Are you a vanilla? You may not be familiar with the term, but if you’re exploring the world of sex toys, erotica, swinging & poly, you’ll hear the term “vanilla” to describe the “normals.” The monogamous. The mainstream. The typical.
When I was younger, I was probably the most non-vanilla of my family & friends. I protested bans on gay marriage and went to sex shops when I turned 18. I have had toys and condoms on hand since the age I needed them, and thought I was pretty liberated as a feminist. It was LOVELY being 18. I could explore everything and still be responsible. I was a serial monogamist, but I was happy. Often, I was the one in the relationship who wanted to explore new toys, condoms, lubes and lingerie, and in that context, I was the crazy-free one.
As I hit my mid-20’s, I eventually got the message, as we all do, that sexuality and being openly sexual, was an invitation to be shut down, shamed and frankly- was a liability. Being sexual or even exploring your sexuality in the digital age, could be a threat to your livelihood if you were found out. Sexuality, even within society’s prescribed suitable contexts, needed to be segmented and disguised in order to maintain your professionalism. To protect yourself, you had to keep your sensual side to yourself.
Now, I’m hitting 30 and I’m finding myself re-evaluating the messages society sends us vanillas about acceptable sexuality. We now live in a world where gay marriage is legal in the states, and celebrating sexuality for straights is okay- but usually, only at your bachelorette party. We are becoming more accepting of transgendered people, gay people and questioning people, but as straights ourselves, we are funneled feelings of self-loathing as we navigate what it means to be “normal,” and that normality usually means straight, monogamous, and only “slutty” (I use that term ironically) is only okay in certain contexts (like going to a strip club on a birthday or going on a sexual bender after a bad breakup).
I’m starting this blog because there is much to be said about the vanilla experience. For those of us who are considered the “normals” – straight, monogamous and average, who are ready to explore and may not fit that mold any longer, it can be an odd space to navigate. The landscape of sexual choices can be intimidating in the digital age- there are erotic sites, services, products, toys and bloggers who seem to all have it figured out, when we’re still trying to grapple our own identities.
If you’re a vanilla, but want to sprinkle more fun and adventure in your life- join me on this journey and we can explore together!