Sexual Fetishes: An A to Z Guide

Sexual FetishLearning about kinks and fetishes can be intimidating for the uninitiated, so first things first: define a kink and a fetish. A kink is defined as a sexual activity that is not sex and that society has traditionally deemed "acceptable." This can range from role-playing to bondage to whips. A fetish is technically an attraction to an inanimate object, but it also includes body parts such as feet (like a foot fetish). A fetish is thus a type of kink.

Whatever your interests are, kink is all about consent, communication, and compromise. Before attempting any new sex act, it is essential to obtain enthusiastic, continuous consent from all parties involved. It's okay if your kinks don't exactly match those of your partner. "Just because you want something doesn't mean someone has to do it," says Tina Horn, host of the podcast Why Are People Into That?! What you're okay with and what you're not will most likely change as you explore, so keep a running dialogue about your limits going (for more on that, see L on this list).

A Age Play

The image may include A Is for Age Play Graphics Art Advertisement and Poster Age play is a type of role-play in which one or both partners pretend to be (and benefit from being) a person of a different age than their own. If you've ever called a partner "baby" in bed, you've probably already experienced what could be considered ultra-lite age play. Another common scenario is the "daddy dominant-baby girl" pairing. You're engaging in light-age play if you call someone "daddy" in bed.

Bondage is represented by the letter B.

Bondage is a type of restraint—the term is self-explanatory. It's a sex act that falls under the BDSM umbrella, which stands for "bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism," as well as a collection of common sexual fantasies. Some people enjoy being tied down, while others enjoy tying down their partner, and still others enjoy both.

C Cuckolding

"Cuckolding is traditionally defined as when a heterosexual couple agrees to both explore the turn-on of the female sleeping with other men and humiliate her male partner about the fact that she's sleeping with someone else," Horn says. The male partner is not required to be present—perhaps he enjoys the thought of his partner having sex with someone else. Cuckolding has an element of voyeurism for others as well. Cuckolding isn't just for heterosexual couples; people of all genders and orientations can enjoy it.

D stands for Dominance.

Dominance is one half of BDSM, the D.S. component (dominance and submission), and it is all about a mutually beneficial power exchange. The dominant partner derives sexual pleasure from taking control of this kink. The submissive partner lets the dominant partner, well, dominate them,

The letter E stands for electrostimulation.

Electrostimulation is the use of electricity for kinky, sexy pleasure, such as receiving an electric shock. Being shocked is obviously dangerous, so electrostimulation begins to enter another type of kink known as edge play, which refers to risky BDSM behavior that has the potential to cause actual bodily harm. Electrostimulation is a technique used in CBT (cock and ball torture) sessions in which a domme shocks her sub's genitals by attaching them to electrical contraptions, typically a wand (see Z on this list) or a system that stimulates nerve endings called a transcutaneous electrical nerve endings stimulation unit, which can be purchased from specialty kink shops.

The letter F stands for foot fetishism.

Foot fetishes are one of the most common fetishes, particularly among heterosexual men. Someone who has a foot fetish is literally turned on by feet—thinking about them, touching them, seeing them—and could potentially get off on anything that has to do with feet. They frequently desire foot worship, in which they treat their partner's foot as if it were a holy object, kissing, caressing, and massaging it.

The image may include Number Text and the Symbol G Is for Gagging.

Gagging is the act of lightly choking on an object until gagging sounds are produced. People with penises frequently enjoy their partner gagging on them—and the knowledge that they're large enough to cause gagging noises. Similarly, the partner going downtown may enjoy having something shoved down their throat so far that they begin to gag. It doesn't have to be a massive object to cause gagging; something smaller will suffice.

H Is Humiliation Bondage

Not all BDSM acts are physical in nature. "Intense language as a force use can be just as intense, if not more intense than consensually degrading physical sensations like impact play," Horn says. Name-calling and verbal abuse are common forms of humiliation. One of the most prevalent myths about humiliation play is that it is anti-feminist.

Impact Play Poster

Impact play is hitting the body with your hands, paddles, whips, or whatever you have around the house (spatulas work great). That's impact play if you've ever spanked your partner while having sex. Impact play, more than anything else, necessitates consent and communication. A good rule to remember: If you're the one doing the impact, stick to fatty areas like the side of the buttocks or thighs and avoid organs like the kidneys (lower back) or rib cage. As with any new kink, start small, slowly, and with a safeword. Impact play can be done on its own, but it also goes well with other kinks like name-calling and age play. Start with your hands and some good old-fashioned spanking if you're new to the idea before investing in more heavy-duty whips and floggers. If anything becomes uncomfortable (in a bad way), use your safeword right away.

The letter J stands for Japanese Bondage.

