Category Archives: Sex
Although I have already written a few blogs on extreme tattooing (including one on the television show My Tattoo Addiction), I have to admit that I don’t find excessive tattoos attractive in the slightest. I don’t mind one or two discreetly placed tattoos but women that are covered in them are a complete turn off for me. Most scientific studies that I have read on women’s tattoos tend to show that I am in the majority as seeing them negatively. For instance, a 1991 study carried out by Dr. Myrna Armstrong and published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship surveyed 137 career women all of who had tattoos. The authors reported that:
“Strong support for the tattoo was expressed by the significant person in the woman’s life and friends, while mild support was perceived from mothers, siblings and children. Respondents cited a lack of, or negative response from their fathers, physicians, registered nurses and the general public. Misunderstanding of what a tattoo means to the individual and stereotyping of women with tattoos continues”.
Dr. Daina Hawkes and her colleagues examined students’ attitudes towards female tattoos in a 2004 study in the journal Sex Roles. They examined both size and visibility of the tattoo. Among the sample, 23% of females and 12% of males were tattooed. The results showed that both men and women had more negative attitudes toward a woman with a visible tattoo than those without. The authors also reported that:
“The size of the tattoo was a predictor of evaluation only for men and women who did not have tattoos themselves. Finally, participants with more conservative gender attitudes evaluated all women more negatively, beyond the effects already accounted for by gender differences”.
In a 2002 issue of Psychological Reports, Dr. Douglas Degelman and Dr. Nicole Price examined what people thought about a photograph of a 24-year-old woman with a black tattoo of a dragon on her left upper arm compared to the same woman without the tattoo. Participants were asked to rate the woman on 13 different personal characteristics and results showed that the compared to the control photograph, the tattooed female was rated as less athletic, less attractive, less motivated, less honest, less generous, less religious, less intelligent, and less artistic. A similar 2005 study using the same technique – also in the journal Psychological Reports – by Dr. John Seiter and Dr. Sarah Hatch, found that a female model with a tattoo was rated as less competent and less sociable than the control photograph of the same woman without a tattoo.
Using a different methodology, Dr. Viren Swami and Dr. Adrian Furnham published a paper in a 2007 issue of the journal Body Image and asked their students to rate social and physical perceptions of blonde and brunette females with different degrees of tattooing. The students were asked to rate how physical attractive and sexual promiscuous the women were as in addition to estimating of the number of alcohol units consumed by the women on a typical night out. The authors reported that:
“Tattooed women were rated as less physically attractive, more sexually promiscuous and heavier drinkers than untattooed women, with more negative ratings with increasing number of tattoos…[Additionally] blonde women in general rated more negatively than brunettes”
This latter study interested Dr. Nicolas Guéguen who has carried out many different studies examining what makes women more attractive. In a 2013 study on the effect that female tattoos have on males published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, he made the following observation about the study by Drs. Swami and Furnham:
“On the one hand, Swami and Furnham’s (2007) results showed that such negative evaluation associated with tattooed women would probably decrease their attractiveness for men. On the other hand, if such women are perceived to be more sexually promiscuous, this could lead men to perceive them as having greater sexual intent. Thus, physical cues that inform them regarding the receptivity of a woman are important. Hence, tattoos could lead male observers to infer that a woman may have greater sexual intent, which, in turn, could lead them to approach such a woman more readily…A survey recently conducted by Guéguen (2012b) showed that tattooed and pierced French women experienced early sexual intercourse. However, the study did not show whether early sexual intercourse can be explained by the fact that women reported interest in both sex and tattoos and piercings or whether women wearing tattoos and piercings experienced more sexual solicitations from men, which, in turn, increased the probability to have sex earlier. Thus, one way of evaluating the mechanism associated with this relation is to test whether men’s behavior changes depending on the presence or absence of a tattoo on a woman’s body”.
As a consequence of these studies and observations, Dr. Guéguen carried out an interesting experimental field study on a French beach and predicted that women with tattoos would be more likely to be approached on the beach by men. To do this, Guéguen placed a temporary tattoo on a woman’s lower back (or not in the control condition), and all the women were asked to read a book while lying flat on their stomach on the beach. Guéguen carried out two experiments and reported:
“The first experiment showed that more men (N = 220) approached the tattooed [women] and that the mean latency of their approach was quicker. A second experiment showed that men (N = 440) estimated to have more chances to have a date and to have sex on the first date with tattooed [women]. However, the level of physical attractiveness attributed to the [woman] was not influenced by the tattoo condition”
Despite the significant results, Dr. Guéguen did note that his studies had a number of limitations. Firstly, the women only had one visible tattoo. The study by Swami and Furnham (outlined above) showed that women were rated as increasingly unattractive the more tattoos they had (i.e., attractiveness was negatively correlated with the number of tattoos). Guéguen also noted that the previous experimental studies involving the visible showing of a single tattoo tended to involve the women’s upper arm. Here, the tattoo was on the woman’s lower back which (according to Guéguen) could have made a difference to the men because it “is near the genital area of female bodies”. Dr. Guéguen also went on to note that:
“It would be worth testing whether a tattoo exerts the same sexual attractiveness effect regardless of the body area where it appears. Only one tattoo design was tested in our two experiments, and it would also be worth testing various designs and the height of the surface area occupied by the tattoo. Furthermore, only attractive women confederates participated in these two studies, and researchers might elect to test the effect of tattoos depending on various levels of female attractiveness. Another issue is that the women confederates were not informed about the real objective of the study and previous research on this topic. However, they may have unconsciously behaved differently when wearing a tattoo, which, in turn, influenced the men’s behavior”.
There are clearly many different avenues that research in this area can go. However, this is one area where public perception may significantly change over time (now that tattoos are in the cultural mainstream). Although my own views on tattoos are unlikely to change, that doesn’t mean others won’t.
Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Armstrong, M.L. (1991). Career-oriented women with tattoos. IMAGE: Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 23, 215–230.
Degelman, D., & Price, N.D. (2002). Tattoos and ratings of personal characteristics. Psychological Reports, 90, 507–514.
Gueguen, N. (2012). Tattoos, piercings, and alcohol consumption. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 36, 1253–1256.
Guéguen, N. (2012). Tattoos, piercings, and sexual activity. Social Behavior and Personality, 40, 1543–1547.
Guéguen, N. (2013). Effects of a tattoo on men’s behavior and attitudes towards women: An experimental field study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 1517-1524.
Hawkes, D., Seen, C.Y. & Thorn, C. (2004). Factors that influence attitudes toward women with tattoos. Sex Roles, 50, 593–604.
Henss, R. (2000). Waist-to-hip ratio and female attractiveness: Evidence From photographic stimuli and methodological considerations. Personality and Individual Differences, 28, 501–513.
Seiter, J.S. & Hatch, S. (2005). Effect of tattoos on perceptions of credibility and attractiveness. Psychological Reports, 96, 1113–1120.
Swami, V., & Furnham, A. (2007). Unattractive, promiscuous, and heavy drinkers: Perceptions of women with tattoos. Body Image, 4, 343–352.
In a previous blogs I have examined both choreophilia (sexual arousal from dancing) and frotteurism (sexual arousal (sexual arousal from non-consensually rubbing up against other people). However, while researching these previous blogs I came across a number of academic papers on ‘dancing frottuerism’. For instance, in a book chapter on frotteurism by Dr. Richard Krueger and Dr. Meg Kaplan, they outlined four case studies of frotteurs in treatment, one of which was a 58-year old male that had engaged in various types of frotteuristic behaviour over a 40-year period (estimated 20,000 acts of frotteurism). This included “dirty dancing” where he would go to nightclubs and deliberately rub himself up against women while dancing with them. He estimated that he engaged in this type of frotteuristic behaviour on approximately 100 nights of the year (compared to other frotteuristic behaviour such as rubbing himself against women on buses and in train subways approximately 200 days a year).
In a short online article concerning frotteurism on the Anxiety Zone website, the term ‘dry humping’ (aka ‘grinding’) is viewed as a form of modern dancing style. The same article also notes that frotteurism may not always be non-consensual:
“Frotteurism carries a connotation of ‘anonymous and discreet rubbing’ in a public place – like on a crowded train. The contact may be mutual or a one-way perpetration…As with most other sexual practices, frottage with a non-consenting person is regarded as a form of sexual assault in most jurisdictions…Frot is a term used among homosexual men to refer to penis to penis rubbing in a conventional private context. It is also known as ‘phrot’, ‘swordfighting’, ‘cockrub’, ‘penis fencing’, ‘bumping dicks’, ‘frication’ and ‘the Princeton rub’. Advocates of this practice represent it as a safer and more erotic alternative to anal sex. Two people engaging in clothed frottage in a manner that simulates intercourse is known in the vernacular as ‘dry humping’. A modern dancing style which involves partners rubbing their clothed bodies on one another is called grinding”
The online Encyclopedia Dramatica also appears to concur, and notes in its article on frotteurism that “sometimes, bump and grind dancing in clubs is also thought of as being frottage”. Frotteurism in the form of dancing appears to be an accepted part of leisure life in the Caribbean. According to a short online article (‘Frottage and Frotteurism in the Caribbean’), dancing frotteurism occurs when couples are dancing (“typically with the man behind the woman. It is something like freak dancing in the US except that nobody is scandalised by it and it is not restricted to teenagers. In Jamaica there are dance events called ‘rubs’ where pelvic thrusting is meant to happen”).
