Philias: The Science of Kinks and Fetishes

It’s here! The premiere episode of Taboo Science’s new miniseries “Philias”: an exploration into the science of kinks and fetishes. In this 101 episode, we learn the difference between a kink, fetish, paraphilia, and paraphilic disorder; we’ll take a tour of the many, many kinds of kink that exist; and we’ll find out what scientists know about where these desires come from—and what they don’t. With insights from renowned paraphilia researcher Christian Joyal and pornstar/internet celebrity/kink researcher Aella, we’ll dismantle society’s narrow definitions of “normal” sex and shed light on humanity’s boundless sexual creativity. Whether you’re a seasoned kinkster or you’re just here for the science, this premiere is a salacious must-listen.

Video version:

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In this 101 episode of Philias from Taboo Science, you’ll learn: – What is a kink? – The difference between a kink, fetish, paraphilia, and paraphilic disorder; – How many kinks & fetishes exist – and the most common fetishes – Why do people have fetishes?

Resources from Aella:

Resources from Christian Joyal:

Citations and further reading:

Graph from Aella’s kink survey discussed in the episode


[00:00:00] Ashley: Just a quick content note, this episode deals with some pretty heavy subjects, including sexual violence, child abuse, and some quick mentions of gross stuff. If that’s not for you, no worries, just sit this one out.

[00:00:17] Ashley: When you think about kink, what do you think about? If your main exposure is through popular media, your conception of kink probably comes in two different flavors. There’s the fun, sexy, sometimes silly kind, the sitcom mom who wants to spice up her marriage with fuzzy handcuffs and a blindfold. The comedian who professes her love of dirty talk and spanking.

[00:00:41] Ashley: That one scene where a young Chris Evans puts whipped cream on his nipples and a banana in his butt? Yeah, look it up. Then there’s the dangerous kind. The leather clad dominatrix who traps the straight male protagonist in her dungeon, where hijinks ensue. The creepy shoe store owner with a foot fetish.

[00:01:01] Ashley: The serial killer who likes dressing up in women’s clothes. The way we’re taught to view kink is either as an acceptable addition to a normal, heterosexual, monogamous private sex life, or something pathological, done by deviant people with dark intentions. Anthropologist Margot Weiss says that makes us spectators of kink, who label and judge from a safe, normal, privileged position instead of understanding its nuanced reality.

[00:01:33] Ashley: We keep kink at a distance. And in this miniseries, I want to shorten that distance. I’m going to show you that kinks and fetishes are so much more.

[00:01:51] Ashley: I’m calling this series Philias, after the Greek word and scientific suffix for love. That suffix most often comes at the end of the word paraphilia. which is by definition an abnormal desire, a deviant kind of love. But as we’ll learn if we haven’t already, science is notoriously bad at defining what’s normal.

[00:02:14] Ashley: Instead, the many kinks and fetishes that exist out in the world are a beautiful illustration of how diverse and interesting humans really are. Today we’re taking our first dive into the deep sea of Philias to understand that we’ve all got a weird little something that gets us going. I’m Ashley Hamer, and this is Taboo Science, the podcast that answers the questions you’re not allowed to ask.

[00:03:02] Ashley: First, some definitions. Kink. That’s an umbrella term that encompasses any sexual interest that falls outside the mainstream, and a fetish is a heightened attraction to certain objects or body parts besides the genitals. By those definitions, a lot of seemingly mainstream sexual interests could be considered kinks.

[00:03:24] Ashley: Are you a butt man? Are you into Catholic schoolgirl outfits? Do you get extra turned on wearing lingerie or leather? Congratulations! You’re in the kink club. Your paperwork’s in the mail.

[00:03:37] Christian Joyal: So you can have an interest in something that is what we call kinky. For instance, being tied up on your bed, it’s considered kinky.

[00:03:48] Christian Joyal: For me, it’s just, you like to spice up your sex life, that’s it, it’s really good. So this is just a kinky interest.

[00:03:56] Ashley: That’s Dr. Christian Joyal.

