Fetlife.com bills itself as “a free social network for the BDSM and fetish community.” The site claims to have around 3,329,225 members. A young professional I met at a networking event suggested I sign up as a member to learn about the kink world while discovering sources and topics for future blog posts. After my car mechanic with no ties to the young networking professional suggested I sign up as well, I seriously considered the suggestion for a few weeks before checking the site out for myself.
At sign up, I knew immediately that I have much to learn about human sexuality, the kink world, fetishes and taboos and fetlife users. I am approaching fetlife with an open mind. I just want to learn as much as I can about fetishes and taboos from an intellectual perspective without having to actually participate in a bondage boot camp or witness a sadomasochist show and tell.
Fetlife has a dozen sexual orientation options to select from while creating a user profile. (Note: These terms will be printed in bold in this blog.) The commonly known choices include straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, unsure, and not applicable. Other choices in this category are not as commonly known by some people. Many of the terms were unknown to me, so I searched for definitions and included them below.
Heteroflexible is defined by Word Spy as “a heterosexual person who is open to relationships with people of the same sex.” The Queers United blog defines homoflexible as a person who is “primarily attracted to members of the same-sex, but occasionally finds herself or himself attracted to the opposite sex.” Queer is defined by Urban Dictionary as “originally a pejorative for gay, now being reclaimed by some gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons as a self-affirming umbrella term.”
Fluctuating/evolving orientation is when a person is in a state of metamorphosis and his or her sexual orientation is changing as a result. An asexual person is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Not all asexuals are celibate. Some asexuals are sexually active despite their lack of sexual attraction to others. Primal is a relatively new term in the kink world that fetlife uses and is not clearly defined via internet sources. Baby girl is another term that fetlife uses that is not well-defined by internet sources.
Urban Dictionary explains that pansexual derives from the Greek “pan,” meaning all and the English “sexual.” The term pansexual has multiple definitions on Urban Dictionary’s site, ranging from “one who believes all human behavior stems from the sex drive” to “one who perceives all activities and experiences as sexual” to the more complex definition of “a person who is sexually interested in other people regardless of gender including males, females, transsexuals, transvestites, gender benders, hermaphrodites, intersexuals, androgenous peoples and those with sex-chromosome anomaly such as Klinefelter syndrome or Turner Syndrome.”
That last definition needs some extra explanations. Intersexual is a general term used to describe a variety of conditions in which people are born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of male or female. For example, a person may have male physical features on the outside but have female sexual anatomy on the inside. Klinefelter syndrome is a genetic condition in which a male child is born with an extra X chromosome and affects healthy testicular development and normal production of testosterone. Turner syndrome is a genetic condition in which a female child is born without the usual pair of X chromosomes and is born instead with an XO formation. The missing genetic information in the affected female’s DNA keeps her from physically maturing like other females.
After selecting the appropriate sexual orientation option, fetlife users must then select a role option in the kink community. Unsure and not applicable are self-explanatory choices in this section. Vanilla has come to represent conventional, “normal” sex without the introduction of something new and often refers to having sex the same way each and every time. Hedonism is the philosophy that pleasure is the primary or most important intrinsic good. In simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure (pleasure minus pain).
A dominant is someone who dominates or controls the submissive partner in a sexual relationship and can be either a full-time Mistress or Master or simply a top, who is the person doing the tying up, whipping, or spanking. Domme is the female version of Dom, which in itself is a shortened version of dominant. A bottom is a person who prefers to take a more submissive role in sexual situations. A switch is someone who likes be bottom or top. A brat is defined by Squidge.org as “a bottom who enjoys struggling against control or challenging the top.”
Urban Dictionary defines a sex slave as a male or female who assumes a subordinate manner or position and who performs sexual acts for the dominant male or female sex partner, also known as a Master. A sex pet is defined by Urban Dictionary as “a term of endearment referring to a casual but reliable sex partner.”
Ageplay is defined by Princeton University as a form of roleplaying in which an individual acts and/or treats another individual as if he or she were a different age. A person who participates in this form of roleplaying is defined by fetlife as an ageplayer. Cambridge Dictionary defines a fetishist as a person with a particular fetish. A kinskter, as defined by Urban Dictionary, is one who enjoys and participates regularly in “kinky” sexual activities. Kajira is the term for female slave or “slave-girl” and kajirus is the term for male slaves in John Norma’s Gor novels.
A sadist is someone who obtains pleasure from inflicting pain on others. A masochist is someone who obtains pleasure from suffering mental or physical pain, punishment or humiliation. A sadomasochist is someone who enjoys both sadism and masochism.
Daddy is a general term meaning the older person in a sexual relationship. The daddy typically provides emotional support and guidance along with sexual encouragement to the younger and possibly inexperienced partner.
No matter the level of kink experience, users of internet sites such as fetlife can search events in specific metropolitan areas and meet one another in a public environment before engaging in any possible sexual activity with a potential kink partner. (Please note: I am currently working on other blog posts about fetlife and various fetishes. Stay tuned!) When meeting someone from an internet site for the first time, people should use caution by utilizing the buddy system to alert a close friend where the event will be held and what time the event ends. Make good choices and have fun!