What’s The Difference Between Kink And Fetish?

With increasing awareness of and interest in BDSM, much of the related jargon and terms have made their way into common parlance. Two such words are ‘kink’ and ‘fetish’. They’re often used interchangeably, but as they are two different words it’s natural to wonder what the actual meanings are. What’s the difference between kink and fetish?

What’s The Difference Between Kink And Fetish? 

What Does Kink Mean?

Wikipedia describes kink in the following way.

In human sexuality, kinkiness is any unconventional sexual practices, concepts or fantasies. The term derives from the idea of a “bend” (cf. a “kink”) in one’s sexual behaviour, to contrast such behaviour with “straight” or “vanilla” sexual mores and proclivities. The term kink has been claimed by some who practice sexual fetishism as a term or synonym for their practices, indicating a range of sexual and sexualistic practices from playful to sexual objectification and certain paraphilias. 

Kink sexual practices go beyond what are considered conventional sexual practices as a means of heightening the intimacy between sexual partners. Some draw a distinction between kink and fetishism, defining the former as enhancing partner intimacy, and the latter as replacing it. Because of its relation to “normal” sexual boundaries, which themselves vary by time and place, the definition of what is and is not kink varies widely as well. 

…And Fetish?

Meanwhile, the Wikipedia page for fetish states:

What’s The Difference Between Kink And Fetish? Sexual fetishism or erotic fetishism is a sexual fixation on a nonliving object or nongenital body part. The object of interest is called the fetish; the person who has a fetish for that object is a fetishist. A sexual fetish may be regarded as a non-pathological aid to sexual excitement, or as a mental disorder if it causes significant psychosocial distress for the person or has detrimental effects on important areas of their life. Sexual arousal from a particular body part can be further classified as partialism. 

While medical definitions restrict the term sexual fetishism to objects or body parts, fetish can also refer to sexual interest in specific activities in common discourse. 

So, Is There A Difference Between Kink And Fetish?

Reading the above descriptions from Wiki, and drawing on my own experience of both, I’d say there’s a distinction between kink and fetish. However, there’s also a definite overlap. You have a fetish for something, and you’re a kinky person because of that fetish. Or, you’re a kinky person with kinks who enjoys kinky activities.

Or, you’re vanilla with no kinks, no desire to act kinkily and without any fetishes.

At least, that’s my understanding.

How I Understand It

Here’s my thoughts on both. You can be kinky – as in, being aroused by unusual things and practices and acting on that arousal – and you can have kinks. You could have a kink for being blindfolded, or for being spanked.

What’s The Difference Between Kink And Fetish? Having a fetish for something, fetishising an object or a practice seems to be more of an obsessive behaviour. Less of a choice and more of a hardwired compulsion, to the exclusion of sensibility if allowed to run riot. Fetish is often used interchangeably with kink, though, both to demonstrate one’s affection for their personal kink(s) and also because the speaker classes kink and fetish as fairly similar.

Fetish has always been used to show a deeper / more hardcore affinity for a practice than kink, in the circles I’ve spoken and played with. Also, it’s been my understanding that you can have a fetish for objects – fetishising bondage hoods or high heels, for instance – whereas the act of fetishising those things is described as the person ‘being kinky’.

Do I Have Fetishes Or Kinks?

By the strict definition of the word, I don’t think I have any fetishes. I am not sexually obsessed with or enormously turned on by any inanimate object, that is fetishised. I really like older guys in smart suits, but I’m not sure that it’s a fetish. However I am very kinky, with ‘kinks’ which deviate from vanilla sex including but not limited to:

  • Bondage, including use of rope, cuffs, collars, spreader bars, mouth gags
  • Spanking, by hand or implement
  • FemDom
  • Breathplay
  • Ageplay (DD/lg)
  • Male Chastity
  • Boot & Heel Worship (receiving)
  • Foot Worship (receiving)
  • Fisting
  • Strap On Sex
  • Puppy Play/Furry
  • Voyeurism/Exhibitionism

How About You?

What about you? Firstly, do you make a distinction between the two terms? And do you think there’s a difference between kink and fetish or is it all semantics?

I’d love to hear your thoughts (and please feel free to share your own kinks and/or fetishes) in the comments below.

What’s The Difference Between Kink And Fetish? 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Interesting blog. I have found The Biology of Desire (see blog post: https://midnight-atthe-oasis-64.blog/2017/07/26/ondesire/ ) and just recently The Erotic Mind, interesting reads for trying to work out my thinking and behaviour. But is vanilla colonizing kink? Wriggly Kitty refers to herself as kinky with vanilla sprinkles, I’m not entirely sure its not the other way round for me, although that may be because I haven’t had the opportunity to push my kinky side very far yet. Certainly some of the stuff I do and have done in the past would qualify, but I trapped myself in a vanilla relationship for a long while and now its hard to push it too much further when there is just me, and I’m not really sure I want to hook up physically with anyone… So is someone still kinky or still vanilla if they don’t engage in sex – (do tentacled dildo’s count?)
    Indigo

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