What is “Vanilla”?
The term Vanilla refers to a sexual activity or a person that does not engage in BDSM, fetish, or otherwise alternative sexual encounters. What is and is not considered vanilla sex tends to vary wildly from person to person, what may be considered extreme by one may be considered tame for another. Yet, the vast majority of people will agree that vanilla sex does not include any overt aggression, pain play, a designated power dynamic, choking, or bondage.
The term “vanilla sex” is derived from vanilla ice cream, in reference to it’s plain or otherwise unremarkable nature. While most people will agree that sexual encounters between heteronormative couples does not usually include anal sex, this practice excludes homosexual vanilla sex. The British Medical Journal defines vanilla or conventional sex between homosexual couples as “sex that does not extend beyond affection, mutual masturbation, and oral and anal sex.” Though penetration is not always required, especially between lesbian couples.
In recent years, the term vanilla has taken on a broader meaning and its use outside of the sexual community and has been adopted to describe anything that does not deviate from the social norms. Being vanilla can be a choice for those not interested in exploring BDSM or fetish based sex, but it can also describe people that have yet to experience such activities yet are not opposed to exploring them.
Vanilla shouldn’t be used as a slur or negative description for those that choose to live a more conventional sexual lifestyle. The BDSM community has been verbal and proactive about preventing kink-shaming, promoting inclusiveness, and seeking acceptance and equality. The kink and fetish community should embrace vanilla sex as an equal choice. Vanilla sex should not be confused or necessarily associated with the acronym ‘YKINMK’ or “your kink is not my kink” as this can be used within the BDSM and fetish community as well.
Dos, Don’ts & Tips
- If you choose to engage with someone who identifies as vanilla or is known not to engage in BDSM or fetishistic sex, you should treat the same respect as anyone in the community.
- Communicate with them about their likes, dislikes, hard nos, and what will ultimately satisfy them. this is key to having a successful session or relationship with them.
- Just because someone does not enjoy harder or fetish based sex doesn’t mean they should be judged as closed-minded.
- Sexuality covers a broad spectrum and people’s boundaries and interests should be excepted.
Related Practices & Fetishes
YKINMK stands for, Your Kink Is Not My Kink which can be used by both Vanilla and Kinky people to denote a lack of interest in a certain kind of play. A Kinkster is the opposite of a Vanilla person.