[00:03:58] Christian Joyal: I am a professor in the psychology department of University of Quebec, and also I am a full time researcher at the Philippe Pinel Institute in Montreal, which is a forensic mental health hospital.

[00:04:14] Ashley: Dr. Joyal is kind of a big deal. More than one guest agreed to come on this podcast after I mentioned I talked to him. Anyway, one step above kinky is what scientists call a paraphilia. The definition of paraphilia comes from the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. That’s the big list of mental disorders that’s used by not only mental health professionals, but also by courts and lawmakers.

[00:04:40] Ashley: So it’s pretty important that it’s accurate about what’s normal and what’s pathological. Specifically, the DSM defines paraphilia as any intense and persistent sexual interest other than sexual interest in genital stimulation or preparatory fondling with phenotypically normal, physically mature, and consenting human partners.

[00:05:02] Ashley: The interest needs to be equal or greater to the person’s interest in that aforementioned normal sex, which also has a name.

[00:05:09] Christian Joyal: So this is what they used to call normophilia. They don’t call it normophilia anymore. But it was a new term, which means liking something that is normal. But what is normal exactly?

[00:05:25] Ashley: And then there’s one more step above a paraphilia.

[00:05:28] Christian Joyal: If, above that, you are distressed or if it interferes with your everyday life, for instance, you’re always thinking about sex, you’re looking at porn at your job, it’s interfering, now you have a paraphilic disorder.

[00:05:49] Ashley: The problem with these definitions is that they all rely on a solid definition of normal. But that definition of normal is based on common belief, not actual data. So Dr. Joyal and his team decided to do their own research.

[00:06:04] Christian Joyal: We began to interview people from the general population and we asked them What they like and what they didn’t like in their sex life.

[00:06:14] Ashley: And a whole lot of people liked stuff that the DSM did not consider normal.

[00:06:20] Christian Joyal: According to the DSM, a sexual fantasy is sufficient to be labeled as a paraphilia. It depends. It depends. You can have red flags, like where we work at Pinel Institute. We are working with, uh, paraphilia. People who have a diagnosis of pedophilia.

[00:06:38] Christian Joyal: We are working with people who are rapists and in, in certain cases, a given sexual fantasy could be a really big red flag, but in most cases it is not. So only to have a sexual fantasy about, let’s say being took by force or being raped, we saw that in two thirds of women.

[00:07:06] Ashley: Two thirds of women had a rape fantasy. Two thirds! Now, this doesn’t mean that two thirds of women actually want to be raped. It’s a fantasy.

[00:07:17] Christian Joyal: There is a big difference between a sexual fantasy, which is in your head, which the main purpose of a sexual fantasy is to get aroused. So big difference between this and a sexual wish or desire. Especially among women.

[00:07:34] Christian Joyal: They wrote to us, like, I certainly don’t want to live it for real. Of course. But in my mind, in my head, I get excited with that idea that my husband, my boyfriend, whatever, my partner, is taking me by force. But it’s only in your head.

[00:07:54] Christian Joyal: But just because it’s in your head doesn’t mean it’s not doing anything.

[00:07:58] Christian Joyal: As far as you are excited with that idea, well, the sexual fantasy is just working fine, and it’s perfect, and the more you have sexual fantasies, we’ve realized, the more you are sexually satisfied with your sex life. So this is really good.

[00:08:19] Ashley: So what’s the deal? The DSM has said for decades that things like rape fantasies are abnormal, yet Dr. Joyal can go out, survey a portion of the population, and find out they’re wrong. And not only are they wrong, and these aren’t a harmful form of deviance, but these fantasies are actually improving people’s sex lives. Even the straight, monogamous, married, private sex lives society approves of. There must be tons of research like his saying the same thing, right?

[00:08:47] Ashley: Where’s the disconnect? Well, until recently, there was almost no funding to do the kind of research that Dr. Joyal does.

[00:08:55] Christian Joyal: Ten years ago, it was totally impossible to do that kind of research because we could not never ever have any grants. Money to do the research on any sexual things except AIDS and stuff like that and rapes.

