It can be very hard to understand a fetish you don’t have. When I talk to non-spankos about all this stuff, I’m met with a variety of reactions ranging from interest to bemusement to concern, but a lot of people simply don’t understand how anyone could be so obsessed with something they view as basic. “I mean, hey, whatever floats your boat, I guess...”
I’ve reacted similarly upon hearing about other fetishes. “You like feet? I mean, sure, but that much? I just don’t get it, that’s all.”
I have, on many occasions, pondered whether all fetish-havers share anything in common aside from the obvious fact that we’re godless heathens destined for eternal damnation. This post is a report on my ever-so-scientific findings.
Once upon a time a couple years ago, I went on a date with a man who had contacted me online and expressed sincere interest in becoming my dom. Though he was all at once attractive, interesting, and amusing, it quickly became clear he was neither a dom nor a gentleman, but another garden-variety fuckboi looking to get me as wasted as possible so he could take me home for easy sex under the guise of concern for my well-being.
"Drink up, girl. You're nursing that thing! I'll pay for it, no worries. Yo, waiter! (Two more, plz. Thanks. *wink wink*) Did you drive here, by the way? You know, I live right around the corner. You're more than welcome to mer mer mer mer MERRRRRRR"
No worries indeed.
Once I’d pinpointed his time-honored strategy, I slowed my roll to a crawl rather than drinking in earnest. He, however, continued to down pints like a frat boy and open up in regards to his true desires. This is where our date got interesting.
It came out, as I’d suspected, that domination wasn’t his thing. He adopted the label due to perceived social pressure to be macho. “It’s what women want, so I feel like I have to say it.” He was actually submissive at heart and had a fetish that made satisfaction difficult to achieve. He was into scat.
“Ideally, I’d like a woman to squat over my face and shit in my mouth. That’s the kind of porn I watch.”
Two reactions ignited within me. On one hand, he was confirming my suspicions. We’re clearly not compatible. Pretty annoying to have my time wasted. On the other, it was a bit like Christmas. I’d heard about people like him, but never met anyone with a scat fetish in person. I had questions that needed answers, and fuckboi had gotten himself drunk enough to give them to me unfiltered.
(Yes, I am naughty. We know this. It’s fine.)
“What do you like about it?” I asked, leaning forward to get the scoop amidst the clamor of the bar.
“Lots of things.”
He did. And as I listened, I compared his fetish to mine, looking for glimmers of connection that might show me what we had in common. The more he explained, the more I was reminded of other fetishes I’d explored via other means, which brings us to my not-so-shocking theory.
Fetish as a Metaphor for Sex
From what I can tell, a lot of people with fetishes relate to the object of their obsession in the way that vanilla people might relate to intercourse. We form a narrative around it that hits certain points surrounding how the story of sex is wired into our brains. I’ve noticed five commonalities.
1. Fetishists love the build-up.
There’s a sense of anticipation surrounding spanking that drives spankos wild. The misbehavior that led to punishment, the threat beforehand, being taken to wherever it will happen, the discussion of why it's going to happen, and finally being pulled over someone’s lap… woof. This stage of the process could be compared to 'nilla foreplay leading up to penetration. Without the buildup to give a spanking context, the act itself might feel jarring and carry less appeal.
Fuckboi on my date had similar things to say about scat. “I get really, really excited in the time leading up to it, knowing it’s going to happen.” The same seems to go for balloon fetishists (or ‘looners’, so cute!) who get jazzed on the inflation process. “When’s it gonna pop? I dunno! I dunno!” Erotic hypnosis fetishists use the term ‘induction’ to describe the delicious initial period when the receiver is being talked into a state of trance. Clearly, the lead-in to any intimate act sets the entire scene and can hold immense power when handled properly.
There’s a bitchin’ Vice documentary on quicksand fetishists who also compare the lead-in to submersion to foreplay. She’s running through the jungle, heart pounding... unsuspecting and unawares... and then OH NO! In she falls, swallowed by that deep dark hole. Mwahaha.
2. Fetishists desire an element of subversiveness.
Spankos are all about naughtiness. Bad behavior in merit of correction snags our attention. “Looks like someone needs a spanking.” Causing pain, even to the point of tears, lends an additional layer of taboo to the act. Most of us were raised to believe hitting or wanting to be hit are wrong and crazy, and we get off on the appeal of rebellion in the face of this standard.
