Hello Readers! I hope y’all had wonderful, relaxing, and ever so exciting fall breaks. But I have missed you, as I hope you have missed me! I have missed being able to pontificate on whatever sex-related topic I was thinking extra hard about that particular week. This week, I was considering fetishes and taboo.
I love a good fetish. They can add another layer of fun to sexual explorations. But what is a fetish, Calamitous, you ask?
A fetish is any object or activity that is non-sexual in nature that someone derives sexual pleasure from. Some fetishes like the foot fetish, which is one of the most common fetishes, are straightforward. Other fetishes surround activities such as BDSM or bondage, dominance, sadomasochism. Individuals can derive pleasure from a variety of non-sexual activities in BDSM: being tied up, physical pain, expressing control and power, etc. However, not all fetishes are always categorized so easily. For instance, an obsession with lingerie may not be a fetish categorically because lingerie is considered to be sexual in nature. But what is the difference between an obsession with all underwear (which can be incredibly utilitarian and supposedly unsexy like long underwear and granny panties) and lingerie? If one had an obsession with both, why is one a fetish and the other not?
To explore this question further, I wanted to discuss the connection between fetishes and taboo.
More and more, I have personally begun to connect fetish and taboo. To a certain extent, the connection is obvious. A fetish is taboo. You are making a sexual object out of something that probably is not socially accepted as sexual. Nonetheless, I have also been thinking about the ways in which the objects that routinely get sexualized are taboo as well.
Though no one is going to ban feet anytime soon, feet are not the most glamorous part of the body. Even people who like shoes often express negative feelings about feet themselves. They are a body part to be adorned, not a body part to be worshipped.
The same is reflected in a variety of other fetishes: urine play, scat fetishes, and diaper play. They deal with parts of the body that (I hope!) everyone acknowledges, but would rather not spend too much time thinking about. Even BDSM deals with the taboo. It explores the hierarchies of control in romantic and sexual relationships by exaggerating those hierarchies. If relationships are supposed to be mutual endeavors, BDSM exposes the ways in which they often are not.
So, I want to approach the “taboo-ness” of fetishes by examining why they might be taboo. Fetishes might not be taboo because they themselves are taboo. They may be taboo because the things that they fetishize are taboo. To go back to the lingerie/underwear example, we may not want to consider lingerie as a fetish object because lingerie is a coveted object. However, sexualizing all underwear or dirty underwear specifically approaches a social level of discomfort with our basic human functions.
Moreover, if fetish is defined by taboo, then taboo is part of why fetishes are so exciting. Doing something one is not supposed to (sexually or not) is a thrill itself.
In this rather circuitous way, I wanted to express to you, dear readers, that your fetishes are not so strange that you should not explore them. If you still think they are strange, they probably need to be strange; otherwise they would no longer do what a fetish needs to do.
I will say a final caveat. Though I encourage fetish exploration, not all fetishes can be explored, because not all fetishes can be explored safely and consensually. In addition, before you begin any personal exploration of a fetish, you should make safety and consent your priorities. For instance, the BDSM community has stringent rules and a variety of strategies on how to practice safely and how to maintain constant and enthusiastic consent. Step one should always be familiarizing yourself with those rules and strategies.
Outside of that, as always: Have fun, play safe, and explore!