I hear we have something in common. Maybe your number one turn on is flip flops. Or roller coasters. Or sneezing. Or stepping on tomatoes. Whatever it is, your sexuality is rooted in objects, actions, or archetypes that are not sexual, at least by how we currently define that word.
This letter is for you. From one fetishist to another.
Shit ain’t easy, amiright? We can all just take a second to acknowledge that sexing different can be really fucking hard. I still struggle pretty much every day with the shame I carry about liking things that are different. With the fear that others will find out. With the grief that I’m not normal. My shame has lead me to a lot of dangerous situations and destructive behavior. And while I’m ultimately grateful for the emotional chutzpah those experiences gave me, I think a lot of it could have been avoided if I was able to share with other fetishists. Here’s what I wish had been said to me.
1. YOU ARE NOT BROKEN
A sexuality that is different isn’t a sign of a defect; it’s a sign of humanity. Human sexuality is complex and by it’s very nature defies rationality and logic.
2. IT’S PROBABLY NOT GOING AWAY.
The phrase “I don’t think I should want that. . .” has stopped no one from wanting anything, ever. You can try to parlay your fierce, vibrant desires into what society deems normal, but all you’re doing is denying yourself access to one of your most human features.
3. YOUR WORST FEARS COULD COME TRUE.
Your mom could find out about your fetish. Your partner could leave you. You could lose your church, job, or community. You could die alone. All of these things are possible and have happened to fetishists of yore. Holy fuck, right? It’s ok to acknowledge these fears. It’s good to accept them as real. But you get to decide how to integrate fear into your life and make decisions accordingly, the same way you do when you drive a car, start a relationship, or eat raw cookie dough.
4. EVERYONE HAS THEIR SHIT.
Inside the vast, vast majority of us is a wriggling little grub of insecurity. It flops around whispering, “no one would love me if they knew _______.” That is not true. What is true is that your neighbor, or friend, or co-worker is wrestling with their inner grub too, no matter how together they look online. Reach out to them. Rather than being isolated in our shame, we can use our experiences as a way to find community.
5. NO SHAME-MONGERS ALLOWED.
That being said, any motherfucker who uses your shame for their benefit should be kicked to the curb, pronto. Sometimes people see your fetish shame and use it against you. They use it to make you stay with them. They use it to convince you to do things that you don’t want to do. These people are mean. They are twisted up inside. The real mindfuck is that these mean, twisted people will tell you they love you and they’ll mean it. But love is meant to build us up. The bestlove creates space for your most radiant self. You are worthy of that love.
6. ENJOY . . . WITH CONSENT.
There are no gold stars for sexual deprivation. If you want to wear latex underwear, wear latex underwear! If you want to masturbate with cupcakes, masturbate with cupcakes! Sexuality is meant to be enjoyed! Enjoy it!
That said, sexual fulfilment at the expense of another is the worst kind of ugly (remember number five?). Consent matters, even if your version of sex only involves painting each other’s toes. As fetishists, we have the joy/horror of running into our turn ons in non-sexual environments. It can be so easy to think,“Well, nobody knows I’m into erotic pedicures. . . To them, I’m just another person at the salon. . .” You’re right, nobody knows. But it is never ok to use someone for your sexual benefit without their consent. And it is double not ok to manipulate someone into doing something seemingly harmless so you can get off. You’re better than that. Practice consent.
7. TELL YOUR PARTNERS.
It ain’t all about you, snugglepants. Your partners have the right to make an informed sexual decision about who they are getting involved with. If the relationship is progressing to a place of greater intimacy and/or commitment, it’s time to tell. Maybe they’ll freak out, and maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll be into it and maybe they won’t. They get to decide. Be brave. Take the risk.
8. IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S THEM.
Occasionally, we share our fetishes with people, and they react poorly. Or, our fetishes come up in conversation or media, and one poophead says something hurtful. Any discomfort that someone else has about your fetish starts and ends with them. Their opinion means precisely nothing. Furthermore, any statement that you are sick, or were abused, or should see a therapist, or are acting out, is coming from their own shit. Don’t accept it. It’s not about you.
9. PRACTICE COMPASSION.
Don’t be the poophead. Practice compassion when you meet people who are different than you. Marginalization is for the small-minded.
10. IT’S YOUR LIFE.
An embodied sexual life is a joy so sweet I can’t really describe it to you. It’s sliding-into-a-hot-tub, eating-a-chocolate-chip-cookie, hugging-a-long-lost-friend good. It’s goodness itself. Shame denies you that life. But it doesn’t have to. You have the power to love your fetish the way it was meant to be loved. As a fundamental piece of an amazing person.
That’s what I see anyway.