Pretty much all of us here have fetishes - but that isn’t the same thing as fetishising something. Dear Abi is usually pretty hardcore on the concept that Your Kink Is Okay (and the way you want to practice it is too), but the fetishisation of some people and concepts is one of several places where she's had to draw a line under that - and here’s why...

 

 

What it means to have a fetish

 

None of the terms surrounding kink are clearly defined. Much of the time when someone talks of ‘being kinky’ they mean some combination of bondage, impact play and a Dom/sub dynamic in a relationship. ‘Fetish’ is, as a term, generally used to denote some more specific kinky interest. Sometimes it’s a material or mode of dress, like rubber or stockings and suspenders. Sometimes it’s a specific act or practice, like watersports or the use of fucking machines. Sometimes it’s a subculture of the wider BDSM community, like CG/l or furryism.

 

There are thousands and thousands of fetishes - certainly too many to try and cover here. Whatever your fetish is, you can think of it as just meaning whatever you’re specifically into over and above the much more ubiquitous and generalised stuff people mean when they say ‘kink’ or ‘BDSM’. Practising them is a lot of fun, and generally very healthy for all the people involved.

 

 

What it means to fetishise something - or someone

 

It’s possible, however, for a person to focus on their fetish so much more intensely than they do on the other people involved that those other people stop being real to them. It’s one thing to be aroused by the idea of sleeping with a woman much taller than yourself. It’s another to hit on random 6’ women in bars in ways that make them feel uncomfortable over something they may already be self-conscious about.

 

It’s wonderful to realise how much the thought of licking someone’s shoes clean turns you on, but randomly throwing yourself at someone’s feet at a party and getting to work without asking them first is harassment pure and simple.

 

 

A fetish is something that is enjoyed alone or shared between consenting adults. The fetishisation of a particular practice or trait leads to people feeling violated, dehumanised and objectified - and it’s not okay.

 

 

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So what’s the problem?

 

Some fetishes have problems inherent to them. A quick glance down the topic list of almost any porn site will show your that ‘Asian’, ‘Ebony’ and ‘Latina’ are considered fetishes in their own right. These so-called ‘fetishes’ always seem to zero in on tropes and stereotypes that are hugely racist and make the everyday lives of women belonging to those cultural groups much harder than they need to be.

 

  • Women from eastern Asia must constantly contend with the notion that they are somehow delicate and childlike.
  • Black women’s bodies are frequently dehumanised and reduced to nothing more than a series of sexualised parts.
  • The media bombards us with the notion of the feisty, uneducated, “exotic” Latina who is all curves and no stability.

 

These groups aren’t fetishes - they’re people, and the way the sex industry all too often treats them is fetishisation no matter how you look at it. Other tastes simply seem to attract fetishisers at a higher rate to different BDSM sub-subcultures.

 

The feedism community, for example, is a perfectly legitimate place to explore and discuss a perfectly legitimate fetish. Too often, it seems to end up overrun with people hell bent on fetishising the bodies and weight gains of people who have never consented to it. Nor have any desire to be discussed in that way. These same people will all too often involve themselves in relationships that are entirely about feedism above all else. In turn, they never really seem invested in getting to know their partners as people or caring about them in ways unrelated to the fetish itself.

 

Behaviour like this isn’t ubiquitous, of course - but, as I understand it, it is more common than many in the community would like. I don’t believe in thoughtcrime. I’m not saying that you’ve violated someone’s consent because they were wearing a particularly good pair of boots on the Underground and watching them cross their legs when they sat down turned you on. What I am saying is that it is fetishising behaviour to let them know about it. Keep it to yourself.  Just because it wouldn’t be read as overtly sexual by a lot of other people doesn’t mean it isn’t potentially harassment all the same.

 

 

What about people who fetishise themselves?

 

There are, of course, certain fetishes that seem to be all about this kind of fetishisation. Raceplay, for example, is more common amongst kinky people of colour than one might imagine.  I am given to understand that homophobic slurs form a common part of BDSM practices for many kinky gay men.

 

Bimbofication, as a fetish, almost seems to make a parody of the concept of fetishisation; in some ways, you could say that fetishisation is the fetish in that scenario. The same goes for any kink that centres on the objectification and dehumanisation of the people involved. The difference is that the people involved know that they are real people.

 

A fetishist will practice these kinks in a way that both people want and both people have consented to.  As part of a loving, long-term relationship or in a pre-negotiated one-off encounter, or anything in between. A fetishiser on the other hand, is only in it for their own gratification and is highly likely to behave in ways that make the other party uncomfortable. For example, expecting them to play the part of the ‘bimbo’ 100% of the time with no room for a human connection.

 

Even if your relationship is 24/7, it’s important for both parties to know that everyone involved is happy, consenting and feeling fulfilled. Incidentally, it’s not only the dominant party who can behave in this way. Submissives can and do sometimes fall into the same trap. Someone involved in a CG/l relationship can find themselves pressuring their partners to be Daddy full-time, for example, and not want to recognise the other person’s own ordinary, human needs.

 

 

Help! I think I’m a fetishiser!

 

If anything in this article rings a bit too true for you, it might be time to re-examine the role of kink in your life. Please understand: There’s nothing wrong with needing sexual compatibility for a relationship to work. I for one know I’m never happy in relationships without a strong BDSM and kink component, and my own fetishes are a part of that. I don’t pursue relationships with people who don’t share at least some of them, and I’d advise other people who feel similarly not to either.

 

I’m also not saying that it’s not okay to have fetish-focused relationships that aren’t partnerships in other senses. Many people are turned on by the idea of having a connection that exists in its own little bubble, untouched by the real world and unbothered by everyday problems like “where are we going with this” and “whose turn is it to do the washing up”.

 

What I am saying is that you need to make sure those partners are truly real to you as more than simply a way to indulge your fetishes. Do you have other things in common? Do you talk to them about everyday, non-sexual things? If your relationship really is purely for fetish purposes, have you ever explicitly discussed that with them? Are you certain they’re on the same page? Do you get shitty with them if their “real” life intervenes? Are you good at remembering that away from you they’re a complete and ordinary person in their own right?

 

 

What do you think? Is your kink a fetish or fetishisation? Let us know in the comments below or start a thread in the forum. We love hearing from fellow kinksters!

 

New here on Fetish.com? There are tonnes of kinky treats waiting for you inside. Membership is free, why not give it a try?

 

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