[00:09:14] Christian Joyal: Sexual diversity, nobody cares about that. But really nobody. So we began to do it on our own on the weekends. We don’t have holidays. Because we are freak and geek. Working for free to do that kind of thing. Because we are curious.

[00:09:35] Ashley: But then something shifted.

[00:09:38] Christian Joyal: After the MeToo movement, everything changed. Everything changed. We got a lot of grand opportunities to work on sexuality in general.

[00:09:49] Ashley: So until recently, research into sexual diversity was almost non existent. Most of the people doing it were doing it for free on weekends. Because they were curious about it. Which brings me to Aellla.

[00:10:06] Aella: Hey, I am Aella. I am a sex worker and more dominantly lately a sex researcher where I study fetishes on the internet a lot.

[00:10:15] Ashley: Aella is a kind of internet celebrity. She has 200, 000 followers on X, her own discord with more than 6, 000 members, and a popular blog called Knowing Less where she recently posted about her birthday gangbang, complete with a Sankey diagram of how she sourced the attendees. Also, I just learned she was on the Lex Fridman podcast?

[00:10:40] Ashley: Scooped again by one of the top podcasts in the world. Okay. Anyway, the reason I wanted to talk to her, besides all that, was that she has authored what is probably the largest survey on kinks and fetishes ever performed, with over 700, 000 respondents as of October 2023, and probably way more now. And she did it out of sheer curiosity.

[00:11:04] Ashley: I have a couple

[00:11:05] Aella: really fucked up kinks and I was like, I want to know how fucked up they are. Um, but when you want to know how fucked up they are, you have to measure all the other kinks to compare. And then, then I started measuring other kinks and then this started a whole thing. Are

[00:11:17] Ashley: you comfortable sharing what fucked up kinks you personally have?

[00:11:20] Ashley: Or we can leave that out too. I would love to

[00:11:22] Aella: because I want to bring less shame to the world. However, I, my brain is not capable of letting me talk about them. Even when I have a partner, I have a partner who I trust deeply. I’m in love with and they’re like, Oh, just like, let me know. And then I just can’t like force it out of my throat.

[00:11:36] Ashley: Aella doesn’t have a college degree. She’s had to learn statistics on the fly. And when the number of responses to her survey became too huge for Google sheets, She learned Python. She is an autodidact, which really sounds like it should be a term for a sexual kink. Even so, she believes that her research is of a higher quality than a lot of what’s out there.

[00:11:58] Aella: Recently I’d finally started wading through the literature and I was like, holy shit, the things that I’m doing are actually much better than what currently exists in the literature. There’s just not much. And the stuff that does exist is, um, it’s like not necessarily the academic’s fault because it’s very difficult to get good distributed samples on something like this.

[00:12:15] Aella: People don’t want to talk about their research. Um, and if you’re selecting for the people that do, in most cases, this is a confounding effect. I may not be perfect, but right now, I like might be one of the best that people that we’ve got, which I would love to change. I would love for other people to come and do better than I am.

[00:12:31] Aella: It’s just nobody else is doing that. So fuck it.

[00:12:33] Ashley: Right. So tell me, tell me about what it is that you’re doing that’s better than what is in the research currently.

[00:12:38] Aella: I think the biggest difference is that I don’t come from an academic background. I come from a background of marketing. In my mind, it’s like, if you want a large sample, you want people to take your survey, and getting people to do things on the internet is like what I’ve been doing for 10 years, because, like, sex worker, right?

[00:12:55] Aella: And I think that this attitude of, like, how do I market, like, how do I treat surveys as a product, basically, is not something that the academics think about at all. You have professors, uh, paying grad students and, you know, grades or whatever, or undergrads. Or like, um, you go to a forum dedicated to talking about BDSM and then you ask the people on that forum to take your survey.

[00:13:16] Ashley: So how does Aella get people to take her survey? Well, she took a page from the BuzzFeed playbook. When you finish the survey, it tells you your kink score and which popular character that’s equivalent to. Bambi and Goku are the least kinky on the scale. Willy Wonka and the genie from Aladdin are stone cold freaks.

