The Weal

By Séamus Smyth

Celebrities supposedly cutting off their oxygen to increase stimulation; CSI episodes where couples dress up in mascot costumes before having intercourse; and Japanese cartoon characters undressing one another online.

The list of objects and ideas that sexually stimulate individuals – known as sexual fetishes – seem to be almost as popular as sex itself these days.

But did this sudden influx of wild sexual behaviour just appear out of nowhere?

Not exactly, says relationship counselor and sex therapist Mary-Jean Malyszka.

“I think that with the Internet it has made what other people are doing and what ideas they are experimenting with accessible to others. The whole cross-infusion of ideas and possibilities through the ‘net has made it appear that it is an explosion.

“My guess is that compared to maybe 50 years ago, yes, there is a lot more prevalence. But it certainly has existed for centuries,” said Malyszka.

Before enrolling in the business administration program at SAIT, Michelle Wasilewski worked as a Passion Parties’ consultant, selling sex toys and sexual aides at home parties. She agrees with Malyszka that fetishes have existed for a substantial period of time, but people have only recently become comfortable with discussing their unique, sometimes downright off-the-wall, sexual pleasures.

“People aren’t as embarrassed by them since I think there is a better public understanding,” said Wasilewski.

She has heard about a wide array of sexual desires, cock rings, butt plugs and the infamous dildo are easily the most sought-after by customers.

Wasilewski said that as a purveyor of sexual aides, she often acted as a stand-in counselor/mediator between adventurous couples trying to determine the best way to spice up their sexual relationships.

“I think a healthy sex life is important in any relationship. Being open to your sexuality and being comfortable to try something new is awesome,” she said.

However, Wasilewski said not all fetishes that involve more than one person will appeal to everyone and that it’s best to remain sensitive to a partner’s desires and boundaries.

“I just think you should be prepared for different things because, if not, you might not like how things go and that isn’t fun for anyone.”

Malyszka offered her advice on how one should approach a partner about embarking on a new, risqué approach to sex.

“Definitely being present to what is considered safe both emotionally and physically and having that negotiated with their partner.

“That being said, some people choose to walk the fine line of safety and that is what gets them off. So having a really good discussion about where that line is drawn is important,” she explained.

Although having a foreign object inserted into every orifice can have humiliating – or at least uncomfortable – consequences, Wasilewski said she’s seen plenty of relationships take a turn for the better because of the introduction of a sexual device or toy.

She relayed a tale of a couple she met while working for Passion Parties that had been contemplating divorce and were desperate for anything to improve the situation.

“I suggested the ‘Dark Knight’ cock ring that was black and spiky and basically everything else that men like. They bought this and a couple of other items to allow for more intimacy to occur,” she said.

Three months later, she received a small gift in the mail from the couple who claimed their relationship was now better than ever.
While Wasilewski clearly sees the sexual fetish movement increasing its profile, Malyska takes it one step further.

“Fetishes are part of our culture. They can be mild to extreme. It is a matter of the human connection. It’s about maintaining that core connection – that is how it works or it doesn’t work.”

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