Selena Gomez's "Fetish" Shows That Sexuality Isn't Always Sexy

When Selena Gomez released "Fetish" early in July, it was hailed by many as her "sexiest" song to date, featuring frank, sensual lyrics about lust and carnal desire. Now the singer has returned with a music video for the song, but Selena Gomez's "Fetish" video makes clear she's veering from the route other past Disney stars have taken.

Rather than strapping into a leather bodysuit or twerking her way through a SoCal rager, Gomez opts for barely there makeup and metaphorical imagery in "Fetish." The video is hot, to be sure, but in a less overt and literal way than Demi Lovato's "Cool For the Summer" or Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop." For as many glimpses as there are of Gomez writhing around the kitchen floor and running her fingers across her lips, there are just as many bizarre but boundary-pushing moments: Gomez tying string around her tongue, smashing lipstick into her teeth, eating soap, etc.

For Gomez to put out such a subdued and unexpected vision is likely due in part to the video's director, Petra Collins, a Canadian artist and filmmaker known for surreal, hyper-feminine work that is often conceived through the lens of "the female gaze." "Cool For the Summer" and "We Can't Stop" were both directed by women, too — Hannah Lux Davis and Diane Martel, respectively — but Collins takes on a decidedly divergent tone from those two videos.

A single like "Fetish" could have easily leaned into its title, featuring visual allusions to sadomasochism, voyeurism, and/or role play. But that Gomez and Collins took the road less traveled seems to be precisely the point of the video. "Fetish" embraces what some may consider taboo over a more conventional approach to sex and sexuality.

That's not to say Gomez's public liberation is necessarily any better or worse than Miley Cyrus' or Demi Lovato's — it's merely different, because different women take different paths. And with "Fetish," Gomez embodies her sexuality in a less mainstream but freshly empowering way.