Other people mean actual fetishes or paraphilias when they refer to kinks.I use the word “kink” or “kinky” rather casually; I learned from the women at the blog Madame Noire that a lot of Black people tend to use the term “freak” or “freaky” instead of “kink.” The lexicon may be different, but the general meanings are the same.I have always referred to my main kink, which is being spanked, and being submissive to my partner, as my fetishes.

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So even as I get angry at people misusing the word “fetish,” I’ve kinda been misusing it myself!

“Spanking fetish” is usually easier for people to understand, though, so I don’t see myself switching my description over to “spanking paraphilia” or “submission paraphilia” anytime soon.

I also describe myself as “being submissive in bed” or “being submissive to a dominant partner,” although those descriptions are more vague. Everyone gets aroused by a confluence of factors — maybe it’s the sexy passage of the book you just read, plus the cute way your boyfriend’s hair is ruffled, plus the fact you’re already kinda horny because you haven’t had the Big O in a week.

Instead, they’re misusing the word “fetish” to describe anything they really like, instead of something that sexually turns them on.

I imagine it might be the same way gay folks would feel when a straight-person says to their same-sex friend “I’m gay for you,” when really they just mean their friend is a good buddy.

This is a subject we could all stand to know more about.

Obviously I am not a psychologist or a medical expert of any kind; I’m just a woman with a spanking fetish who is researching official information on the subject on Google and including my own experiences and tips.

I recommend visiting a sex-positive therapist, specifically a sex therapist, for a professional consult and to sort this stuff out if you or a loved one have a fetish or paraphilia.

But for a basic 101 on fetishes and paraphilia, here are some commonly asked questions and answers: What do “fetish” and “paraphilia” mean? A sexual fetish “specifically refers to a strong sexual preoccupation with an object, material, or body part,” according to The Kinsey Institute, who are sexual health experts at Indiana University.

Examples of a fetish might be a person who is sexually turned on by feet, or silk, or high heels, or wearing women’s panties. Paraphilia, according to the Kinsey Institute, “means compulsively responding in a sexual way to an unusual or socially acceptable stimulus.” Examples of paraphilia could be BDSM behavior and exhibitionism, although there are means).

People use the word kinky to describe stuff that’s even just a little out of their usual repertoire, like wearing fishnet stockings to bed once.