Kink Nation: An Inside Look at 10 Fascinating Sex Fetishes

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Photo: Josh Dickinson / Styled by: Alex Brannian

A version of this article was published in August 2016.

The word kink might make you think of that “Sex and the City” episode where a shoe salesman offers Charlotte free heels in exchange for the freedom to caress her feet, or the BDSM scenes in “50 Shades of Grey.” And while “SATC” and erotic novels have done their fair share of educating the world on kinky sex, what lies beneath a fetish—and the challenge of having one in a world that’s still largely vanilla—tends to be a little more complex.

“A kink can be anything that is outside of the hetero-normative model,” says clinical sexologist and couple’s therapist Dr. Eve, author of the best-selling book Cyber Infidelity: The New Seduction“As long as it’s practiced with consent and without harm to the fetishist or others, it’s not a problem. But some people can’t get aroused without their particular kink, which can lead to relationship conflict and dating problems. By normalizing kinks that aren’t intrusive to others, people with fetishes should be supported, not shamed.”

MORE: How to Talk to a Partner Who’s Been Through Sexual Assault

Sex therapist Chuck Franks, LCSW, CST, agrees with Wasserman. “A fetish is narrowly defined by one sexual attraction and need for an inanimate object to be part of the sexual act for the individual to get off. But I’d ask how can we incorporate anything into our sex lives that does turn us on, because our sexuality is a delicate mixture of turn-ons and turn-offs that work at the exact same time,” he explains. “So a better definition of fetish might actually be an individual’s ability to intentionally focus on one item that excites them in the midst of an overactive sexual inhibition constellation.” In other words, putting your attention on shoes, pet costumes, or any other thing that turns you on and gets you off is actually a great tool—assuming it’s not hurting you or anyone else.

MORE: 5 Quickie Sex Positions to Try When You’re in a Hurry

Regardless of what underlying psychological factors or conscious motivations might be at play, the fact remains that fetishes are fascinating. Whether you have a kink of your own, are dating someone who does, or are just curious, click through the gallery to find out more about 10 sex kinks.

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BDSM
BDSM

An acronym for Bondage and Discipline; Dominance and Submission; and Sadism and Masochism, BDSM is most common among millennials in non-monogamous relationships, says sex therapist Emily Morse, Ph.D. "It's really an umbrella term for couples who engage and require any kind of dominant-submissive power play during sex."

Typically the dominant partner calls the shots and the submissive follows their orders, and play can often involve dirty talk, bondage, or role-playing. "A BDSM relationship doesn’t necessarily have to involve handcuffs or blindfolds," says Morse. "It can also take the form of role-playing where the 'dom' directs the 'sub' to do something like crawl on their knees or even something as benign as grab them a glass of water. If the sub doesn’t cooperate, they might be ‘punished' by the dom with a spanking, withholding affection, or some other form of reward or punishment."

Photo: Josh Dickinson / Styled by: Alex Brannian
Urophilia
Urophilia

Also known as "watersports" or "golden showers," urophilia is when people are turned on by—you guessed it—pee. The pleasure can be a result of the physical sensations or an emotional association with urine, such as intimacy, closeness, and trust.

Within urophilia, there are subcategories of fetishes, per the University of California, Santa Barbara's sex-ed database. Some people like peeing on people, while others prefer to be peed on. Some people like peeing their pants or watching someone else pee them (urolagnia) while others actually like to drink urine (uriposia). Gross-sounding to some, maybe, but remember that pee is sterile!

Photo: Josh Dickinson / Styled by: Alex Brannian
Crush Fetish
Crush Fetish

Squashing live animals—usually bugs, but also sometimes small creatures like frogs and mice—is a huge turn-on for people with a crush fetish. Writes fetish expert Eva Christina in her book The Book of Kink: Sex Beyond the Missionary: "Some people even go further with this macabre fetish and step on larger animals, such as rabbits, ducks, and kittens."

Normally I'm 100 percent #nojudgment when it comes to sex, but squashing anything larger than bugs for your own pleasure is just plain cruelty to animals, IMO.

Photo: Josh Dickinson / Styled by: Alex Brannian
Transvestism
Transvestism

This fetish involves being turned on by wearing clothes normally associated with the opposite gender, according to the University of California, Santa Barbara: "For example, a man may become sexually aroused by wearing a bra and skirt while a woman may become aroused by wearing a jock strap."

People find it hot for a variety of reasons, including violating social taboos and traditional gender roles or just scratching a curious itch about what it's like to be the opposite gender. Men are, apparently, likelier to have this fetish than women (and generally likelier to have fetishes, period, due to the fact that they tend to become sexual at a younger age than women).

