Relationships  Better Sex  Sex & Sex Education 

What is a Fetish?

Joanna Anagnostou  |  Jan 04 2021

What is a Fetish?

What is a fetish? How can you navigate this post-50 Shades world, where kinks are out in the open?

When people hear the word fetish, it is quite likely that they immediately think of something like 50 Shades of Grey, handcuffs, or latex outfits. However, there is more to the world of fetish so let’s look into what fetish actually is. 

Fetish is defined as

an activity or object that you are fascinated by that you spend an unreasonable amount of time thinking about it or doing it

There are non-sexual fetishes that exist such as cynophilia (a love of dogs), logophilia (a love of words), and xanthophilia (a love of the color yellow).

What is a sexual fetish?

The word 'fetish' is most commonly associated and identified with "sexual fetish" which is

a form of sexual desire in which pleasure depends on the reliance of some object or item of clothing or a nongenital part of a body.

Sexual fetishes are completely normal to have, but it is considered a disorder when fetishistic activities are the foremost source of sexual satisfaction and become so compelling or unacceptable as to cause distress or interfere with normal sexual intercourse.

Sexual fetishes can include BDSM (BD – Bondage and Discipline; DS – Dominance and Submission; SM – Sadism and Masochism), foot fetishism, role play, and voyeurism (gets sexual pleasure from watching others be intimate). 

Sexual fetishes reflect the diversity and complexity of human sexuality. Many people are intrigued by fetishes or completely down to try some of them out. This increasing popularity means they have become more mainstream. Some of the most popular fetishes are the use of sex toys in sex, spanking, bondage, and wearing costumes. People who have fetishes don’t need to always have sex that involves their fetish for it to be enjoyable, but it will make their experience more pleasurable.

What is a kink?

Kink is often used interchangeably with fetish and usually, if a person has a fetish, they can be described as being “kinky”. A 'kink' is described as

One’s sexual taste and what one enjoys during sex

When a person enjoys one type of “kink” does not mean that you enjoy all kinks or are willing to try them all out. Kinks can be quite diverse in their nature and vary in intensity for people. If you like erotic asphyxiation (the restriction of oxygen that enhances sexual pleasure) does not mean you are into urophilia (getting aroused by urine). 

Having kinks or fetishes is normal and nothing to be ashamed of. However, in modern dating, people can be quite judgemental when it comes to what you are interested in doing in the bedroom. According to Kinkly, Kink shaming is “the act of criticizing or attempting to make someone feel inferior for their specific sexual preference”. Kinks and fetishes have been seen as taboo but are an avenue for people to explore their sexuality and find out new ways to make sex more enjoyable for themselves and their partners. 

The idea of disapproving of someone else’s sexual preference is based on societal norms and traditional notions of what sex is. Certain sexual acts might not be common or depicted in media a lot, but that doesn’t mean they should be thought of as weird or unhealthy. You shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed of what you enjoy during sex. As long as you and the people you are having sex with are consenting, feel free to have the sex you want to be having. There's no harm in trying something out; if you enjoy it then that’s great, if you don’t, at least you know, and can move onto other things. 

While 50 Shades of Grey may not be the most accurate depiction of BDSM, it has opened the world up to learning and exploring fetishes. If you are looking to try out new fetishes, make sure you’re safe and everyone knows everyone's limits (and safe words).

The key to learning about and embracing kinks is communication. Be open and honest with your sexual partners about what you want to try and figure out what you are both into.

Whether you want you to use blindfolds, a leather crop, or a paddle, it can all be a part of a healthy sexual relationship. So, if you are looking to try something kinky like electro-stimulation or bondage: do your research, talk to your partners, and have a fun, consensual, and kinky time. 

Common questions

Why do we have sexual fetishes?

Humans start associating an object or experience (psychological or physical) with sexual arousal and they become tied together and ultimately develop fetishes through experiences.

Is fetishism a disorder?

Having a fetish is completely normal, but relying completely on fetishistic activities as the foremost source of deriving sexual pleasure is considered a disorder.

How to incorporate a fetish into your relationship

Start with exploring the objects or body parts you're fascinated with and share it with your partner to see if they're comfortable with your fetishes and do not find it weird. Consent is the key.

What is the difference between a kink and a fetish?

A kink is a broader term for a fetish. A fetish is associated with the psychological need for an object, an act, or a non-genital body part for experiencing sexual pleasure or orgasm, but a kink is not necessarily identified for a sexual orgasm or release but does add to a sexual experience and pleasure.

Listening to Kink

Sometimes you just want to listen to kinky, fun music that represents your ideas and beliefs. Kink Radio is a radio designed from the ground up to bring those ideas to life in a creative and resourceful manner.

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