What does fetish mean?
According to Wikipedia, the word is borrowed from the French word “fétiche”, which in turn is derived from the Portuguese “feitiço”, denoting the worship of objects to which divine or magical properties were attributed. Karl Marx later took up the term and used it to describe the quasi-religious relationship that mankind had developed with money, capital and goods under capitalism. He didn’t think it was good.
It was only at the end of the 19th century that the first psychologists brought the concept of fetishism in connection with sexuality, for example to describe devotion to certain parts of the body. The term became really popular outside of scientific circles at the beginning of the 20th century thanks to Sigmund Freud. Who else? And that he classified such preferences as pathological or perverse is probably not a surprise either.
When the general public talks about a fetish, they actually mean any kind of specific sexual practice. Role plays and practices , especially those from the BDSM area included. It fits somehow, because they are also something magical.
Strictly speaking, however, sexual fetishism means fixation on certain objects, materials or parts of the body. The World Health Organization narrows the definition down to just sexual pleasure in things. Non-fetishists are also happy to claim to have a fetish. It’s also kind of cool and makes you special. Saying that you have a fetish for underwear or high heels, for example, because you like beautiful underwear or special shoes on women, has nothing to do with a fetish, but with underlining your sexuality.
But if someone collects underwear – usually with certain characteristics – and has the need to constantly look at it, touch it or more to stimulate himself and the thoughts are dominated by this collection, things are a little different. “Fetish” is sexual attraction to an object, not the superlative of liking.
Distinction from BDSM and kink
The transitions to BDSM and kink are fluid. The many overlaps in sexual deviances have even led to a common subculture. There is no clear demarcation, but there are priorities that are set.
Imagine a straight line with BDSM at one end with nothing but a power imbalance as its central element. At the other extreme is object-based sexual fetishism, which does not require a partner to engage in and is the only possible form of sexual activity. In between, anything is possible on the straight.
For some, a diaper fetish only becomes complete when they submit to another person with childlike behavior . A submissive who , in the course of humiliation , has had to lick another person’s feet may have experienced such intense stimulation that at some point they become aroused by the mere thought of feet.
In turn, kinks could be described as the general preference for certain practices of a physical or psychological nature that are used on this straight line. Pee , for example, can be a fetish in itself or used as part of BDSM. Or both. One could therefore view BDSM and fetishism as poles of a shared world held together by the Kinks. And in which there is much to discover.
How is a fetish formed?
Since there is hardly any research in this area, only theses or incomplete concepts exist. The most conclusive theory is that basically every human being is predisposed to a sexual fetish. However, it only arises when a certain key stimulus and sexual arousal are stimulated at the same time and the brain then inseparably links the two.
What speaks against the theory is that many more people would have to develop a fetish and the diversity would have to be even higher. Also, the theory doesn’t explain why fetishism is more common among men than women. Nor does it explain why a fetish almost never fades or disappears over time.
A fetish can arise at any time. Some discover their inclination very early in childhood, others during puberty, and some much later in adult life. A fetish can also change over time or be supplemented by others.
What fetishes are there?
Basically anything can be a fetish. It is worth noting that some fetishes are more widespread than others . The most common are those tied to specific items of clothing, such as shoes, stockings, uniforms . For many, the material plays a major role. In addition to latex and leather, many also like silk, nylon or fur.
Fetishism attached to specific body parts is often, but not always, accompanied by submissive behavior. The best known and most common is the foot fetish . Some fetishists are driven insane by armpits, ears, or other specific body parts.
Object fetishes such as balloons, trees, machines, radios or pedal pumping have achieved a certain degree of fame. Since they are difficult for the general public to understand, such inclinations are often found in articles with inflammatory headlines such as “The 10 most unusual sex preferences”. Presumably to give the readers something to laugh about. The cases of women who developed a love for objects such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Berlin Wall beyond their sexual attraction are spectacular.
When is a fetish pathological?
The point at issue is where the definition of sexual preference ends and real disorder begins. As magical as a fetish can be: at the latest when others come into contact with these sexual fantasies against their will or harm is done to others or oneself, the limit has been reached. Or if a fetish is considered so urgent and without substitute for sexual stimuli that a certain level of suffering arises for the person concerned. Also, beware of fetishes that pose some risk to health or life, such as fecal matter.