Show of hands - when you first got into kink, how many of you saw almost nothing but airbrushed models artfully posed in impossible positions or beautifully tied up in poses you can’t imagine doing yourself? Me too. Thanks to porn, fantasy-filled erotica, and a lot of our own screwed up ideas about sex, there are plenty of myths out there about kinky sex. It’s time to bust those myths - at least for ourselves - so we can get back to what really matters: having hot-ass sex and enjoying the hell out of it.

Myth: Kinky Sex Is Violent

If your idea of kinky sex involves pain, bruises and even blood, you’re not completely alone. Plenty of people enjoy that kind of play. However, being tied to the bed is kinky. Being tickled while you’re helpless is a kink for some people. Feathers, satin, silk, and rose petals, when used to create sensations in new ways, are also within the realm of kinky sex. As much as some of us may enjoy a rape or kidnapping fantasy, not all kink is violent.

Myth: Kinksters Are Abusers

I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve been told my Dominant partner is an abuser, and I’m a victim because I’ve given him control in our relationship or because we enjoy rough sex. Can a kinkster act in an abusive way? Yes. The moment consent is withdrawn, any further kinky act becomes a form of abuse. However, as long as everyone (all two, three, or even four of you) consent to what you’re doing, whether it’s a flogging, public humiliation, or a mindfuck involving knives and guns, it’s not abuse. Informed consent is what separates kink from abuse.

Myth: Kinky People Were Abused or Raped at Some Point (That’s Why They Like It Rough)

Unfortunately, too many people are raped and abused at some point in their lives. It’s a sad world we live in when that fact is accepted as a tragic norm. Are there some kinksters who experienced abuse in their life prior to discovering kink? Of course there are. But not everyone who wants to get kinky is an abuse victim. Even if they were, who cares? Studies have shown that BDSM helps people psychologically. If kinky sex gives an abuse or rape victim a sense of power and agency, allows them to forget, or simply makes them feel better, that’s all the more reason to celebrate kink. (Read: Bondage With Benefits: What I Learned from BDSM.)

Myth: Kinky Sex Is Always Painful

Kinky sex should only involve pain if both partners consent to it. Spankings, nipple clamps, pulled hair, forced orgasms - these are all examples of kinky pain. However, silk scarves, sensory deprivation, rope bondage, and simple power exchanges during sex don’t have to involve pain, and in many cases, are done in place of rough, painful sex. (Read: Does BDSM Have to Be Hardcore?)

Myth: Kinky Sex Is Always Serious

This one must come from porn that depicts an unsmiling Dominant and a tearful submissive. Should kinky sex be taken seriously, especially when your play dives into dangerous territory like blood, bondage, fears, and phobias? Absolutely. However, Dominants are allowed to smile and laugh, and submissives don’t have to cry in every BDSM scene. In my experience, sex - kinky or vanilla - involves weird noises, leg cramps and lost balance. Those things don’t have to ruin a scene or your entire experience, especially if you can laugh it off and keep going.

Myth: Kinky Sex Is Heteronormative

We’re all used to seeing the same stereotype - a white, male Dominant with a kneeling (and also white) female submissive. Of course, the flip side is typically a white female Dominant with a bound and tortured white male submissive. Just because that’s what is common in porn or erotica doesn’t mean that’s how it is for everyone. All genders, all sexual preferences, and all races can and should enjoy kink if they want to do so.

Myth: Only the Beautiful People Have Kinky Sex

Another one to blame on porn and erotica, this one has people questioning if they’re “allowed” to be kinky because of how they look. There is no weight or age requirement to practice BDSM, have kinky sex, or be in some kind of power exchange relationship. Assuming that beauty can be so narrowly defined or that sexual pleasure only belongs to a select few is problematic in itself. Plus, in my experience, when you watch someone in the throes of kinky passion, they immediately become more beautiful as they’re transformed by the experience (and the feel-good endorphins).

Here are the only rules you need to believe and follow to have good kinky sex. Play safe. Get the consent of everyone involved. Do what feels good. Ignore the voices in your head that tell you shouldn’t enjoy, want, or engage in whatever kinky fuckery gets you most excited.

Most of the myths people believe about kinky sex come from a place of shame and fear. Reject that and get your freak on with a willing partner.