[00:13:36] Ashley: So why’d she use these characters?

[00:13:39] Aella: So people would share it with their friends. The survey is like really thorough, like the, the results that you get. This actually did put quite a lot of work into making it a meaningful result. Like huge amount, like a month worth of work. But like when you get the actual result that you want it to be something that like gives you a hit of pleasure in some way, um, and also makes you want to share it with other people.

[00:13:57] Aella: And like characters are a perfect way to do it because it gives you some information but it’s still interpretable. But you can share it with your friends without them knowing about your sexuality directly. Uh, you’re sort of an artistic representation of your sex life.

[00:14:09] Ashley: So, survey respondents got a popular character to share with their friends, and in return, Aella got a massive trove of data that she could use to determine all sorts of things.

[00:14:19] Ashley: To answer her original question, she put a bunch of kinks and fetishes on a graph based on how popular and how taboo they were. So I’m sure you want to know the most popular fetish in the entire survey, right? I’ll tell you after the break.

[00:14:41] Ashley: So before we get into the most popular fetish in Aella’s survey, there’s one thing you have to understand. Despite the dictionary definitions, what makes something a kink or a fetish is pretty subjective.

[00:14:54] Aella: People sort of treat fetishes like either a sexual interest is a fetish or it’s not. I think things are much more on a spectrum.

[00:14:59] Aella: Like, what determines something being fetishy? Is it like how common it is? Is it how like weird and fucked up it is? Ultimately, I call everything a sexual interest, and the more taboo and rare you go, the more likely it is that we view this as a fetish. So, it depends on your cutoff, but like I mean, I would consider like straight missionary sex to be a sexual interest.

[00:15:19] Ashley: So understanding that, the most popular sexual interest in the entire survey was making out. It was also the least taboo. The least popular, most taboo interest was pedophilia. Just edging out necrophilia. Foot fetishes get a 1 on the 1 to 5 taboo scale, while blood is more of a 3. 5. Lots of people like light bondage, not that many people like farts.

[00:15:48] Ashley: Aella also did factor analysis on the data. That’s a statistical method that takes a huge number of variables, like this cavalcade of kinks, and reduces them into smaller groups. This is the way they do the Big Five personality survey, if you’ve ever heard of that. That’s the one that measures you on five traits.

[00:16:07] Ashley: Openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Have you ever wondered how they landed on those five traits? Factor analysis, baby!

[00:16:17] Aella: The Big Five personality survey they generated by basically asking people a whole bunch of personality questions, everybody answered, and then they noticed like, oh, this cluster of questions tends to be similar and opposite to this other cluster.

[00:16:27] Aella: So you can kind of like find like linear patterns in the dataset, basically, like natural ones. The people who tend to answer, oh, I like being alone at parties, uh, are opposite to the people saying I like a lot of attention. So it’s like natural trends that emerge. So you can do this to the fetish dataset to see the natural trends that emerge.

[00:16:44] Ashley: So, through factor analysis, Aella broke the data down into ten clusters. Ten groups of kinks and fetishes that tend to be associated with each other, in the same way that liking parties and chatting up cashiers are both associated with extroverts. She didn’t give them labels, but I’m going to do my best to name them.

[00:17:04] Ashley: So some of these might cause a reaction in you. Like, not the good kind. And I just want to remind you about what Dr. Joyal said. Just because someone has a fantasy doesn’t mean they’re looking to do it in real life. Okay, here we go.

[00:17:18] Ashley: (echo) The Ten Kinds of Kinks!

[00:17:31] Ashley: Factor 1 is power dynamics. Things like bondage, spanking, humiliation, and rape play.

[00:17:38] Ashley: Factor 2 I’m calling swinging. That’s stuff like voyeurism and exhibitionism, anonymous sex, multiple partners, and cuckoldry. That’s where one partner in a couple has sex with someone else because it gives the other partner sexual gratification. Stay tuned for a full episode on that one.

[00:17:56] Ashley: Factor 3 I’m going to say, is the vanilla factor. Makeouts, romance, tickling, and sensuality are all grouped here.

