Thursday, January 15, 2015
Fetishes – Variety is the Spice of Life
January 16th is International Fetish Day. This originated in the UK but went international a year later. While it may not be a well-known event, it’s a great time to talk about the word “fetish” and its somewhat clouded meaning. Words like “kink,” “fetish,” and “paraphilia” are all variations of similar ideas. Let’s look at their definitions and some examples. This article won’t provide a definitive explanation since the concept of “fetish” is continually evolving in the way it’s regarded in the medical and legal fields. The goal is to give you a greater understanding of the wide variety of fetishes out there, how they are practiced and experienced. Hopefully it will help you to understand that everyday ordinary people can have some interesting desires and still be healthy ordinary people.
Fetish is a word used for lots of things but the true definition is rarely known. The word first saw its use in the late 19th century. Merriam-Webster defines fetish as a need or desire for an object, body part or activity for sexual excitement. It goes on to describe fetish as an object or bodily part whose real or fantasied presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression. A fetish can be for a form, a media, an animate object or a combination of thereof. It can be a kink but not all things we consider a fetish or kink is absolutely necessary for sexual gratification. For some a little bit of bondage, spanking, flogging or humiliation can add some fun to sexy time but not necessary for sex to be satisfying. If you need any of these items, or any of a wide range of other things, then you may have a fetish. If your fetish is leaning towards the extreme, meaning you can’t attain any sexual satisfaction at all other than from your fetish or to attain your fetish it requires dangerous or illegal action it is considered paraphilia.
Paraphilia is defined as a pattern of recurring sexually arousing mental imagery or behavior that involves unusual and especially socially unacceptable sexual practices. Basically anything that is considered highly atypical. It is also defined as “optional” paraphilia that aren’t necessary for sexual fulfillment but can enhance sexual experiences or “preferred” paraphilia wherein the paraphilia is necessary for sexual gratification. This definition is fairly new, for a long time things like sadism, masochism, etc., which seem commonplace now, were all under the paraphilia umbrella. For years the definition of fetish and paraphilia weren’t really separate. Even now it’s hard to separate their definitions as I found lots of research articles that still defined basic bdsm as a paraphilia. Let’s look at some common forms of sexual fetishism.
There are many different types of fetishes. A form fetish is when the fetish takes a specific shape. The object could be used during masturbation, holding or touching the object during sex, or even just the sight or smell of the object can be arousing. There are far too many objects to even begin to list here. Most common items are women’s lingerie (bras, panties, stockings, etc.), shoes, boots and gloves. People can also find statues or mannequins arousing. For some it can be stuffed animals, Plushies are different from Furries that enjoy dressing as anthropomorphized animals; this fetish is for an actual stuffed animal. There’s even a fetish for trees. A media fetish is more about the material an object is made out of than the actual object. The material can be experienced just like a form fetish with holding, touching, sight or smell of the material being sexually arousing. It can be leather, silk, latex, plastic, rubber or fur. The previous fetishes are all for inanimate objects. There’s also animate fetish for parts of the body or living things. This can be a fetish for feet, hair, breasts, the buttocks, the stomach, armpits, legs, hand, or even eyeballs (licking eyeballs is a real fetish). It can be for amputees, insects or even animals. Some of these can be combined like feet in silk stockings, latex and asphyxiation used together in a latex vacuum bed or can be only the specific item.
Fetishes can be for specific acts like getting covered in food or getting very dirty. There are fetishes involving crushing objects under the feet or being sat on or seemingly crushed by a larger person. Some are turned on by fire, by dressing or acting like a child, or being used as furniture. It can be enemas, urination, or even piercings and blood. Almost anything can be sexually arousing to anyone, and if you invoke Internet Rule #34 there’s already porn for it. What’s important to know is that a vast majority of people with fetishes will practice them consensually and are usually no different that everyone else. I say usually because there is a small fraction whose paraphilia is triggered by either mental illness or other disorder. Most people are ordinary folk who find something outside the currently perceived norm as sexually arousing. While some will find their fetish manifests at a very early age, some can start well into adulthood. Often it can be linked to a specific event in their lives but some have no idea why that particular stimulus floats their boat. Many fetishes don’t even require sex (particularly penetrative sex) to be involved at all.
What’s important to note is the less we label people with unusual fetishes or atypical sexual preferences as freaky, disturbing or downright weird the more people will come forward to talk about their different fetishes so we can better understand them. I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sexual fetish and paraphilia. Check out these websites for more info; The Kinsey Institute, Psychology Today and Sex and Psychology. Here are some interesting articles about fetishes and paraphilias; A list of paraphilias, some great background information about fetishes on io9 and a fascinating article about the truths about sexual fetishes from a dominatrix’s perspective at Cracked.
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