Fetishes are still somewhat of a taboo. Although we live in a time in which we think we can be quite open about sex and everything that comes with it, talking about many sexual topics is still awkward. So, what exactly is a fetish, and what does having one say about someone? Is it weird to be excited by an object or body part other than the genitals? Today we’ll focus on fetishes and explain why having a fetish can be perfectly normal.
What’s a fetish?
Having a sexual fetish means that someone can get excited by inanimate objects or body parts other than the genitals. This includes, for example, feet, shoes, clothes, or certain types of materials such as lacquer, leather, or latex. Actually, there’s a fetish for everything you can think of!
Types of fetishes
A person can have a fetish for just about anything. Some are relatively common, others are rarer (but also completely normal!). Within the world of fetishism, these sexual preferences are the most common:
- Body-oriented fetishes, such as getting excited about feet, hands, armpits, but also piercings, tattoos, or being attracted to a certain body shape. An example of the latter is seen in feeders and their feedees.
- Fetishes focused on clothing. Well-known clothing fetishes are those for lingerie, stockings, pantyhose, nappies, winter jackets, denim clothing, or the desire to wear clothes that are typical of the opposite sex.
- Fetishes for specific materials, as commonly seen in the BDSM world, focus on lacquer, leather, latex, rubber, etc.
Besides these common fetishes, there are also very specific fetishes, such as an attraction to trees, birds, candle wax, a preference for urination with sex, or the desire to be tortured during sex. These are just a few examples, because again: there’s a fetish for virtually anything.
“Everyone has unique sexual preferences. So how can you determine what’s normal?”
How do we develop a fetish?
The formation of our sexual desires and fantasies remains scientifically complicated and ambiguous. Scientists still disagree on how fetishes are established, but the most widely accepted theory takes us back to (early) childhood. The idea is that a fetish can be learned by accident. For example, when a neutral item, such as a shoe, happens to be connected to something exciting. Your brain then links this neutral item to (sexual) arousal, creating an association. Repetition of such an association can strengthen the relationship between the neutral object and arousal. Eventually, even just seeing, smelling, feeling, tasting, or hearing the object can be enough to get sexually aroused.
“I have a fetish, am I normal?”
Even though we think we live in an open society, there’s still a certain sexual norm where anything that might ‘deviate’ from that norm can be seen as weird, unhealthy, or abnormal. This is not only felt by people connected to the LGBTQ+ community, but also by people who characterise themselves as a BDSMer, kinkster, or fetishist. Getting aroused by an object may be seen as ‘unhealthy’ or ‘abnormal’, but no two people are the same: what gets you excited is quite different from what works for other people. So how can you determine what’s normal in the first place?
“A fetish only becomes a problem when it bothers you, can harm you and/or others, or when expressing it is considered a criminal offence by law.”
This is how healthy having a fetish is!
Actually, there’s a golden rule for living your sexual needs, desires and fantasies: as long as you don’t harm yourself and/or others with it and you’re okay with what you feel sexually, having a fetish is perfectly normal and healthy. Accepting who you are (sexually) and how you prefer to behave in that area even contributes to better mental well-being. Just think about how nice it can be to have room in your bedroom to do what you enjoy most. This probably explains why research has shown that people who enjoy BDSM are generally happy with their sex lives, relationships, and themselves.
Do you have a fetish for something? Or does your partner have a fetish? Let us know in a comment below.