Meet Aoife Murray (she/her). She is a peer kink educator and coach who teaches adults 18+ about risk-aware kink practices and supports them on their journey of exploration.
With several years of experience in the kink community, Aoife has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share. She is passionate about consent, communication, and boundary-setting, and believes everyone has the right to explore their kinks in a safe and consensual way.
Vannpyra: Aoife, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with you once again on our very first guest edit. For those who have not come across you in our work together, that may be reading this blog, what would you like them to know about who you are and the wonderfully unique work you do?
Aoife: There are three main branches of the work I do. Firstly, I run a wide selection of workshops. My workshops are particularly popular with Student Unions, and I'm happy to be the daring deviant in their sexual health week lineup. Secondly, I offer 1-1 coaching appointments to support clients' needs individually. Here they can confidentially share kink dilemmas they have and learn to prioritise their safety and wellbeing while bringing their fantasies to life. Finally, I get to work with unique brands like Lace & Tassels to challenge some of the stigma around BDSM.
V: And how lucky are we that we get to work with you too! You are undoubtedly aware of our passion for destigmatising all aspects of pleasure. The culture - or lack thereof - surrounding sex and kink in Ireland has been a big motivator for us to pursue sex tech to hopefully break down some of those barriers. What was it that inspired you and how did you become to be a peer kink educator?
A: I felt there was a gap in people's knowledge around kink and informed consent. Unfortunately, many people don't receive adequate sex and relationship education in school, and others don't have any focused RSE (Relationships and Sexuality Education) at all. This breeds a massive amount of shame and leaves people trying to pick up the pieces as adults. On top of that, discovering that your preferences are a bit more taboo can be incredibly confusing. I believe Ireland amid its very own sexual revolution. For the first time, people feel free to pursue intimacy based on their own preferences and morality rather than predetermined standards. I hope to play a small part in helping people on this journey of self-discovery.
V: I agree wholeheartedly that Ireland is in the midst of its own sexual revolution, and it's an exciting time to work in sex tech while watching that unfold. Speaking of gaps in people's knowledge, I've picked up on the use of kink and BDSM which some people use interchangeably to more or less describe the same thing. Would you like to explain what the difference actually is between them for anyone who might not know?
A: Kinks were initially conceived to be any non-normative sexual interest. The word kink is often used in general speech to talk about a flaw or a divergence of some kind - which will give you some insight into the original classification. Today kinksters have taken on the term. We've widened its usage to be more inclusive and step away from the stigma of the past. I teach clients that kinks are both sexual and non-sexual activities. Our perception of 'normal' intimacy is highly subjective. So I focus on explaining that a kink is something that brings us intimate fulfilment. However, those who do not share our kink probably won't consider it a pleasurable activity.
BDSM stands for - Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, submission, Sadism, and Masochism. If you engage in any of those play styles, you're probably practising BDSM. Interestingly you'll notice that the word sex doesn't feature in that description. While sex and BDSM activities can pair beautifully together, your BDSM practices do not have to be sexual. Those who engage in BDSM are looking to exchange power with a partner - whether during a play session (a scene) or their power dynamic is 24/7.
So all BDSM-ers are kinksters, but not all kinksters are BDSM-ers. Maybe you like a little kink in your life, but your focus isn't on exchanging power with partners. Both are entirely valid options.
V: That was beautifully put. On the VIP (mailing) list and in the VIP Lounge, we have a variety of seasoned BDSM & kink enthusiasts as well as those who are entirely new to or curious about the scene. What advice do you have for both groups?
A: For the newbies, I would tell them to take things slowly. When you meet someone who shares the same kink interest, it can feel like you're the only two people in the world. But from experience, I can tell you that's not the case. We're everywhere, hiding in plain sight. So remember that kink isn't going anywhere. Research thoroughly before engaging in any new activity so you can give informed consent and minimise risks for yourself and your partner. If you can, attend classes and make connections in the community. Having people who can offer a second opinion or check in on you is invaluable.
A quick list of some topics to research:
- Risk aware consensual kink
- Safe words
- Vetting potential partners
- Red and green flags in potential partners
For the connoisseurs, I think it's essential for us to remember that we'll never know it all - and I absolutely include myself in that. There will also be a new style of play to research or some way we can improve our safety protocol. I believe that's what makes our thing so wonderful. The avenues for exploring intimacy are endless. They're as complex and diverse as people themselves. So embrace being a forever student and never let yourself be so stubborn that you think you've nothing to learn from your peers.
V: Absolutely. And in fact I know you share some great resources related to the above on your Instagram which we'll link below for those interested. Before we get to that though, tell us a bit about the edit you've curated for us this month, how did you approach it and how did you select the pieces featured in it?
A: I wanted my Edit to be as personal as possible. I've included toys I find myself recommending to clients time and again. I included personal descriptions to explain why I believe they're worth the investment and added a few educational tips. So hopefully, you can learn something new while you shop. I wanted it to capture the diverse interests I see daily to make kinksters feel seen.
If I could only have three toys for the rest of my days, they would be: an air technology vibrator like the beautiful Lelo Sona, a strong pair of nipple clamps, and a luxurious flogger.
V: A woman of my own heart! Lelo Sona is my absolute favourite out of my own very extensive toy collection! Aoife, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today and for collaborating with us on this gorgeous edit. Before we wrap up, can you tell us what's next on the agenda for you? Where can we see more of you and how can we get in touch?
If you're a college student, you may see me in your SU building hosting a workshop in the coming months. If you'd like to increase the chances of that, you can email your SU Officers and ask them to consider working with me. You can, of course, book me to host a workshop for a private event too.
If you'd like to book a 1-1 appointment, you can contact me anytime by email or on Instagram to schedule a session tailored to your needs.
I will also be running an eight-week mentorship programme. I've designed a fun course to give clients a solid foundational knowledge of BDSM practices. The course will be held one evening per week with only six places, so you truly get the dedicated time and attention you need. By the end of our eight weeks together, you'll have a detailed understanding of power exchange relationships, a comprehensive limit list, and a rounded understanding of vetting and safety protocol. So keep an eye on my social media for course announcements.
Find Aoife on Instagram @aoife.murray.life or get in touch via email to email@example.com
Vannpyra, interviewing Aoife, is the Founder & Curator of Lace & Tassels. She is a fellow kink enthusiast who has dabbled in online sex work as a pro domme. She has over 6 years experience in the sex tech industry, is a member of the Femtech Collective and is currently in Sextech School with Bryony Cole and also works full time as a UX specialist in e commerce.