Fetishes: From Diapers to Smoking Girls with Balloons

Informed consent is essential to healthy, fetish sexual play.

Photo by Eager8 on

People frequently label behaviors that are unusual and difficult to understand as sick, deviant, and perverted, while psychiatrists have labeled anything unusual or difficult to understand, like fetishes, as pathology.

The following correspondence got me thinking more about fetishes:

Hi Dr. Olson,

I was born with urinary issues that left me dependent on diapers. When I hit puberty, I had a new problem. Not only was I a young gay boy, but a gay boy in diapers.

The thought of spending a night with another man was out of the question. I loved sex, and I loved men, but I hated being lonely.

After I met another man who introduced me to the world of diapers as a sexual fetish, I got an education in diaper love, dad/son role play, infantilism, water sports, and many related fetishes.

I am not a role-player or an adult baby. I’m an incontinent man who finds pleasure in the sexual stimulation I get from wearing a diaper.

I have a partner, but my fetish is not a part of our sexual relationship; it is an open relationship that allows me from time to time to meet other men in diapers. What are your thoughts?

I responded:

People often use the term “fetish” in everyday language broadly to include all sexually arousing stimuli.

Rules and levels of consent are essential.

The publication of Fifty Shades of Grey popularized discussions of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, and Masochism). It introduced violence to audiences, but it failed to explain that rules and levels of consent are essential to facilitate healthy BDSM and other types of fetish sexual play.

Clinicians speak of fetishes as “paraphilias,” defined as an intense, persistent sexual interest that does not involve genital stimulation or fondling, and which occurs between normal-appearing, mature and consenting human partners.

Clinicians also make a distinction between paraphilias and paraphiliac disorders. Paraphilias are labeled as a disorder only when they cause distress or impairment to the individual or entail personal harm, or risk of injury, to others.

Fetishes may simply represent alternative sexual practices.

The American Psychiatric Association added the word “disorder” in its fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to distinguish between sexual behaviors and interests that are of clinical significance and those that represent alternative sexual practices.

LGBTQ advocates discourage a reference to being gay as a sexual preference because most see it as innate, i.e., not a choice. Fetishes, on the other hand, are a preferential sexual interest because they are used to enhance a sexual experience. They are not required to engage in sexual activity.

Although solitary use of the fetish intensifies sexual experiences, engaging with another person heightens sexual satisfaction.

This contributor’s experience demonstrates some of the above points. A somewhat rare fetish like diapers presents a significant barrier in finding someone who enjoys the same obsession, but the Internet now offers more opportunity to find someone.

Diapers are not a part of his sexual relationship with his partner, but because his partner grants him freedom, he can enjoy the fetish upon occasion with another who shares his passion.

The two most frequent subcategories are 1. Fetishes for a specific body part or objects associated with a body part, and 2. Particular behaviors of another person.

Body parts such as feet are the most common fetish.

One study using the research of Internet data found that body parts (e.g., feet being most common) made up 33% of fetishes, and objects associated with body parts (stockings, lingerie) that are unrelated to functional sex accounted for 30%.

While objects associated with body parts was quite high, diaper fetishes were a relatively low percentage of that number.

Research into the origin of fetishes is limited because little financial incentives exist for the pharmaceutical companies to do so, and the National Institute of Health has little interest.

At their keyboards, people confess the most unusual things.

Survey results cannot be trusted because people hide many of their deepest secrets, but people are much more honest when sitting at their keyboards. Large aggregates of data like Google constitute a new resource for research.

At their keyboards, people confess some of the most unusual things they desire. Perhaps the most unusual I found when I researched this topic was “smoking girls with balloons.”

But sites like Pornhub have something for everyone. But Internet searches have their own biases; for example, they can research only those who have access to a computer.

Researchers skewed the results of early research by their use of psychiatric patients and sex offenders, all that was available to them.

Men have more fetishes and more readily accept them.

Both men and women have fetishes; men have more of them and more readily accept them in others.

Fetishes often first appear in adolescence, and no one has been able to explain their origins convincingly. Some have proposed early learning, interaction with others, and imprinting. Most agree that they do not originate from a genetic predisposition.

Although this writer’s early urinary issues likely contributed to his fetish, it probably doesn’t offer a complete explanation.

If participants in fetishes and alternative sexual behaviors give mutual, informed consent, and the practice doesn’t harm the participants, no right or wrong exists.

But in a moralistic society, participants can expect that they will experience prejudice from most of the community.

Read an excerpt of Finally Out here.

Sign up for my newsletter here.

Follow me on: Twitter |LinkedIn| Facebook

Written by

Gay father; Psychiatrist; Award-winning author FINALLY OUT. Chapter excerpt here: Top writer on Medium. Not medical advice.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store