Fetishism in Women
Is fetishism in women a problem or simply a way to make sex more interesting? Many of those who have a fetish would argue it's a way to spice up their sex lives. Others would classify it as a sexual problem. Here's a look at fetishism and what the experts have to say about it.
What is Fetishism?
Often also called erotic fetishism, sexual fetishism refers to the sexual arousal a person experiencing from a specific situation, non-sexual part of the body, or a physical object. In most cases, the situation, body part or object is necessary for sexual gratification and tends to be sexless and inanimate.
The Mayo Clinic says that fetishism could be classified as compulsive sexual behavior. Compulsive sexual behavior happens when sexual expression no longer becomes a natural part of life, but instead becomes obsessive. It can damage relationships, your career, your overall health and your self esteem.
According to Jacob Obamefemi, author of the 2004 book Beyond Primitivism Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity, the theory of fetishism was brought forward in the 18th century by Charles de Brosses who considered it an important stage in the evolution of religion.
Nineteenth century French hypnotist, psychologist and lawyer Alfred Binet broke down types of fetishes into two categories:
· Spiritual love
· Plastic love
Spiritual love referred to the devotion of specific occupational roles (think of the sexy French maid), social class (the sexual slave in the dungeon) or attitudes. Plastic love refers to the sexual devotion of material objects (such as high heel shoes, pantyhose, and latex), animals or body parts (such as feet).
Do Women Have Fetishes?
Throughout history to focus of fetishism has been on the unusual things heterosexual men found sexually stimulating. It has only been recently that more research (although still highly limited research) has gone into fetishism and women.
One of the first books published regarding fetishism in women was Female Fetishism: A New Look by Lorraine Gamman and Merja Makinen documents "women's engagement with this form of sexuality." The book basically says that fetishism in women is very real and the reason why general society hasn't acknowledged it is because of the "Freudian construction of passive female sexuality."
From the limited research currently done of fetishism in women, researchers have discovered that the fetishes women have don't necessarily mirror those of a man's. The example provided was that while men may be "attracted to women in high heels does not necessarily mean there are many women attracted to men in construction boots."
So, what exactly are fetishes women have? They can be anything from a Suit and Tie fetish (meaning the only way a woman is sexually gratified is by seeing or touching a man in a well-cut suit) to food to spandex fetishes.
Why Some Women Have Fetishes
Even though fetishism among women is becoming more widely recognized, there is an assumption in modern psychology that those who have it have been conditioned or imprinted to have a specific fetish because of a traumatic experience.
Other possible explanations include genes or brain construction. It was once thought that fetishes were caused by "pathological sexual degeneration and hypersensitivity" according to psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in 1912. At this point it wasn't widely acknowledged that women had fetishes as well.
The modern theory why women (or men) have fetishes is they are simply a normal variation of human sexuality. They're usually considered unobjectionable as long as those involved (on the receiving or giving end of the fantasy) are not uncomfortable or coerced.
Many modern doctors don't consider the fetishist to be ill because of the fetish itself. The fetishist becomes ill if she suffers from her fetishism.
Before treatment can be made, the woman who suffers from her fetishism needs to be diagnosed with fetishism. Diagnosis is made according to the criteria created by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Criteria are as follows:
· Unusual sexual fantasies, drives or behavior consistently for at least six months.
· The affected woman (or man) feels distress or impairment (or causes distress or impairment) in multiple areas including private social contacts, safety and job.
Treatment involves cognitive therapy and psychoanalysis.