Belan in the bedroom: A beginner’s guide to kink
Bring a belan into the bedroom — definitely not the kind of dating advice you’re used to hearing. Then again, there isn’t exactly a ‘Beginner’s Guide To Kink’ book that you can buy without getting judgemental side-eyes at bookshops. Breaking the bonds of cliches, and taboos however, a community of BDSM enthusiasts and practitioners has been growing across cities in India.
A kink is anything unusual, or new — something you’re not used to, where you’re pushing your limits. Anjum’s* initial shock at her husband’s suggestion came from the longstanding notion that anything kinky was a perversion or sexual deviancy. It was after many discussions and setting boundaries that she first experimented. She tells me that she surprised herself in this new role of sexual dominance.
Shalini* learnt about BDSM, role-playing and sex toys from watching pornography. The pleasure she got from it always made her curious but she never felt comfortable enough to bring it up with a partner. “When it comes to women’s sexuality, there’s already such a taboo. Add things like kinky sex and bondage to it and people will freak out. I never felt confident enough to bring it up with any boyfriend. It was a bit embarrassing, I didn’t want to deal with it if they had a negative reaction and thought something was wrong with me for wanted to try these things.” A 32-year-old banker based in Bengaluru, she explored this side of her sexuality via online communities like Fetlife, connecting with other BDSM enthusiasts, especially other women who, like her, wanted to explore but were unsure how to go about it.
“It can be intimidating at first. Obviously, I didn’t want to do everything they show in porn, that’s too extreme. But I also didn’t know where to start at that point. I actually became friends with a lady in Michigan who gave me great advice about domination and submission. I’m now dating someone who’s understanding and as curious as am I to try things out with me,” she says.
Prachi S Vaish helps couples adapt to ‘alternative’ sexual lifestyles that include BDSM, polyamory, swinging and more. A Clinical Psychologist, couples therapist and relationship coach, Vaish set up an online psychotherapy portal through which a lot of her kink-interested clientele reach out to her. “India is really opening up their bedroom doors and in a good way,” she says. A lot of the couples that approach Vaish, she says, are on the brink of relationship collapse. They seek out sexual experimentation as a new method of bonding, intimacy and reigniting the fire, as cheesy as that sounds.
One such couple, the Sharmas*, that Shalini introduced me to, offered advice that aligned with hers as well as Anjum’s when asked for pointers for others who were interested in exploring their kinky side.
Talk it out → For the Sharmas, it’s all about good communication. “Initially when my husband asked if he could hold my hands down, I was a little apprehensive. I wasn’t sure how long it would be for or what kind of force he’d use. I asked him all the who, what, when and why’s before we even tried it out,” says Mrs Sharma.
If you get too focused on yourself or what you’re doing, you can start making the other person feel uncomfortable. “It’s a give and take,” says Anjum. She adds that there needs to be full disclosure before you try anything. Both partners need to map out exactly what they want to try and how, and only move ahead when both agree. “ Otherwise, things can go very wrong, very fast.”
Even during your play, keep an open line of communication with your partner to check in on how they’re feeling. Anjum suggests simple questions that can keep the experience pleasurable for both parties, without killing the mood as you go through the motions; “Is this good for you?” “Can I try a different position?” “Can I pull your hair?”
Setting boundaries → You need to be open about your limits from the beginning. “There has to be an understanding between those involved and respect for the other person’s limitations,” says Anjum.
Shalini suggests agreeing on a simple Safe Word – used to indicate a complete halt on whatever activity you’re indulging in. “This way if you’re uncomfortable, unhappy or just bored you can take a time-out and stop.”
After-care → “This is a term I came across online when I started reading about BDSM activities and it made a lot of sense,” comments Anjum. It involves spending time together after a session, talking, cuddling and being intimate. Here, you talk about what you liked and didn’t like about your session, make sure you’re on the same page. “It’s also a little bit about giving each other assurance that what you did is not a bad thing. India has such a big taboo about sex in general, BDSM is even worse. It’s considered perverted and that gets ingrained in us. Even when we want to try out different things, once it’s over, we feel guilty and ashamed. This shouldn’t happen with your partner, that’s why this is a good exercise. Like a debrief, of sorts,” she adds.
Beginner’s kink activities
“Talking dirty is great to set the scene when you’re role-playing. It doesn’t have to be just at that moment either. There was one time where we weren’t even in the same place and my husband and I would send each other little messages in preparation for the night,” muses Mrs. Sharma.
Dirty talk can be titillating during foreplay too. Whether you’re trying to asses your partner’s level of pleasure or seeking direction. “Dirty talk in foreplay increases your sexual excitement, but it also physically and mentally prepares you for what you’re about to do. It becomes a sexy aspect of communication between partners,” says Shalini.
Wrist-ties, blindfolds, paddles, and more
Trying to go from zero to fifty right off the bat would obviously be an intimidating task. Shalini shares that you don’t need to buy special tools and ties if you’re just trying your hand at it and aren’t ready to fully commit. There are a lot of things right at home that you can start with – a necktie and even a t-shirt can be a blindfold and double up to restrain someone’s hands.
Deprivation of visual stimuli can make a person more sensitive to touch. It can be used on the Submissive partner as a tool of control. Unaware of your movements, it allows you to catch them off-guard, making it more fun.
If you want to try some light (or hard) spanking, then a wooden spoon will serve you well. “A normal cooking wooden spoon, spatula, a ruler can all be used as a paddle. I’d suggest starting with light tapping. You can use feather dusters, ice cubes to tease your partner’s different erogenous zones. And if you’re really feeling frisky, bring a belan into the bedroom,” she laughs.
Biting, scratching, and more
A nibble of the ear, open hand scratches on the chest, a tight squeeze of a butt cheek or even a hand around the neck – most couples we spoke to said that beginners are usually wary of such acts, but the focus here shouldn’t be on pain — severity should be discussed beforehand and controlled — but the changing sensations instead. Oscillating between gentle pleasure and sharp sensations, just a bit of pain, gives your body a sensory jolt.
Know your partner’s pain threshold and experiment with different positions and acts. When you’re ready you can slowly introduce toys and tools, diving deeper into this joint sexual exploration.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the contributors.