Sex covers so many different things and means something different to different people. And that’s a good thing! So, when it comes to sexual preferences, the boundaries are often blurred. Something that is normal for one person is an unusual sex practice for others. You’re sure to have come across the words kink and fetish before. But do you know what a fetish is, and how it differs from kink? The sex-positive scene uses these terms to try to define itself. We know all about it and now we’re going to fill you in.
What do “kink” and “kinky” mean?
The word “kink” means “bend” or “curve”. In relation to sex, it refers to a kink in our sexuality, or sexual behaviour, that does not fit the social norms. In the past, instead of kink, people used the word paraphilia which had very negative connotations. As you’ve probably already guessed, it is difficult to come up with a precise definition of what or who is kinky and what/who isn’t. Because different sex practices and fantasies are “normal” to different people and different cultures. While some might see role playing or swinging as kinky, members of the BDSM community see the following practices as kink:
- Spanking: hitting as a punishment during sex
- Humiliation: playing with shame and modesty during sex
- Shibari: a particular type of rope bondage, rope tying
- Pet play: one person takes on the role of the pet owner, and is in charge of their “pet”
Fans of the BDSM scene generally use the word “kinky” or “kinkster” to define themselves. Within the BDSM community, the opposite of “kink” is “vanilla”, which refers to conventional sexual behaviour. Nowadays, “kink” is used more as an umbrella term which is then further defined by the words “BDSM” or even some “fetishes”. The sex-positive scene is trying to find increasingly specific ways to define itself. While in the ‘80s it might have been enough to define what the word “kink” meant, as society has become increasingly individualised, the elements that actually make up the scene itself have evolved to be clearer and more defined.
A “kink” does not necessarily always relate to sex. A fetish can also be described as “kinky”, as we mentioned earlier. And fetishes are not always of a sexual nature. So, what exactly is a fetish?
What is a fetish?
The word fetish is being used more often, simply to say that someone has a particular preference for something. Women, for example, often have a “shoe fetish”. But actually, this is not an entirely correct use of the word, as a fetish is only where someone is sexually fixated on an object, body part or even certain materials. The person is sexually aroused by this object, body part or material. Sometimes they only get sexually excited by this object, body part or material.
The word derives from the Latin verb “facere” meaning “to do” and the Portuguese word “feitico” meaning “magic”. Originally the word was used by indigenous people to refer to objects with magical powers. Fetish only became seen as a predominantly sexual phenomenon in the second half of the 19th century. Unfortunately, even today many people still see a fetish as an abnormal perversion and it is still defined in the WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) as a “disorder of sexual preference”. Sadly, there is still a lot of debate about what is “normal” and what isn’t. Having a fetish actually means only getting sexually aroused by an object or body part.
What fetishes are there?
There is indeed a shoe fetish, but it actually involves being aroused by high heels or boots, and not simply having too many shoes! Aside from that, a lot of people have also heard about a leather fetish. With this fetish, it is the smell of leather and its look that particularly causes a sexual fixation. Other fetishes can also include: corset fetish, underwear fetish, hand or foot fetish if the fetish involves certain body parts, or even generally a material fetish that is not just leather. These are actually just examples though; we can all have our own very different fetish for a very personal object, material or body part.
We’re going to finish off with some important definitions to explain aspects of the world of kinks and fetish:
BDSM: BDSM is the abbreviation for “Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism”
Ring of O: this ring with a small loop became a symbol and sign of the BDSM and fetish scene in the ‘90s. It first appeared in the novel “Story of O” by Pauline Réage, published in 1954. Where you wear the ring indicates whether you are a Dom (dominant) or a Sub (submissive) – Doms wear the ring on their left hand and Subs on the right.
Masochism: desire for pain
Sadism: desire to be tormented and humiliated
Safe word or slow word: in the world of kink, fetish or BDSM if someone wants a sexual act to stop or be taken slower/more gently, they use a safe word to stop things and a slow word to change the pace, which have been agreed in advance.
If you want to find out more about this world of sexuality, there are even more definitions on this website.
Whether it’s a kink or fetish – anything is fine so long as it isn’t forced and doesn’t involve people who have not consented to what is happening. This is why a safe word is usually agreed in advance, to make absolutely sure that everyone is happy with what’s happening. People who cannot stick to these boundaries have pathological fetishes or kinks, and should seek help!
Sexuality means something different to each of us, and we should be open to every type of sexuality. Because we each decide for ourselves what we enjoy. You are responsible for living out your preferences, fantasies and dreams. pjur is here to support you, because love is love.
Image sources: pexels-kamaji-ogino-5065874, shutterstock_1387458506, pexels-alexander-krivitskiy-11104884