Liking scat apparently holds similar appeal. “It’s just so dirty,” fuckboi slurred while downing his 487th beer. “Most people think it's disgusting and wrong. It’s like the ultimate forbidden pleasure.”
Some kinky hypnosis folks feel this way about the power imbalance provided by states of trance. Essentially, hypnosis boils down to mind control and that, we are told, is a bad bad thing.
Wrong. Naughty. Dirty. Bad. Scary. Scandalous. Disgusting. Many a puritan has used these terms to describe all things sexual. Rather than conform, we have chosen the dark side and enjoy wagging our middle fingers, along with our bare fannies, right in their judgy little faces.
3. Fetishists link climax to the highest point of their fantasy's intensity.
What do you think about when you orgasm? Personally, I’m usually imagining a level of intensity I might not enjoy in real life. Being paddled hard while I struggle. Crying and begging for it to stop. Unyielding persistence from my spanker. A level of pain I wouldn't be able to handle. I try not to let this slip while vetting play partners because there’s a difference between fantasy and reality and I don’t want someone going full-psycho on my ass without self-restraint, but the idea of being held down and forced to take it is what does it for me.
A quicksand fetishist in the aforementioned Vice doc expressed a similar sentiment regarding the point when full submersion occurs and death is imminent, comparing it to climax. For the looners, I imagine the point of POP might push them past the brink. My scatty fuckboi described his fetish thusly: “That moment when I see a woman’s asshole widen and finally let it out is the most satisfying sight in the universe.” Oh yeah.
4. Fetishists relate their obsession to comfort.
The vast majority of people on this planet, it seems to me, do not want to spank or be spanked. They find the whole interaction unpleasant or strange. For spankos, that situation is exactly where we want to be. We’d rather be spanking than doing pretty much anything else. It’s not just about arousal, but a deeply spiritual level of comfort. It’s our favorite thing whether orgasms happen or not, and it never gets old.
People with bondage fetishes describe being tied up in similar ways. The restriction of movement feels comfortable rather than claustrophobia-inducing. In the Vice doc, longtime quicksand porn star Nessie describes being hugged by mud as “very comforting” rather than disgusting. Erotic hypnosis, for the receiver, is also described as relaxing rather than scary.
Relating this to intercourse, I’ve heard men compare being inside someone’s body to a sensation of “going home.” In reverse, people who enjoy being penetrated say that feeling of fullness makes them feel “whole.” On all levels, it would seem, sexuality experienced on our idealized terms is a means of feeling complete. Through connection with another we find ourselves and get a temporary glimpse of the divine.
5. Fetishists gauge intimacy through the lens of their obsession.
For me, spanking feels more intimate than sex. This is great when I’m doing it with another spanko who I fancy and like spending time with. It’s not so great, however, with people who treat it as an adorable kink they could take or leave. A lot of BDSMers can spank and walk away as if nothing truly significant happened between us while I’m left feeling like we just shared something immensely vulnerable. A former play partner of mine once made a similar observation. “I’ve spanked women who go home and I’m left wondering for days afterward whether they’re okay, whether they enjoyed it and felt respected and all that. Eventually I’ll text and they’ll say something like, ‘Oh yeah, I had fun, no biggie.’ It’s not ‘no biggie’ for me. It’s a very big deal.”
Scat bro also used the ‘i word’ to describe how he felt about sharing poopy fun. “There’s nothing more intimate than that.” I've heard bondage, hypnosis, and tickle fetishists talk about sharing those acts in similar ways. When you have a fetish, trusting someone enough to do it with them inspires closeness. There's a massive weight to it. We don’t share those experiences with just anyone, so the people we do engage with tend to hold a special place in our hearts.
Fetish as a Sexual Orientation
Taking all of this into account, it makes sense to me that some kinky folks describe their fetish as their sexual orientation. For us, the narrative of sex, from foreplay to climax to emotional closeness, is interwoven into the details of the specific act or object we like.
This isn't really all that strange, is it? The value we give anything hinges on the meaning we assign to it. Anything can be important or scary or sexy or weird or sacred or boring or childish or exciting if we tell ourselves it is.
(And no, I did not end up engaging in a poopy good time with fuckboi. He got sloppy, asked me to find him ketamine, and a second date was not had. I do hope he’s doing well. He was nice...ish.)