Sex

Local Kink Enthusiasts Say TikTok Is Getting It All Wrong

A common kink for women: stomping on the patriarchy — in nice shoes. BDSM enthusiasts want to share the thrill by making kink a part of Pride celebrations.
A common kink for women: stomping on the patriarchy — in nice shoes. BDSM enthusiasts want to share the thrill by making kink a part of Pride celebrations. Karen Moskowitz/Getty
click to enlarge A common kink for women: stomping on the patriarchy — in nice shoes. BDSM enthusiasts want to share the thrill by making kink a part of Pride celebrations. - KAREN MOSKOWITZ/GETTY
A common kink for women: stomping on the patriarchy — in nice shoes. BDSM enthusiasts want to share the thrill by making kink a part of Pride celebrations.
Karen Moskowitz/Getty
When Tumblr was scrubbed of NSFW content in 2018, sex enthusiasts found new outlets to share information. Granted, not all of the NSFW content is pornographic in nature; some is largely educational. Apart from helping a horny demographic of the internet fulfill whatever needs, NSFW creators also shared diagrams, flow charts and quizzes to help followers see where they fit in and identify in terms of their sexuality.

Recent videos of TikTokers sharing their BDSM quiz results have gone viral. The videos show TikTokers explaining how they identify on the "kink scale" within the realm of BDSM. While you won’t see any videos depicting naked bodies or actual sex acts on TikTok, many members of the “KinkTok” sector have found these videos helpful.

One of the most common kinks is bondage, a common topic among online tutorials. A new mobile app called Shibari Study allows people to learn the art of rope bondage at any time and any place.

“Education is critical for BDSM,” says Sage, a representative of Shibari Study. “We have seen time and time again how miseducation and lack of education can create an environment for greater mistakes to be made. With that said, it’s important always to be mindful of how we engage and disseminate education. It is not our place to discern what platforms are best and who should educate, but we hope that people will be mindful when consuming BDSM education.”


Sage believes that kink is more common than people believe it is, and that whether or not you think you fall on the “vanilla” end of the BDSM spectrum, the word “kink” is subjective, based on how those consenting to the practice define it.

Consent is a key word in the realm of BDSM and kink, as a line that separates the practice from abuse. Both parties participating in the acts must consent and set their limits.

“There is often a connotation that because someone does kink or BDSM, they are mentally unwell or need to be healed,” Sage says. “While I do believe kink and BDSM can be healing, it is not therapy and should not be treated as such. It should also not be conflated with mental illnesses or diagnoses. Sexuality is a very complicated and nuanced part of our beings — there is no one reason someone enjoys kink and BDSM.”

A few local outlets are available for Dallasites who want to partake of BDSM. Deep Ellum club The Nines is a hub for the suspension community, and wearing your favorite fetish gear is encouraged. At The Eagle Dallas (which is set to re-open in a new location in 2022), you can get your bum whipped while standing against a St. Andrew’s cross.

There is also the underground scene, in which people hold parties in their own homes. Some of these parties include pup gatherings, in which queer men of the “pup” community engage in pup play, with one or more masters. While various versions of pup play have been depicted in pornography, most see the “pups” wearing a dog head-shaped mask, not speaking and following the commands of a master.

“One of the misconceptions about BDSM and kink is that it’s always an abusive situation or relationship, or that you are so broken or messed up that you seek out abuse." – Miss Texas Leather winner Dawn Knowlton

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“At its base, a pup is a person who feels a need to be mentored, cared for and seeks validation from a dom [dominant partner], master or sir,” says Syd, a local pup who agreed to speak with us under the condition of anonymity. “The complexity arises in that every pup-dom situation is different. There are layers to sort through.”

Syd says people often incorrectly assume that a pup is “inferior” to their master, but assures us that pups are “a fun loving bunch.” Almost every June, online comments become flooded with discourse about whether or not kink and BDSM should be present at Pride events. Like Sage, Syd believes they belong at Pride events, as people are increasingly engaging in these acts.

“Whether people want to admit it or not, their partner, preacher, bus driver or CEO all have kinks,” Syd says. “Being free to express it in a judgment-free way helps us all discover ourselves, and at its core, is Pride not about just that?”

The kink at Pride discourse seems never ending, but even in Texas, there are groups and competitions that encourage fetish. When she’s not cooking, chef Dawn Knowlton serves leadership roles within various groups and committees.

Knowlton identifies as a dominant leatherwoman and was named Miss Texas Leather in 2017. Among the "bears," (hairy, heavier set queer men) Knowlton considers herself “a Goldilocks.” For the past 15 years, she has been in an open marriage with a “kinky, queer man” but assures us that just because people choose to engage in kinky acts doesn’t mean these dynamics are reflective of issues within the marriage.

“One of the misconceptions about BDSM and kink is that it’s always an abusive situation or relationship,” Knowlton says, “or that you are so broken or messed up that you seek out abuse,. that it can’t be a safe, sane and consensual act. That’s not to say that there aren’t predators out there, but when it’s approached right, it can be a safe, fun experience.”

Like Syd, Knowlton believes that kink, leather and BDSM are all hallmarks of queer culture and should have a place at Pride. She also believes that there are ways to express these kinks without being too outlandish.

“I do think that some, most kink practices should be done in private spaces,” Knowlton says. “There are some soft ways to share our kink. For example, swinging whips or floggers in the air, having someone tied up in intricate bondage with the naughty bits covered, or just preening in our leatherwear.”
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Alex Gonzalez has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2018. He is a Dallas native whose work has appeared in Local Profile, MTV News and the Austin American-Statesman. He has eclectic taste in music and enjoys writing about art, food and culture.
Contact: Alex Gonzalez