What is Vanilla Sex?

By Kendra Holliday

I’m all about vanilla sex. It’s the foundation of sexuality.

My short list for what constitutes modern day vanilla sex (keep in mind that 40 years ago, oral sex was considered “unclean”) contains the following examples: cuddling, kissing, massage, standard sex positions, passionate lovemaking, oral pleasure, watching porn, monogamy, mutual masturbation, basic sex toys.

Oddly, I find it easier to say what is NOT vanilla than what IS vanilla. For sure, the line dividing the two is blurry, and every concept deserves qualification.

I had a lot of fun polling my friends and family on what they considered vanilla sex. The question usually garners a nervous laugh and confusion, then an hour long conversation ensues, allowing me to spy on their sex life.

My favorite response was from my dad. I interrupted him watching the football game in order to ask. He tore his eyes away from the screen and looked at me blankly. “I don’t know what that is.”

I said, “You know, not kinky sex.”

He lit up. “It’s missionary position! And that’s it.”

All right, I wouldn’t go THAT far. At least my short list generously included basic sex toys. But let me expand on that.

Vanilla sex is any oral or penetration with traditionally used body parts that doesn’t involve the butthole. Fingering with one or two fingers is vanilla. Fingering with all five fingers, i.e., fisting, is not. Lesbians enjoying cunnilingus are having vanilla sex. So are two men performing fellatio. 69 is vanilla. But a rimjob is not vanilla. Anal sex is not vanilla. Sex with a strapon is not vanilla. This puts a lot of gay male and female activity automatically in the kinky category, which may be why conservative people have a knee jerk negative reaction to homosexuality.

Vanilla sex is one on one sex with another person. A threesome or moresome is not vanilla sex. Polyamorous people can be vanilla, as long as they are having sex with just one person at a time. Again, we’re keeping in mind that vanilla is the foundation, and you are adding on to that. Vanilla is comfort food – macaroni and cheese, not spicy curry.

Vanilla sex is usually characterized by sweet, sweet lovemaking. Vanilla sex is typically sensual, romantic, and more about pleasure than pain. But you CAN have rompin’ vanilla sex – not just passionate, but downright rodeo rough. Hair pulling and a slap on the ass while doing it doggy style is vanilla, but if you further either one of those activities, you are crossing over into kinky country. Make sure and have your passport ready.

Speaking of positions, just about every position is vanilla in my book – girl on top, reverse cowgirl, lotus, doggy style, etc. The Kama Sutra is vanilla disguised as exotic – it’s packaged as if it hails from a far off land, but is basically plain rice pudding spiced with cardamom and saffron – kheer.

Vanilla sex qualifies for most parts of the house – the bedroom of course, as well as the kitchen, dining room table, living room, and back deck. Sex under the Christmas tree is very vanilla due to the romance factor. One of you wearing a Santa suit, however, renders it not vanilla. Having sex in your child’s bedroom is probably not vanilla. The workbench? Not vanilla.

Just imagine all the vanilla sex that has been had in hotel rooms. Just imagine all the other things that have been done in hotel rooms. On second thought, don’t.

You can take vanilla sex outdoors, to a degree. Public park, camping, on a boat in the middle of the lake under the moonlight – vanilla. Sex in an elevator is NOT vanilla. Neither is sex in an alley. Both are too risky or dirty.

Casual sex/one night stands in and of themselves are vanilla sex activities. It is not kinky to have no strings attached sex. Our primal sexual instincts are vanilla based. Humans are animals, after all. The original purpose for sex was procreation – other layers and meanings have developed over time. Any evolutionary biologist can tell you that exploring the gene pool is a common pursuit for both men and women.

You can have vanilla sex with a prostitute, although what’s the fun of that? If you’re gonna pay for it, you might as well whip out your clown fetish. Most fetishes are not vanilla. Elvis’s fetish for young women wearing white cotton panties was vanilla on its own, but he liked it better if they were teenagers and wrestling each other. Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis has left the Vanilla Building.

You are what you wear: Stockings, lace, and lingerie on a woman are all vanilla. Put any of that on a man and voila! Not vanilla! Leather and latex are not vanilla, unless they are materials incorporated into your couch/car seats or your condoms. Anything that can be bought from a mall can be safely stored in the vanilla drawer, but if you feel the need to expand your shopping to include sex boutiques or online specialty stores, you are probably stocking your kinky cabinet.

Light bondage with silk scarves or ties and blindfolds are vanilla, but as soon as you get into handcuffs (even the fuzzy kind) and rope, you are crossing the line. I am basing this assessment on perusing books that are geared towards spicing up a dull marriage.

Talking dirty can be vanilla, so long as you aren’t whipping out the big, bad derogatory words like bitch, slut, whore, and cunt. Stick with “fuck me, big boy,” and “your pussy feels so good.”

Victoria’s Secret is vanilla. So is Playboy. Penthouse and Hustler are NOT vanilla. Getting more literary, Harlequin romance novels are vanilla. Anais Nin and Anne Rice are not.

Vanilla is mainstream; kinky is alternative. Therefore, Garth Brooks is vanilla. Nine Inch Nails is not. Shaving your genitals is so common in our society, it’s vanilla. And get this – a woman in a tank top who doesn’t shave her armpits in the United States is telling the world she is kinky. So are women who sport Bettie Page bangs.

How about roleplaying? I say teacher/student, cop, and boss/secretary falls under the vanilla umbrella category, but if you are roleplaying uncle/niece or rape, you are in pervert territory. Which is fine, so long as it’s safe, sane and consensual.

I’d like to say that some of the best sex I’ve had has been vanilla, but that wouldn’t be true. The fact is, I’m too much of a pervert. But for when I’m in a vulnerable, sweet mood or I just want to chill out, I love me some vanilla. There’s nothing more satisfying than partaking in an all-you-can-eat pleasure buffet. Vanilla sex is a vital part of a complete sex diet. Being stroked, caressed, massaged, licked, and worshiped is my panacea of choice, my chicken soup for the soul.

What’s your definition of vanilla sex?


  1. I love me some vanilla too. It’s exactly like ice cream. Lovely on it’s own, amazing with toppings.

    I love the blog and the site and I’m excited to see some Sex Pos action up in St. Lewis. We are working on something similar down here so you are a total inspiration.


Comments are closed.