Sexuality is a complex, multi-faceted, essentially personal aspect of human experience. To determine ‘atypical’ sexuality we would need agreement on what constitutes ‘typical’. Given that ‘typical’ or ‘normal’ is usually defined by a society’s majority or most influential voices, working with themes of ‘atypical’ sexual behaviours immediately takes us to realm of othering, judgement, and discrimination.
The words ‘kink’ and ‘fetish’ are often used colloquially and interchangeably. There is no universally agreed-upon definition of each, and while there is some consensus about what makes them different, it’s not clear where a kink ends and a fetish begins.
Kink is a broad term that refers to a wide variety of consensual, non-traditional sexual, sensual, and intimate behaviours such as bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism, (BDSM), and erotic roleplaying. Within BDSM communities there are a vast range of individual preferences, kinks, fetishes, and scene structures.
Fetish is a more narrow term that describes people with an erotic or intimate interest in specific non-genital body parts, fabrics, smells, fluids, costumes and other non-human objects. The word fetish originates from the mediaeval Portuguese word ‘feitico’ which refers to religious relics with magical properties. In the 19th century the term came to mean a sexual fascination for a specific body part or object.
Paraphilia is derived from the Greek ‘para’ – meaning ‘beside’ or ‘aside’ and ‘philos’ meaning loving; so, the literal translation is ‘beside/aside loving’, generally phrased ‘unusual sexual practices’.
‘Non mainstream’ sex that is consensual and lawful is not problematic in and of itself, but for some people, having specific sexual preferences generates guilt and shame. Kink aware sex and relationship therapy explores the client’s feelings towards their sexual preferences, often normalising them, whilst ensuring safe, consensual and lawful practice.
Our team offers a non-judgmental, supportive space for people conflicted about their sexual preferences. Contact us today for confidential, sex positive support.
Remember, sex therapists are specialist trained counsellors and we talk about sex and sexual issues all day long. Don’t let embarrassment stop you from getting the help that you need and that works.