Built from kicks and water: A brief look at scuba fetishism

“[Question] Is it normal to have a scuba fetish about scuba diving and snorkeling and having scuba diving gear on and walking around in public for every one to see? [Response] I have a fetish of scuba diving and snorkeling and I feel really good about it” (Is It Normal? website).

In a previous blog I looked at aquaphilia (a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from water and/or watery environments including bathtubs or swimming pools – and sometimes referred to as hydrophilia). However, I recently came across a sub-type of aquaphilia (i.e., scuba fetishism) where according to an article in The Gazette on the ‘world’s freakiest fetishes’ are where individuals are sexually aroused by scuba diving, snorkeling, or the wearing of diving equipment. Scuba fetishism may also have some psychosexual crossover with athyphilia (a sexual paraphilia where individuals get sexually aroused by depth or deep water). The most detailed article that examines scuba fetishes is that on the Nation Master website. The article claims that:

“There are many aspects to the scuba fetish which attract fetishists. First, there is the sensual pleasure of being in a liquid environment. One is weightless and free to move in three dimensions which allows for a wider variety of sexual positions. Often, the sexual arousal comes in the form of wearing wetsuits, swim caps, and other rubber articles which serve as a second skin [i.e., rubber fetishism]. For many, the arousal comes from the wearing of face masks; this is related to fetishes involving gas masks, hazmat suits, and decorative masks [i.e., mask fetishism]. Other fetishists are aroused by other diving gear such as swim fins, snorkels, regulators, and technical diving equipment”.

The article also makes reference to various ‘scubaphile’ websites and in the name of ‘research’ I felt duty bound to check them out. The sites I visited included HapWater (that specialises in scuba diving-related fetish photography featuring beautiful frogwomen in classic SCUBA gear”), Atlantis Bizarre (a subsection of the fashion fetish site Jazzy Fashion where individuals can buy scuba-related fetish wear), Underwater Fans (a web portal with many links to other underwater fetish websites such as Aqua Maidens), and Rub Aqua Girl who begins her blog by letting readers know:

“Me? I’m just a rubber lover who likes being underwater…holding my breath.I’ve always loved rubber but after finding out my partner was into the water thing, I tried it. This was as much a surprise to me as it was to him coz I’ve been frightened of water since nearly drowning when I was younger. Now you can’t keep me out of it – the feeling of being rubber-clad and underwater is indescribable!”

There are many other scuba fetish websites including some that also feature ‘drowning fetishes’ such as that at the Aqua Entertainment website (please be warned that this and the other sites mentioned are sexually explicit). As far as I can ascertain there is no academic research on scuba fetishism so everything in this blog is (at best) anecdotal. The Nation Master article claims that in relation to scuba fetishism:

“As with other fetishes, actually living out fantasies with a partner is the exception rather than the rule. Not only is it predominantly a male fetish, but the sole fact that not everyone has a large enough indoor pool often enough prohibits living out fantasies with a partner. Some may develop an emphasis on the scuba gear and any clothing involved, so unlike with aquaphilia, water, or actual scuba diving is not a strict requirement. Often enough this merely adds to the thrill. Thrill often is a keyword here as well. People by and large tend to associate fun and adventure with scuba diving so a prospective partner who actually does scuba diving may appear more attractive anyway, but to a scubaphile who actually does scuba diving him or herself this will almost be a requirement. To have a partner who is geared for fun and adventure just seems more promising and the ability to spend vacations on live aboards or in tourist resortsthat offer scuba diving in order to share the passion for scuba diving with each other will certainly be of concern”.

As mentioned above, there appear to be psychological and behavioural overlaps between scuba fetishism and other types of fetishism. The Latex Wiki website claims that:

“[Scuba fetishism is] usually appreciated as one of the forerunners of the latex fetish and gas masks enthusiasts as these were the earliest full body rubber suits designed and obtainable. However, as they were highly expensive, few had the money to purchase such suits. In the later era of early mass production, full rubber suits were purchased more easily…Today, many latex fetishists prefer the more form-flattering sheet pressed latex costuming (usually referred to ‘drywear’ indicating that it is not really meant to be worn in or under water due to the pressure on the suit from the water) as opposed to the thick rubber or neoprone suits that divers actually use in underwater travel (‘wetwear’ which usually refers to a suit that is specifically designed to resist the pressures of water when submerged). However, some still prefer the thick containing format of scuba-like suits or actual scuba suits on such models and performers and themselves. Scuba fetishism has many fans; some are turned on because of the tight clothing, others because of the water environment, others because of the masks and also breathplayers (although those last two are few and rare)”.

It is hard for me to either confirm or disconfirm any of the assertions made in this online article but personally I think the claims made have good face validity. I certainly came across other online references supporting the things claimed here (especially the relationship and overlap between scuba fetish and ‘breathplay’ (i.e., hypoxyphilia: the restriction of breathing, usually during sex, to gain erotic satisfaction). For instance, one person writing at the Answers.Yahoo.com website stated:

“I think that you might find that [scuba fetish is] a fairly specialised fetish and not overly common. However, someone who is into breath-play might find it appealing. It would be interesting to be bound by the feet to the bottom of a body of water so that you cannot rise to the surface and are trapped underwater with your air supply controlled by another person”.

Although scuba divers sometimes wear nappies (i.e. diapers) because they are in the water so long, there is little to suggest that this particular type of fetishism is related to ‘diaper fetishism’. An article on adult babies at the Odd Sex website reports that:

“Those who wear diapers because of incontinence are probably not [Adult Babies/Diaper Lovers]. While they may wear and use diapers, they aren’t necessarily doing it to express an alternate self-image or indulge a fetish. This also applies to those who use diapers for practical reasons, such as astronauts and scuba divers. Finally, there are some who start wearing diapers as a ‘new kink’”.

As with other rare sexual behaviours that I have examined in my blog, I can’t see scuba fetishism ever becoming an area of scientific research although the occasional case may make its way into the forensic literature if things go tragically wrong (i.e., accidental death from asphyxiation). However, as I noted in my previous blog on aquaphilia, there have only been two autoerotic water-related deaths published in the medical forensic literature (see ‘Further reading’ below) but neither of these involved the use of scuba gear.

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.

Gamotin, D. (2009). World’s freakiest fetishes. The Gazette, February 14. Located at: http://www.gazette.uwo.ca/article.cfm?section=Campus&articleID=288&month=2&day=14&year=2007

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

Nation Master (2013). Scuba fetishism. Located at: http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Scuba-fetishism

Sauvageau, A. & Racette, S. (2006). Aqua-eroticum: An unusual autoerotic fatality in a lake involving a home-made diving apparatus. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 51(1), 137–39.

Sivaloganathan, S. (1984). Aqua-eroticum – A case of auto-erotic drowning. Medicine, Science and the Law, 24, 300–302.

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 July 4, 2014, in Case Studies, Compulsion, Obsession, Paraphilia, Psychology, Sex, Sex addiction, Unusual deaths and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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