However, some academics do not see this Caribbean practice as socially acceptable. For instance, Dr. Hari Maharajh published a 2010 book chapter entitled ‘Dancing frotteurism or rubbing at the Carnival celebrations in Trinidad’. (Although this appears to be based on an earlier paper published in a 2007 issue of the Journal of Chinese Clinical Medicine). Dr. Maharajh noted that Trinidad and Tobago had been influenced by a variety of cultures that finds its greatest expression during the Carnival season. More specifically, it was reported that:
“During this [Carnival time] a local dance form of wining with suggestible sexual movements is pervasive. It is associated with distortions of normal courtship behavior with paraphilic disturbances. In a case presentation, a young male is presented showing paraphilic disturbances touching, holding, rubbing and coercive sex. This behavior of frotteurism and other paraphilias are common occurrences at carnival in Trinidad and Tobago and are considered to be cultural normative practices”.
The Carnival occurs on many Caribbean islands (not just Trinidad and Tobago) and is celebrated just before Lent. Dr. Maharajh’s case study attempted to identify a number of sexual paraphilias such as “toucherism, frotteurism and preferential rape” during the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival celebration and then looked at some of the legal ramifications of such behaviour. Similar observations were also made in a 2013 paper by Annette George et Darlington Richards in the online journal Études Caribéennes.They noted that two specific behaviors continue to be of concern during the Carnival: (i) the high levels of alcohol consumption during the Carnival’s festivities and, (ii) the erotic dancing and wining expressed by the Carnival participants. They wrote that:
“[In addition to the amount of alcohol consumed during the Carnival, the] second major concern of the celebrations is the dancing or wining. Wining, a term used to describe sensuous pelvic gyrations of the hips and waist, is considered to be suggestive and sexually stimulating not only to the revelers but also to on-lookers (Maharajh & Konings, 2007; Miller, 1991). It is also considered expressions of enjoyment, happiness and freedom…Similarly, Miller (1991) reports that wining between men and women during Carnival, is clearly a sexual expression that encourages rape”.
Maharajh also concurred that excessive alcohol consumption is a key feature of the Carnival and that it is seen as a “time to free up, break away and get on bad” including promiscuity and other “immoral and inexcusable” behaviours. George and Darlington argue that for these reasons, the Trinidadians as a group have a ‘carnival mentality’ that equates to a never-ending all year-round ‘party mentality’. Maharajh claims that in Trinidad, sex is a “comparative performance for both men and women”, and that an activity such as wining “is viewed as either a form of ‘virtual sex’ or as an expression of sexuality”. Citing the work of Dr. C.L. Green (2007), George and Darlington note that the “Carnival is nothing more than an orgy of sexuality and hedonism appealing to the fetishistic fantasies of the potential tourist”, George and Darlington then go on to claim that:
“This contextual, if tantalizing environment for the ‘carnival spirit’ for the locals have an equal, if not more, tantalizing allure for the tourists. The prevailing environment of social, and cultural permissiveness and intermingling, allows for the indulgent tourist to be part of the rascality and the attendant exposure”.
As a backdrop to any debate concerning whether sexual dancing is a legitimate form of frotteurism, it is clear that appropriate sexual behaviours depend on the surrounding context (cultural and/or social) including the time and the place of where the behaviour occurs. Some sexual behaviours that may be unacceptable under most circumstances (e.g., being nude in public, sexual contact between individual dancers) appears as though they are encouraged during celebrations like Mardi Gras or the Carnival.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Anxiety Zone (2013). Frotteurism. Located at: http://www.anxietyzone.com/conditions/frotteurism.html
Encyclopedia Dramatica (2012). Frottage. Located at: https://encyclopediadramatica.es/Frottage
George, A. A., & Richards, D. (2013). Tourism in Trinidad and Tobago: The evolving attitudes and behaviors and its implications in an era of HIV/AIDS epidemic. Études Caribéennes, 19. Located at: http://etudescaribeennes.revues.org/5314
Green, G.L. (2007). ‘Come to life’: Authenticity, value, and the carnival as cultural commodity in Trinidad and Tobago. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 14, 203-224.
Krueger, R.B., & Kaplan, M. S. (1999). Evaluation and treatment of sexual disorders: frottage. Innovations in Clinical Practice: A Source Book, 18, 185-197.
Maharajh, H.D. (2010). Dancing frotteurism or rubbing at the carnival celebrations in Trinidad. In: Maharajh, H.D., Merrick, J., Social and cultural psychiatry experience from the Caribbean Region. (pp.117-122) New York, Nova Science Publishers Inc.
Maharajh, H. D., & Konings, M. (2007). Dancing frotteurism and courtship disorder in Trinidad and Tobago. Journal of Chinese Clinical Medicine, 2(7), 407-411.
Miller, D. (1991). Absolutely freedom in Trinidad. Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. Man, New Series, 26(2), 323-341.
In a previous blog, I examined vorarephilia (usually shortened to ‘vore’) – a sexual paraphilia in which people are sexually aroused by (i) the idea of being eaten, (ii) eating another person, and/or (iii) observing this process for sexual gratification. A few weeks ago, the Archives of Sexual Behavior published an interesting paper by Dr. Amy Lykins and Dr. James Cantor entitled ‘Vorarephilia: A case study in masochism and erotic consumption’. The authors presented a new case study accompanied by a brief overview of the previous literature including some cases that I had never come across (because the material was in non-academic texts and/or not listed in the academic databases that I usually search). They also referenced the same academic sources as I did in my previous blog on the topic – particularly the papers by Dr Friedemann Pfafflin (also in the Archives of Sexual Behavior). For instance, they wrote that:
“Pfafflin (2008) commented on the many phrases that exist in the English language to relate sex/love and consumption, including referring to someone as ‘looking good enough to eat’, ’that ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’, and describing a sexually appealing person as ‘sweet’, ‘juicy’, ‘appetizing’, or ‘tasty’. Christian religions even sanction metaphorical cannibalism through their sacrament rituals, during which participants consume bread or wafers meant to represent the ‘body of Christ’ and wine intended to represent the ‘blood of Christ’ – a show of Jesus’s love of his people and, in turn, their love for him, by sharing in his ‘blood’ and ‘flesh’. This act was intended to ‘merge as one’ the divine and the mortal”.
Lykin and Cantor also made reference to two case studies in Katharine Gates’ book Deviant Desires. One of the cases was a man that allegedly fantasized that the witch in the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale both cooked and ate him. The other case involved ‘The Turkey Man’. In Lykins and Cantor’s version:
“The Turkey Man was a travelling businessman who regularly hired a dominatrix to meet him in his hotel room to ‘cook’ him. He had designed a facsimile of an oven from a cardboard box, including rudimentary knobs and a door that could be opened and closed. He would lie down in this box, on his back, wearing only socks, while the dominatrix would describe in great detail the process of his body being cooked and eaten by her. The Turkey Man could become so aroused by this fantasy that he was able to orgasm without any physical stimulation of his penis”.
Lykins and Cantor also noted the difference between vorarephilia and cannibalism:
In most cases [of vorarephilia], the victim is swallowed whole – in fact, several requests for fantasies included a specific ban on the chewing of the victim. This is an important aspect that separates persons interested in vore versus those interested in sexual cannibalism – in vore, the victim is swallowed whole, while still alive. Though consumption most often occurred through the mouth, it also occurred through the vagina, the anus, or the breasts (through the nipples) of the consumer”.
