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“Sexuality is one of the ways that we become enlightened, actually, because it leads us to self-knowledge.” Alice Walker

The Basics on Fetishes

Even though the concept of fetishes does not appear under this acronym of BDSM, many kinksters get super turned on by certain objects or body parts. Modern kinksters generally reject the Freudian conception of fetishes as evidence of a malfunctioning or immature sexuality that attaches itself to objects because relationships with people are too draining or complex. Instead, today’s kinksters see a fetish object as a way to enhance arousal, make play more interesting, and have stronger orgasms. Popular fetishes include body parts like feet, shoes like combat boots or ridiculously high heels. Other fetishes can include materials like leather, latex, or rubber, and fluids like blood or urine. Fetishes can also include particular types of actions; cross-dressing where the idea is to dress as the opposite gender, or feedism where the fetish is to feed someone with part of the kink being the idea that over time the person being fed will gain weight.

The kink community sees itself as being very open minded but there are some fetishes that are more acceptable in kink community spaces. If you go to a dungeon it is not at all uncommon to see someone crossdressing or foot worshipping. It is much more uncommon to see people wearing diapers even though diaper fetishes are fairly common. There is definitely a perception that most people in the kink community are engaging in primarily more traditional types of kinks like bondage and impact play (hitting people with things like floggers etc).

One of the things I have noticed in my years of doing therapy is that people who have specific fetishes seem to be much more caught up in shame than other people in the kink community.  Before the internet, people with more unusual fetishes had an extremely hard time finding each other and often were never comfortable enough to talk to their partners about their desires. With the internet, you can find others with almost every fetish, although some are still very uncommon, which makes it hard to find partners to engage in the behavior. For many clients with fetishes the way they get to explore their sexuality is by finding partners who aren’t into the fetish at first but are as Dan Savage coined, “Good, Giving and Game, GGG”. If someone is open-minded enough, they can often find joy in a partner’s fetish even if it is something they wouldn’t have thought to experiment with themselves.  In our practice we work with people with fetishes to learn to accept themselves as they are and build relationships with people who can do that as well.

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