Artist MoxyBrown addresses misconceptions about kinks, teaches consensual BDSM


Illustration by Lily Ogburn

Sex Week is organized by NU College Feminists. According to the former president of NUCF, Maia Smith, events like this encourage people to explore their kinks and empower people to embrace their sexuality.

Kristen Axtman, Assistant Campus Editor

Multimedia artist and professional dominatrix MoxyBrown led a workshop Monday destigmatizing kinks. The event kicked off Northwestern Sex Week, a series organized by NU College Feminists.

MoxyBrown discussed the history of kinks, dismantling common misconceptions and advised  on how to create a safe and consensual sex scene. She brought sex toys to her talk: a vinyl tape, paddles, rope and an electro clay –– a tool that transmits small electric shocks. 

“Kink moves beyond traditional ideas about sex to explore the edges of eroticism. It covers BDSM, kinky sex, dominancy, submission, roleplay, sex games, fantasies, fetish and other alternative erotic expressions,” MoxyBrown said, quoting one of her favorite sex educators, Tristan Taormino. 

MoxyBrown said kinks are a natural way to express identity. They said people engage in BDSM because of positive brain activity –— people find enjoyment in being pushed to the limit — and explore power dynamics. 

According to MoxyBrown, there are three pillars to exploring kinks: consent, negotiation and safety. She said a part of consent is that a person can retract it at any time, and all parties need to understand that. 

“Negotiation should be an actual conversation,” they said. “It should be, ‘Hey, these are actually my fears about safety.”

To reduce risk while practicing kinks, MoxyBrown said people must choose a safe word or signal. Safe words, she said, help indicate when something is going too far for a person’s comfort level. 

MoxyBrown said practicing kinks requires gathering sex tools, learning information about potential risks and keeping it simple. 

“It’s a mindset practice,” she said. “So that’s why we can be so individualistic and customizable.”

They added anyone can practice kinks, despite the lack of representation in movies like “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which stars a cis white man and woman. 

She said the mainstream media tends to ignore marginalized races and gender identities, queerness, neurodivergence, and lower income people when representing kinks. Referencing the Netflix show “How to Build a Sex Room,” they said you do not need to afford a $25,000 sex room to practice BDSM.  

Another misconception is that people practice kinks because of past trauma, she added. 

“Kink (does not) indicate that something is wrong with you,” they said. “Your kink, or any type of play, or any type of fantasies you’re having do not have to be related to trauma.”

MoxyBrown handed out “Yes, No, Maybe” sheets to the audience, which contained a list of kinks. She encouraged the audience to reflect on which they might want to explore. 

Weinberg senior Manny Buendia said he came to the event after hearing about it on Fizz, an anonymous social networking app. Buendia said he did not know much about kinks and wanted to learn more. 

“I felt very comfortable,” he said. “I appreciated that it was a very safe space.” 

Weinberg junior Maia Smith, former president of NUCF, said she appreciated that MoxyBrown did not make BDSM seem like an “outlandish” activity.

Smith also said Northwestern Sex Week will host a raffle, informative sessions and free food later this week. 

“There’s a lot of stigma around sex, and I think making people feel more comfortable about it, and learning more about it in lessons like this, empowers people to embrace their sexuality while also doing it safely,” Smith said. 

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Twitter: @KristenAxtman1

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