Lykins and Cantor then went on to describe in vivid detail a case study of a middle-aged male (who they called ‘Stephen’) who had multiple sexual paraphilias including vorarephilia. Stephen described himself as heterosexual with little or no problems sexually during his teenage years. At the time that Stephen was assessed he had experience of three female sexual partners but masturbation was his current sexual outlet (two to three times weekly. The authors conducted phallometric testing and the results confirmed that Stephen had a “clear sexual preference for adult females” rather than any other age or group of people. Back in 2002 he had sought psychiatric help for two specific fetishistic sexual behaviours (i.e., analingus and podophilia [foot fetishism]). He also reported that he engaged in voyeurism (but was not wanting treatment for it). More recently he sought help for more unusual sexual fantasies. The authors’ reported that Stephen had developed an intense “interest in ‘being’ a woman’s anus”. In fact, he appeared to have some kind of anal fixation as it was reported that:
“Stephen described an intense sexual interest in analingus. He reported this interest to have begun around age 13–15, during which he reported having performed analingus on five to ten children (both male and female, ranging in age from 3 to 1 years). He described having done this when the children were asleep and he stated he believed they were unaware of what he had done. He reported experiencing sexual arousal both during those events and subsequently during masturbation, despite experiencing significant guilt and distress about having engaged in the behavior, and he denied any specific interest in children as sexual partners…Stephen’s interest in analingus crossed over into sexual arousal associated with coprophilia and seemed also to be related to his vorarephilic interests. He described fantasizing about being consumed and destroyed by a very large, dominating woman, who would later defecate him as her feces. He often fantasized about being feces or semen and being expelled by a person. Stephen reported having stuck his hand in human fecal matter, smelling it on several occasions, and having eaten feces out of a toilet on two occasions. On one occasion, he reported feeling traumatized and distraught about an unexpected negative event: To cope with those feelings, he went into the woods and masturbated while eating cow feces. Consistent with his previous assessment, Stephen reported sexual arousal associated with the thought of being someone’s anus…Following the assessment, we diagnosed Stephen on DSMIV-TR Axis I with Paraphilia [Not Otherwise Specified] NOS (partialism for women’s feet), Paraphilia NOS (vorarephilia), and Sexual Masochism, with a prior diagnosis of Dysthymic Disorder, a rule-out diagnosis of Social Phobia, and diagnosis deferred on Axis II.2”
Although a lot of what Lykins and Cantor reported could arguably be viewed as coprophilic, the coprophilic elements are clearly symptomatic of the vorarephilic primary sexual fantasy (i.e., being eaten by a large, female dominatrix and then being defecated by her). Dying was not part of the fantasy – what he really wanted was to be ‘‘taken in and then expelled (as feces)”. Stephen had no desire himself to eat anyone (fantasy or otherwise) and only became sexually aroused when he thought of himself in his vore fantasy as the victim. Lykins and Cantor then went on to speculate that:
“Stephen’s reported fantasies highlighted the focus on both the act and the result of consumption – total destruction of being and personhood – and his sexual arousal associated with such acts. Consistent with fantasies produced by the vore community, Stephen reported no interest in cannibalism (having his flesh eaten or chewed). It seems possible that Stephen’s interest in feces and anal play may relate to the most tangible outcome of the possibility of having acted out these behaviors, specifically human waste and its immediate sources. Alternatively, it also seems reasonable to posit the reverse: that his interest in feces and anal play may have led him to vorarephilic fantasy. This directionality remains difficult to ascertain. Stephen’s fantasies were not entirely consistent with the typical vore fantasy, in that he appeared to be much more focused on the end result (himself as feces) than the majority of the fantasies found in online vore erotica…It is interesting to speculate whether the set of interests Stephen experienced represent a cluster of multiple interests or a single interest which happens to overlap or only superficially resemble multiple, more common categories…Stephen’s case suggests itself as an example of a progression in paraphilic interests. It is unfortunate Stephen ceased clinical contact again after the latter interview. Although some individuals refer to a very specific episode in early life in which they first experienced a fascination with a stimulus that later served as their erotic focus, Stephen may have experienced a slower progression over the course of adulthood”.
The authors also claimed that many features reported by Stephen had never before appeared in the academic, clinical or popular literature. More specifically, they claimed that “sexual arousal to the idea of actually being body parts (e.g., an anus) and bodily products (e.g., feces, semen)” had – to their knowledge –never appeared in print before. The authors concluded in the hope that their published case study would be a good “starting point in the exploration of this unusual paraphilia”.
Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Adams, C. (2004). Eat or be eaten: Is cannibalism a pathology as listed in the DSM-IV?The Straight Dope, July 2. Located at: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2515/eat-or-be-eaten
Beier, K. (2008). Comment on Pfafflin’s (2008) “Good enough to eat”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 164-165.
Gates, K. (2000). Deviant desires: Incredibly strange sex. New York: Juno Books.
Lykins, A.D., & Cantor, J.M. (2014). Vorarephilia: A case study in masochism and erotic consumption. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43, 181-186.
Pfafflin, F. (2008). Good enough to eat. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37, 286-293.
Pfafflin, F. (2009). Reply to Beier (2009). Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 166-167.
While researching previous blogs on both podophilia (sexual arousal from feet) and stuck fetishism (sexual arousal from being stuck and/or stranded), I came across lots of online references to ‘car cranking’ and ‘pedal pumping’. For instance, an online article on the Wiki Answers website reported:
“When a female uses her right foot and constantly presses it down on the gas pedal. She can do it barefoot, hosiery, stilettos, sneakers, socks, sandals, pumps, high heels, boots or any possible footwear may be appealing to one who enjoys this fetish. The female doing the pedal pumping must tap into her dominating self-confidence as she steps on the pedal. She is the one who’s in full control her foot has all the power. Pedal pumping is all about the power of a female using her feet to activate power. Those that enjoy pedal pumping may enjoy a variety of variations to the fetish from watching the pedal pumped with the car engine off, on or in drive/gear”.
Almost all the online articles (and videos) that I have come across appear to indicate that the fetish is primarily male-based with females doing the pedal pumping and car cranking. According to the same Wiki Answers article, there are variations to the source of sexual arousal (i.e., revving, driving, being stuck, and cranking) and such fetishists may be attracted to one or more of these sub-types. The following sub-types are not based on any empirical research but from articles written by those with the fetish.
- Revving: This refers to a female pumping her foot as hard as she can on the accelerator pedal, holding it down, and showing her full control. Anecdotal evidence also appears to indicate some men are sexually aroused by the fact that the woman has absolute control over the car and (if she so desired) could blow up the engine.
- Extreme driving: This refers to a female driving a car at top speed and pressing the accelerator pedal to the floor. Some men like the exact opposite (i.e., casual driving) in which the woman gently caresses the accelerator pedal (going up and down).
- Being stuck: This refers to a female who drives the car off the road and gets herself into situations in which the car is stuck in (say) mud, and has to press the accelerator pedal hard to get herself out of the trapped situation. The car wheels spinning and car not moving may also be a sexual turn-on.
- Cranking: This refers to the car not starting that leads to the woman having to pump the accelerator pedal as hard as she can in an effort to start the car engine. so she has to pump the gas pedal with the hope that she can prime the engine with gas and it will start. The combination of the female in a position of both power and distress.
There are clearly psychological overlaps with other paraphilic and fetishistic behaviours including podophilia, sexual masochism and submission, sexual sadism and control, and stuck fetishism. The Wiki Answers article also claims that some who have this fetish may become an objectophile and develop sexual feelings for an inanimate object such as a car (that I covered in a previous blog). The article furthermore claims that:
“Those individuals with this expressed preference may feel strong feelings of arousal, attraction, love, and commitment to certain items or structures of their fixation. One if not already attracted to may over time become attracted to the following but not limited to the wheel of the car spinning, engine, exhaust pipe, the gas pedal, the car in whole, the shoes, socks or stockings on the female during the time the pedal pumping incident occurred”.
After reading the article in Wiki Answers, I decided to do some research into the topic and I came across a 2010 article in The Independent newspaper entitled ‘Growing fetish trend: pedal-pumping, revving and cranking’ that described the fetish as “clean, monotonous niche porn that is taking over the web with a big American ‘redneck’ following”. (As you may have gathered, I came across nothing academic whatsoever – not even a case study – so we nothing about incidence, prevalence or etiology). The Independent’s report took much of its text and inspiration from an article in The Daily Beast (DB) by Anneli Rufus. The DB article referenced a number of online websites (such as PumpThatPedal.com, PedalFloored.com, PedalSupreme.com, and PedalPumping.org) featuring a “thousands of video clips showing pedicured feet in sandals and heels pumping the gas pedal of an automobile, preferably a large truck”. Most of the videos cited by Rufus simply feature a woman’s foot on the car accelerator. The articles in both the DB and Independent article included quotes from US sex psychologist Dr. Susan Block who said:
“The basic kinetic movement is a masturbatory motion: the muscles releasing and contracting as the foot rubs repetitively against a phallic symbol, which is the gas pedal. Men think of themselves as cars. The ‘vroom’ of the engine reminds them of their own libidos being revved up by this hot woman. It is a fantasy that can overtake a man’s sexual life. [The women in the videos are] helpless, stuck females overwhelmed by the power of this big, old vehicle. But not all of the women struggle – some of the ladies of pedal-pumping videos rev happily, representing the strong woman bonding with her powerful machine. Each type attracts its own audience. In the end, though, it usually comes down to an irresistible urge to combine a love of feet with a love of horsepower…If they can’t get off without looking at this one very specific thing, it can be awkward [because] they don’t want to have to keep asking their wives to get up in the middle of the night and get into the truck. Most of the pedal-pumping enthusiasts [I’ve worked with] hail from red-state America, because they’re more car- and truck-oriented, and they like to see their women as being more different from men. Conservative guys, working-class guys, like the idea of a very ladylike foot with a perfect pedicure in a big old truck”.
