Everyone has a fetish, whether they admit it or not. And though some are more ‘open’ in their explorations than others, the fact is there’s a place for everyone across the dynamic spectrum of kink.
In a nutshell, “fetish” is best defined as an object, body part or act that gets someone aroused—regardless if a partner is present and/or involved. About 549 of them exist, and research has found they’re a lot more common than some would believe.
So where exactly do fetishes even come from in the first place? While there may not be token proof, both science and history have a few theories.
Not Just For Dogs
Some scientists have believed for decades that fetishes can develop from the association of a stimulant or experience with arousal. This is called the Pavlovian theory. Since sex is one big connection between mind and body anyway, the idea that repeat exposure incites excitement that mentally sticks has long been both a popular and plausible school of thought.
Childhood Strikes Again
Another prevailing theory is the idea of early exposure. If someone has a sexual experience during or around puberty, many believe it’s more likely to stay with us as we grow older. Like anything else, we grow alongside our sexual behaviors, so memorable moments that occur as we first become aware of our own sexuality could very well have the potential to imprint your mind for years to come.
And of course there’s also the fact it could just be to each their own! Since there’s such a wide range of sexual fantasy among us, it’s definitely possible fetishes could just be another layer of natural diversity. Everyone has their own unique taste and personality traits, so some could just be inherently more susceptible (and easily excitable) than others.
But overall theory is one thing—where do the most popular fetishes come from?
Since the dawn of time, bondage has often topped the list of most popular sexual fantasies. So it’s not too hard to believe BDSM has had a place in the zeitgeist long before the likes of Christian Grey.
BDSM practices have been found in some of the oldest records on the planet. The Mesopotamians, Greeks, Romans, Japanese, Etruscans—you name it! Human civilization has been full of freaks since forever, so everything from power play and ritualistic flagellation, to being beaten and bound for pleasure have had their place in the history books for ages…just maybe not the ones we had growing up.
Whether it’s high heels or the foot itself, research has shown feet and toes take the cake for most lusted after body parts. But in reality, foot fetishes dates back to the early 1200s when people were afraid of catching the plague (i.e. STDs) from sexual acts. As a solution, they opted to start experimenting in the “safer” territory of foot worship, which society has taken and ran with ever since.
Humans have also always been captivated by nudity and the sexuality of others, so the prevalence of orgies and sex parties throughout history should come as no surprise as well. In addition to its place in art and literature, displays of sexuality have played significant roles in cultures throughout the world since the days of Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.
From then on it’s spread like wildfire, carrying on in many forms like sex clubs, live shows and pop culture’s obsession with threesomes. And not to mention its most obvious incarnation since the invention of motion picture—porn! Need we really say more?
If there’s one thing many psychologists can agree on in the end, it’s that fetishes are a healthy, perfectly normal thing to have (as long as they’re carried out between consenting, adult partners). So whether you’re well versed or are still exploring, we all can at least relish in the fact there will never be a shortage of ways to keep things spicy.
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