Perhaps due in part to our secret internet sex lives, sex in the real world is also rapidly becoming more and more accustomed to fetishes that were once considered the domain of deviants. Whether it’s because something about the supposed anonymity of the cyber-world incites people to become more adventurous in their real lives too or whether it’s just a normal progression of the moral arc of humanity, even the kinkiest of previously taboo sex acts are becoming mainstream.
The words we use to describe these kinds of acts have become more respectable, and some are even fully dinner table appropriate. Feminists are throwing their energies toward reclaiming the word “slut” for good rather than evil. “Sexual deviant” has been shortened to a light-hearted “kinky.” “Pervert” has become “paraphile.” Flashers are fun, and voyeurs are jokes.
Atypical sexual behavior, it turns out, may not be so atypical after all.
The 50 Shades Phenomenon
No discussion of the de-weirding of sexual taboos would be complete without bringing up the phenomenon of the bestselling erotic novel, “50 Shades of Grey.” Say what you will about the writing poise and prose of the book’s author, E. L. James, it’s hard to deny that not only did she sell a lot of books, she may have been almost single-handedly responsible for bringing a once obscure fetish into the mainstream zeitgeist.
As you likely already know, thanks to James, BDSM is generally understood to stand for “Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism.” What you might not know is that true aficionados of this erotic sport have taken the acronym a step further.
Many BDSM lovers refer to it as an “overlapping acronym,” with conjoined sets of letters standing for more than one term. The “BD” stands for “Bondage and Discipline.” The “DS” stands for “Dominance and Submission.” Finally, the “SM” stands for “Sadism and Masochism.” It’s an interesting twist on the mnemonic, although personally, I think they may just be trying to fit in a few more cool words edgewise.
BDSM is all about playing with the heightened sexual tension afforded by unequal power dynamics. There is a dominant player, the dom, and a submissive player, the sub, each of which has to take his or her role very seriously in order for this kink to work. BDSM, you see, is about more than physical pleasure. It’s psychological.
Perhaps controlling others or relinquishing one’s own control is more natural to human desire than many of us would like to admit. “50 Shades” sold 45 million copies in the USA and another 80 million worldwide. That’s 125 million people who, for all intents and purposes, have explicitly and publicly expressed an interest in what used to be considered a dangerous sexual taboo.
Feet and Toes
In a 2016 sex survey, Men’s Health magazine discovered that, according to their readers, feet and toes were the top body part most likely to turn men on, apart from genitals. In the UK, Channel 4’s “Great British Sex Survey” also recently declared feet the number one sexual fetish among Brits.
Podophilia, as it is academically known, is a polarizing fetish. The people who aren’t infatuated with feet generally tend to be repulsed by them. When it comes to toes, there seems to be no middle ground. For the people who love them, though, feet can conjure up an intense erotic fantasy that is hard to rival.
Some aficionados prefer the feet themselves and some prefer only the footwear: high heels, toe rings, anklets and even nail polish. Some love sucking on the toes while others are attracted solely to the heels. Feet fetishes today are as diverse as they are widespread.