The DB article also interviewed Alexandar Bahunjek who runs a number of websites catering for pedal pumping fetishists including DriveBabes.com, MopedBabes.com and StuckChicks.com. Based on his personal experience and the people who frequent his websites:
“The most important thing is the foot…but beyond that it’s a matter of taste…You also have people who like girls wearing sandals, thigh-high boots, platform shoes. But most of my fans and members like open high heels, where you can see the heels along with the rest of the feet. Also, people like the girls to floor the gas pedals, so it’s a combination of women in sexy outfits and the sound of the engine. Then you have people who love the combination of pedal pumping and engine sounds [and others who like it best] when the women have to pump the pedal fast. For a very sexy video [the most popular choice by far] is an elegantly dressed lady in open high heels. Personally, I like the combination of a sexy girl pushing the pedal – seen as a whole person, not just the feet. I also like high heels, so the combination of sexy girls in high heels sitting in cars I like very much. Pedal pumping is not just for feet lovers or shoe lovers”.
All the articles I have read on pedal pumping and car cranking claim that the fetish is almost exclusively male-based but that a few women also love pedal-pumping (although none of the sources I have read mention whether women like watching other men and/or women pedal pumping). Susan Block was also paraphrased by Rufus as saying:
“Most pedal-pumping enthusiasts started out as run-of-the-mill foot fetishists. They ultimately settled upon a feet-in-cars fixation because it’s not as explicit, and thus safer to watch at work or with family nearby. And it’s easier to find online, often for free, than hardcore foot-fetish material, which typically features nudity…Pedal-pumping videos aren’t as good as ‘foot jobs,’ but they’re easier to get. You can’t show a foot job on YouTube, but you can show this”.
Another person interviewed for the DB article was the President of the US Center for Sex and Culture, Robert Lawrence. He sees pedal pumping as comprising voyeurism and podophilia, along with the added “interest in a specific car part – the gas pedal – or object: the car”.
Based on some online discussions, I certainly came to the conclusion that pedal pumping and car cranking fetishes exist. For instance in one online forum, somebody calling themselves ‘randomhero24’ wrote:
“I am not sure [if the source of my sexual arousal is] a fetish or otherwise. I have no response to the physical car itself, although I do certainly respond to characteristics of the car. It has to be old, etc. Basically the sound of a car attempting to start but failing is the main thing that gets me off. I’ll imagine young pretty girls being in the drivers seat, but if the car is old enough, the person starting it doesn’t matter. I’ve [masturbated] to videos of men doing this and I am most definitely not gay. It’s the sound of the car and the anxiety attached to someone being stuck I guess. My partner uses this to pleasure me, which I am grateful for, and she will say things out loud like “I can’t start the car” which affects me greatly…There are a number of sites that film videos of this, but they are mainly set around the foot fetish aspect and women doing this in bare feet. I am also quite fearful, as I enjoy on occasion finding a deserted train crossing and pretending to be stuck there. I want this to stop as I can see it going very wrong…I’m yet to come across someone that’s got a sexual reaction to the act of trying and failing to start an old car”.
There is clearly a niche market for those into pedal pumping – not just based on the number of YouTube videos and specialist video clip sites, but also evidenced by pedal pump fiction and online discussions of the topic. Whether pedal pumping will ever be the topic of serious academic research remains to be seen, but given the empirical research base on podophilia, there certainly seems to be some scope to look at the psychological and behavioural overlaps.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Giannini, A.J., Colapietro, G., Slaby, A.E., Melemis, S.M. & Bowman, RK (1998). Sexualization of the female foot as a response to sexually transmitted epidemics: a preliminary study. Psychological Reports, 83, 491-498.
The Independent (2010). Growing fetish trend: pedal-pumping, revving and cranking. March 30. Located at: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/growing-fetish-trend-pedalpumping-revving-and-cranking-1931211.html
Kunjukrishnan, R., Pawlak, A. & Varan, L.R. (1988). The clinical and forensic psychiatric issues of retifism. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 33, 819-825.
Rufus, A. (2010). The Red State Sex Fetish. Daily Beast, March 21. Located at: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/03/21/the-red-state-sex-fetish.html
Weinberg, M.S., Williams, C.J. & Calhan, C. (1994). Homosexual foot fetishism. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 23, 611-626.
Weinberg, M.S., Williams, C.J. & Calhan, C. (1995). “If the shoe fits…” Exploring male homosexual foot fetishism. Journal of Sex Research, 32, 17-27.
Wiki Answers (2013). What is a pedal pumping fetish? Located at: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_a_pedal_pumping_fetish
“[There] is a natural or unexpected form of bondage where girls step into cement, wander into spider webs or sink into quicksand. Often girls find themselves in perilous or humiliating situations like being in danger of sinking under quicksand or unable to stop the advances of a horny teenager after having stepped into superglue” (Weird and Sexy website).
“I was chatting via email with a friend of mine and we both agreed on the idea of being glue into and trapped in sexy clothing would be a very hot thing to do. A pair of very high heel patent leather boots for example. Certainly it would get me past my midnight witching hour with my latex panties. Imagine the thick gelatinous glue being poured into my latex catsuit and being made to put it on…anyway we’re still trying to figure out what glue would work well, enough to trap but nothing that would last forever” (Doll’s Realm website).
One of the strangest fetishes that I have come across is ‘stuck fetishism’ that comprises individuals deriving sexual pleasure and arousal from other individuals and/or themselves being immobilized in some way in a ‘sticky situation’ (either literally or metaphorically). It was while I was researching a previous blog on three other sexual paraphilias – claustrophilia (deriving sexual arousal from being confined in small places) taphephilia, (deriving arousal from being buried alive) and wamming/sploshing (deriving sexual arousal from wet and /or messy [WAM] situations) – that I first encountered online references to stuck fetishes and came across the quotes that opened today’s blog. According to an article on ‘stuck fetishism’ in the Nation Master online encyclopedia, not only does the fetish involve immobilization, but sexual arousal is also gained from the individual struggling to escape from the situation. There may be elements of both sexual sadism (and domination) and sexual masochism (bondage and submission) in these scenarios, but the primary focus of the arousal is actually being stuck and/or trapped. The Nation Master article also states:
“Often a certain body part is the focus of such situations, the most common being the feet, although the hands, buttocks, or even ‘full-body’ situations are also quite popular. Other focuses may exist, such as when the subject is wearing a certain article of clothing; certain types of shoes (e.g., high heels) or hosiery are popular examples. The immobilization can involve an object. One form of this is arousal over vehicles that are stuck in mud. There is still a human element since there is a driver at the controls. Some stuck fetishists like to get stuck themselves, while some like to see other people get stuck. Some stuck fetishists enjoy either situation…An overlap between fetishes [bondage, WAM] doesn’t necessarily imply that a person who likes one also likes the other one, however”.
The article also claimed (without any supporting empirical evidence) that stuck fetishists prefer specific situations above all others, and that it typically involves one of the following scenarios:
- Sticky substance immobilization fetish: Here, the individual is rendered immobile and gains sexual arousal from being in direct contact with real sticky or ‘gooey’ substance such as glues (e.g., superglue), melted candy, chewing gum, tar, or is rendered immobile from a fictional organic substance (such as being stuck in a giant spider web).
- Non-sticky substance immobilization fetish: Here the individual is rendered immobile and derives sexual arousal from a substance that is not sticky but stops the individual from being able to move such as quicksand, mud and cement.
- Situational immobilization fetish: Here, the individual is rendered immobile and gains sexual arousal from being confined and/or wedged in a narrow space.
- Perceived situational immobilization fetish: Here, the individual is rendered immobile and gains sexual arousal from a perception that they are confined and/or wedged in a narrow space (e.g., the individual is hypnotized into thinking they are stuck and/or immobile).
- Stuck clothing fetish: Here, the individual gains sexual arousal from something that is stuck to the individual’s body (e.g., a shoe, a piece of clothing, a whole clothing outfit, fetish outfits). Such stuck fetishes may overlap with paraphilic transvestism, rubber fetishes, Furry Fandom outfits, and ‘costume play’ more generally.
