You're Watching Fetish Videos on TikTok Without Even Knowing It

Screenshot:  dr.bharatbhush/TikTok (Fair Use)
Screenshot: dr.bharatbhush/TikTok (Fair Use)

We’ve all seen the videos—life hacks, cooking videos, and more that are so ridiculous you think, “no one would ever actually do that.” Sure, many of them are courting the engagement that can come from our confused reactions, that thought of “let me ridicule this by sharing it,” but some of these videos are straight-up fetish videos disguised as life hacks and other types of content. Like, check out this video that purports to show the application of a spray-on tattoo, or this video of a bride cutting the dress of a bridesmaid. It’s clear there is something going on here—maybe it’s not clear what is going on, but you can be sure that someone, somewhere is getting off to it.

TikTok policy prohibits videos that depict sexual fetishes, but how “sexual fetishes” are defined can be be slippery. These life hack, comedy, or prank style videos might not show people in latex and chains, but they share so many familiar tropes and structures with fetish content and depict things that are so out-of-the-ordinary, it’s hard to not see them as porn. Porn for someone, anyway.

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How to spot hidden fetish videos

Back in 1964, when Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart had to describe obscenity, he famously said, “I know it when I see it.” That same rule applies to hidden fetish videos on TikTok. These videos are often not obviously sexual, but the cheesed-out porn soundtracks and a leering style of camerawork scream “porn,” even if the thing being leered at is food or slime. Check out this video from 5 Minute Crafts to see what I mean. On one hand, it’s innocent images of a woman buttering some corn, showing you how to make a new kind of hot dog, and biting into a cow’s tongue, but come on. It’s straight-up hardcore porn for people into this sort of thing.

Another particularly annoying hallmark of these kinds of videos is the anticipation and build up—that breathless waiting for the climax that can go on for minutes. Sure, the big moment could be flushing a toilet filled with a huge amount of cleaning supplies, but that structure of build-up and release is porn 101. Another example: This video with an endless buildup that reveals a weird pregnancy fetish reveal, or this video of—something.

Foot fetish videos on TikTok

TikTok can officially tell its users it doesn’t allow fetish content, but foot fetishists beg to differ. There are so many videos of people giving foot moisturizing tips, massage tips, people just stepping on gross things, and other dubious foot-related content, it’s ground zero for people into it. Like check out this “acupressure video” from 5 Minute Crafts, and tell me it’s not porn aimed at people who take a prurient interest in feet (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Food-fetishism and sploshing videos on TikTok

Sitophilia is a form of sexual fetishism in which participants are aroused by situations involving food. It’s manifested on TikTok in videos featuring feeding fetishes, messy food content, and more. Check out this exceedingly vaginal chicken recipe, for instance. Or the videos under the Muckbang hashtag, in which many of the most popular videos feature young women “suggestively” eating food. It’s messy, weirdly personal, and clearly sexualized—100% fetish videos.

“Sploshing” is closely related to messy food. Also known as “wet and messy,” fans of this fetish get turned on by huge amounts of a messy substance covering someone or something. It could be food (beans, chocolate syrup, etc) or it could be another substance like mud, slime, or paint (fetishists can be specific). But whatever you want to see dumped on someone, you can see it on TikTok.

Just straight up bondage

Liking being tied up or tying someone else up seems pretty common enough to be “vanilla,” but technically, it’s a fetish. You have to hide it on TikTok, but the ruse is easily seen-through. Sometimes bondage videos are presented as tutorials of how to escape being tied up, “comedy” videos featuring tied-up superheroes, videos like this, which is just behind-the-scenes footage from a bondage photoshoot, or this one: just a woman tying up her “sister.”

What does it all mean?

To recap: Fetishists on TikTok like messy things, anticipation, tying people up, and weird food concoctions. These are all things that are interesting to children as well. TikTok’s age minimum is 13 years old, so this kind of content is being put in front of countless children, and clearly resonates with them. Whether and how this might affect someone isn’t really known of course, but letting bottom-feeders who will do anything for views (maybe) influence the psyches of our children is part of the grand experiment we’re conducting on humanity right now, so I guess we’ll all find out before too long.

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