Japanese bondage is a type of bondage that is typically performed with rope. Kinbaku translates to "the beauty of tight binding," while shibari, a more common term, means "decoratively tie." Decoratively is correct: Japanese bondage, such as shibari, is both an art form and a type of bondage (Etsy even has a shibari section). Some of the most talented shibari artists, such as Garth Knight, hold high-art exhibitions in which their subjects are tied up and transformed into trees. If you want to learn more about Japanese bondage, More Shibari You Can Use: Lee Harrington and Rigger Jay's Passionate Rope Bondage and Intimate Connection is ideal for beginners. Just remember to bring your safety shears!

Klismaphilia is represented by the letter K.

Klismaphilia is a glitzy Greek term that translates to "arousal by enemas." An enema is a medical device that squirts water into your anus that is slightly warmer than body temperature. Hospitals use it to relieve constipation or to prepare patients for certain medical procedures. (It's not quite as glamorous as the Greek word implies.) This kink generally refers to getting pleasure from receiving an enema, though some people enjoy administering enemas as well. After all, the anus is an erogenous zone, which explains why kinky people have been using enemas for pleasure for centuries. This kink can also be quite useful—a it's method of cleaning and preparing the rectum for anal sex.

L stands for Limits.

In kink, consent is everything. If you're just getting started with BDSM or want to gradually incorporate it into an existing relationship, you and your partner should make a list of your soft and hard limits. A soft limit is something you're interested in but aren't sure if it's right for you, such as name-calling. A hard limit is something you know is forbidden, such as electrostimulation. Writing out your hard and soft limits with a partner is a great way to get to know each other on a different level. Along with establishing boundaries, it is critical to select a safeword that is not no or stop, because some couples use such language as part of their role play. Your hard and soft limits will most likely evolve as you explore, so it's critical to keep these conversations going with your partner.

The letter M stands for Masochism.

"Masochism is the enjoyment of the high sensation most commonly referred to as pain, whether physical or emotional," Ortmann explains. You may be a masochist if you enjoy being spanked, humiliated, or spit on. The term is named after Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, an Austrian author from the 19th century who wrote the book Venus in Furs, which details what is now considered a typical BDSM "master-slave" relationship (he allegedly was the "slave" in his own such arrangement with his mistress). Sadism (named after an 18th-century French nobleman) is the inverse of masochism, in which someone derives pleasure from inflicting physical or emotional pain.

N stands for Nylons.

A foot fetish is frequently accompanied by a nylon fetish—yes, as in tights. Toes, feet, and legs wrapped tightly in nylon stockings may appeal to those with a nylon fetish. They might want to smell the nylons or put them in their mouth. If you want to give it a shot, wear nylons the next time you get frisky (assuming you don't mind tearing them), or have your partner tie you up with them or use them as a blindfold for sensory deprivation. (As a side note, while bondage is a kink, using nylons for bondage is distinct from having a nylon fetish, in which the nylons themselves cause sexual arousal rather than their use.)

The letter O stands for Objectum Sexuality.

Objectum sexuality, also known as a fetish, is a sexual relationship with (or attraction to) an inanimate object. Objectum sexuals are frequently portrayed in the media as freaks and weirdos who fall in love with things like the Eiffel Tower, a boat, or their couch. Such an understanding of objectum sexuality, however, is limited. A fetish—any fetish—is, by definition, an attraction to an inanimate object. Lingerie, feet, and sex toys are all included, so if you've ever fantasized about your vibrator, welcome to the world of fetish. In fact, in this day and age of rapidly advancing sex-doll technology, we may all find ourselves engaging in objectum sexuality. This point of view is important because it allows us to understand and empathize with those who do have feelings for more "out-there" objects, because kink-shaming stinks.

The letter P stands for Pregnancy Fetishism.

Aside from the fact that orgasms and having sex near a due date may aid in the induction of labor, there are those who have outright pregnancy fetishes: sexual attraction to a pregnant person. Some partners may discover they have one when their partner becomes pregnant, but others are drawn to the rotund pregnant belly regardless of who is carrying the body or baby. Because, according to that same strict definition, a fetish is an attraction to an object or body part, pregnancy fetishists are obsessed with the sight of a swollen, round belly. The attraction may also include an interest in lactation or other pregnancy symptoms, but this is not always a part of the label.

The letter Q stands for Quirofilia.

Quirofilia is a fetish for hands that can manifest as an attraction to fingers, a great manicure, or simply some smoking hot hands. Hands are seductive. They're used for a variety of sexy things, including the underappreciated hand job, fingering, and back massages. While quirofilia can absolutely use hand jobs, fisting, or fingering (the use of hands to directly create sexual pleasure), some hand fetishists may get off on hands doing mundane tasks like grocery shopping or chores. While fetishes are inherently sexual, the activity or object of interest to the fetishist may appear to be nonsexual in nature. What is one person's chore, such as dishwashing, is a hand fetishist's wet fantasy.