- Stuck transport fetish: Here, the individual gains sexual arousal from being stuck in (or on) a particular form of transport (e.g., a car stuck in a muddy field, a tube train stuck in a tunnel, a bus stuck at the bottom of an icy hill, etc.).
- Stuck transformation fetish: Here, the individual gains sexual arousal from being stuck in a particular persona as part of a transformation fetish (that I covered in-depth in a previous blog).
- Stuck multi-person fetish: Here, the individual gains sexual arousal from being stuck in a situation with one or more other individuals (e.g., two are more people stuck in the same tight space, two people trapped inside a horse costume).
- Stuck conjoinment fetish: Here, the individual gains sexual arousal from a fantasy where separate individuals’ bodies have been merged or fused.
These fetishes while specific may not be mutually exclusive, and some stuck fetishists may gain sexual arousal from more than one of these scenarios, and in some instances the scenarios might be confined (e.g., being stuck inside a broken down car). The Nation Master article also claims:
“There are many obstacles inherent in realizing such ‘sticky situations’ among fetishists. Although ‘surprise’ and ‘authenticity’ are usually traits that are highly sought after, they are difficult to attain in reality. Surprising an unknowing and possibly unwilling individual raises obvious ethical questions. Authenticity is difficult to attain because the substances involved are often expensive and hard to clean up, as well as being potentially dangerous (tar, for example). These issues, coupled with the fact the stuck fetish is still fairly obscure with a relatively small number of (mostly male) participants, means that the online community relies heavily upon fictional stories and pictures created within the community and occasionally media culled from popular culture and other outside sources”.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that there is no scientific research on the topic of stuck fetishism so the claims made by the Nation Master article that it is a mainly male-based fetish and “obscure” cannot be verified (although both assertions have good face validity and could be argued to be commonsense based on what we know about other similar fetishes). However, the fetish does appear to exist as evidenced by dedicated websites and forums such as the Stuck Head First website, the Stuck and Struggle website, and The Sticky Review website, as well as online discussions on topics such as ‘glue bondage’ at websites such as the Alt Bondage Narkive and The Bound Forum. Given the inherent medical dangers inherent in some of the scenarios (such as playing with superglue or cement), the most likely way of case studies entering the academic literature will be in the form of medical papers reporting on cases where something untoward and/or life-threatening occurs.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Gates, K. (2000). Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex. New York: RE/Search Publications.
Nation Master (2013). Stuck fetishism. Located at: http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Stuck-Fetishism
Wikipedia (2013). Wet and messy fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet_and_messy_fetishism
For a number of years now, I have been collecting famous and not-so-famous quotes about various aspects of sexual behaviour. Some of these are funny, some satirical, some literary, some poignant, and some just make you think about sex in a slightly different way. Obviously I can’t take any credit for this collection apart from the way I have edited and categorized the quotes. I hope you find something here that tickles your fancy.
General quotes about sex
- “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power” (Oscar Wilde)
- “Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant” (George Burns)
- “Physics is like sex. Sure, it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it” (Richard Feynman)
- “There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz 380SL” (P.J. O’Rourke)
- “Sex alleviates tension. Love causes it” (Woody Allen)
- “An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex” (Aldous Huxley)
- “Sex is emotion in emotion” (Mae West)
- “Sex is as important as eating or drinking and we ought to allow one appetite to be satisfied with as little restraint or false modesty as the other” (Marquis de Sade)
- “Sex is the thing that takes up the least amount of time and causes the most amount of trouble” (John Barrymore)
- “Sex is more exciting on the screen and between the pages than between the sheets” (Andy Warhol)
- “My brain: it’s my second favorite organ” (Woody Allen)
- “Sex between a man and a woman can be absolutely wonderful – provided you get between the right man and the right woman” (Woody Allen)
- “Is sex dirty? Only if it’s done right” (Woody Allen)
- “Sex on television can’t hurt you unless you fall off” (Anon)
- “Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question. ‘Yes’ is the answer’” (Swami X)
- “It is not sex that gives the pleasure, but the lover” (Marge Piercy)
- “Sex: the pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable” (Lord Chesterfield)
- “The tragedy is when you’ve got sex in the head instead of down where it belongs” (D.H. Lawrence)
- “I’d like to meet the man who invented sex and see what he’s working on now” (Anon)
- “Sex is interesting, but it’s not totally important. I mean it’s not even as important (physically) as excretion. A man can go seventy years without a piece of ass, but he can die in a week without a bowel movement” (Charles Bukowski)
- “Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night’ (Rodney Dangerfield)
- “Sex appeal is 50% what you’ve got and 50% what people think you’ve got” (Sophia Loren)
Sex and reproduction
- “It is not economical to go to bed early to save the candles if the result is twins” (Chinese Proverb)
- “Familiarity breeds contempt – and children” (Mark Twain)
- “Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children. Life is the other way around” (David Lodge)
- “The hypothalamus is one of the most important parts of the brain, involved in many kinds of motivation, among other functions. The hypothalamus controls the ‘Four F’s’: fighting, fleeing, feeding, and mating” (Marvin Dunnette)
- “Kids in back seats cause accidents, accidents in back seats cause kids” (Anon)
- “The best contraceptive is a glass of cold water. Not before or after, but instead” (Anon)
- “My father told me all about the birds and the bees, the liar – I went steady with a woodpecker till I was twenty-one” (Bob Hope)
Sex and love
- “The difference between sex and love is that sex relieves tension and love causes it” (Woody Allen)
- “Sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty experiences go it’s one of the best” (Woody Allen)
- “Love is the answer, but while you’re waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions” (Woody Allen)
- “Love is a matter of chemistry, but sex is a matter of physics” (Anon)
- “Love ain’t nothing but sex misspelled” (Harlan Ellison)
- “Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin – it’s the triumphant twang of a bedspring” (S.J. Perelman)
Men on female sexuality
- “My girlfriend always laughs during sex, no matter what she’s reading” (Steve Jobs
- “You know that look that women get when they want to have sex? Me neither” (Steve Martin)
- “My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch” (Jack Nicholson)
- “Ah, yes, divorce, from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man’s genitals through his wallet” (Robin Williams)
- “Women need a reason to have sex Men just need a place” (Billy Crystal)
- “When a man goes on a date, he wonders if he is going to get lucky. A woman already knows” (Frederike Ryder)
- “I think men talk to women so they can sleep with them and women sleep with men so they can talk to them” (Jay McInerney)
- “Desire is in men a hunger, in women only an appetite” (Mignon McLaughlin)
- “My wife is a sex object – every time I ask for sex, she objects” (Les Dawson)
- “Anybody who believes that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach flunked geography” (Robert Byrne)
- “Men get laid, but women get screwed” (Quentin Crisp)
- “Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man” (Mignon McLaughlin)
Women on male sexuality
- “I admit I have a tremendous sex drive. My boyfriend lives forty miles away” (Phyllis Diller)
- “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other” (Jane Austen)
- “Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake whole relationships” (Sharon Stone)
- “Among men, sex sometimes results in intimacy; among women, intimacy sometimes results in sex” (Barbara Cartland)
- “I know nothing about sex, because I was always married” (Zsa Zsa Gabor)
- “Men are those creatures with two legs and eight hands” (Jayne Mansfield)
- “Don’t knock masturbation – it’s sex with someone I love” Woody Allen
- “Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand” (Woody Allen)
- “I’m such a good lover because I practice a lot on my own” (Woody Allen)
- “Masturbation: The primary sexual activity of mankind. In the nineteenth century it was a disease; in the twentieth, it’s a cure” (Thomas Szasz)
- “We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation” (Lily Tomlin)
- “The good thing about masturbation is that you don’t have to get dressed up for it” (Truman Capote)
- “A woman occasionally is quite a serviceable substitute for masturbation” (Karl Kraus)
Chastity, impotence, and medical problems
- “Lord, grant me chastity and continence…but not yet” (St. Augustine)
- “Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope” (George Burns)
- “There’s a new medical crisis. Doctors are reporting that many men are having allergic reactions to latex condoms. They say they cause severe swelling. So what’s the problem?” (Dustin Hoffman)
- “Chastity: The most unnatural of the sexual perversions” (Aldous Huxley)
- “To succeed with the opposite sex, tell her you’re impotent. She can’t wait to disprove it” (Cary Grant)
- “Remember, if you smoke after sex you’re doing it too fast” (Woody Allen)
- “The tragedy of sexual intercourse is the perpetual virginity of the soul” (William B. Yeats)
- “Nature abhors a virgin – a frozen asset” (Clare Boothe Luce)
- “The only unnatural sex act is that which you cannot perform” (Alfred Kinsey)
- “The only unnatural sexual behaviour is none at all” (Sigmund Freud)
- “There is nothing wrong with going to bed with someone of your own sex. People should be very free with sex, they should draw the line at goats” (Elton John )
- “Don’t worry, it only seems kinky the first time” (Anon)
- “An erection is like the Theory of Relativity – the more you think about it, the harder it gets” (Anon)
- “I’m all for bringing back the birch, but only between consenting adults” (Gore Vidal)
- “Kinky is using a feather. Perverted is using the whole chicken” (Anon)
- “During sex I fantasize that I’m someone else” (Richard Lewis)
- “It doesn’t matter what you do in the bedroom as long as you don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses” (Mrs. Patrick Campbell)
- “Pornography is whatever gives the Judge an erection” (Anon)
- “Pornography: That which excites, whether from approval or disapproval” (Leonard Rossiter)
- “My reaction to porn films is as follows: After the first ten minutes, I want to go home and screw. After the first 20 minutes, I never want to screw again as long as I live” (Erica Jong)
- “The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting” (Gloria Leonard)
- “What’s the difference between art and pornography? A government grant!” (Peter Griffin)
- “Pornography is literature designed to be read with one hand” (Angela Lambert)
- “Pornography is in the loin of the beholder” (Charles Rembar)
- “Pornography is supposed to arouse sexual desires. If pornography is a crime, when will they arrest makers of perfume?” (Richard Fleischer)
- “A dirty book is rarely dusty” (Anon)
- “A widespread taste for pornography means that nature is alerting us to some threat of extinction” (J.G. Ballard)
- “To know the difference between erotica and pornography you must first know the difference between naked and nude” (Bernard Poulin)
- “Playboy exploits sex the way Sports Illustrated exploits sports” (Hugh Hefner)
- “Pornography is the attempt to insult sex, to do dirt on it” (D.H. Lawrence)
- “Pornography tells lies about women. But pornography tells the truth about men” (John Stoltenberg)
- “I remember the first time I had sex – I kept the receipt” (Groucho Marx).
