By Amanda Chatel
It’s absolutely normal to have a sexual fetish and, no matter what that fetish is, as long as it involves consenting adults that’s what really matters. What’s “normal,” in regards to sexual fetishes and fantasies isn’t for anyone to say.
According to a 2016 survey of 2,300 people by sex toy retailer Ann Summer, 75 percent of respondents said they had at least one sexual fetish. Even among those that were able to openly discuss their fetishes, 61 percent of them felt there was a stigma attached it it. Which, of course, can be devastating.
In an effort to destigmatize sexual fetishes, CalExotics‘ resident sexologist Dr. Jill McDevitt taught a course called “Fetishes A-Z” during Harvard Sex Week, an initiative by the student-run organization Sexual Health Education and Advocacy Throughout Harvard College (SHEATH) to educate students on human sexuality.
“When it comes to sexuality, it’s key to note that just because something isn’t ‘normal’ (common, conforming to an arithmetic average) doesn’t mean it can’t be normal (an acceptable behavior),” Dr. Jill McDevitt tells Bustle. “We get into trouble with fetishes because of a tendency to say if something isn’t common (like, say, a fetish for adult breastfeeding), then it’s weird and problematic.”
Approximately 50 students attended the fetish class and took part in an on-site survey. Below are some of the key takeaways.
1. Attitudes On Fetishes Vary
Although 40 percent of those surveyed said they were “intrigued” by sexual fetishes, 22 percent were completely gung-ho about them. But not far behind this 22 percent, at 18 percent was the group that called fetishes “kinda weird.”
2. Over 40% Believe They Have A Fetish
Although fetishes run the gamut and what one person might consider a fetish, another might not, according to the survey 43 percent said they either have or believe they have a fetish.
3. The Majority Have Told Their Partner About Their Fetish
In some really refreshing and sex-positive news, the survey found that 53 percent had told their partner they were interested in a specific fetish or fetishes.
“Thankfully we are starting to understand that sexual diversity and sexual minorityship are good things,” says Dr. McDevitt. “And the better, more ethical measure of whether something is acceptable is consent.”
4. Fetishes Involving Humiliation & Power Hold The Most Interest
When the students were given a list of fetishes that were compared side-by-side, the ones that piqued the most interest were humiliation and power.
“I’m not surprised that humiliation and power were the most appealing in the class,” says Dr. McDevitt. “They are the most mainstream, and the ones that have managed to get the furthest with de-stigmatization.”
So it looks like BDSM — which often includes both humiliation and power — is something to which the students are open to giving a try.
5. Most Are Confident About Their Sexual Ability
Of those surveyed, a whopping 80 percent were either “confident” or “somewhat” in their sexual abilities.
6. More People Prefer To Be Submissive
Although women tend to be more interested in being submissive, that doesn’t mean men don’t enjoy it either. According to finding, people favored the submissive role to the dominant role, outnumbering it two to one.
7. Slightly Less Than A Quarter Haven Given Threesomes A Try
While threesome expectations are a far cry from threesome realities, it’s still cool to know that 24 percent of respondents had participated in either a threesome or orgy.
8. Almost 50% Have Tried BDSM
Since interest in power and humiliation are in the forefront of the students who took Dr. McDevitt’s class, it’s no surprise that 46 percent percent have engaged in BDSM. But, again, it should be pointed out that the BDSM spectrum is very long and very diverse. Although the survey didn’t cover exactly what BDSM practices were being engaged in, if this is something you’d like to try, it’s best to start slow with BDSM. You don’t go from light spanking to being tied up in some Red Room of Pain.
9. Just Over Third Have Tried Fantasy Role-Play
Whether you’re in a new relationship and looking for something fun or in a long-term relationship hoping to spice things up, role-play is always a great option.
A 2015 SKYN Condoms Millennial Sex Survey found that for millennials the most common sexual fantasy for couple was to act as though they’re strangers. But, if that’s not your thing, then try something else — let your creative juices run wild!
Once we accept just how complicated human sexuality is, then we’ll have an easier time accepting our own uniqueness when it comes to sex — no matter how un-vanilla that uniqueness is.