R stands for Role Playing.

Another common kink is role playing, which involves people acting out characters from their everyday lives as part of a sex scene. This can be as simple as dressing up as a nurse or as complex as creating an entire scene complete with character development. Examples include a doctor and a patient (medical role play), a boss and a secretary, a pool boy and a wealthy housewife, and a college student and a professor. While role playing frequently includes costumes and is a great excuse to dress up, a large wardrobe is not required. Dirty talk and pure imagination can be used to create scenes.

The letter S stands for Spectrophilia.

It's been a difficult year to get into humans, especially if you're a straight woman. Spectrophilia patients report sexual attraction, relationships, or sexual encounters with ghosts who come to them at night and have hot sex with them. In folklore (or spectrophilia fantasy), a succubus is a ghost in lady form who visits her object of desire at night for some hot human-ghost lovemaking. The male variety is known as an incubus (and also that band). Though the existence of ghosts is debatable (and makes for excellent Halloween movie marathons), spectrophiles' sexual attraction is as real as any other fetish. But it does put a whole new spin on the term "friendly ghost," doesn't it?

The letter T stands for tentacles.

First and foremost, you cannot have sex with an actual octopus or an octopus-like monster because octopuses are animals and cannot consent. However, octopus-like monsters do exist in tentacle porn, which you can absolutely watch and enjoy. It's hot not only because it's so foreign and forbidden, but also because it fulfills some pretty classic fantasy tropes, such as bondage and multiple penetration, according to some experts. And if your ideal penis is a giant blue tentacle, the sex toy company Bad Dragon may be able to help you fulfill your monster fantasies.

Urophilia is represented by the letter U.

Urophilia is a fancy term for watersports, golden showers, or, to put it more bluntly, pee play. Urination is sexually arousing for people with this kink. Urine can be used for a variety of purposes, the most common of which is to give or receive golden showers. If you don't remember the unverified dossier allegations that former President Donald Trump engaged in the act, a golden shower is simply allowing someone to shower you (or vice versa) with their pee. If you want to give it a shot, start in the shower.

The letter V stands for voyeurism.

A voyeur is someone who gets sexual pleasure from watching other people have fun. When we talk about voyeurism in the context of kink, we're talking about consensual voyeurism. A crucial distinction! Exhibitionists enjoy being watched, and voyeurs enjoy being watched, so these two kinks are frequently served at sex parties or kink events. In everyday life, things become more complicated because observing someone without their knowledge or consent is strictly prohibited. If you have voyeuristic fantasies, make sure you indulge them with willing exhibitionists. Everyone benefits in this manner (and gets off).

The letter W stands for whip.

Whip is a general term for all impact play tools, but it technically refers to an item with a thinner body that produces a more "stingy" sensation. (You'll frequently hear BDSM practitioners describe sensations as stingy or thuddy—the latter referring to a toy like a paddle.) The single-tail whip, which resembles a snake and can make a cracking noise when used correctly, is the most advanced whip on the market. Single-tails can break the skin and wrap around the body, injuring organs, and should be used only by professional dominatrices with years of experience. Even some pro dominatrices will use them for intimidation rather than physically influencing their submissive. If you want to try your hand at whipping, go for a beginner-friendly option.

X Is for Wax Play

Candlelight is great for mood lighting, but the melted wax can also be used for painfully good sexual pleasure. Of course, playing with fire (and wax) is dangerous, so we're lucky to have the sex toy industry on our side. There are candles that burn at body temperatures, so you don't have to worry about accidental burns. Massage candles are also available. These are available in a variety of delightful scents, including bourbon and dark vanilla. The wax in the candle burns and transforms into massage oil. Enjoy.

Yoni Egg is represented by the letter Y.

A yoni egg is an egg-shaped device that is typically worn inside the vagina as part of pelvic floor exercises. A yoni egg is inserted into the vagina, and the pelvic floor muscles contract to keep the egg in place. They can be quite lovely; the sexual wellness company Chakrubs sells them in crystals like rose quartz, jade, and black obsidian. Many yoni egg users also have a spiritual component, especially since they involve crystals. There is some debate about whether there are any health risks associated with this, so do your research before incorporating it into your Kegel routine.

Z stands for Zappers.

Zapper is a cute nickname for an electro-wand used in electro stimulation. These typically resemble a wizard's magic wand, except they're used to deliver shocks to the body. Zappers are commonly used in D.S. play, where the dominant shocks the submissive. Though it may sound frightening, zappers only cause a minor sting. Even if they're on your no-no list, it's perfectly fine. You can still be kinky and cool without zappers, though I'd be surprised (shocked!) if they didn't scare you a little.

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