"I have a fetish for wool socks, I just love them!"

"I have a fetish for corsets, I can't get off without thinking of them!"

One of these statements is a sure sign of a fetish; the other is a misuse of the term. Sure this is a poor example. How many times have you heard a  phrase like the first one in everyday speech? Not long ago the idea of having a fetish was taboo and now we use it as a casual obsession with something from foods to material items. There is no wonder that when it comes to real fetishes people are still in the dark as to understanding them.

What is a Fetish, Really?

Let's use Wikipedia to give us a general definition, shall we?

Sexual fetishism, or erotic fetishism, is the sexual arousal brought on by any object, situation or body part not conventionally viewed as being sexual in nature. Sexual fetishism may be regarded, e.g. in psychiatric medicine, as a disorder of sexual preference or as an enhancing element to a relationship. The sexual acts involving fetishes are characteristically depersonalized and objectified, even when they involve a partner. Body parts may also be the subject of sexual fetishes (also known as partialism) in which the body part preferred by the fetishist takes a sexual precedence over the owner.

As we can see from the definition, a fetish is a sexual attachment to an inanimate object or body part. In many cases the fetishist can no achieve an erection or orgasm without the object being present or an active part in the act. This is not limited to men, so don't get my use of words turned around. Women also can develop fetishes.

How Do Fetishes Develop?

There are several theories out there as to how a fetish develops. The classical theory is said to be that the object of fetishism and sexual stimulus are presented at the same time and thus through the learning process they get associated with each other. The learning process is not always during sexual exploration but can happen early in childhood when what makes you feel happy is constantly the same thing. The sense of euphoria is then attached to that object and can transition into a more adult behavior once sexual maturity has been reached. For example, it may only be shiny skin that arouses a person at first, but in time more common stimuli, such as shiny latex, may have the same effect.

Other theories state that a fetish is gained through heredity or through psychological distress. I tend to believe that it is more the classical theory than any other. If you wish to read a bit on these other two theories you can do so on the Wikipedia article about Fetishism.

Are Fetishes Common?

Fetishes are relatively uncommon. They are more likely in heterosexual men than any other gender group.  That doesn't mean you can't develop a temporary fetish. Occasionally there is something that just turns me on about a certain object and I will fantasize about it for some time before it drops off my sexual radar, so to speak. During my high school and college career I was obsessed with anything phallic shaped, as are many women prior (and after) sexual initiation. I am not afflicted quite so much with phallic-fetishism. There is nothing harmful about a temporary fetish as long as you can engage in the fetish safely.

Some fetishes can not be acted out in a loving, healthy manner. A more grotesque fetish I have read about is necrophilia (sex with dead people). This is a fetish that is generally treated with psychotherapy and medication. There are several such fetishes that can harm a person or are detrimental to others if engaged in. You can explore those on your own if you wish to research them.

One of the most common fetishes has to do with feet. Foot worship is quite acceptable in the BDSM arena, but outside it, most foot fetishists have to keep their desires hidden. Other foot fetishists have a love of shoes and high heels. One of my favorite blogs to read is Diary of a Long-Distance Sub (NSFW). The submissive has a growing collection of shoes for her Dominant to enjoy and most of the pictures she shares on her blog have her shoes showing prominently with a part of her sexual anatomy.  This is a healthy way to explore the fetish and is a good read.

10 Most Common Fetishes

  1. Feet
  2. High-heels and knee-high boots
  3. Piercing
  4. Silk, satin, leather or latex
  5. Hands
  6. Hair
  7. Role playing: doctor, nurse etc.
  8. Body parts like flat, tight tummy
  9. Balloons
  10. Finger-nails art

What else do you know about fetishes? Do you think you have one? Why or why not?