouldn’t melt on the outside, all sexy inside.

Forms of kinkery such as flagellation purely for sexual arousal (rather than repentance) can be traced back to drawings and poetry from as early as 1st–2nd century A.D. And Robert Bienvenu, a sociologist with a PhD on S&M, traces the arrival of the practice as we interpret it now to Britain to 1928, via Germany and France. He called it The European Fetish.

In 2006 the Leather Leadership Conference (I know, amazing) featured a presentation in New York that started with the screening of a grainy black and white image from the 1800s. It was a naked woman, bent over a fainting couch while a naked man with an erection ‘poised to swing a switch at her buttocks.'

Ok, that last point wasn’t really helpful, I just liked the idea of people intently studying that image in the dark, with all their clothes on, pens in hand. That reads ‘pens’.

And although hardly a BDSM manual, 1972’s bestselling The Joy of Sex told mainstream Britain what bondage and swinging was, and we liked it. So there.

We can blame porn and its effects for a lot of things. But let’s not credit it with kink.

Read 140-character wiki-reliant lectures on Sally’s Twitter @sallygriffith