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Top 5 Facts About Fetishes

VOICE OVER: Ashley Bowman
Written by Zack Sims

Believe or not, there is more to sex than just the missionary position. Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts.

In this instalment, we're counting down some of the more common facts about sexual fetishes. This means we're looking at those attractions or actions that a person needs in order to enjoy sexual pleasure or to orgasm. These can range from spanking or being spanked to the smell or feeling of leather. It should also be noted that, while a part of one's sexual identity, a fetish is not the same as someone's sexual orientation. Society seems to have a tendency to stigmatize or demonize certain sexual behaviors that are seen as “atypical”. Hopefully, an unbiased examination of these facts will help reverse that.
Transcript
Believe or not, there is more to sex than just the missionary position. Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts. In this instalment, we're counting down some of the more common facts about sexual fetishes. This means we're looking at those attractions or actions that a person needs in order to enjoy sexual pleasure or to orgasm. These can range from spanking or being spanked to the smell or feeling of leather. It should also be noted that, while a part of one's sexual identity, a fetish is not the same as someone's sexual orientation. Society seems to have a tendency to stigmatize or demonize certain sexual behaviors that are seen as “atypical”. Hopefully, an unbiased examination of these facts will help reverse that.

#5: Fetishes & Kinks Are Different

OK, let’s get some quick terminology out the way. For starters, despite being used pretty interchangeably, “fetishes” and “kinks” are not the same. The term “kink” is supposed to be used to describe an action or an item that adds to the experience of sex. If a couple enjoys some light spanking during sex because it adds a bit of pain to their pleasure — that is a kink. But if spanking is required in order for sex to commence, and for orgasm to arrive or for any pleasure to be derived, it's a fetish. While a kink just enhances the fun, a fetish is what supplies it.

#4: Fetishes Are Very Specific

You might have heard the phrasing “foot fetish”, “food fetish”, or “latex fetish”. While fetishes are categorized in this general manner, the actual desires of each fetishist are much more detailed. Two people can be labelled as having a “leather fetish”, but one person may only enjoy the smell of leather while the other might enjoy the feeling of leather on their skin. Fetishes aren’t as broad or as simple as one would think – often they can be subdivided and are much more specific for each person than its name may suggest. Just because someone has a shoe fetish, doesn’t mean they like all types of shoes – even if they really, really like some of them.

#3: Anything Can Be a Fetish

According to Joseph Plaud, the executive director of Applied Behavioral Consultants and a practising clinical psychologist, "If it's out there, somebody somewhere is sexually attracted to it". Humans can have fetishes about anything. And they aren’t limited to anything in particular, either. Someone could have a fetish for a body part like feet, an action such as sneezing, or an item like underwear. There are so many fetishes that scientists are having a tough time keeping track of them all, much less gather research on each one. But while on the one hand, it sounds like a lot of fun to go around, not understanding something so vital to a person’s identity can be alarming - especially, if a fetish is harmful to the fetishist or to others.

#2: Some Fetishes Can Be Harmful to the Fetishist & Others

To be clear, fetishes that are practised responsibly and consensually are perfectly healthy. However, some fetishes can cause harm to the fetishist’s own life or someone else’s. Known as paraphilic disorders, these fetishes can be inherently damaging by involving someone who has not consented or cannot consent — think pedophilia or necrophilia. Paraphilic disorders can also be harmful to the fetishist if they have a compulsive desire for it. Fetishes, however, can also cause distress without being a paraphilic disorder. Someone with a spanking fetish might not actually be comfortable with the idea of hitting someone. It’s important to destigmatize fetishes, and sex itself, to allow those with paraphilic disorders or distressing fetishes to communicate openly and possibly seek counselling or medical assistance.

#1: Very Little Is Known About What Causes Fetishes

In general, empirical research on sex is lacking and, naturally, that extends to fetishes as well. Because of this, vital information like what causes fetishes cannot be stated conclusively. Despite this, most researchers believe that an early life experience is what causes the development of either a fetish or a paraphilic disorder. However, a few studies have suggested that fetishes aren’t always developed in adolescence or as a result of a particular experience. Some suggest imprinting while others say that a fetish can develop at any age. Scientists also aren’t sure if genetics play any kind of role. This lack of research is caused by a variety of factors, including the sheer number of fetishes, lack of funding, and the stigmatization of sex.
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