[00:18:04] Ashley: Factor 4 is for the monster fuckers. This includes monsters, tails and horns, bestiality, animal transformation, and oviposition, which is where you get off on the idea of having eggs laid inside you. Furries are also here, and furries also get their own episode.

[00:18:22] Ashley: Factors 5 and 7 are for extreme femininity and extreme masculinity, respectively. Breast implants, high heels. Pigtails and skirts on one side, being gay, submission, and receiving pain on the other.

[00:18:36] Ashley: Between 5 and 7 is gender play. Things like pegging, which is using a strap on dildo in a butt, usually a male butt, and sissification, where a submissive man is forced to take on a traditional female role. Things that blur the gender binary for fun and profit.

[00:18:53] Ashley: Factor 8 is horror. Creepy kinks like blood, zombies, necrophilia, and brutality are grouped together in this one.

[00:19:02] Ashley: Factor 9 I’m calling disgust. Scat and urine, diapers, armpits, farts, and feet are here.

[00:19:10] Ashley: And finally, Factor 10 is incest and age play, where people take on the persona of a different age group. Remember, fantasies are not reality.

[00:19:22] Ashley: So what is it that makes someone aroused by this stuff? I mean, humans evolved to avoid pain, gross and scary things, humiliation, and a lot of the other items on this list. In order to procreate, we evolved to be attracted to an adult member of the opposite sex of our own species. All of this was literally essential to our survival as a species. Why do some people get off on the stuff that we’d usually avoid?

[00:19:48] Christian Joyal: People, for instance, who are, they know that they are totally homosexual, for instance. But they knew it when they were 8 years old. And when they were 18 years old, and 40 years old.

[00:20:03] Christian Joyal: I mean, if you are really gay, you knew it for a long time. A long time. It’s the same with exclusive pedophilia. When we interview people with pedophilia, the, at eight years old, nine, 10 years old, they were attracted toward people their age, but as they grew up, they were still attracted toward people like eight, nine, 10 years old.

[00:20:29] Christian Joyal: So this it’s, it’s really clear. So those are people who have exclusive pedophilia. Yeah. And there are therapies, uh, not conversion therapies, but therapies to make them aware that this is not only it’s incorrect, but maybe you should not have a sex life after all. That being said, it’s the same for people who are really into BDSM.

[00:20:57] Christian Joyal: They told us, when I was six years old, seven years old. It was not sexual at all, of course, but they were so into bondage, for instance. And they, they were hooked on, you know, little books like Tintin. Tintin, Tintin, in French it’s

[00:21:20] Ashley: Tintin.

[00:21:20] Christian Joyal: Tintin, okay, in French it’s Tintin.

[00:21:23] Ashley: This might be before your time, it’s definitely before mine, but when I googled Tintin I recognized him.

[00:21:29] Ashley: He’s the little cartoon redhead man with the flipped up hair and a white dog. Anyway, he’s a fictional reporter who goes on all sorts of adventures and frequently finds himself captured.

[00:21:39] Christian Joyal: He’s always in every book. He’s bonded. So he’s restrained. And a lot of our respondents told us that they were excited.

[00:21:52] Christian Joyal: It was not yet sexually, but they thought it was so interesting. And me personally, I didn’t even notice that. Tintin was bonded in Africa, for instance, but they told us, yes, yes, yes.

[00:22:08] Ashley: It’s important to point out that Tintin didn’t necessarily make these people interested in BDSM. The interest most likely started in childhood, and happened to find an outlet in these Belgian comic books.

[00:22:20] Ashley: But if you’re that adult remembering your days reading Tintin and getting excited when the ropes came out, it can feel like Tintin is what did it.

[00:22:28] Aella: And so I think it’s, like, very easy for people to, like, misattribute causality for things. Like, say you’re really interested in feet. I think it’s just very easy for people to remember, like, maybe an experience they had with feet when they were very young that they hyperfixated on and be like, that must have been the cause of it.

