Ever wondered why you love to be praised during sex but your friend enjoys degradation?
Has your partner adored calling you Daddy, but it’s given you the ick?
Are you fascinated with feet, role-play or seeing your partner in particular clothing?
At Yinn, we encourage you to surrender to your true sexual essence and embrace your sexuality, including your kinky side. We asked for your kink-related questions and are here to provide the science behind your deepest desires.
Our culture has tended to shame anything outside the normal spectrum of sex, but thankfully this is changing. According to The Most Sex-Positive Cities in the World study in 2017, Melbourne is the 17th most sexually open city, followed by Sydney at 47. While progress is being made, many still consider kinks and fetishes taboo, and the lack of research supports this. In 2016 The Journal of Sex Research published that one in six have some kind of kink, and one in three have experimented.
What exactly is a kink?
“Kinkiness is the use of non-conventional sexual practices, concepts or fantasies,” says Shahbaz and Chirinos in the book Becoming a Kink Aware Therapist. Kink is an umbrella term that includes fetishes, dominance and submission and BDSM. What you find kinky (perhaps ass smacking and name calling) will differ from what someone else deems kinky (group sex and choking, for example.)
Kink vs fetish - What's the difference?
According to Justin Lehmiller, PhD, a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, “All fetishes are kinks, but not all kinks are fetishes.” The term kink derives from the idea of a bend in one's sexual behaviour, contrasting such behaviour with straight or vanilla. It’s important to note kinks don’t have to be sexual, can be expressed platonically and can be a great therapeutic release for some. Dom and sub can be played out with friends and feeding, petting, sensation play, and even bondage don't have to lead to sex.
A kink is about an experience, while a fetish is a fixation on an object or body part that is inherently non-sexual, and the two can overlap. Many experts describe a fetish as a sexual need and a kink as a sexual preference. Hence, if we’re talking feet, a person with a fetish typically needs to interact or fantasise about their partner’s feet to get aroused and orgasm. Comparatively, those with a kink experience higher arousal levels when feet are involved, but it’s a personal preference.
Why the foot obsession?
Feet was the most searched term on pornhub last year, 38% more than the previous year. Interestingly, neuroscience suggests the part of the brain that processes foot sensation is next to the part that processes genital stimulation. This may explain why toe touching can stimulate the genitals - it’s a neural crosswalk!
Where do kinks come from?
Psychologists were convinced for years that fetishes were bred from trauma (hello daddy issues), but now we know that, in most cases, this is not true. Fetishes can come from early childhood experiences, for example, objects prominent around puberty, personality or personal preference. Kinks and fetishes can change and develop over time and it’s quite possible to have more than one.
According to Psychologist and founder of Ships Psychology, Dr Sarah Ashton, “Sometimes kinks and fetishes are about craving and fulfilling things that we actually haven't had." For example, suppose praise or approval wasn’t a prominent part of your early experiences with family, parents, or even romantic or sexual relationships; you may develop a praise kink.
Author and Gonzo Anthropologist Katherine Gates studies sexual subcultures and believes you can be primed biologically and neurologically to develop a kink. “We know that the connection between the smell centres of the brain and the memory centres of the brain and the emotional centres of the brain are very close,” she says. “And so things that we would consider to be classic kinks, like a foot fetish—or rubber or leather or things that are sensorially evocative, especially through smell—can become connected with emotional content and memories to form a kind of cycle where you smell it, and you have this stimulus in this memory that’s very emotional.” These kinks can be reinforced through exposure or masturbation to become a firm pathway in your brain.
Anisa Varasteh, a clinical sexologist based in Adelaide, references the theory of Pavlovian conditioning. "One study [on this theory] showed heterosexual men images of boots followed by pictures of naked women," Ms Varasteh says. "Repeating this process over time, the men showed sexual arousal by just being shown pictures of the boots” - A clear example of how society can impact your kinks.
Are sexual traits hereditary?
One of our followers asked if kinks and fetishes are hereditary. The answer is maybe.
There is no concrete evidence that our genetic makeup is linked to our sexual preferences. However, personality plays a part in sexual preference, and it’s well-researched that personality, to some degree, is heritable. Dr Lehmiller’s research found that extraverts are more drawn to group sex or non-monogamy than introverts - makes sense, right?
His research also uncovered that lovers of BDSM were typically sensation seekers whose dopamine receptors aren’t as sensitive as others, meaning they need higher stimulation to get the same sexual thrill. Naturally, our bodies play a significant part too. Some of us have sensitive nipples and enjoy nipple clamping, while others might not. Then you throw in cultural and environmental factors, so kinks and fetishes are complex.
How many kinks are there?
Sex researchers have estimated that about 549 kinks exist. Yes, you read that right. A 2021 study by Slotsup revealed the most popular fetishes worldwide. From the 20 popular fetishes used in the study, Australia came top worldwide for Google searches of Urolagnia (aka golden showers or water sports.) It may surprise you that 9% of men worldwide find the sight or thought of urination sexually stimulating.
While many people Googled Urolagnia, BDSM still reigns supreme with 1.7 million global searches. According to Gemberling, Cramer and Miller’s 2015 study of BDSM, it refers to “consensual practices that involve, but are not limited to, bondage and discipline (B&D), dominance and submission (D&S), and sadomasochism (S&M) … [and] comprised of a power dynamic between partners enacted through various activities.”
BDSM is the umbrella term that covers all kinds of fetishes, fantasy, dominance, and submission play, and about one in 50 Australians (1.8%) engaged in BDSM activities between 2001 and 2022. Some popular BDSM activities include wax play, choking and Dominatrix, where women dominate.
Australia also made the top five for swinging and dogging. Swinging is engaging in group sex or swapping sexual partners within a group, especially on a habitual basis. In contrast, dogging involves public or semi-public sexual acts or watching others get it on.
Can it make or break a relationship?
Sexual compatibility is important for a healthy relationship. While some describe their kinks as a leisure activity, others have them deeply rooted in their psyche. Remember, just because your partner is into one thing doesn’t mean you must be. Consent and communication are non-negotiable.
Feeling self-conscious, anxious or vulnerable about sharing your kink with a partner is normal. Still, we hope this article normalises your unique kinks or fetishes and gives you the confidence to be open about your desires.
The best place to discuss sex is typically outside the bedroom, so reference this article, send your partner a TikTok on a kink you want to explore or perhaps watch a movie that depicts something you want to try.
Do fetishes become problematic?
Fetishes are only harmful if they cause you or others distress. If other individuals are involved, fetishes must only be acted upon with enthusiastic consent.
If it's causing harm to you or other people, you might want support from a sexual health professional to reduce or redirect the arousal.
Interested in exploring your kinks? Read 4 Ways To Awaken Your Sexual Energy.
- Y x