Knowing Yourself: Hidden Amusements
WARNING! This article contains strong sexual content and potentially distressing material**
“Fear, anxiety, arousal, and pain; all are emotions and sensations. They are neither right, nor are they wrong; good nor bad. They are simply passions, a most important part of life. Feel them, fully experience them, surrender to them, and learn to accept them.”
—Nikki S. Fate #1
Jake Block has written extensively concerning kinks/fetishes. I highly recommend reading them if you have not. However, my purpose here will be focused on how childhood, adolescent, and adult experiences shape an individual’s sexual expression in the form of fetishes/kinks.
According to the DSM-IV-TR criteria, fetishism is described as:
A: Over a period of at least six months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving the use of nonliving objects (e.g., female undergarments).
B: The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
C: The fetish objects are not limited to articles of female clothing used in cross-dressing or devices designed for the purpose of tactile genital stimulation (e.g., a vibrator).
Other associated features:
The individual may be employed or undertake volunteer work to enable behavior to be practiced. For example, taking a job as a shoe salesman in the case of someone with a foot fetish.
With this information in mind, let’s take a moment to consider those fond memories of our childhoods. Is there anything there you found to be an adolescent curiosity, or a random association between an object and sexual pleasure? Such associations may have innocent beginnings. For example, a boy seeking the comfort of his mother’s legs (which just so happen to be clad in stockings), or a girl reaching up to touch her father’s beard.
According to Dr. Mark Schwartz “In the first ten years of someone’s life, there is a hardwiring of sexual arousals and then, at puberty, it sort of turns on. Then, over time, it gets cemented through the repetition of masturbation to the arousing object.”
My personal experiences, and of those who will remain anonymous, follow this idea.
For example, I was subject to beatings as a child, while being told “I do this because I love you.” This is expressed as an adult via fetishes that involve pain and praise.
One of my contacts shared her experience concerning pillows. She discovered masturbation rather young, an activity that was forbidden in her strict Catholic household. She resorted to biting and using her pillow to muffle any sounds she might have made. Now a grown woman, she has a deep desire for erotic asphyxiation and orgasm denial. She also has a penchant for sexual activity in places that have a high risk of being caught.
In a similar light, a male developed a foot fetish from what he described as a “love affair with his Pikachu slippers.” For those who may not understand what that is, it was a popular character in the 90’s Pokémon craze.
Just as our childhoods are powerful influences, so too are our adolescent years. Fueled by the high octane introduction of a hormonal cocktail as humans transition from children to reproductive age.
Anton LaVey’s concept of Erotic Crystallization Inertia (ECI) provides another viewpoint.
“The ECI is a split second of sexual awakening,” LaVey explains. “A switch goes off inside.” When he was sixteen, he experienced another erotic crystallization. He was at another party; some of the kids were wrestling, and a girl’s dress was hiked up so that Tony could see her plump thighs and pale skin. She was a blonde. “She was just another schoolgirl,” LaVey says. “I wasn’t even interested in her.” But forever after, blondes were it for him—an unending source of love and trouble. (From Saints and Sinners, by Lawrence Wright. 1995)
Again, we can see this reflected in our personal lives. One of my ECI moments came as a giddy fourteen year old at a wedding after party. The music was loud, and everyone was having fun. I felt beautiful, and I noticed an older man approach me. He had salt and pepper hair, blue eyes, a white long-sleeved collared shirt, black vest and dress pants. He asked if I wanted to dance, and embarrassed, I admitted I didn’t know how. He explained that I was little, so I could stand on his shoes and learn the steps. As we moved, I noticed he smelled of leather, cinnamon, and vanilla.
It was entirely an innocent moment, one likely born out of the kindness of a stranger. He had no ill-designs. But from it, I have carried a strong fondness (and arousal) from those things.
Another woman realized her latent homosexuality during a group shower after PE class in high school. She admitted that there “was just something sexually charged about watching the girls around her lather themselves with soap. Not to mention the way the water beaded on their skin.”
A young man explained how he stole some of his mother’s bras, and wore them under his clothes as a teenager. He derived such pleasure from it, that he pursued cross-dressing, and began exploring the world of drag in his late 20’s.
We are not solely limited to forming fetishes as children, or teenagers. As adults, we sometimes lean on our sexuality to convey hard to articulate desires or emotions. Men tend to express their needs for emotional closeness and acknowledgment of their value as a physical urge to be held, kissed, giving and receiving affection, sex, etc. A man who isn’t getting his emotional needs met by his partner may fixate on large breasts, for example.
There is a theory floating among psychologists that an individual’s sexual fantasies are the mind’s way of making past trauma more easily digestible. A way to relive the past, but from a standpoint of control. An individual who suffered physical and/or sexual abuse might turn to imagined or real S&M scenarios. In this manner, the person expresses that trauma in a pleasurable sexual way rather than as a painful memory.
Human sexuality is complex, and ever evolving through our lifetimes. What we may find sexually stimulating as a young adult, may not have the same level of excitement in middle-age. It is important to understand your fantasies, and the elements they are composed of. Your desires, your fetishes, your ECI moments. They are the intertwining of your body and mind, and they are communicating to you what you need. It is in your best interest to examine them, because it will lead to a deeper understanding of yourself and, by extension, a better understanding of the human beings around you.