- “When a guy goes to a prostitute, he’s not paying her for sex, he’s paying her to leave” (Anon)
- “When a man talks dirty to a woman, it’s sexual harassment. When a woman talks dirty to a man, it’s $3.95 a minute” (Anon)
- “The big difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money usually costs less” (Brendan Francis Behan)
- “I once knew a woman who offered her honor. So I honored her offer and all night long I was on her and off her” (Anon)
- “I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that money can buy” (Tom Clancy)
Sex, psychiatry, and surveys
- “With me, nothing goes right. My psychiatrist said my wife and I should have sex every night. We’ll never see each other!” (Rodney Dangerfield)
- “A student undergoing a word-association test was asked why a snowstorm put him in mind of sex. He replied frankly: ‘Because everything does’” (Honor Tracy)
- “I haven’t trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I’ve never met a women in my life who would give up lunch” (Erma Bombeck)
- “According to a new survey, women say they feel more comfortable undressing in front of men than they do undressing in front of other women. They say that women are too judgmental, where, of course, men are just grateful” (Robert De Niro)
- “I’m a heroine addict. I need to have sex women who have saved someone’s life” (Mitch Hedberg)“
- “Sex. In America an obsession. In other parts of the world a fact” (Marlene Dietrich)
Sex, God and religion
- “I thank God I was raised Catholic, so sex will always be dirty” (John Waters)
- “Men reach their sexual peak at eighteen. Women reach theirs at thirty-five. Do you get the feeling that God is playing a practical joke?” (Rita Rudner)
- “The only thing wrong with being an atheist is that there’s nobody to talk to during an orgasm” (Anon)
- “When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities” (Matt Groening)
- “Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love” (Butch Hancock)
- “To hear many religious people talk, one would think God created the torso, head, legs and arms, but the devil slapped on the genitals” (Don Schrader)
- “Sex is God’s joke on human beings” (Bette Davis)
- “Why should we take advice on sex from the Pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn’t!” (George Bernard Shaw)
- “See, the problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time” (Robin Williams)
- “What’s the three words you never want to hear while making love? ‘Honey, I’m home!’” (Ken Hammond)
- “You know, of course, that the Tasmanians, who never committed adultery, are now extinct” (W. Somerset Maugham)
- “Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?” (Murray Banks)
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.
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
Over the Christmas period, I was at a family wedding in the Cotswolds when by chance I came across Dr. Raj Persaud’s 2003 book From The Edge of the Couch (subtitled ‘Bizarre psychiatric cases and what they teach us about ourselves’) for sale in a charity shop in nearby Moreton-in-Marsh. As it was selling really cheaply I decided to buy it (even though this was the book where a number of the cases Dr. Persaud recounted were plagiarized from other people’s work).
One of the more interesting case studies in the book concerned a 1998 case study published by Dr. R.S. Shiwach and Dr. J. Prosser in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy. The paper concerned the treatment of an “unusual case of masochism” (where the individual gained sexual arousal and pleasure from being burnt (i.e., pyrophilia) and crushed (i.e., ‘crush fetishism’) that often meant he was in dangerous and potentially life threatening situations. As the authors summarized:
“Masochistic sexual activity is potentially dangerous, rarely reported voluntarily, and hard to treat. [Our paper] describes a masochist patient who received sexual gratification from being burnt or crushed. Anti-androgen medication [leuprolide acetate], serotonin uptake inhibitor [fluoxetine], and psychodynamic psychotherapy along with sexual education and social-skills training and aversive behavior therapy [covert sensitization and olfactory aversion] were all tried over a period of 9 months. The response was measured by effects of treatments on the frequency of erotic fantasies and masturbation”.
The male masochist was a single 38-year-old man that turned up at a hospital burns unit for treatment to extensive burns on his lower body (around 20% of his total body area) before being referred to the psychiatric unit. His pyrophilic urges and interest in being crushed were long-standing and dated back to mid-adolescence. The incident that led to the hospital admission had involved one of the man’s regular ways of gaining sexual arousal which was to set fire to refuse collecting trucks (i.e., ‘dumpsters’) while he was inside of them and simultaneously masturbating. Dr. Persaud’s reported that:
‘[The man] would then masturbate before getting out [of the dumpster]. His burns had occurred when a plastic dumpster melted and turned over. His first sexual experience at age 15 [years] had occurred when he curled himself up in an oven and ejaculated – an adventure that had been prompted by having been threatened as a child with being roasted ‘like a pig’ as a punishment. A social isolate, he enjoyed watching videos and reading about people being burned at the stake or crushed. He had also attempted autoerotic asphyxia, but relinquished this as ‘too dangerous’”.
The recollection of ejaculating while inside an oven appears to be a critical event in the acquisition and development of the man’s unusual sexual preferences. As Dr. Persaud noted:
“[The man remembered] entering a big unlit oven out of curiosity and liking the warmth and sense of suffocation but did not realize he had ejaculated until the third such instance. He remained a socially isolated virgin and gave a history of sexual disinterest in males or females and of ignorance of sexuality in general…Twice he came close to self-immolation after pouring gasoline on himself…he denied getting any pleasure out of seeing other people suffer…he worked in places where he could have easy access to large waste disposers, ovens, and box compactors”.
Consequently, Dr. Persaud thought (as I do) that learning theory best explained this man’s etiology and that psychoanalytic factors like guilt and punishment may have also been important. This particular case was also reported in a 2006 paper by Dr. D.J. Williams (i.e., ‘Different [painful) strokes for different folks) in the journal Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity. Williams noted that the man had been arrested on a number of different occasions for climbing into refuse collecting dumpsters and had also broken his pelvis as a consequence of being crushed by a box compactor. Williams noted that: “clearly, most experts would agree that acting out fantasies in these dangerous situations posed a significant risk of severe physical harm and death, not to mention being illegal”. Dr. Persaud’s account also more specifically reported that:
‘[The man] would climb into refuse collecting trucks and ejaculate at the sensation of being crushed, only escaping at the last possible minute. He admitted masturbating almost daily to deviant sexual fantasies or to pictures of fire, people being burned or crushed, and even just the sight of chimneys. Recently he had been climbing into a large dumpster, pouring alcohol on the refuse and setting it on fire. He managed to masturbate and get out of the refuse bin with minor burns twice, but the plastic dumpster eventually melted and overturned, causing the injuries he now had”.
