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Fetishes & fantasy

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I don't think I have any fetishes. At least, not that I know of. I've always been very satisfied by what I think is called "vanilla sex" (i.e. regular, consenting, normal heterosexual intercourse). No doubt there are lots of people out there who will tell me that I'm missing something exciting, but I just don't feel drawn to fetish play. 

I think it's important to distinguish between fetish and BDSM. A fetish is sexual desire and attraction, in reality or fantasy, to an object that substitutes for a person: so, for example, leather underwear, women's panties, fur coats - you get the idea.

Better still if the fetish object is actually on the person you have sex with, since then the sexual power of the fetish is reinforced by the attraction to the real person. Some fetishes - like transvestism - are independent of sexual attraction to a person, though some couples may accommodate one or both partner's fetishes in their sex lives. 

BDSM, by contrast, is about sadism and masochism - the infliction or experience of pain or suffering for sexual excitement. In one survey, about 10% of women and 6% of men said that they found some kinds of pain to be sexually stimulating.

In fantasy, rape, torture, being spanked and being forced to have sex are common images of this kind. And some couples act these scenarios out as part of their sex lives.

Early on in the days of my first internet connection I was exploring the further reaches of human sexuality and came across some extraordinary images of a man being tortured - his penis being nailed to a board, his balls pierced with pins and burned with candle wax. There was more, but I think you get the idea.

Another website featured a man inducing orgasm by electrically stimulating his penis and balls....four times in a row. At this point my computer seized up, either with the size of the download or shock at the way in which people get sexually aroused, and, after I'd reformatted my hard drive, I've never really sought out such images again, though I have been interested in what causes men to wish to modify their penises, especially by subincision (slicing open the underside of the penis, including the urethra). But here I'm more concerned with fetishes than sado-masochism. (See here for urolgania.)

Objects actually made for sexual purposes are not, in themselves, fetish objects: it's the  symbolism of the fetish that imbues it with sexual power.

Of course, what constitutes a fetish depends in large part on the sexual mores and culture in which a person lives: the associated shame and guilt, if any, is culture specific. So it's reasonable to say that a fetish is only a problem if it interferes with normal sexual relationships or causes a level of shame or guilt which is unacceptable to the individual concerned.

Unfortunately, many men (and women) with fetishes are more attached to the fetishistic object than they are to the people they're in a  relationship with. Why does this happen? Where do fetishes come from?

When men masturbate, they usually have something erotic in mind. Perhaps some of the more hostile fantasies, like spanking, develop as the product of what was done to a person during childhood: so, a boy who was beaten by his father might lose his sense of self to this older man, and then, in adulthood, have to prove his manhood by sexually "assaulting" women by spanking them.

In some way, a sexual connection has become established between the experiences of his childhood, and the sexual arousal of his adulthood. Perhaps the connecting factor is the boy's rage towards his mother about the fact that she allowed his father to beat him: now, he projects that anger onto women and feels the need to repeat with them what was done to him.

And, if he were sexually aroused as a child by the beating, then the sexualization of his spanking is not hard to imagine. In some cases the sexualization is overt, such as when a parent has a sexual thrill in spanking the child. 

What's more, since a woman's buttocks are very sexually stimulating for a man, when a man spanks them as an adult, it is an overtly sexual act in the here and now, as well as providing some symbolic power over his partner. Of course, doing this in fantasy while masturbating is still a good way to discharge the emotional tension associated with the original psychic wound received in childhood.

Now, I have to say at this point that I was not spanked as a child, but I do find gentle spanking of my partner's buttocks to be sexy and exciting.

There's obviously something about the act which is sexy, per se (like most men, I find women's asses sexually arousing), but there's also something like a sense of power in the act which feels rewarding. So maybe I have some unresolved anger towards women? Who knows? And, more to the point, does it matter, as long as we both enjoy it? I'd suggest not.

I remember that I fantasized for a long time before my first sexual experience with a woman about the idea of black, silky panties. Quite how it happened, I don't know, but I found when I got into bed with my first girlfriend, she was wearing - yes, black, silky panties!

I suppose it could have happened by chance, since such panties are fairly commonly thought of as sexy, but it was interesting to me to meet my fantasy object in the flesh, as it were! Happily it didn't prove to be a distraction from the real woman! This type of underwear has remained somewhat exciting to me ever since, as has long blonde hair - another feature of the woman with whom I first had sex.

I have no idea, though, whether the conditioning comes from my first sexual experience or some deeper childhood urge long since lost in my memory. By contrast, one man who came to me for therapy had experienced violent sexual fantasies towards women. It turned out that he had been sexually assaulted by his mother when he was a child, so the origin of his mental processes was not hard to work out.

In essence, then, whether or not a fetish is a problem might be most related to the potential consequences or the disruption to normal life: masturbating over your partner's panties when she's not around may cause little more difficulty than an extra load of laundry, but taking washing from other people's drying lines and masturbating over it is a bit more problematic!

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Other pages on the penis and sex

Best sex positions
Anal sex positions
Fellatio - what women think
Better sex and masturbation
Beauty of the penis
Pleasing a woman in bed
The penis & male pleasure
Premature ejaculation
Extended orgasm for men (1)
The senses in lovemaking
Arousal and desire
Fetish and fantasy
Sex toys
Sexual behavior
Intercourse with a soft penis
Men's sexual needs
The power of the penis
The nature of masculinity
Male sexual massage
Manifesting Your Reality

Other sections on the site

Penis facts and penile functions
The penis, masculinity and sex
A Cultural History Of The Penis
Penile & Other Problems 

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