BY Lux Alptraum
May 27, 2008
Fetish Or Preference: What’s The Difference?

If you have a look that’s deemed outside the norm by mainstream culture — whether you’re a dwarf, an amputee, someone overweight, someone Asian — chances are, someone has a fetish for you. Yet while none of us would tell an Asian girl going through a dry spell to seek out the attentions of a self-proclaimed Asian fetishist, many of us seem to think that that’s a surefire path to romantic success for, say, an amputee, or someone with a disability (as evidenced by last week’s Savage Love).

Now let’s get one thing straight: there’s certainly nothing wrong with having a fetish, and there’s definitely nothing wrong with having a preference for the legless (which, as friend of Boinkology Cory Silverberg points out, is more or less akin to having a preference for big boobs or red hair). But there’s a difference between someone who says, “I’m attracted to you, I love you, and I think your prosthetic limb is pretty great” and someone who says, “Wow, prosthetic limb? Let’s fuck!”

We all want to be loved, appreciated, and, yes, fucked because of who we are as whole people — not just for our big boobs, or blonde hair, or third nipple. While a BBW (or amputee, or dwarf) fetish site may initially be a boost of confidence to a BBW (or amputee, or dwarf) with low self esteem, at the end of the day, we all want to be loved regardless of — not because of — our little quirks.

[Photo by jimmossoi]

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  • michelle says :

    This sums up in different words, a little bit how I feel about fetishism, especially being what some would a consider a BBW. I hate that term, but I won’t get into that now. But most of my opinion in general is in reference to that particular fetish culture

    A fetish is something that is purely physical. When you have things like dating sites surrounding BBWs, it is inherent in the name that the site is for men to find a particular type of woman they are sexually attracted to. I’ve seen these sites, and not all men are fat, but all the women are, more or less. So, this is really setting up a strange dynamic already. For a lot of overweight women this might seem like a great opportunity to find someone who is attracted to them and to avoid a relationship where body size is always scrutinized. But even being lusted after causes it’s own form of scrutiny. Especially in groups like feeders, sometimes being too small can be called into question. Now if you’re fat, are you the right kind of fat? Because this guy right here is an assman, and you really have most of the weight in your upper body, and this guy is really into huge tits, but you’re more of a pear shape and you’re tits really aren’t that big. And this guy — well he just likes girls who are chubby, not obese, so you’re still a lard ass. It can even work the other way (women to men) or in queer communities as well.

    I just think when anything is so focused on the body, and in heterosexual circles it’s usually women’s bodies, it lends opportunity for abuse. I’m not saying that every guy on those websites are pigs, because I have met evidence of the contrary. It’s just that I think a lot of people see those movements and want to think that they’re positive, but they’re not. I think it’s really complicated, and could be kind of destructive for some women.

  • Isil says :

    In a fetish, the person can not get aroused/sexually satisfied at all without the fetish´s presence.

    In a preference, the person can.

  • links for 2008-05-28 at R… says :

    [...] BOINKOLOGY | Fetish Or Preference: What’s The Difference? WTF? “If you have a look that’s deemed outside the norm by mainstream culture — whether you’re a dwarf, an amputee, someone overweight, someone Asian — chances are, someone has a fetish for you.” (tags: via:jasmine sexuality relationships) [...]

  • poisonbaby says :

    i’m a bdsm’er *lipstick variety lol* and i have several fetishes. Considering most of my fetishes involve power-exchange, it doesn’t work unless the other person shares the same obsession for the activity in a complimentary but contrasting way. Hence Bondage = Binder and the bound … Dominance and submission … Disciplinarian and the disciplined … Sadist and masochist. Now for me these are inseparable from my sexuality, and its my opinion that anyone with a true “Fetish” has the same always present influence on their desires. I’ve acquired new fetishes since i’ve explored and accepted my sexuality. Rope bondage wasn’t something that appealed to me initially but as i came to understand the appeal to the Dominant who’s into rope bondage, and what they experience during the process … well i swooned. Now its almost equal to the original fetishes that have always been present in my sexuality. I’m not making a lot of sense here, but all i’m trying to add to this is for the Asian woman who’s going through a dry spell, perhaps understanding what it is about your appeal that makes you a fetish to this person will open you up to the fact. i can tell you this, i have such an enormous affection and appreciation for the rare partners i’ve been able to satisfy my fetishes with. Its so validating and sating.

  • al oof says :

    i think a majority of asian women don’t want to accept what it is that makes them a ‘fetish to a person’. it’s generally considered dehumanizing and is not rooted in actually being asian, but in the fetishizers preconceptions about asian cultures/people, and frankly in racism. this is not in any way the same as having a fetish around an activity or object.

    that said, i do agree with the person in savage love who said that predilections for red hair or big boobs (or blond hair, or skinny girls or nudity or shaved armpits) are all also ‘fetishes’ in the sense we’re using it. but it’s different because those things don’t have the same historical racism or ablism that an asian or amputee fetish has.

  • Lux Alptraum says :

    Al oof:

    Excellent point.

  • BOINKOLOGY | Revisiting T… says :

    [...] talked before about the complicated nature of being someone’s fetish. Not surprisingly, we’re not the only ones who’ve given this topic some thought. [...]

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