Photo: Josh Dickinson / Styled by: Alex Brannian
Infantilism
Infantilism

Also known as ABDL—Adult Baby Diaper Lovers—infantilists enjoy regressing to the age of a baby or toddler during sexual play (or otherwise). "This is all about never wanting to grow up and wanting instead to continue being treated like a baby," writes Christina. "It doesn't necessarily have to be sexual, but adults will strap on diapers and pretend to cry for Mama's milk."

Infantilists seem to be a particularly active online community, with several Reddit feeds devoted solely to the subject, plus a site called ADISC.org, which is a support community for adult babies. Writes one infantilist Redditor, in regard to what else his fetish requires outside diapers: "I have a special extra large pacifier that I actually have in right now. I love being fed bottles. I have a small collection of adult sized baby clothes including a sleeper, a onesie, a diaper cover, and a few babyish shirts. My boyfriend and daddy both converted a day bed into a large crib for the nursery at my boyfriend's house."

Photo: Josh Dickinson / Styled by: Alex Brannian
Pet Play
Pet Play

This is when people pretend to be animals or take on animal-like tendencies by acting or dressing like animals. (You may have heard the term furry, which refers to people who like to dress up in or be sexual with someone wearing a furry animal costume).

To people who don't share this kink, it can be a little confounding to find ways to pleasure your partner. To one stumped Reddit user looking for ways to satiate his girlfriend's cat fetish, another Redditor wrote this (helpful) advice: "Tail plugs are a good way to start, as well as a collar. Set out some dishes for food and water and perhaps invest in some cat toys. Basically treat her the same way you would treat a cat in real life like."

Photo: Josh Dickinson / Styled by: Alex Brannian
Foot Fetish
Foot Fetish

According to Morse, foot fetishes are surprisingly common, with research showing that feet are the most fetishized of all non-genital body parts. "There are a lot of theories out there that attempt to explain foot fetishes," she says. "Some believe that the cause is neurological; sensations in the feet and the genitals are processed by adjacent areas in the brain, so it’s understandable that there might be a bit of crossover from time to time. Others think it might be more psychological, a connection to a defining moment in a person’s life, typically in the early, formative years where the presence of feet turned them on."

Regardless, if a foot fetish is your thing or your partner's, she has a few tips. "Let your foot fetishist partner worship your feet by licking, kissing or massaging them," she says. "They might also suck toes or ask you to use toes to massage certain erogenous zones."

Photo: Josh Dickinson / Styled by: Alex Brannian
Shoe Fetish
Shoe Fetish

Second only to foot fetishes in terms of popularity, Christina cites a study of 5,000 people in which 68 percent said shoes were the most sexually appealing out of any item associated with the body. Sometimes this translates into obsession: In 2006, a serial rapist was apprehended in the UK, who used to rape women and keep their stilettos as prizes (a fetish for high heels in particular is called altocalciphilia).

Photo: Josh Dickinson / Styled by: Alex Brannian
Exhibitionism and Voyeurism
Exhibitionism and Voyeurism

Exhibitionism is getting turned on by exposing yourself to nonconsenting strangers. Ever seen a stranger lurking in the corner of a subway station or in a dark street corner with his pants down? Exhibitionist. According to the University of California, Santa Barbara, exhibitionists are largely men, and the victims, mostly women. The act, while often unreported, qualifies as a crime of indecent exposure, and accounts for more than a third of sex crimes.

Voyeurism is the opposite of exhibitionism: It's getting sexual pleasure from the watching an unsuspecting person undress, have sex, or use the bathroom. Also typically male, this population of fetishists are the reason the term peeping Toms exists. (Oh, and getting caught only turns them on more, FYI.)

Photo: Josh Dickinson / Styled by: Alex Brannian
Coprophilia
Coprophilia

Also known as scatophilia, scat, or a poop fetish, coprophilia is sexual pleasure that's associated with feces. Coprophiliacs, according to the University of California, Santa Barbara, "enjoy watching people defecate or defecating on someone themselves. They may also like the smell, taste, or feeling of feces in a sexual manner. Sexual pleasure can be derived from having the feces touch the skin or rubbing one's genitals through the feces." A subset of the fetish is literally eating poop, which is known as coprophagia, and a real health risk (you can contract HIV or hepatitis, among other things).

One 19-year-old female Redditor says that coprophilia is more of a female than male fetish. In response to what turns her on about poop, she writes: "That's the million dollar question. I can't explain why it turns me on, and there isn't any scientific reasoning I agree with. I was either born wired this way or I developed a sort of 'fascination' with pooping at a very young age." There you have it, folks!

Photo: Josh Dickinson / Styled by: Alex Brannian

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  • BDSM
  • Urophilia
  • Crush Fetish
  • Transvestism
  • Infantilism
  • Pet Play
  • Foot Fetish
  • Shoe Fetish
  • Exhibitionism and Voyeurism
  • Coprophilia

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