Deviant Acts

Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights. c1500

Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights. c1500

Recently, I’ve begun to wonder what, exactly, qualifies as a deviant sexual act. What does “deviant” really mean? Does it mean any act that deviates from the sexual norm? And if so, what, precisely defines that definitive norm? Should we ask Kinsey, or is it more complicated than that?

Are we talking heterosexual missionary sex? (For the record, I love missionary and am in no way knocking it). Or is it enough that the sex be between one man and one woman and involve vaginal penetration? And going from there, I have to ask, vaginal penetration with what? A cock? A dildo? A tongue? Is oral sex okay? What about blind folds–or are we tripping into deviance there? What about non-heterosexual couples? Is loving, connected sex between two married men deviant? Is a woman fucking her female partner with a strap on deviant? Where does deviance lie?

The short answer is, I have no idea. To me, it’s a highly subjective thing. In my head, spanking can be as wholesome and profound as feeling a partner come inside you. There is no deviance for me in either act, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other things that press my “whoa” button. Some aspects of edge play make me pause. Casting? Emotionally speaking, that feels pretty deviant to me, but if I look at a photo of a woman happily wrapped in cellophane while her lover blasts her with a Hitatchi I don’t feel like I can judge–nor do I want to. Who am I to prescribe a norm?

All of this came up because I finished a story yesterday. It’s about a couple who gives fisting a try for the first time. I wrote it to be romantic and sweet, with fisting as a gateway to the next level of their relationship. For the record, (not that it matters), the couple is straight, and the guy’s hands are big. But this doesn’t stop her from wanting them.

Why did I write a story about a heterosexual couple engaging in what many consider to be a deviant sexual act? And why did I do so in manner that qualifies as schooby-sweet romantic? Because kink is coming into the mainstream and I wanted to address how wholesome deviance can be. I’ve read a lot of articles and message boards full of questions like, “if I want to peg my boyfriend, does that mean I secretly want to be a man?” “Does pegging make me gay?” “Can anyone fist, or is that just a lesbian thing?”

These questions are asked in earnest and, while some of them make me sad, (particularly when asked in conjunction with concern over being defined as gay), they’re important because they aren’t really addressing the act in question. Rather, they’re addressing an underlying concern. If I do this, am I still me, or do I have to reevaluate my sexuality and my self image to accommodate this desire? Or, translated into normal person speak  – am I a freak for wanting this?

The answer is no. You are not a freak, any more than I’m a freak for being bisexual, kinky and non-monogamous. Those things have all been considered deviant in the past, and they are still considered deviant by a great many people today, (though thankfully less so than before). Which brings me full circle to my original question. What do we mean by “deviant”?

The bottom line is that we all mean different things. For a super conservative person, oral might be at the top of the list of deviant-things-that-send-you-to-hell, while for others, it takes a bit more. I think the important thing is to keep subjectivity in mind. There’s no reason that pegging can’t be good, clean fun or that even the edgiest edge-play can’t nurture a deep and meaningful connection. And even if it doesn’t, who’s to say it’s wrong? Because really, that’s what “deviant act” implies – an act that is somehow immoral or wrong. As long as everyone consents is it really for any one group to judge what deviates from the norm?

My answer to that question, unsurprisingly, is no. Today, there are too many different normals for traditional notions of deviance to work. While it is true that we live in culture largely defined by Judeo-Christian hegemony, even those are adapting and expanding within their accepted tenets. Very slowly, but surely, “normal” is changing and becoming less defined.

The bottom line is that whether or not something is deviant depends entirely on where you’re sitting and how “normal” is defined by you and your community. This means that, to a certain degree, we’re all deviants in some way. We all experience sexuality differently–both publicly and in the quietest corners of our souls. As a result, when you drill down through cultural mores a bit, there is very little normal in the norm. Adjusting for consent and responsible action, we all deserve compassion and respect…. Unless you get off on kicking puppies. Then you’re on your own.


  1. if i described from my catholic school girl upbringing, i could tell you thinking about having sex with someone could be considered deviant and a go to hell card earned! personally, i think the only thing sexually deviant between people would be doing something without consent. consensual sex to me cannot consist of deviant acts if both people sign up for all acts between them…

  2. I am glad this link popped up in my timeline. I was thinking about the difference between deviance and transgressive. I think that to me, the only time that I have felt that an act might be considered deviant is when the partner I suggested it to was shocked or disgusted. Luckily, that doesn’t happen in my relationships now.

  3. I simply adore your thought process. So insightful. Society needs to come around a little and we’d all be happier people. xoxo

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