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Packed punch: A very brief look at “gastergastrizophilia”

One of the weirdest sounding sexual paraphilias that I have come across is gastergastrizophilia in which individuals allegedly derive sexual pleasure and arousal from bellypunching. I use the word ‘allegedly’ as I have never seen this sexual paraphilia listed in any reputable academic source (and it certainly does not appear in either Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices or Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices). The lengthiest article on that I have come across on gastergastrizophilia is on the Full Wiki website. The article claims that:

“Bellypunchers, as they are known, derive erotic and/or aesthetic pleasure from the sight of and sensation associated with a woman physically struck in the stomach usually with a bare fist. The specifics associated with this paraphilia vary considerably, sometimes with the woman possessing a toned and muscular stomach, other with the woman possessing a soft and even chubby stomach. Often fetishists desire her to receive blows to the lower stomach specifically; other times, to the upper stomach. Often the woman is struck by other women, but many times the fetishists will fantasize about doing the beating themselves. With the rise of the internet, a wide variety of websites and online groups have risen which house related fiction, photos, stories, and videos, the latter either custom-made or copied from a variety of films and videos. The male-to-male variety of the fetish is frequently called gutpunching, or abspunching”

The fact that someone has written about sexual bellypunching in no way proves that the behaviour exists. In a previous blog I examined a hoax paraphilia called emysphilia (sexual arousal from turtles). In researching that blog, I came to the conclusion that the paraphilia simply didn’t exist as there was no evidence of any kind except the originally published article (plus the fact that the author later admitted it was a hoax). Sexual bellypunching as a fetish or paraphilia is something that I do not think can easily be so dismissed. I managed to collect a few first-hand accounts of sexual bellypunching (such as those at the online at the Dark Fetish website). For instance:

  • Extract 1: “[I am a] masochist [and] let people thump me in my belly. Although it hurts (and it hurts like hell sometimes) the pain does give me an erotic buzz. BUT (and this is the other side of the coin) I do get to punch other women and that also gives me a buzz – it turns me on.
  • Extract 2: “There is a difference between a ‘friendly’ (I use the word advisedly) punch up between two women (which might even end in sex) and a really heated contest where there maybe some prize, physical or emotional. Then it’s a pure pain contest… just to see which woman can take the most pain in her guts. In such contests there is a moment when having delivered a punch, I watch my opponent’s face crease in agony, watch her fight the pain, watch her desperately trying to keep her hands from going to her belly… hear her panting for breath as she tries to control the agony in her guts. Oh so delicious…it’s a real turn-on for me. The downside is that I have to take and absorb the punishment too. [However], that turns me on too!!”
  • Extract 3: My ex-boyfriend loved being punched in the belly. We both went to couples therapy and [this is] how the psychologist explained it to me…The physical flow-on effect of bellypunching is peptic reflux, which triggers the brain to release a sudden adrenalin rush to cope with the shock of (temporarily) depriving the brain of oxygen. This adrenalin rush can be experienced as sexual arousal for those with a fetish complex for feeling ‘subverted’ or ‘abused’”

Based on the research I did for this blog, it would appear that there used to be a Wikipedia entry on sexual bellypunching but it was removed back in 2006. Some people claimed that the information provided in the original webpage was unable to be verified, and that it might even have been made up by the person who created the original Wikipedia entry. As one person noted in the Wikipedia discussion, the original author of the bellypunching article had:

“…added a bunch of links, but they consist of Yahoo! groups, personal websites, and a couple [of] porn sites which themselves are non-notable. None of these are reliable sources, none of them help with the fact that this article still violates Wikipedia’s verifiability. Unverifiable content can’t stay on Wikipedia, no matter how much some people might like said content”.

Comments were also made along the lines that Wikipedia does not need to have a separate page for every single obscure fetish. Personally, I don’t see this as an argument for not having a Wikipedia entry. However, the original author of the page countered by saying:

It’s not about liking (or in your case, disliking) [the bellpunching] entry, but about showing diligence in mapping out within Wikipedia all these various concepts that exist in the world. Some concepts are better cited than others, it’s true. However that doesn’t mean that some things, which are perhaps more ephemeral, or which came into their own with the rise of the internet, can’t be listed…I suggest that if one can prove that a lot of people are involved in a concept, and that this concept exists as such, then the concept must surely merit some inclusion, even if that inclusion is limited only to what one can source…I have shown that thousands of people have taken it upon themselves to join public groups around this [bellypunching] fetish; and found any number of websites, most which have been around for years, creating a sort of community…It would be a mistake to make an article called bellypunching videos on the basis of the fact of such videos existing, because that would ignore the evident existence of the concept of the fetish”.

