I don’t have a fetish, so I don’t know what it’s like to have one. But I imagine that fetishists, especially those whose fetishes are unusual or taboo or both, often have a hard time finding materials or situations that get them off.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, so some fetishists begin to behave in ways that could be described as creepy or harassing toward other people, whether or not that was their original intention.
Your sexual desires are (with few exceptions) good and valid, but harassing people to satisfy those desires is never acceptable. This post will suggest some ways that fetishists can cut down on gross behaviors and potentially still get their needs met. (This is not to suggest, at all, that every single fetishist behaves inappropriately. I am targeting this post solely at those who do. I love the rest of you and encourage you to get down with your bad self!)
I have to emphasize that I’m writing this not as a fetishist, but as a person who has been harassed throughout my life by fetishists. I’ve had an online presence in various forms since I was a child, so there are a lot of (non-sexual) pictures of me online in various places – for example, I’ve documented my outfits in photos for years. And of course, as a sex blogger, a lot of people seem to think I’m open to sexual harassment on that front as well. I’m writing this as someone who has been personally hurt and victimized by many disrespectful fetishists and wants those behaviors to stop, both for my own sake and for the sake of others who I know have been targeted in this way.
Be honest and upfront.
I once received a private message on Flickr from a shoe fetishist. He gave a false name, falsely identified himself as a woman to seem less threatening, and explained that he owned a shoe recycling plant and would happily accept any donations of old shoes and boots I wanted to send along.
Having been lied to in similar ways before, I knew right away that this was a shoe fetishist. I called him out and he came clean, admitting he had lied to try to fulfill his fetish.
The thing is, I do have a lot of old and unwanted shoes and boots, and I’m not necessarily averse to the idea of sending them to a fetishist. But I’m certainly not going to cooperate with someone who has outright lied to me and tried to trick me. Someone who does that shit doesn’t deserve my shoes, or my accommodation, or my respect.
If you have a fetishistic request to make of someone, don’t try to trick them and don’t make up elaborate lies to get them to do what you want. Tell them honestly why you want it – i.e. that you have a fetish. Your honesty may scare off a higher percentage of people, yes, but you’ll be a better person, and those who (like me) are on high alert for deceptive fetishists will have more respect for you and may even indulge your request.
Don’t give me the dirty details without my consent.
I don’t want to know that you jerked off to my picture. I don’t want to see a picture of your spent dick to prove that you jerked off to my picture. I don’t want you to send me an unsolicited paragraph of “erotica” detailing how you jerked off to my picture.
If you really want to send me a dick pic or whatever, first send me a vague and friendly message asking if I’d be interested in receiving such a piece of media. If, and only if, I say yes, you may send that piece of media along.
Receiving an unsolicited penis photo (or whatever it may be) is sexual harassment, and it is gross, and you shouldn’t do it.
Be friendly, and not just as a means to reach a sexual end. Show me why I should like you, and why you deserve my attention.
If your only identity in my mind is that of a creepy dude who stalks me online, or someone who silently favorites all the photos of me wearing tights on Flickr, or a guy who tweets winking emoticons at me every time I mention that I masturbated, I’m not going to like you. I’m not going to feel good about you being in my online social sphere. I may even block you.
On the flipside, if you strike me as a friendly, interested human being who just happens to find part of my life sexually exciting – in a respectful and always consensual way – then I’m more likely to respond to you, treat you like a person instead of a scary nebulous internet creep, and I may even send you a photo of me in tights from time to time. Who knows?
Know the limits of your fetish.
Real talk, folks: if your fetish involves non-consent (e.g. rape or secret voyeurism) or it involves sexual situations with those who cannot give consent (e.g. children or animals), you need to straight-up accept that there is no ethical/acceptable way for you to authentically experience that fetishistic act.
Find a trusted partner who is okay with roleplaying those scenarios. If not a long-term romantic partner, then perhaps a one-off fling you find on a fetish discussion board. Have fun roleplaying. Do not attempt to do this shit in real life. If you feel like you want to, you may need to pursue psychological treatment and help.
Read people’s profiles.
Does their profile say they’re under 18? You should probably leave them the fuck alone.
Does their profile say they’re in a monogamous relationship? They’re probably not going to want to send you naked pictures of themselves or engage in sex chats with you.
Does their profile say that they immediately block people who leave them sexualized comments? Maybe you shouldn’t fucking do that, then.
No means no.
I know you may be desperate to get your needs met, but continually going after a person who has already told you “no” is absolutely not the way to do it.
When I get seven messages from the same dude asking for pictures of me naked in knee-high boots, and I already said “no” to him the first time, his subsequent messages make me feel progressively more and more unsafe and victimized. I will block him, I will feel scared, and I will probably hesitate to post pictures of myself after that, for fear of attracting more people of that caliber.
If someone says no, leave them the fuck alone and go ask someone else (respectfully). Rinse and repeat.
Online harassment victims, how do you deal with people who send you inappropriate messages, photos, etc.? Fetishists, how do you use the internet to get your sexual needs met in a respectful and healthy way?