I must confess a certain preoccupation and fascination with the objects, situations and behaviours that titillate us. Whether it is a friend, a potential or current lover, or just someone I sit across from on the U-Bahn my thoughts occasionally drift to the question...
"How kinky are they?"
My gut is convinced that everyone has a fetish or kink buried deep inside of their groins, gently simmering, just waiting for the right moment to thrust forward with wild abandon. They may be ashamed, inhibited or just plain ignorant of it's existence but it's there nonetheless. Or is it? Am I just assuming that everyone has the same little dark secrets that I have... the gremlins that only ever come out to play when I'm naked and sweating and no longer care about anything save for the dance of my nerve endings?
I guess it depends on what we would class as a fetish or a kink. Lingerie and stiletto heels have long been a source of sexual stimulation, no man that I've ever met has had any problem admitting they are aroused by the sight of a beautiful lady in a fetching two-piece from Victoria Secret - although I have known men that are not really interested in the lingerie but just in getting the delicate lace and silk off so they can grapple with what's underneath. What I am really interested in are those twisted little pleasures that we lust after, what we fantasize about when we are alone, but which we would hesitate endlessly about revealing to another person. These peccadillos may be fairly common but for whatever reason they maintain a level of stigma that requires us to be wary about advertising our desire for them. Spanking is one of those kinks that I am convinced is very, very common... yet not really admitted to, except when firmly attached to a generous helping of humour (you know, just so that everyone understands it's 'just for fun' and in no way at all actually turns them on). I have always found that even the most reserved and unadventurous men are partial to a bit of 'slap and tickle'... and it's never 'just for fun', it turns them on.
But what about women? A sweeping generalization would suspect that men are more psychologically open than women when it comes to partaking in peculiar pleasures... that when there is the possibility of a naked and willing woman in front of them men will do pretty much anything to seal the deal. Women, on the other hand, are seen to be more discriminating, more inclined to call an abrupt halt to the proceedings if their companion suggests something beyond the boundaries. Yet, from my own experiences and those of many of my female friends it seems that it is often the fairer of the sexes that wins the prize for "Most Freaky in the Bedroom". Maybe it's just the women I hang out with...?
Years ago... when I had a television and didn't just stream endless hours of CSI and Law and Order on my laptop... I saw a documentary on English terrestrial TV that followed a group of women during a week long stay at a health spa. During the course of their stay they participated in a series of experiments and discussions on their sexuality. It was fascinating viewing and I'm constantly irritated by my inability to remember any of the production details, however, I've recently discovered some similar research conducted by Meredith Chivers of Queen's University in Ontario (a concise article in The New York Times can be found here). The findings of both studies suggest that women are, at the very least, physically more responsive to any stimuli that even so much as hints at sex. Albeit, with a clear distinction made between reflexive sexual readiness and desire. A evolutionary explanation for this dichotomy has been presented in Chivers upcoming paper for the Archive of Sexual Behaviour, she theorises that reflexive vaginal lubrication is adaptive in that ancestral women who responded automatically to a wide variety of sexual cues, horny or not, were less at risk of injuries resulting from unwanted vaginal penetration. Injuries that can lead to infertility and even death therefore drastically limiting one's reproductive potential.
I like this idea. I like it because it opens up a world of possibilities to me. If my body is already predisposed to respond to a stimulus then the only thing stopping my enjoyment of that stimulus is my psychology... and that can be subject to change in a way that my biology isn't, or at least isn't without the aid of some major surgery, and while there are some inhibitions that I hold dear (and/or are equally 'hardwired'), there are many others that I am amenable to exploring.
And exploring is much more fun when you have someone to explore with. Hence, why I never get tired of wondering what strange water floats our boats.
(All photographs copyright of Darktess)