Despite the many different pharmacological and psychological interventions, none appeared to have any long-lasting effect. The first intervention was pharmacological and involved being injected weekly with an anti-androgen. This treatment resulted in a decrease of his fetishistic sexual fantasies and an overall decrease in his sex drive. However, the man didn’t like the fact that his sex drive has been significantly inhibited and asked to be taken off the medication. He also took anti-depressants over an 18-week period and then had aversive behaviour therapy (olfaction aversion) and psychodynamic therapy, social skills training, and sexual education. He was discharged after 34 weeks of treatment but on follow-up had resumed his fetishistic behaviour. Drs. Shewach and Prosser concluded that: “Anti-androgens and aversive behavior therapies may be the most effective treatments for such cases, at least in the short-term, although the underlying social deficits and the need to reshape the sexual behavior ought to be addressed in the long-term”.
One of the observations that Dr. Persaud made about this case was that the masochism in this case did not involve psychological humiliation or any interaction with other people in the man’s life. I would also add that most of the focus and commentary in this particular case has been on the pyrophilic aspects rather than the crush fetishism aspects. This may be because there has been far less in the medical and clinical literature on crush fetishism than pyrophilia. However, this is not the only case where crush fetishism has been associated with another sexual paraphilia. At the end of last year, my case study of eproctophilia (i.e., sexual arousal from flatulence) in the Archives of Sexual Behavior involved an eproctophile that was also a crush fetishist.
Balachandra, K. & Swaminath, S. (2002). Fire fetishism in a female Aasonist? Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 47, 487-488.
Bourget, D. & Bradford, J.M.W (1987). Fire fetishism, diagnostic and clinical implications: A review of two cases. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 32, 459-462.
Griffiths, M.D. (2013). Eproctophilia in a young adult male: A case study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 1383-1386.
Litman, L.C. (1999). A case of pyrophilia. Canadian Psychological Association Bulletin, February, 18-20.
Persaud. R. (2003). From The Edge Of The Couch. London: Bantam Press.
Quinsey, V.L., Chaplin, T.C. & Upfold, D. (1989). Arsonists and sexual arousal to fire setting: Correlation unsupported, Canadian Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 20, 203-209.
Shiwach, R. S., & Prosser, J. (1998). Treatment of an unusual case of masochism. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 24, 303-307.
Williams, D. J. (2006). Different (painful) strokes for different folks: A general overview of sexual sadomasochism (SM) and its diversity. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, 13, 333-346.
“Have you ever thought about a woman having sex with an octopus? The Japanese have, in fact they have been thinking about it for almost two hundred years or more. They have painted it, carved it in wood, made elaborate cartoon porn about it. It is known as Cephalerotica, and it is different to say the least” (from online essay Cephloerotica/Octopus Sex by Monkee Armada)
In a previous blog, I examined ‘tentacle erotica’ in Japanese anime and manga cartoons. Today’s blog is arguably a continuation of that article as it examines ‘tentacle erotica’ in real life rather than cartoon fantasy. Over the last year or so I have been collecting bizarre sexual stories from around the globe. A number of these have involved humans watching other humans have sex with cephalopods (e.g., octopus, squid, etc.).
- Case 1: In January 2008, Rodney Scott McLagan, a 48-year old Australian single man from Tasmania was arrested and pleaded guilty after he admitted downloading over 30,000 videos and “depraved images” including video clips of humans engaged in sexual acts with an octopus. (He had also downloaded other videos and images including sexual acts with children aged 5-15-years old, as well as other zoophilic sexual behaviour involving dogs, ponies, tigers and snakes). McLagan’s lawyer David Barclay said his client had no interest in child pornography and that the paedophilic material had been downloaded as part of a larger bundle of zoophilic material (that his client was more interested in – and had actively searched online for – bestial acts). The Supreme Court in Hobart was also told that McLagan, employed as an office worker, had very low self-esteem, a personality disorder, and described himself as “some sort of beast”. McLagan avoided a jail sentence because Justice David Porter said McLagan’s personality disorder had “caused him to avoid interpersonal contact and gave him a pre-occupation with being criticised or rejected…Without the opportunity for normal sexual relationships fantasy is often indulged . It also emerges from the report that [he was] particularly self-conscious about [his] teeth”. McLagan was sentenced to four months in jail (wholly suspended), fined 1500 Australian dollars, and placed on the sex offenders register for four years.
- Case 2: In March 2010, Andrew Charles Dymond a 46-year old Welsh man from Swansea (UK) appeared in court accused of possessing an “extreme pornographic image” of someone “performing an act of [sexual] intercourse with a dead animal, namely an octopus/squid, which was grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character” (along with other zoophilic images of someone having sex with dogs and horses, and of making 14 indecent photos of children and possessing a further 57 photos). The court also heard that five allegations involved images that showed sexual acts that were likely to result in serious injury to breasts or genitals. Dymond was given a conditional discharge, banned from using the internet, and banned from having any contact with a child under the age of 16 years.
- Case 3: In September 2012, Robert Peter Moore, a 31-year old man from Ribblesdale, Yorkshire (UK) pleaded guilty at Bradford Crown Court to possessing child pornography and hundreds of zoophilic images including an octopus, horse, and a dog. Moore admitted 15 charges of possessing pornographic pictures of children and animals on February 17 this year. Moore pleaded guilty to ten offences of possession of indecent photographs of a child, and admitted four allegations of possession of images and videos of bestiality. In court, the bestiality videos were described as “grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character”. Moore was immediately signed on with the police as a convicted sex offender.
There are clear overlaps in all three of these cases. All were middle-aged men, all were found to have videos and images not just of humans having sex with cephalopods, but zoophilic material more generally, as well as varying amounts of paedophilic material. All these similarities point to a global disturbance in normal sexual functioning rather than a specific interest in cephalopods.
There are no reported case studies in the academic or clinical literature of humans having zoophilic sexual relationships with cephalopods although in the name of research I came across five video clips online that I would rather not have seen. (Rather than me provide the links direct, all of these can be found very quickly simply by typing in ‘human zoophilic sex with octopus [or squid] video’ – but you have been warned. I never want to see another clip of a small octopus being placed into a woman’s vagina ever again). There is also a fair amount of ‘erotic fiction’ about human-octopus sex (such as Tentacle, My Tentacle and Octopussy, both on the Zoophilia-Story.Info website – again be warned these are very sexually explicit).
Less blatant (and decidedly less pornographic) are the various literary writings and artworks depicting human-octopus couplings and dating back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Arguably the most famous painting (actually a woodblock print) is The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and depicts a young female ama diver (i.e., someone who dives for pearls) sexually entwined with two octopuses. The Wikipedia entry on the image notes:
“The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is the most famous image in Kinoe no Komatsu, published in three volumes from 1814, during the Edo period. The book is a work of shunga, a form of erotic art popularized by the ukiyo-e movement. The image, Hokusai’s most famous shunga design, depicts a woman, evidently an ama (a shell diver), enveloped in the arms of two octopuses. The larger of the two mollusks performs cunnilingus on her, while the smaller one, his son, assists on the left by fondling her mouth and nipple. In the text above the image the woman and the creatures express their mutual sexual pleasure from the encounter…The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is often cited as an early forerunner of tentacle erotica, a motif that has been common in modern Japanese animation and manga since the late 20th century. Modern tentacle erotica similarly depicts sex between human women and tentacled beasts; notably, however, the sex in modern depictions is typically forced, as opposed to Hokusai’s mutually pleasurable interaction”.
I also recommend checking out the Wurzelforum website that has some ‘interesting’ human-octopus photographs which appear more aligned to the work of Hokusai than being overtly depraved and pornographic. There’s also a well researched article entitled ‘Bert Cooper’s Freaky Octopus Picture’ that’s worth two minutes of anybody’s time (especially of you are a fan of television drama Mad Men). A number of different websites also make references to Joshua Handley, an English nineteenth century artist travelled to Japan and developed an obsession with tentacle erotica and inspired a short online essay Tentacles of Desire: The Man Who Loved Cephalopods that can be found on Dr. Kilmarnock’s website The Obscure World of Victorian Erotica. Here are a few excerpts that caught my eye:
“Joshua Handley was a minor artist who made a living by producing a seemingly endless stream of engravings for the publishers of erotic literature, an occupation which demanded some nerve as one could at any time be arrested on charges of obscenity…In 1882 Handley was invited to travel to Japan as an illustrator and photographer, by Sir Neville Thripp, an ardent Japanophile and a distant cousin of Handley. Sir Neville was determined to explore and document the less well-known aspects of Japanese and culture…But what particularly caught his attention was a 3-volume ukiyo-e erotic book Kinoe no Komatsu (Young Pine Shoots) by Hokusai, published around 1814, and most particularly the several woodblock prints of octopi and female pearl divers in intimate situations contained in the work…Handley had discovered the great obsession which was to dominate the rest of his life…Handley, dissatisfied with the erotic literature that he had previously illustrated, and at the crest of his obsession with octopi, began to write and illustrate erotica of his own, but erotica of a most unconventional nature…His tales invariably began quite unremarkably, and the first pages could almost be mistaken for an adventure novel of the period: a female pearl diver, a shipwrecked gentlewomen, or an unwary (lady) bather would fall prey to a wily octopus, and become enmeshed in its vigorous tentacles. But what’s this? Can it possibly be that the ladies in question are not struggling against their cold-blooded captor’s rough advances as wholeheartedly as might be expected? That they are, in fact, succumbing to the rude blandishments of tentacle and sucker?”