I have to admit that having done my own search on the internet, I can certainly vouch for the fact that there are hundreds of sexual bellypunching videos available online (e.g., websites such as Belly Punching Fetish, Heroine Movies, and Teen Bellypunch – please be warned that these are sexually explicit sites), and there are online discussion groups that discuss bellypunching as a sexual preference and/or sexual fetish. Personally, I think there’s enough to suggest that the activity exists and that there is no reason why a separate Wikipedia page should not exist. The fact that sexual bellypunching videos are for sale online suggests there is a market for it. I also came across some Japanese anime that featured sexual bellypunching (along with anecdotal evidence that bellypunching is part of Japanese sexual culture). However, I am the first to admit that such videos might appeal to sadists and masochists who are simply sexually turned on by the giving or receiving of pain (rather than being sexually aroused by bellypunching per se. The author of the original Wikipedia entry on sexual bellypunching then goes on to say:

“If [someone] starts a blog on any obscure fetish, it can’t be included [on Wikipedia]; but if 30 or 40 different organizations and people start websites, both personal websites and business websites, combined with free public groups that require membership (membership to which groups as I’ve stated reaches the thousands) I suggest that a certain minimum has been reached to make it a bona fide concept that some people hold…If you really believe that only things that show up in journals are worthy of existence in Wikipedia, I think Wikipedia will be much the poorer for it. It seems unreasonable to ignore the existence of something that is obvious and evident, from the links I’ve found (which were incidentally only a small percentage)”.

My guess is that the original article on sexual bellypunching was removed because the evidence base did not fulfil Wikipedia’s minimum evidence threshold. As the Wikipedia page on verifiability points out:

“Posts to bulletin boards, Usenet, and wikis, or messages left on blogs, should not be used as primary or secondary sources. This is in part because we have no way of knowing who has written or posted them, and in part because there is no editorial oversight or third-party fact-checking…The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth”.

Another contributor to the debate on whether sexual bellypunching should have its own Wikipedia entry shares my own view on this topic and stated:

Our inability to find gastergastrizophilia on the net neither proves nor disproves anything – detailed texts on sexual paraphilia aren’t left around laying open on the net, and a mild amount of Googling for ‘erotic punching’, ‘belly punishment’ or ‘rough body play”’… will show that the practice is neither ‘unlikely’ nor even uncommon. Some of it is obviously sex play with a consenting partner; some is not so consensual, and there is a shaded continuum…Even in this supposedly liberated age, nobody has any real numbers, in part because the participants themselves don’t know where the line actually divides consent and abuse. I think it’s an important topic, and a research failure isn’t a good reason to have no article in this instance”

The one thing that is made up is the name given to describe the love of sexual bellypunching (‘gastergastrizophilia’). The author if the original Wikipedia article (who goes by the pseudonym ‘Brokerthebank’) wrote that:

“I made up the word gastergastrizophilia, since I’ve studied classical languages a lot (in this case Greek) and it seemed like the appropriate move to put this article in the list of sexual paraphilias on such a page. Maybe I should have not done that; in any case bellypunching still is a known term”.

However, as regular readers of my blog will know, I too have coined the names of at least three sexual paraphilias (porciniphilia – sexual arousal from pigs, epiplophilia, sexual arousal from furniture, and glossophilia – sexual arousal from tongues) so I can’t really complain if someone also created the name of a sexual paraphilia based on their own anecdotal observations.

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

Further reading

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

The Full Wiki (2013). Bellypunching. Located at: http://www.thefullwiki.org/Bellypunching

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

Turtle shell shock: Emysphilia and the paraphilia that never was

Regular readers of my blog will be aware that I have written a number of blogs on zoophilia-related topics. This has included blogs on zoophilia in general, zoophilia classification, zoosadism (sexual pleasure from being sadistic to animals), necrobestiality (sex with dead animals), and very specific forms of zoophilia including delphinophilia (sex with dolphins), herpetophilia (sex with lizards), ophidiophilia (sex with snakes), ornithophilia (sex with birds including avisodomy), musophilia (sexual stimulation from mice including felching), formicophilia (sexual stimulation from insects), and melissophilia (sexual stimulation from bees and bee stings).

