What is Fetishism?
The original definition of a fetish is an object that is believed to have magical or enchanting powers. Its origins come from the adornments of West African tribal witch doctors would you believe! The more modern definition however, which this article will focus on, would be an inanimate object that a person fixates on, rather than the appropriate gender’s genitals! In the extreme, a fetishist may require the presence of their fetish object, to enable them to perform. More commonly, a sexual fetish object is merely an additional diversification, which is used to enhance and enrich a person’s sex life.
What causes Fetishism?
Ahhhhh, the million-dollar question!
And one that can only really be answered on an individual basis, as there are many different fetishes as you will find out later, and many different kinds of people who have them, thus their fetish and the way in which it is practiced is surely based upon their own personal make-up, hence to gain a more reliable answer to this question, each person would have to be taken as an individual case. The cause of fetishism are probably as complex as the “causes” of homosexuality, heterosexuality or any of the myriad variations of human sexual diversity. However, there are those common factors that do appear and these will be the focus for this discussion, to gain at least a general insight into this fascinating practice which interests an understated large proportion of the population!
I strongly doubt that there is any such thing as a gene for “foot fetish,” but there may be genetic combinations that make a person more likely to respond to olfactory or tactile stimuli as an infant, to develop a tight sexual focus, or to have a strong imagination. Some people may also have a closer chemical link between the pain and pleasure areas of the brain – although whether this is genetic, environmental or a combination of the two remains to be proven.
Early environmental factors obviously come into play, if only to act as a catalyst that helps to shape specific fantasy content. If an infant with a predisposition to fetishism comes into repeated and close contact with a certain type of smelly or touchy-feely object that they associate with comfort or pleasure, this may develop the beginnings of a fetish for that object. This infantile fetishism may disappear as the child develops, or remain an important means of coping with the world, to give a feeling of security to the instability of the world as we know it.
Social Repression Backlash
Hard-core, extreme forms of fetishism may ironically be adopted by repressive social attitudes towards sex. Dian Hanson of Leg Show Magazine contends that a high number of her foot fetish readers were raised in Catholic households or fundamentalist families where information about sex was severely restricted. Dian tells the story of the underground artist Robert Crumb, who believes that he became a leg-foot fetishist because as he was growing up he was told that the genitals were the dirtiest part of the body. The thought of two sets of genitals touching was the most sinful thing he could think of. Having lust means losing love. But, if he moved away from the genitals to the leg, he would be safe. For Crumb, foot and leg fetishism was therefore a band-aid solution to an impossible psychological dilemma.
Social repression about sexual matters also contributes to the isolation and self-hatred experienced by some fetishists. Fear of discovery and recrimination may make it difficult for young people to develop relationships with sexual partners. Positive early erotic experimentation (with age-appropriate partners) is essential in helping to foster a sense of safety, confidence and flexibility about sexual matters.
Our society’s fear of sexuality and generally puritanical approach to eroticism may encourage scenarios of humiliation and punishment in some people. Hence, POWER, FEAR, and LOSS OF CONTROL seem to be relatively universal elements of sexual fantasies whether vanilla (do not have a fetish) or deviant (do have a fetish).
Some adolescents may also accidentally reinforce their own developing sexual pathways in the brain by repeatedly focusing on the same imagery during masturbation. In a sense, they mistakenly condition themselves into a hard-wired erotic response to certain stimuli.
It has been known also, for particularly pleasurable or significant experiences that have occurred, to trigger the development of a fetish. For example, I remember hearing about a man who was worried about a carpet fetish that he had. It was later realised that this only started after he lost his virginity with his girlfriend on the floor. Therefore this may have some influence. For a lot of people, especially when they are new to sex, they find that they enjoy to do what they did when they lost their virginity and I think some of that is to do with feeling comfortable and thinking this is what one should do. This obviously does not happen with everyone, but as I have stated earlier, everyone is an individual and therefore react in different ways, this is what makes us all unique.