Specs appeal: A beginner’s guide to glasses fetishism

I thought I had come up with a pretty good title for today’s blog on ‘glasses fetishism’ until I found our that Specs Appeal was the name of a 1975 album by the British pop group The Shadows. According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, glasses fetishism refers to a “fetishistic attraction to people wearing prescription glasses, sunglasses, or cosmetic contact lenses or to the act of wearing glasses or the glasses themselves. Other related activities include wearing glasses during sexual acts and ejaculation on glasses”. It has also been implied in a Wikipedia article that glasses fetishism is a sub-type of clothing fetishism. The (clearly non-academic) Venus O’Hara website further claims that:

“Glasses fetishism is characterised by the effect that a pair of glasses can have on the erotic imagination of a spectator. Glasses are often a key component in many role-playing scenarios. Glasses of different shapes, sizes and prescription strengths allow the participants to invest more belief in the erotic reality of their chosen characters. Glasses can change the shape of a face, alter mannerisms and allow a fetishist to imprint almost any persona they prefer onto a wearer…The key moments that fetishists remember, when thinking about their formative experiences with people wearing glasses become vital, imaginative, starting points for them. In this way, the personas of teachers, students and secretaries become fetish stand-bys and a pair of glasses can summon up the erotic potentials of them with ease”

In popular culture, glasses fetishism is far from mainstream. In fact, the only mainstream movie I can think of that features a sexually related glasses scene is the 1959 comedy, Some Like It Hot (directed by Billy Wilder). The film touches on many sexual themes (trans-sexuality, androgyny, impotence) but also features an erotic glasses-kissing scene involving Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis. However, glasses fetishism is popular in Japanese anime cartoons, particularly on female characters (and is called meganekko-moe – for instance, check out Sky Over My Spectacles). According to Patrick Galbraith (at the University of Tokyo) nobody is sure when the first ‘girl with glasses’ became part of Japanese pop culture. In a 2011 article on glasses fetishism in the online Kotaku magazine, Galbraith was quoted as saying:

“Glasses were kind of was always around, like the animal ears in Tezuka Osamu manga, and slowly took on special meanings. In Japan, glasses have different meanings for both male and female characters. When male characters wear glasses, they are a dominant character. They are in control. But, when a female character wears glasses, it can also means she is shy or a wallflower. If the female character takes off the glasses, however, she tends to be stunningly beautiful”.

Back in 2009, Jerry Lowery of Illinois (US, and then aged 38 years) was charged with stealing more than 500 pairs of glasses from suburban spectacle shops because of his fetish for eyeglasses. The Associated Press reported that:

“Prosecutors said Lowery walked into three shops between April and July and said he had a gun. They say he took more than 500 pairs of high-end glasses including Prada and Gucci brands, but didn’t take cash. The criminal complaint quotes Lowery as saying he “really likes to be around glasses.” He told investigators he tries them on in front of a mirror and then discards them”

Anecdotally, there is certainly online evidence of the existence of glasses fetishism such as dedicated online forums (such as Eyescene“a different outlook on eyewear”) and pornographic websites (such as JOMF – please be warned that this is a very sexually explicit site). I also came across various admissions from people claiming to be glasses fetishists. For instance:

  • Extract 1: “My girlfriend is so-so when it comes to looks…I’ve had a major glasses fetish my whole life, but unfortunately she does not need them. I think it would make our relationship happier if I was actually turned on by her. I’ve heard isopropyl alcohol can damage vision…I don’t want to blind her, maybe just mess her up just slightly enough to get her to wear glasses. How much isopropyl alcohol should I give her?”
  • Extract 2: “A number of people I know are really turned on by glasses. I seem to come across an odd number of girls with perfectly healthy eyes sporting those little black framed emo glasses. The success of sites like Bookworm Bitches shows that this is a pretty common fetish. Then there is the whole school of sunglasses fetishists who pine for Tom Cruise in Risky Business with the Ray Bans”.
  • Extract 3: “There is no getting around it. I’ve got a thing for glasses. Glasses on women are plain hot. I am hardly alone in my fetish, as many guys seem to appreciate the librarian look”.
  • Extract 4: Glasses fetish, that’s me. I figure any woman who decides her perception of the world is more important than her vanity is OK by me. Contacts? Lasik? Waste of time. To me every woman is at least as hot with glasses than without. As for myself, my vision is nearly perfect. At time, I wish it weren’t”.
  • Extract 5: I have a thing for gorgeous young men with glasses. There is just something about a guy who’s sexy and intelligent, and wears glasses. A sight of such man makes me dazed”.
  • Extract 6: I’ve always enjoyed seeing a woman in glasses. It gives a touch of elegant intellectual to any appearance. Its so incredibly enticing to see the eyes underneath and to know that very soon, if it is a lover, I will be able to remove them and undress her face in a way that very few are able to do. I have these feelings for wireframes and for thick frames. I like the vintage styles and the nearly invisible modern frames. Glasses give that extra layer of protection between the portals to their soul and my searching gaze”.

Other anecdotal evidence is provided in an interview with ‘Jon’, a 24-year old male glasses fetishist by Alice Huber in the online Europe and Me Magazine, Jon was asked how and where his glasses fetish began. Jon replied:

“When I was 19 there was a clear trigger, during a seminar at [university]. Our professor was a Greek guy with loads of temperament, and one day, in walks his teaching assistant, looking very strict in a suit jacket and skirt, hair put up in a ballerina knot and wearing big, black glasses. Every time she was taking notes, she would be wearing her glasses, but as soon as she stopped to listen to the professor, she took them off. I think it was the contrast of her being so submissive, next to this powerful male professor that intrigued me”.

