Why I don’t like Vanilla.

April 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm (Relationship) (, )

The DH (darling husband; and he is) recently made a confession: he’s vanilla. He doesn’t have any kinks. Other than the fact that it was his desire for sexual openness that started us on this journey, and aside from being a bit of an exhibitionist, his primary enjoyment comes from traditional sexual intercourse done really well (his words).

He brought this up while fretting over a girlfriend who frequently asks him over for sex when she’s drunk; he no longer wants to see her when she’s been drinking, because, he says, she asks for rough, degrading acts that he doesn’t enjoy, and he doesn’t feel comfortable treating her that way. He thinks it’s another way of self-medicating, along with her drinking, and is an expression of her low self-esteem, and he doesn’t want to participate or enable that behavior anymore. He was struggling with how to tell her this, and ultimately came out with the comment that he’s basically just a vanilla guy – said with a tone of resignation and a little bit of embarrassment.

This whole conversation made me sad – I felt bad for his girlfriend and her apparent unhappiness, and I felt bad for him for his sense that being vanilla made him in some way inferior.

I really dislike the use of the word “vanilla” to describe those who prefer conventional sexual approaches, conditions, activities or roles. It’s become derogatory – plain, boring, conservative, ordinary, bland.

I happen to love vanilla – done well it is a rich flavor, smooth, a little earthy, an elemental flavor. Given a choice I frequently relish vanilla ice cream and I wouldn’t apologize for that.

I also happen to love vanilla sex with my husband. We know each other well; we know where to touch, what is needed, what is special. Intimacy makes intercourse an emotional connection, a bonding on multiple levels, and that can be a phenomenal experience.  I experience something with him that I’m reluctant, if not actually unable, to do with anyone else – eye contact during sex. For me, it is a mind-blowing feeling to look in his eyes while he moves inside of me.

Kink can be powerful, too, of course. Being bound, blindfolded and on my knees creates an amazing, chaotic swirl of emotions and intense arousal in me. But is a bowl of ice cream with nuts, chocolate, syrups, creams, and other assorted goodness really better than a simple bowl of intense vanilla ice cream? Sometimes that’s exactly what I want. Sometimes I want the bowl full of everything. One isn’t better than the other.

Someone on Twitter (and sadly, I’ve forgotten who) made a comment recently that “sex positive” has to mean acceptance of the full sexual spectrum, not just acceptance of your own personal kink. I see so-called “sex positive” people who are very critical of “vanilla” lifestyles and activities. You only want to fantasize about a threesome, not actually have one? That’s so lame. You prefer the missionary position? Booooring. You refuse to hit me? See ya. Why isn’t “vanilla” a valid and acceptable option on the sexual spectrum? It should be. My husband shouldn’t have to apologize for being vanilla, and I sincerely hope I’ve never said or done something that made him feel like he should. I won’t apologize for wanting a flavor other than vanilla from time to time, but that’s what our open relationship allows me – the freedom to taste other flavors. They’re all good. They’re all valid. There shouldn’t be a hierarchy of acceptability. Sex, period, is a wonderful thing.

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