Sitting pretty: A beginner’s guide to forniphilia

As someone who teaches my students about sexual paraphilias I have to admit I had never heard of forniphilia until very recently. Forniphilia is a form of sexual objectification and is viewed by many as a form of sexual bondage as the human body is typically incorporated into the shape of a piece of furniture where the person has to stay still for extended periods of time. The first time I came across the word was in an article on sexual paraphilias in The Times of India that reported forniphilia was:

“A seemingly sexist wish to see the opposite sex being installed as pieces of furniture (the person is tightly bound and made to remain immobile in a particular position for any period of time)”

The term “forniphilia was allegedly coined by Jeff Gord, the man behind The House of Gord (“The Home of Ultra Bondage”). The submissive person that is positioned into a piece of human furniture typically has to wear a gag and may be at risk of being smothered. However, it is up to the dominant person to regularly check on the psychological and physical wellbeing of the submissive. The House of Gord’s website notes that:

The act of turning a woman into nothing more than a piece of functional furniture is the ultimate goal for many bondage enthusiast. Often completely immobile the woman finds that she is at least useful to her owner, perhaps performing the role of a table, chair or even hat stand. Many find this type of sexual objectification highly erotic, especially if the subject is in someway vulnerable…Knowing she cannot move she can only hope she will be of some use. Awaiting use, she is forced to wait and obey until needed”.

Forniphiles bind up their submissive partners very tight and for the submissives can be extremely dangerous. The House of Gord does not recommend people trying this very specific and stylized type of bondage unless they are very experienced and have the requisite “safety measures” in place. Jeff Gord describes the practice of human furniture as the ultimate in artistic expression. Gord claims that:

“Over the centuries, mere mortal man, artists and sculptures of renown, have struggled to capture the essence of femininity in various inanimate and inadequate mediums of paint, stone, plaster-of-paris, bronze, and a host of other organic materials. Whilst they came close, none really managed to portray that indefinable something that is womanhood; a mystical state-of-the-art life form that guards its secrets jealously. In my opinion, they never will. They were using the wrong materials”.

Forniphiles believe they are choosing the most erotic and exciting “ultimate material” - in this case, women. Gord also notes (and I’m quoting this verbatim as I don’t agree with this personally) that:

“A second description of forniphilia would be man’s desire to render a powerful and dangerous adversary to the role of utility item…It is in man’s nature to conquer and control, and in this respect the female of our species probably represents the only adversary he has never managed to subdue…Reduce a woman to a usable object and she becomes so damned sexually alluring that she has you by the balls so to speak…Try sitting on a human female chair, with a human female table, and a human female foot stool, and you really stop caring about the battle of the sexes”.

Other articles I have read on forniphilia suggest that some woman are active willing participants in such activity and actually enjoy it. For instance, an online article in Sensuality News reported that the:

“Reality is that some women – more so than men – enjoy behaving existing as pieces of furniture. Any version of doormat furniture will do. Bottom line, they are women or illusions of women – meant to be seen and not heard. There’s no doubt that forniphilia is an ultimate act of submission…Often the submissive is in danger of being smothered or in the case of Alva Bernadine’s ‘The Philosopher Illumined by Candlelight’, having her vagina set on fire… We’re interested in forniphilia as an extension of 1930s surrealism, exemplified in Hans Bellmer’s photo ‘The Doll’. ‘Scorn for Women’ is a key plank of ‘The Futurist Manifesto’, a document that eventually paved the way for the artistic movements of Surrealism and Dadaism”. 

In response to the article on Sensuality News, a transvestite male (calling himself ‘Bekki’) wrote that he and other males are forniphiles:

“I am a male cross-dresser who partakes in ‘furniture play’ exclusively for the use of Women. I am sure I am not the only one out there, but I do see how it is more of a female activity. Even when I partake, it is usually as a girl, but always for women. For some reason, being a chair or a table, or even a coat rack for a single woman or a group of women is infinitely sexier than if it were for a male”.

A quick look at the House of Gord FAQ page revealed the many types of furniture that women had been temporarily turned into. This included many different types of table, lamps, pedestals, various types of chair (office chair, rocking chair, etc.), footstools, ceiling decorations (including chandeliers), lawn sprinklers, and bird tables.

It perhaps won’t surprise you that I didn’t manage to locate a single piece of empirical research on the topic of forniphilia. In Gregg Norris’ 2010 book Illustrated Sex Guides: Dominance and Submission, it gains only a passing reference in a section on “Dominant/submissive relationship styles” under the categories of ‘objectification’ and ‘dehumanization’. Other than that, I don’t think the word ‘forniphilia’ has made it into hard copy print. Certainly looks like an area in need of some research and/or feminist critique.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Norris, G. (2010). Illustrated Sex Guides: Dominance and Submission. Brian Phillipe

Scoch, I.R. (2012). Forniphilia and other words I learned at my first fetish part. Global Post, March 2. Located at: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/wanderlust/sexual-fetish-parties

Sensuality News (2011). Is forniphilia essentially women’s sex slave work? May 23. Located at: http://www.sensualitynews.com/living/is-forniphilia-essentially-womens-sex-slave-work.html

Social Kink (2007). Jeff Gord interview. October 24. Located at: http://www.socialkink.com/articles.php?do=view&id=92

The Times of India (2007). The kinks of virtual men. April 15. Located at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/sunday-toi/The-kinks-of-virtual-men/articleshow/1911674.cms?flstry=1

Wikipedia (2012). Human furniture. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_furniture

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About drmarkgriffiths

Professor MARK GRIFFITHS, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA, AcSS. Dr. Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Professor of Gambling Studies at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit. He is internationally known for his work into gambling and gaming addictions and has won many awards including the American 1994 John Rosecrance Research Prize for “outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of gambling research”, the 1998 European CELEJ Prize for best paper on gambling, the 2003 Canadian International Excellence Award for “outstanding contributions to the prevention of problem gambling and the practice of responsible gambling” and a North American 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award For Contributions To The Field Of Youth Gambling “in recognition of his dedication, leadership, and pioneering contributions to the field of youth gambling”. His most recent award is the 2013 Lifetime Research Award from the US National Council on Problem Gambling. He has published over 430 research papers, three books, over 120 book chapters, and over 1000 other articles. He has served on numerous national and international committees (e.g. BPS Council, BPS Social Psychology Section, Society for the Study of Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous General Services Board, National Council on Gambling etc.) and is a former National Chair of Gamcare. He also does a lot of freelance journalism and has appeared on over 2000 radio and television programmes since 1988. In 2004 he was awarded the Joseph Lister Prize for Social Sciences by the British Association for the Advancement of Science for being one of the UK’s “outstanding scientific communicators”. His awards also include the 2006 Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology Award by the British Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society Fellowship Award for “exceptional contributions to psychology”.

Posted on June 8, 2012, in Paraphilia, Popular Culture, Psychology, Sex, Sex addiction and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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