Jon also admitted that he asked his sexual partners to wear glasses when engaging in sexual activity, and that when they wore glasses, it made him feel like he was the ‘boss’. He also said he found the ‘geek’ look attractive. Jon also claimed that there was a particular type of glasses that turned him on the most – “large, thick black frames. Square lenses. So-called media glasses”. In an online article by Karen Cotton on the Philia Phrenzy website noted that:

“Anyone who has had a fantasy involving the headmistress or master disciplining them, will most likely imagine them in glasses. Or perhaps your taste is more in corrupting a schoolboy or transforming an uptight bespeckled bookworm into a wild, crazy nymph. Perhaps if eyes are the windows to the soul, glasses frame its desires. While the glasses themselves can be a turn on for some, fetishists cite a variety of sources for arousal including: (i) watching women struggle – either with losing their glasses or adjusting to a new pair; (ii) spectacles slipping down the nose; (iii) the cleaning of smudged lenses; and (iv) seeing a person wearing or manipulating eyewear both sexually and non-sexually…Some fetishists wear eyeglasses – sometimes even over contacts. This practice, glasses over contacts (GOC), requires the use of contact lenses prescribed at a strength which allows the user to see clearly through strong eyeglasses. For some hopeful fetishists, they let their eyes go overcorrected for a length of time so that stronger glasses will be necessary”.

As there is no academic or clinical research on glasses fetishism, I can’t conform or refute any of the claims that Cotton makes in her. Cotton quoted Bobby Laurel a self-confessed Czech-born GOC fetishist who runs his own specialist GOC website. Laurel asserted that his fetish for very thick lensed glasses is psychologically similar to those who are into abasiophilia (sexual arousal from pretending to be handicapped) and apotemnophilia (sexual arousal from wanting to be an amputee):

“All of them pretend a kind of disability. Please, do not misunderstand the concept of this pretending. They do not do it to lodge a fraudulent claims, to get benefits, to get money, to beg etc. No! They wheel or crutch just for the pleasure (Yes, they like it!) … Those pretenders and us – the GOC wearers – are the same kind of ‘freaks’. None of us know exactly what happened in our brains that we like pretending to be disabled. We just like it. Please, realise we do not harm anybody. We do not wish that the other people really needed thick glasses, wheelchairs or crutches. Of course, we like the people who happened to need the stuff. They attract us, it is true, it often makes us excited or even sexually stimulated when we see a person who wears strong glasses or needs crutches or a wheelchair”.

In a 2007 issue of the International Journal of Impotence Research, Dr. C. Scorolli and his colleagues examined the relative prevalence of different fetishes. Fetishes for glasses featured in a small number of the fetishistic groups located. Glasses were then mentioned in their discussion concerning the formation of fetishes and sexual paraphilia. Glasses fetishism was used as an example to argue against genetic and evolutionary biological theories. More specifically, they noted:

“The lack of epidemiological data and of a shared taxonomy for describing paraphilic behaviors is one of the primary factors that has hampered the scientific scrutiny of Fetishism as well as the search for etiological mechanisms. Although many theories have been advanced to account for the development of typical and atypical sexual behaviors, none has been fully convincing. By applying evolutionary biology to human sexuality, some authors aimed to demonstrate an innate mechanism(s) to explain sexual preferences. Others consider sexual preferences, such as male homosexuality, genetic in nature. Our results partially agree and partially contrast this theory, at least for fetishes. In fact, the highly frequent preference for artificial objects here demonstrated seems not consistent with the genetic determination of preferences. It is unlikely that a particular genetic makeup should result in a preference for specific stimuli such as, for instance, coats, balloons, eye-glasses or headphones – all of which we found in our data”.

In all honesty, the chance of glasses fetishism becoming the topic of serious academic or clinical research is probably minimal. My own brief foray into the area suggests that it exists (as evidenced by dedicated fan and video websites). However, as fetishes go, most of these appear to be relatively harmless.

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

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Ashcroft, B. What is Japan’s fetish this week? Glasses. Kotako, April 21. Located at: http://kotaku.com/5792396/whats-japan-fetishizing-this-week-glasses

Cotton, K. (2007). Frame your desires. Philia Phrenzy, March 26. Located at: http://philia-phrenzy.blogspot.co.uk/2007/03/frame-your-desires.html

Huber, A. (2012). World of fetishism: Has the cool gadget era made geeks, and the specs stereotypically associated with them, the new sex symbols? Europe and Me Magazine, 17. Located at: http://www.europeandme.eu/17baby/915-a-world-of-fetishism

Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.

Scorolli, C., Ghirlanda, S., Enquist, M., Zattoni, S. & Jannini, E.A. (2007). Relative prevalence of different fetishes. International Journal of Impotence Research, 19, 432-437

Wikipedia (2013). Clothing fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clothing_fetish

About drmarkgriffiths

Professor MARK GRIFFITHS, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA, AcSS. Dr. Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Professor of Behavioural Addiction 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 600 research papers, four books, over 130 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 March 13, 2014, in Case Studies, Compulsion, Gender differences, Obsession, Paraphilia, Psychology, Sex, Sex addiction and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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