I talk a lot about fetishes and kinks on Hetaera. A lot of people have approached me over the years questioning if their particular fantasies are “normal” especially when they are typically seen as being “weird”. But what is normal? Let’s start by defining fetishism and kink:
The World Health Organisation defines “fetishism” as: “Reliance on some non-living object as a stimulus for sexual arousal and sexual gratification. Many fetishes are extensions of the human body, such as articles of clothing or footwear. Other common examples are characterized by some particular texture such as rubber, plastic or leather. Fetish objects vary in their importance to the individual. In some cases, they simply serve to enhance sexual excitement achieved in ordinary ways (e.g. having the partner wear a particular garment)”.
So that’s completely clear, right? The problem with that is that they have rolled fetish and kink into a single definition, due to connotations changing over time.
Merriam Webster’s definition of fetish is completely clear: “an object or bodily part whose real or fantasied presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression”.
Kink, on the other hand, is just the *enjoyment* of certain things, without the actual need for them. It’s the difference between liking to be tied up, and physically and mentally needing it.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of overlap here. If someone is a fetishist they are probably also kinky. The distinction between the two terms is that a specific fetish may not necessarily be that kinky. Men who have a fetish for female breasts would not be considered that kinky by most people. Most straight men like breasts and find them sexually arousing so if one man really needs them, to the point where they have a fixation on breasts over the rest of the female body, most other people would not find this strange. So what the difference between fetishism and kink really comes down to is that society decides what is kinky and not, and you yourself decide on what your fetishes are. Society decides the norms while you define your self.
The idea that what’s kinky and what’s not kinky being decided by society at large is fascinating. Let’s take oral sex for example. There is nothing “conventional” about oral sex, i.e., one does not have oral sex with the specific intention of procreation. Oral sex is strictly for pleasure. In Ancient Rome, fellatio was considered profoundly taboo. Sexual acts were generally seen through the paradigm of submission and control. This is apparent in the two Latin words for the act: irrumare (to penetrate orally), and fellare (to be penetrated orally). Under this system, it was considered to be abhorrent for a male to perform fellatio since that would mean that he was penetrated (controlled), whereas receiving fellatio from a non-tentacle owner or another man of lower social status (such as a slave or debtor) was not humiliating.
When brothels started up during the settling of America, the most expensive item was often ‘french style’, which was the uber kinky oral sex, but now oral sex is pretty much a standard activity for most sexual partners. men getting blowjobs and women getting eaten out probably doesn’t even raise the eyebrows of most people nowadays, and what was once kinky is kinky no more.
Certain fetishes that were once kinky are likewise no longer kinky. According to a sexual study done over a 20-year period, nearly 60% of the subjects cited certain types of clothing brought them erotic satisfaction. A long time ago if someone were to say, “I really like seeing my girlfriend in white cotton panties”, people may have been shocked. Now that seems mild and tame in comparison to the other fetishes out there. Even leather objects and outfits, which only 11% of the subjects confided turned them on in the aforementioned study, are considered to be a tame fetish by most people’s standards.
Kink, in general, is becoming more and more accepted, probably in large thanks to the internet. Hair pulling, spanking, light bondage, use of sex toys, role playing…all of these are in general looked upon as fairly normal by sexually open minded people. Shit, piss, blood, simulated rape, beastiality and actual violence, on the other hand are all still looked at as pretty extreme by even the most sexually liberated of people. Who knows what these social mores will be 100 years time?
Is any of this “normal”? A lot of people feel terrible about their kinks and word their questions in a way that says, “Can you tell me how to make this stop?” Almost universally I tell them to not try to stop it, just accept it. People are much too concerned about whether or not their specific kink or fetish is normal and in doing so miss the whole point: everyone has kinks or fetishes. They may not have YOUR kink, but they have one.
So people who have a fetish for breasts and those who has a fetish for being choked are both in the same boat; sure, the former may be more common than the latter in their specific culture or social circle, but they both are fetishists. Instead of looking at yourselves as different from one another because of your fetishes, think of yourselves as part of the same group.
What if you don’t have any fetishes and don’t consider yourself to be that kinky? You just like plain ol’ vanilla sex: two people in their bedroom in one or two positions and then done. That’s fine. What’s interesting is that since the advent of 50 shades of grey, with more and more kinky people being open about their sexual desires, they are making it more “normal” to be kinky than not. Being kinky is slowly becoming the de facto way to be, and being vanilla is becoming kinky.
As a result, Fetishes and Kinks are completely normal; embrace them as a core part of who you are.
The important thing to take away from all this is that kinks and fetishes are just part of life. Don’t fight it: embrace it.
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