About a year ago, I wrote a blog post discussing the start of my BDSM journey. At the time, I was reluctant to use the word ‘fetish’ due to all the stigma surrounding it. Instead, I referred to a specific like as a ‘kink’. While there is a clear difference between the two terms, ‘kink’ is often (and incorrectly) used to denote a ‘fetish’, in order to make it seem socially acceptable.
Let’s first provide some official definitions. A kink is an activity (with an erotic intent) that moves beyond what is considered socially ‘normal’. A fetish on the other hand, is a fixation with a particular practice, object, idea that drives (sexual) pleasure.
To generalize further, a kink is determined by social norms and definitions. A fetish on the other hand, is a personal concept and driven by our individual preferences. To me, it seems that being ‘kinky’ refers to sexual arousal and a fetish involves desires that transcend the physical. My own fetishes satisfy not my genitals, but my thoughts, my emotions and my endocrine system.
Understand that some fetishes are harmful if taken to the extreme and many can become synonymous with addiction. In this situation, there is a disruption in our dopamine balance and if not identified can spiral out of control. The same neurotransmitter involved in our reward system, in combination with endorphins provide a wonderful sense of well-being when we engage in healthy (non self destructive) fetish play.
My use of the word ‘kinky’ to minimize the socially negative implications of the word ‘fetish’ ends today. To have something ‘different’ we choose to enjoy is not weird or wrong, it is simply what makes us an interesting human being.