[00:22:41] Aella: Like, when I was a kid, you know, this other, like, nine year old, like, rubbed their feet in my face when we were wrestling and I was just, like, This is the first time I was in close contact with somebody else. This was formative. I think this is why I have a foot fetish. Oh, really? Maybe it is genetic. Maybe foot fetishes for some reason are hardwired and you were predisposed to have that be a really intense experience because You were hardwired to do so.

[00:23:03] Aella: Um, and so like I’m saying that that self-reports are just really difficult. And so when you wanna get into causality, like what makes this thing happen, um, the best we can do is just correlation. Uh, it’s really . It’s just scary to,

[00:23:14] Aella: to graduate from that to causality.

[00:23:16] Ashley: I need to stress here that we don’t know if it’s genetic and we don’t know if it’s hardwired.

[00:23:21] Ashley: Again, there isn’t a ton of research. Scientists just know what people have told them.

[00:23:27] Christian Joyal: A lot of, uh, the stuff that we are interested in, it began when we were a child. There’s a gradation. The thing that are fundamentals, they begin usually during childhood. And after that, you have, like, your secondary, like, Preference that you discovered when you were in college, for instance, or young adult.

[00:23:49] Christian Joyal: And the third type of preferences when you discovered with a partner when you were, say, 30 years old. But the fundamental part, it begins during childhood. And a lot of people who like, for instance, Spanking told us that they were spanked when they were young and they had their first reaction. It was not necessarily sexual, but it was certainly emotional and they got emotional about that.

[00:24:23] Christian Joyal: And after that, they are still looking for that kind of thing. So yes, it begins during childhood, the fundamental sexual interest, including sexual fantasies.

[00:24:36] Ashley: This should be good news to anyone who’s felt shame about their kinks. You’re not damaged. You’re not reenacting some childhood trauma. You just happen to have a sexual interest that’s outside the norm, whatever norm means.

[00:24:51] Ashley: But lots of people have been abused as children, and some of them do have kinks that mirror that abuse. And that’s okay.

[00:25:06] Aella: Even if a fetish is caused by abuse in childhood, this still doesn’t feel shameful to me. Like, let’s say hypothetically we’re in a world where getting abused in childhood makes you want to be abused as an adult. Like, in the same way, like, when you are abused as a child in general, like, maybe you’re more anxious as an adult.

[00:25:21] Aella: Like, your brain is like, oh, I got born into a world where adults just hurt you sometimes. Like, and then you have a correct response. You’re like, I’m now going to be afraid of people, which is like, it makes sense. This is a very logical conclusion to have. Like, you should be afraid of people because people have hurt you a lot. And so it’s possible that, like, we don’t have any evidence for this theory as far as I know. I don’t know. But maybe in a world where, like, your sexual responses are really determined by early childhood, like, your body’s learning, like, Oh, the kind of sexual experiences I’m going to have are going to be pretty non consensual for my life.

[00:25:52] Aella: So I should better learn to have a sexual response to that so I don’t get physically damaged later on. Like, to me this is like an entirely rational response, assuming that this is how it works. And so it’s like, yeah, I was abused as a child, I’m into rape now. People should be like, good! Good job, body, protecting you! Like, it’s a wonderful adaption.

[00:26:09] Ashley: For some people with a history of abuse, it’s actually even better. Kinks like this can be a way to heal from their trauma.

[00:26:16] Christian Joyal: For some, it is really great because they, they tell us that they are reenacting a traumatizing situation, but now they have control on that situation.

[00:26:33] Christian Joyal: So they can kind of get rid of it, or having control about something when they were young, of course, they didn’t have control on that. And it’s really reassuring and it’s really good for them.

[00:26:50] Ashley: There are a lot of harmful messages out there about kink. Not only from the media and society as a whole, but from the scientific establishments that claim to help us learn more about ourselves.

[00:27:01] Ashley: (to Christian Joyal) And actually, it’s funny that paraphilic disorder, if it causes distress, I mean, it’s kind of a circular thing, right? Well, if, if your thing is considered a disorder, maybe that will cause you distress more than it would if it wasn’t.

