A fetish is when sexual arousal occurs from a particular object, behavior, or trait. While fetishes may be as common as lingerie or leather, their extremes can range from sadomasochism to “golden showers.”
Definitively, a fetish is an obsession. The degree of obsession varies greatly and, for some, their fetish borders on paraphilia which is an unhealthy and life-threatening fixation.
But many fetishes are healthy to partake in, as long as all parties are consenting adults, who is to say what is “normal” for sexual arousal? Fetishism denotes a hedonistic flair. It is to bask in the glory of physical pleasure. But it is also to be in the presence of what traditional culture would consider perverse.
Many social constructs deem this facet of human nature taboo. These social pressures, whether they derive from religious, moral, or family, make it hard for the individual to partake in their desires. It’s possible to instead feel shame and alienation in a restricted and judgmental world.
In fact, it is the restriction itself that gives birth to fetishism. When something is branded “against the rules,” whatever those rules may be, it is endowed with an uncanny allure. You know the allure well: it’s the unattainable, the unreachable, the untouchable aspect. It’s why Romeo and Juliet were so hot for each other, what makes the Preacher’s daughter so sexy, and why everyone wants you when you’re in a relationship.
For example, Japanese culture has been traditionally known to be one the most conventional and modest societies, yet is one of the world’s leaders in bizarre fetishes. Coincidence? I think not! They’ve even made farting, which is a huge social faux pas for women, a fetish.
Of course, not all fetishes are created this way. Society can’t be the only catalyst for unusual sexual obsession. Early childhood abuse is certainly one cause. This is proof that many sexual behaviors are rooted fairly on in life. However, pretty much at any time an individual is exposed to a stimulus in conjunction with physical pleasure, a fetish can easily be born.
For men, who are more prone to fetishism because they can be sexually triggered more easily, there are plenty of ways to develop a fascination. One interesting study done by researchers Rachman & Hodgson in 1968 called “Experimentally Induced ‘Sexual Fetishism’: Replication and Development” actually proved that males could be mentally conditioned to get turned on by leather boots. All it took was showing a photo of what I like to call F.M.B.s (“fuck-me-boots”) paired with some good old fashioned erotica. The correlation was implanted in the subject’s mind and in future showing of the boot, the subject became aroused.
Even more interesting? A similar study done on women wasn’t as successful. That’s not to say women don’t have their own form of perversion. One of the more popular fetishes among females is the controversial rape fantasy.
So despite fetishism being a male-dominated realm, there’s plenty of room for all the perverts to come out (or in!) to play.