Going Deep with Jodie Layne

The A-B-C’s of S-E-X: kinks, fetishes, and vanilla sex

The words “kink” and “fetish” are thrown around a lot in mainstream culture without most of us knowing what they really mean. It seems like if you want to write a lady-mag article about “Ways to Spice His Pumpkin This Fall” or “How to be Crazy Enough in Bed That Your Husband Won’t Divorce You, Leaving You Desperate and Alone,” it’s imperative that you use the words “kinky,” “freaky,” and “fetish” liberally.

But what are they?
While they’re substituted as a catch-all for sex “outside the norm,” kinks and fetishes are two different things.

A fetish is something that brings a person pleasure or makes them aroused – sometimes even just by the thought of it. Often this is an object, sensation, or objectified body part. Fetishes that are pretty common in our cultural lexicon are: feet, leather, and shoes. In fact, those are three of the top five fetishes as reported by Discovery Health.
Fetishes drive a strong fixation and gratifying sexual experiences are impossible or almost impossible without having some aspect of the fetish present, even if only in fantasy.

Fetishists can often feel or be made to feel marginalized or strange because of their fetishes – especially since they often involve things that are not inherently sexual or that are inanimate objects. A quick zip around the Internet will show you, though, that no matter what gets you hot, you’re likely not alone.

Kinks, on the other hand, are feelings and activities that are pleasureful and wonderfully exciting when indulged, but aren’t necessary in order for sexual gratification to occur. Things that are fetishes for some might be kinks for others, so lists of common kinky activities and fetishes are actually quite similar.

Things like bondage, water sports (urine play), sensation play (like flogging or using impact toys, hot wax, or tickling), electricity play, outdoor sex, breast manipulation, incorporating food, and genital control are a very short sampling of some common kinks.

There are also lots of not as common kinks and fetishes such as clowns, diapers, furries, and even popping balloons. If you can think of it, it’s probably someone’s kink.

What defines kink, and what’s the norm? What are you if you don’t like anything that you think is kinky? People who don’t indulge in kinks are usually called “vanilla.” You know, just kind of plain. Some people say it like a curse word, as though the worst thing in the world is to enjoy some light humping and frenching while Barry White plays.

Being vanilla is fine. Being kinky is fine. Having a fetish is fine! Sex that satisfies you and doesn’t hurt anyone (in a non-consensual way, of course) is all fine. Great, even!

Like many other things in this world, our predisposition is to fear or mock anything we don’t understand. It can be scary to have a partner with a kink or fetish that you don’t share, but a little sexual negotiation and open minds—and legs—are all it takes for some mutual satisfaction.


You can confidentially submit a question or topic to jodie.m.w.layne@gmail.com.