Kinks & Fetishes 101 - Know the Basics & Start Exploring!
You know you have grown up when kink doesn’t only mean the crooked line you draw on your graphs in math class to adjust the scale of your chart. Kinks and fetishes have been an innate part of human sexuality – and are not contemporary concepts. Kinky bedroom practices and fetishes have existed for as long as time. But are they the same?
Kinks are unconventional, consensual, and sexual practices/behaviors. A kink can also refer to a sexual practice that doesn’t typically align with the conventional notions of heterosexual intercourse. Kink is outside the straight vanilla sex, basically. And a fetish? A fetish is an attraction or arousal by inanimate objects or specific body parts. I’m pretty sure you have heard of a foot fetish. Or the song Fetish by Selena Gomez.
OK, got it. But what’s the difference between kinks and fetishes?
The difference between fetishes and kinks is fragile, and they are used synonymously often. The contrast lies, as outlined by Dr. Rosara Torrisi, in the I-like-doing-this and I-need-to-do-this. A kink can be absent, and you can still be aroused, but the presence of a fetish is required for you to turn on. We can loosely say that a fetish falls under kink. Take foot fetish, for example – a foot fetish implies that the presence and some foot stimulation are required and help facilitate orgasm.
The vital thing to note while we discuss the difference between kinks and fetishes is consent. Sexual activity, be it kinky or vanilla, is always valid if it is enthusiastically agreed upon by all parties involved. Always remember, consensual sex is the best sex.
Repeat after me: consensual sex is the best sex.
Perfect! Let’s move on.
Is it true that kinks grow out of trauma?
We can thank 50 Shades of Grey for introducing mainstream media to the idea of kinks and BDSM. However, the movie is called out by kink practitioners for wrongfully portraying kinks. Plus, the film shows Christian Grey as the kind of person he is in the bedroom because of his childhood trauma. That is not how it works in real life. To say kinks arise from mental trauma would be wrong, just like how it would be wrong to say that kinks are ‘not normal’ or ‘weird.’
Psychological researcher Samuel Hughes lays out a 5-step model of kink development, which involves a person’s own early childhood encounters and self-interest. ‘Examples include always wanting to be captured while playing cops and robbers, or seeing television shows with superheroes in peril and feeling absorbed by the show,’ Hughes said. The other stages include evaluating what kinks mean to them, finding partners, and exploring.
While kinks and fetishes can develop as a consequence of trauma, it is not the hard-and-fast rule. Many people reveal that indulging in kinky sexual practices is their way of healing through that trauma and gain control of the situation. Fetishes are a normal part of human sexuality. Still, they can be considered an illness and require medical attention if they develop into a ‘fetishistic disorder,’ disrupt a person’s life, and cause severe distress.
What are some common kinks and fetishes?
It is essential to keep in mind that kinks and fetishes are not a competition, and it is entirely valid and natural for people not to relate to any kinks and fetishes. Some people are vanilla, and they are amazing. But what if you do have a kink? Listed below are the most commonly found kinks and fetishes, some of which you may already be aware of!
- BDSM: You already must have heard about BDSM which revolves around power exchange where one partner takes a dominating role and takes control of the intercourse. The other partner takes a submissive role and lets the dominant take control. While practicing BDSM, it is essential to ensure that all parties consent to the situation and that safewords and boundaries are established beforehand. Practice aftercare to give your partners time and attention after BDSM plays.
- Roleplaying: It is time to be the fictional hero character you saw in the TV show. Roleplaying is a common kinky activity where people act like characters for their bedroom time. It can be very general, loosely based characters to very elaborate and thought out characters. It does not mean you need to have a doctor’s coat to live your doctor-patient fantasy; anyone can do roleplaying just through dirty talk and imagination!
- Cuckolding: Cuckolding is when a couple invites a third person to have intercourse with one of the partners while the other watches them. Some people just get excited by the thought of their partner having sex with someone else. If someone feels anxious about cuckolding, they can try out slow through dirty talk or virtual sex with the third person. Just keep in mind to communicate with your partner and that consent of all parties is non-negotiable.
- Foot fetish: #StepOnMeRealness. Foot fetish is quite popular in popular media and society. It’s a fetish where someone has a sexual attraction to feet and needs some foot stimulation to achieve orgasm. The stimulation includes massages, kissing, smelling, etc. Talk to your partner if you have a foot fetish. Communication is always the key!
- Anal sex: One does not need to have an anal sex fetish to have anal sex, but some people do have a fetish for it. Anal sex can be very fun butt (pun intended) it requires quite some preparation and a lot of lubrication. If it intimidates you, start small with fingers or toys like butt plugs, and if you’re into it, try a dildo or penis. Either way, be it fingers or dildos, always remember to use a lubricant—a lot of it.
- Food fetish: I will eat you up… literally. Food fetish is when a person enjoys including food in their sexual intercourse. It can be eating out of their partner’s hands or feeding them, or it can also be eating off of their partner’s body or vice versa. Remember to take care of your sensitive areas and wash up thoroughly after everything’s done!
No matter what the kink or fetish is, the key is informed, enthusiastic and sober consent of all parties involved. Communicate with your partner and tell them what works for you. Communication breeds intimacy, and intimacy is sexy.
Now once again, repeat after me: Consensual sex is the best sex.
Cover illustration by: Abhilasha Muttoo