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Friday, 10 July 2015

What is Fetishism? What is a Fetish?


Opinions abound as to the definition of fetish in this modern era. A common notion is that a fetish is simply associated to sexual practices, when a specific object is used or desired for sexual gratification.

But the word fetish originates from the Portuguese feti├žio for charm, sorcery, spell, derived from the Latin facticius 'artificial, man made', which comes from facere 'to make, to do'. In the 15th century, as Portuguese colonialists arrived in the west coast of Africa, they encountered natives with objects such as charms and talismans, objects they believed to possess magical powers, power of witchcraft and sorcery. These objects became known as fetishes, holding unchristian powers and therefore, regarded as unholy by the christian 'invaders'.

Soon after, a fetish was known as an object with an addictive or irrational high fascination for it. Many modern definitions talk of fetish for hats, handbags or shoe fetish, not necessarily linked to any sexual practice, but simply a high and unusual obsession for specific objects.

It is, however, at the end of the 19th century that French psychologist, Alfred Binet, coined the term 'sexual or erotic fetishism' to describe people who had a sexual interest or attachment to an object, such as an item of clothing. Krafft-Ebing, Austro-German psychiatrist, who popularised the terms sadism and masochism, late 19th century, also used the word fetish to describe an abnormal association to an object for sexual satisfaction.

What is a fetish, in modern day definition?


Today, a fetish is more widely known as something we associate with sexual gratification, a specific object, a practice, a ritual or other forms of desire that enhance our sexual experience.

The word fetish still carries a negative connotation in our modern day society, defining it as a 'form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked, to an abnormal degree, to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body'. (1)  By describing it as 'abnormal', a fetish remains an obscure practice and something that should be kept secret from those who do not belong to that world.

As exhibitors at Erotica, we have, on numerous occasions, witnessed many visitors turning away from the fetish village refusing to have a chat, claiming that 'that stuff is not for me, thanks'. But understanding what the fetish world is about could take away the fallacy, and misconception, of this lifestyle choice.

Being 'kinky' might be considered in society as a healthy way of exploring one's sexual life, by introducing some spice into it, but having a fetish remains an obscure practice, not as widely accepted and in some cases, a sign of immorality or psychological problems related to one's sexuality. This view of fetishists keeps them in the margin of society; and although some fetishes are regarded as milder than others, in their degree of weirdness, singularity or unusualness , we certainly learn not to divulge our participation or desire for fetishes within some circles.

Some claim that the close link between fetish and BDSM renders it all sadistic, and something that is practised by those who grow up with emotional and mental problems, as regards to their sexuality.

Fetish protocol requires, however, that a strictly code of conduct is respected at all times, by practising a 'sane, safe and consensual' rule, which demonstrates a high level of trust and responsibility among all those involved. So, the questions are: Do all those practising 'normal sex' adhere to such principle and standard? Is having a fetish so immoral, when true fetishists remain respectful of others' preferences, choices and inclinations?

If something turns you on, why not be free to practise it without being considered as a risk to society, on a mission to pervert vulnerable, unwilling people. Having and living a fetish is a personal affair, a personal choice that cannot be always explained and certainly not to be justified.


In our quest to provide adequate and extensive information in Fetish Map London, on the wide range of fetishes, we have explored clubs, munches and forums, among others. Extending from the well known fetishes such as body parts and body features to the more bizarre, the directory is vast.

Fetishes encompass, but are not limited to:

    •    Body parts, body features: feet, hair, hands, body size, obesity, size of breasts, size of penis, body fluid, body smell - smell of material such as leather
    •    Things people wear: shoes, uniforms, stockings, hats, piercings
    •    The feel of material: leather, latex, satin, silk
    •    Dressing up in other things: furry animal costumes, plushies
    •    Playing animals: pony play, pet play
    •    Balloon fetish, body inflation
    •    Feeders: feeding partners to reach a body size that is pleasing. The whole ritual of choosing food, preparing food, and feeding is important.
    •    Sploshing - Messy fun: food smudged all over the body.
    •    Latex, leather masks
    •    Tattoos
    •    Rubber dolls
    •    Fangs
    •    Infantilism
    •    Medical play
    •    Bondage
    •    Strap-ons
    •    Cross-dressing

If your fetish is not on the list, leave your comment, or let us know which fetish you would like more information on. In the few coming weeks, I shall be writing articles on particular fetishes, so come back to read them. For more information on the fetish lifestyle, and where to find all you need: www.fetishmap.co.uk for your map.


Eva Lamour


(1) Oxford Dictionary

Photography by James Drury


PONY PLAY IN BRUSSELS



MEDICAL PLAY - BLOOD FETISH

FOOT FETISH


WHIP, STOCKINGS AND SHOES FETISH

BONDAGE - ZENTAI at
Club Rub Annual Rubber Awards

LATEX - INFLATED LATEX at
Club Rub Annual Rubber Awards

UNIFORM LATEX FETISH
at Club Rub Annual Rubber Awards

LATEX FETISH - from BREATHLESS
at Club Rub Annual Rubber Awards