There are also loads of specific types of zoophilia that I have yet to devote a whole blog to. Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices list of zoophilia subtypes also includes (in alphabetical order) aelurophilia (sex with cats), arachnephilia (sexual arousal from spiders), batrachophilia (sexual arousal from frogs), cynophilia (sex with dogs), and phthiriophilia (sexual arousal from lice). However, while I was idly researching another blog, I came across a Wikipedia reference to emysphilia. I repeat it here in full:

“Emysphilia (or Turtle Fetish) is a rare sexual fetish in which the practitioner experiences sexual arousal from visual and tactile stimuli relating to turtles and tortoises. It was first discovered by Dr. Daniel Schechner of the University of Hawaii in 1959. Dr. Schechner dedicated a brief portion of his monograph The Varieties of Sexual Experience to this fetish. In the book, he mentions a native Hawaiian islander, known to the reader as ‘Mr. Gor’ who confesses ‘a strong sexual attraction to creatures belonging to the order Testudines’ (2 Schechner 387). Dr. Schechner’s encounter with ‘Mr. Gor’ also finds a brief place in his autobiography No Dull Flesh (1 Schechner 261). Since Dr. Schechner’s discovery, little research has been done on this disorder. As of yet, the American Psychiatric Association, which publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), has not recognized the turtle fetish as a legitimate disorder. References: Schechner, Daniel, M.D. No Dull Flesh. Honolulu: UH Press, 1974. Schechner, Daniel, M.D. The Varieties of Sexual Experience. Honolulu: UH Press, 1959. This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article “Emysphilia”. This Link may die if entry is finally removed or merged”.

It all sounded very convincing including hyperlinks to the author and his university. However, when I tried to examine this particular paraphilia more closely, I soon discovered that there was no such paraphilia as emysphilia and that it’s existence had been faked. I then read a really interesting article on the topic written by June Torbati in a 2007 issue of the Yale Daily News. She provided the background to the fake paraphilia and tied it to a story about student “dependence” on Wikipedia.

Torbati tracked down the author – Johan Behan – of the Wikipedia entry on emysphilia who admitted it was “totally absolutely fake”. The names of the people in the article were his college room-mates (Dan Schechner and Ankit Gor). Behan claimed to have invented the word ‘emysphilia’ (allegedly basing it on the Greek word for turtle, although I checked this out and that doesn’t seem to be the case although the suffix ‘emys’ does appear in many turtle names such as ‘Chubutemys’, ‘Hangaiemys’ and ‘Judithemys’). Torbarti also reported that:

“Behan said he has created many fake articles for Wikipedia, the most successful of which was the entry on emysphilia. To ensure others would find the article believable, Behan said, he had to do more than just write one entry on ‘emysphilia’ including creating several others relating to the fake fetish. ‘It’s an art of creating a web of phoniness’ he said. Additionally, striking an academic tone was important to creating an air of legitimacy. ‘You need to write it in a way that makes it sounds like it’s something possible’ Behan said. “If you write it like an authoritative pronouncement it tends to work better”.

Torbati claimed that Wikipedia’s editorial system (or rather lack of it) had American professors “concerned that students are citing incorrect information in their academic work”. Torbati interviewed a Yale history professor – Michael Gasper – who had banned the use of Wikipedia as a source of information for his students’ essays.

Any of my regular blog readers will know that I often use Wikipedia as a source of information (although I typically quote verbatim from it and allow readers to make there own judgment about the veracity of any claims made). Personally, I think Wikipedia is a great starting place but wherever possible I like to cite from academically published journal papers. It’s also worth noting that what starts off as a joke may take on legitimate academic currency. For instance, ‘Internet Addiction Disorder’ was originally proposed as a psychiatric disorder by Dr. Ivan Goldberg in the mid-1990s. However, his original online article was a satirical hoax.

I was one of the academics who cited Goldberg’s hoax criteria in a paper I published in Clinical Psychology Forum back in 1996. I was criticized for this by Dr. Susan Hansen in a paper she published in a 2001 issue of the Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy. However, in my reply to her paper, I did point out that I had been writing about internet addiction a year before Goldberg published his hoax criteria, and that the hoax criteria had created a lot of academic debate which subsequently led to a lot of research in the area. I have absolutely no idea if ‘emysphilia’ will ever gain academic or clinical legitimacy, but based on the case of Ivan Goldberg’s hoax, you never know.

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

Further reading

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

Aggrawal, A. (2011). A new classification of zoophilia. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 18, 73-78.

Griffiths, M.D. (1996). Internet addiction: An issue for clinical psychology? Clinical Psychology Forum, 97, 32-36.

Griffiths, M.D. (2001). The pathologification of excessive internet use: A reply to Hansen. Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy, 1, 85-90.

Torbati, J. (2007). Profs question students’ Wikipedia dependency. Yale Daily News,February 27. Located at: http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2007/feb/07/profs-question-students-wikipedia-dependency/

Wikidumper (2006). Emysphilia. December 29. Located at: http://wikidumper.blogspot.co.uk/2006/12/emysphilia.html