The most recent mainstream cultural reference to human-octopus sex that I can think of was in the 1981 film Possession where the actress Isabelle Ajani (playing the dual character of Anna/Helen) has sex with an octopus. The only article that I have come across online that discusses ‘octopus fetishes’ is a December 2012 blog at the Pizza Clubhouse website. The article is a little non-politically correct in places and I don’t want to repeat the author’s speculations here (you can check it out yourself here, if you’re interested). The article does say that:
“Perhaps the most amazing thing about the octopus fetish is how much of it there is in real life. I can somewhat (sadly) understand a fetish with tentacles. It’s kind of a mixture of bondage and a gang bang. That still doesn’t explain a real life octopus. Still, people are turned on by two girls making out with octopuses on both of their heads, and that is pretty mild compared to some other stuff you can find”.
I’m not convinced that there are many (if any) people out there that genuinely enjoy sex with cephalopods although as the cases I highlighted show, there are some people who certainly like to watch others engaged in human-cephalopod sexual acts.
Daily Telegraph (2008). Octopus sex man gets off. July 18, Located at: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/weird/octopus-sex-man-gets-off/story-e6frev20-1111116951246
Pizza Clubhouse (2012). Weird fetish of the day: Octopuses. December 28. Located at: http://pizzaclubhouse.com/2012/12/28/weird-fetish-of-the-day-octopuses/
Rae, M. (2008). Man caught with octopus sex images. [Australian] News.com, July 4. Located at: http://www.news.com.au/news/man-caught-with-octopus-sex-images/story-fna7dq6e-1111116822419
The Sun (2008). Man admits to octopus. July 5. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/1380865/Man-admits-to-Octopus-porn-Octopus.html
Telegraph and Argus (2012). Man in court for possession of child porn and bestiality images. September 11. Located at: http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/9920762.Man_in_court_for_possession_of_child_porn_and_bestiality_images/
This Is South Wales (2010). Swansea man accused of possessing image of someone having sex with a squid. March 4. Located at: http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Swansea-man-accused-possessing-image-having-sex-squid/story-12399534-detail/story.html#axzz2Xo1cTx8C
In previous blogs I have examined sthenolagnia (a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and sexual arousal from individuals displaying strength or muscles). Another related behaviour is cratolagnia where – according to Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices – individuals derive sexual arousal and pleasure more generally from displays of strength (rather than muscles in and of themselves). Following that blog, I received a couple of emails from two males who suggested that I should write a blog on ‘muscle worship’ that although having a sexual aspect, is not the only aspect. According to the Wikipedia entry on muscle worship:
“Muscle worship is a social behaviour, usually with a sexual aspect (a form of body worship), in which a participant, the worshipper, touches the muscles of another participant, the dominator, in sexually arousing ways, which can include rubbing, massaging, kissing, licking, “lift and carry”, and various wrestling holds. The dominator is almost always either a bodybuilder, a fitness competitor, or wrestler, an individual with a large body size and a high degree of visible muscle mass. The worshipper is often, but not always, skinnier, smaller, and more out of shape”.
According to a couple of academic authors, muscle worshippers can be of either gender, and of any sexual orientation, although many authors appear to suggest it is more prevalent among gay men who view bodybuilders as little more than ‘sex objects’ and because bodybuilding is common among members of the gay community (see for instance: Benoit Denizet-Lewis’s 2009 book America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life, or John Edward Campbell’s 2004 book Getting it on Online: Cyberspace, Gay Male Sexuality, and Embodied Identity). A quick search online also suggests there is a large gay pornographic market for muscle worship along with numerous webcam muscle worship sites. Muscle worship appears to have crossovers with other sexually paraphilic behaviour such as sexual masochism. As the Wikipedia entry notes:
“The amount of forceful domination and pain used in muscle worship varies widely, depending on the desires of the participants. Sometimes, the dominator uses his or her size and strength to pin a smaller worshiper, forcing the worshipper to praise the dominator’s muscles, while in other cases, the worshiper simply feels and compliments the muscles of a flexing dominator. Male and female bodybuilders offer muscle worship sessions for a price in order to supplement their low or nonexistent income from bodybuilding competitions. Paid sessions sometimes involve sexual gratification, even when well-known competitors are involved, they offer fans the chance to meet in person and touch a highly muscular man or woman”.
A 2008 paper by Dr. Niall Richardson (2008) in the Journal of Gender Studies also made some interesting (and important) distinctions between muscle worship and two other erotic practices often associated with bodybuilding: ‘hustling’ and ‘sponsorship fantasies’. More specifically, Richardson wrote:
“Alan Klein describes ‘hustling’ as ‘the selling of implicit or explicit sex by a bodybuilder’ (1987, p. 132) and this can range from doing stripogram type work to engaging in full penetrative sex. Likewise muscle-worship is not to be confused with ‘sponsorship’ or ‘growth fantasies’. Katie Arnoldi’s superb first novel, Chemical Pink (a book which will probably become as revered a text for cultural critics of bodybuilding as Sam Fussell’s Muscle ) describes, often in lurid detail, the horrors of female bodybuilding sponsorship. In Chemical Pink, Arnoldi depicts the ‘sponsorship’ agreement between female bodybuilder Aurora and her sponsor Charles. It soon becomes evident that Charles has a Pygmalion fantasy and gains supreme pleasure from his manipulation of Aurora’s body, feeding her endless protein-rich meals and hefty cycles of anabolic steroids and growth hormones (Arnoldi 2001, pp. 100–102, 111). While Henry Higgins delighted in shaping Eliza’s social graces, the muscle sponsor wants to build and shape his idealized female body and, as such, muscle-sponsorship can be compared to other sexual fantasies, such as ‘feederism’, in which the manipulation of the sexual partner’s weight is the sexual pleasure”.
What I found most interesting here is how various aspects of Muscle Worship are compared to both mainstream (i.e., prostitution) and not-so-mainstream (e.g., feederism) sexual behaviours. Another short article I read on muscle fetishism (outside of the gay community as it concerned female muscle growth) on the Sex and the University website suggested that there were also links with macrophilia (sexual arousal from giants) and breast expansion fetishes:
“Female muscle growth (FMG) is a fantasy genre involving muscular growth of a woman. Many who enjoy these fantasies are attracted to Female bodybuilding or other muscular women. This interest frequently centers on the biceps. FMG is related to the growth fantasies giantess and breast expansion fetishism. This fantasy is sometimes about an equalization or reversal of the stereotypical power relationship (that some people imagine/take for granted) in a heterosexual couple”.
As I noted in my previous blog on sthenolagnia, FMG devotees frequent places where female body builders are found (e.g., gyms, health clubs, bodybuilding tournaments, etc.). However, I also noted that some FMG devotion may be based in fantasy rather than actuality, particularly if it is related to aspects of macrophilia and transformation fetishes (both of which I covered in previous blogs). For instance, Marvel Comics character ‘She-Hulk’ is a popular representation of FMG fantasy and can be found on websites such as the Female Muscle Factory. Although there is little in the way of academic research on the topic, many devotees of Muscle Worship appear to be sexually aroused by an equalization (or reversal) of the stereotypical power relationship among heterosexual couples.
Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Assael, S. (2007). Steroid Nation. New York: ESPN Books.
Burt, J. (2007). Top five freaky fetishes. The Sun, September 7. Located at: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/21158/Top-five-freaky-fetishes.html
Campbell, E. (2004). Getting it on Online: Cyberspace, Gay male Sexuality, and Embodied Identity. London: Routledge.
Carson, H.A. (2010). A Roaring Girl: An interview with the Thinking Man’s Hooker. Bloomington, Indiana: Author House.
Denizet-Lewis, B. (2009). America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Klein, A.M. (1993). Little Big Men: Bodybuilding Subculture and Gender Construction. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.
Richardson, N. (2008): Flex-rated! Female bodybuilding: feminist resistance or erotic spectacle? Journal of Gender Studies, 17, 289-301
Sex and the University (2008). Sthenolagnia: Muscle fetishism. Located at: http://sexandtheuniversity.wordpress.com/2008/05/28/sthenolagnia-muscle-fetishism/
Steele, V. (1996). Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wikipedia (2012). Muscle worship. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_worship