Vanilla isn’t everyone’s flavor. And that’s fine.

Author: Marina
A to Z | Basics

A controversial BDSM term

“Vanilla” refers to people who have conventional sex, which in turn is referred to as flower sex or vanilla sex. According to legend, the term comes from the vanilla ice cream variety, which is said to be the most popular and therefore very widespread. A taste that some people find boring. The scene uses the term very often both as a subjective or an adjective or, as in the case of the term “vanilla sex”, for word combination.

In German, also the abbreviation “Stino” is used, short for “stinknormal”, which means something like “plain ordinary”. You can already tell: it’s all about your own demarcation.

Who is vanilla?

The exact meaning of conventional varies depending on different interpretations. In some cultures, practices like threesomes, anal sex, or swinging are considered abnormal or even kinky. However, in German-speaking countries, such practices, as well as bondage and role-playing, are not uncommon among vanillas. Sometimes, BDSM practices that don’t require much training or prior knowledge are referred to as vanilla kinks, or light kinks, or “spicy vanilla.”

As described, the boundaries are fluid. The definition that characterizes the concept independently of practices, but rather sees it fulfilled in the clear rejection of deviation from the status quo, is widespread. Another popular opinion sees the absence of a power imbalance as characteristic of vanilla sex. For example, role-playing games that thrive on such a power imbalance are also very popular among vanillas.

What you need to consider when using the term vanilla

The term is often used in a derogatory way, but it shouldn’t. All types of sexuality that are based on mutual, conscious consent are beautiful and should be respected. Additionally, perceptions of what is kinky and what is vanilla are highly subjective. It is not for nothing that the term is very controversial. Nevertheless, you come across it quite often in the BDSM scene in order to differentiate yourself.

Just as we wish to be seen seriously and without prejudice, “Vanillas” should not be made fun of. Because sexuality is not a competition. It’s not about who is tougher or more exotic, it’s about everyone having fun in their own way. Especially not if you just throw the term at someone who rejects BDSM. Most of the time the person doesn’t know what to do with it and feels devalued after the expression has been explained to them. So it’s better to use it sparingly, neutrally and, above all, sensitively. The same applies to the synonym Stino, which has a really derogatory connotation compared to Vanilla.

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