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A Haven for Fetishists & Sex Nerds – Girly Juice

A Haven for Fetishists & Sex Nerds – Girly Juice

This quote is about the universe, not the internet, but it feels like you could replace one word with the other and it would be just as true:

“In the beginning, the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

-Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Was the internet a bad idea? Did it make every human impulse worse? Is it speeding us toward our doom, entwining us in a web of capitalism and fascism that we’ll never escape? I don’t know.

But what I do know is, the internet has allowed sexual weirdos to connect with other sexual weirdos around the world, and I think that’s a goddamn beautiful thing.

“What did you all do before the Internet?” I asked a woman in an online forum.

“The brave ones looked for personal ads,” she replied. “The rest of us were lonely.”

-Jillian Keenan writing about the spanking fetish community

I truly believe that sexual shame is an evil force, largely created to control the masses. And like many forms of evil, shame grows best in darkness. We are most prone to sexual shame when we are disconnected from other people, or when we feel unable to discuss our true sexuality with the people we are connected to.

In that way, the internet can be a wonderful balm for those of us who’ve grown up with secret kinks rattling around in the backs of our brains. If you’d had a foot fetish all your life, for instance, but had never heard anyone talk about feet IRL as anything other than a practical (or perhaps gross) body part, I can imagine it would feel deeply freeing to log on and discover foot fetish porn sites, foot fetish erotica, and articles with titles like “how to sell feet pics” and “how to give an erotic pedicure.” The whole world would open up to you, before your very eyes. And hopefully, as part of that process, some shame would lift, all because you found out that some other people feel the same way you do.

I didn’t grow up with fetishes per se, so this isn’t an experience I had – but on a related note, I’d been interested in sexuality on a nerdy level for as long as I’d known it existed, and it blew my mind to discover that there were other sex nerds on the internet. Even at a time when I barely felt comfortable admitting to my best friend that I masturbated, I could read sex forums and listen to sex podcasts, where (sometimes) level-headed adults would discuss such topics as “how to negotiate a threesome” or “how to be a good kisser” or, indeed, “where do fetishes come from?” It bolstered my nerdy little heart to know that I wasn’t the only freak reading encyclopedia entries about famous sadomasochists or scientific abstracts about clitoral bloodflow.

Obviously, with this personal history in mind, it’s troubling for me to see how the pendulum of sexual shame has, in many ways, swung back the other direction now. These days, the internet is just as likely to instill sexual shame as it is to alleviate it, what with all the zillions of social media posts and forum threads falsely asserting that queer and trans people are “groomers,” or that sex work is inherently degrading, or that having a consensual non-consent fantasy means you’re psychologically broken. It’s almost impossible to avoid developing sexual shame of some kind, in a world that’s still so hellbent on propagating sexual puritanism.

It’s hard to know what the solution is, or whether there even is one. I don’t think it’ll be possible to cure the world of sexual conservatism entirely, at least not in my lifetime. But in the meantime, I think it does a lot of good to build community with other sexual weirdos of various kinds, and to model sexual self-compassion. I’ve heard from many people that my public openness about my kinks helped them feel more comfortable with their own. It’s an honor to be what the empathy educator Kate Kenfield calls a “beacon of permission” for people to be themselves, and it’s also a huge responsibility I have to take seriously. My sexual shame or lack thereof is no longer just a personal issue; it can affect how others view their own sexuality, because I have a platform and some influence.

So, while the internet hasn’t turned out to be the shame-free sexual utopia I dreamed it might be when I first got online, I think there are pockets here and there that feel utopia-adjacent. It’s up to us to keep building the world we want to see.


This post contains a sponsored link. As always, all writing and opinions are my own.

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