Most folks can wrap their brain around vanilla sex — you know, sweet, happy, no surprises sex. But the world of kink and fetishes is rife with myths, misconceptions, and straight-up confusion.
And it’s not just a lack of knowledge that makes people scratch their heads when you move from missionary position to ménage à trois. There’s a lot of stigma surrounding kinks and fetishes, since what gets one person hot and bothered may be scary, offensive, or a deal breaker for another. And that’s totally okay — sexual proclivities aren’t one-size-fits-all.
"Everyone should realise that having a fetish or being involved in consensual kink is nothing to be ashamed of nor judged for," said Danarama, Director of Kink University (link very NSFW). "Sexuality is the most essential drive of any living creature, and anything that invigorates your enjoyment or desire for sex with your like-minded and willing partner is something that should be explored and celebrated."
So how should we talk about kinks and fetishes? First, a couple of definitions. A "kink" is "any unconventional sexual desire, concept, fantasy, or practice" that "bends away from proclivities that are generally considered 'straight,' or what would seem typically arousing to others," while a "fetish" is "a sexual desire that is initiated or heightened in the presence or appearance of a particular material, shape, or part of the body" (like when someone is aroused by earlobes or the feeling of silk), Danarama said.
But that’s only part of the picture: Every person with a kink or fetish has his or her own story. So we talked to eight people with kinks and fetishes, and asked them what sparked their particular interest, how it plays out in their sex lives, and what misconceptions they want to clear up.