[00:27:12] Christian Joyal: Wow. Wow. Bravo. What you said is so true. I mean, it’s, it’s so circular.

[00:27:22] Christian Joyal: People who are attracted, for instance, into BDSM stuff, they are not distressed by their attraction. Personally, if I would be gay, I would not be distressed. I’m gay. I’m gay. That’s it. So they are not distressed. They are never distressed, but they could be distressed because of the DSM. So you’re totally right.

[00:27:48] Christian Joyal: It’s a joke. We are distressing people who are not distressed and that’s it. But in 25 years. This is what I say all the time to my students. In 25 years or so, we will say we were so stupid in 2023 that we tried to define what is normal and abnormal in sexology. We, it was so stupid, it was like, uh, homosexuality in the DSM II.

[00:28:16] Christian Joyal: In the DSM II, homosexuals, they were considered as, uh, having a mental disorder. It would be the same with BDSM in 25 years, it would, uh, it was in the DSM V, can’t believe that. Yeah.

[00:28:33] Ashley: Aella, for her part, is out to make sure that nobody is distressed because of their kink.

[00:28:38] Aella: There’s not very much empathy for people.

[00:28:40] Aella: I’ve developed like this thing where I feel super sensitive to people making jokes about fetishes now. I feel sensitive because I’m like, oh, you’re like, oh, well, like all the feet guys are weird. And I’m like, there might be a foot guy standing among you. There might be a foot guy in this crowd right now who’s too embarrassed to say it.

[00:28:55] Aella: I’d love to bring more compassion and understanding. Like when I was a teenager, I was very horny and I was masturbating a lot, but I was really religious. And you weren’t supposed to be doing this. So I would look up, you know, for Christian, like, is it ethical to masturbate? And there’d be a whole bunch of discussion around, like, lust and controlling your lust, but it was entirely for men.

[00:29:14] Aella: They would all be like, Boys, we know it’s hard to not be horny. Boys, we know it’s hard not to look at erotic stuff. And there was, Absolutely nothing. It’s better now when I look at it, but at the time, nothing for women. And the complete silence on the topic made me feel like I was deeply fucked up and, like, completely alienated by society.

[00:29:35] Aella: I’m like, wow, I am so unusual that people, like, won’t even acknowledge my existence. Like, it’s, I’m so rare that this isn’t even worth being talked about. And I think there’s something like that going on with sex research, sort of, almost spiritually. If you have a strange fetish and you want to know more about yourself, it’s dead silence.

[00:29:52] Aella: Nobody knows anything. Nobody’s bothered to put in the effort or care to learn about people like you. And that’s just, like, sad. And I want to bring that. I want to, like, bring the thing where finally we can, like, look at who you are directly, like, without shame, and be like, cool, here’s information. Um, somebody cared about you enough to do this.

[00:30:14] Ashley: That’s what I hope to do with Philias. We’re going to take the kinks that you might know as weird, shameful, or the punchline to a joke and hold them up to the light. If you identify with these kinks, you’ll learn more about yourself. And if you don’t, you’ll find out how much we all have in common.

[00:30:31] Ashley: Everybody’s just looking for a little joy in their lives.

[00:30:41] Ashley: Thanks for listening. My deep appreciation to Aella for helping me out with this. She was the first interview I did for the series and she really helped me think through the whole thing. You can take her kink survey yourself by following the link in the show notes. And thank you to the brilliant Christian Joyal for sharing so much information with me.

[00:30:59] Ashley: You’ll hear him again in the next episode. Taboo Science is written and produced by me, Ashley Hamer. The theme song is by Dani Lopatka of DLC Music. Episode music is by Epidemic Sound, and I’ve got an affiliate link for that in the show notes if you want to try it yourself. I know this series might bring up a lot of questions and stories for you, and I want you to share them with me.

[00:31:22] Ashley: I’ve got an easy way to do that. Head to podline. fm slash tabooscience and hit record. There’s a 90 second limit and you can identify yourself or stay anonymous. And I might play your message on the show. With that, I hope you tune in next time. I won’t tell anyone.

[00:31:45] Christian Joyal: Hello cat!