The Infinite Shades of Fetishes
Say the word “fetish” to someone and you’re almost guaranteed to get a strong reaction of sneering, snickering, smiling, or surprise. Truth is, though, fetishes are far more common than you might think. It may be taboo to talk about them, but they are definitely a sexual interest and activity you may want to explore in a healthy relationship.
Percentages of people who are into fetishes vary widely from almost 50% of people to one in six. It’s difficult to know which might be most accurate, but we’re pretty confident that the percentage is higher than admitted by survey respondents. Everybody’s got some little quirk that they do, whether it’s an everyday superstition or a sex fetish, right? Of course, since the release in 2015 of the film Fifty Shades of Grey – an erotic, romantic drama that cost $50 million to make and grossed approximately $570 million worldwide – discussing fetishes has become much more popular.
Part of the challenge is defining what exactly qualifies as a fetish. Fetishes are a strong or sexual attraction to an inanimate object such as a piece of clothing, possibly underwear or scarves, for example, or to a body part such as feet or toes. There is an almost infinite number of fetishes and variations on fetishes that will vary with the person. We agree with Dr. Evan Goldstein, the Co-Founder of Future Method for gay men, who recently blogged about “The Most Common Fetishes in the U.S.”: “We believe intimacy should be healthy, judgment-free and safe for everyone, which includes eliminating the stigma around things like fetishes, where two consenting, safe, non-violent adults are involved. We also believe in making proper education backed by science accessible, which is part of our mission and why we run this blog!” The highly informative blog contains “A Fetish Map of the United States of America” and a list of “The Most Searched Fetishes” by region and nationally, all based on Google trends search data. We’re focused on fetishes here, but they fall within the larger category of kinks, which are defined as “a sexual activity that falls outside of sex that society traditionally considers ‘acceptable.’” (Check out the great introductory list of kinks and fetishes that Glamour magazine created last year.)
According to Angie Jones in that June 2020 Glamour article, no matter what your preference is, “kink is about consent, communication, and compromise. Before trying any new sex act, obtaining enthusiastic, continuous consent from all parties involved is a must,” she informs. “Your kinks may not perfectly align with your partner’s, and that’s okay. ‘Just because you want it doesn’t mean that someone has to do it,’ says sex educator Tina Horn, host of the podcast Why Are People Into That?!.” Perhaps the most important thing is that you and your partner explore the proposed fetish verbally first. One good thing is diving into fetishes requires an established trust, and when you reach that point in a relationship, it should be a little easier to discuss the wildest, kinkiest, most fetishistic activity. “Should be” is the operative term, here. The second good thing, though is we know that, yes, that first conversation may be tricky or awkward, but we also are confident that no one has ever been injured by a pair of panties or athletic socks or a maid’s uniform or even a big toe while talking about them with a partner! So have a conversation about whatever intrigues you that you want to explore. Once both partners – or whoever is involved – are onboard, give it a try.
Really the fundamental rule is to ensure safety for everyone. Heck, one of you may even be into hardhats and work boots. But by safety we mean as long as you, your partner or if it involves a group, no one involved gets hurt. “Hurt” includes unwanted physical, emotional or psychological damage. Which leads us back to the “full and clear approval” discussion. And if someone doesn’t like what’s happening or how it feels, you should have a safe word to stop it at any time. It could be “red” or “grapefruit,” whatever word each person chooses to indicate that they’re finished and out. Knowing that those safety rules and awareness of safety are in place makes it much easier to give a fetish a try.
We always encourage our store associates to support customers who are thinking about trying something new. “Hey, why not go ahead and try it?” We want to give them permission to try it so that they’re not worried that we’re going to judge them. The guy’s worried that his wife’s going to judge him, she’s worried about him judging her, so we need to say, “It’s okay. Try it.” You make sure everybody’s got a safe word. Be aware of cleanliness. Ultimately, if you don’t like it, you don’t do it again or you stop. No matter how much the word “fetish” might freeze you up, testing one out is actually pretty simple. It can also be pretty hot, exciting and stimulating. Sometimes a budding interest in something kinky can turn out to be more fantasy than fetish. But here’s our recommended Five Steps to Probing Fetishes Plan to help you enjoy exploring even the most out-there, wild, devious, and taboo sexual activities:
- Select from the numerous lists of fetish films, from Fifty Shakes of Grey or Lars Von Triers Nymphomaniac or many other absolutely outrageous fetish flicks.
- Wear sexy clothing or no clothing at all.
- Fall into bed or onto your couch or floor.
- Start getting comfortable together, making out, and playing with your partner.
- Then turn on a video of a film that features the fetish most fascinating you.
You can “safely” experience any fetish of your choice vicariously and still have a lot of ferocious fun! Then it’s up to you and your partner to decide whether you want to try that fetish live together. Who knows? You may end up making your own fetish film!