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Bosom buddies: A brief look at breast fetishism

Over the last year, I have received more than a dozen emails (all male) asking why I have not written a blog on ‘breast fetishism’. The main reason I have resisted writing such a blog is that it’s hard to determine where normal love of breasts ends and abnormal love of breasts begins. It won’t surprise anyone reading this that when it comes to male sexual arousal, female breasts are at the top of many men’s lists as the body part they find most sexually attractive. According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, the sexual paraphilia of being aroused by female breasts is mammagymnophilia or mazophilia and comprises “a pronounced fetishistic sexual interest in the female breasts, their shape, movement, and especially their size”. He goes on to write that:

“[Breast fetishism is] also known as mastofact or breast partialism, it refers to an exclusive or almost exclusive reliance on breasts as a stimulus for sexual arousal. It is such a predominant feature of sexuality in the U.S., that Molly Haskell, a feminist and author from the USA, went as far as to say that ‘the mammary fixation is the most infantile and the most American of the sex fetishes’. British zoologist and ethologist Desmond Morris sees breast fetishism as a prime example of biosemiotics, by which human sexuality is influenced through signaling”.

While doing my undergraduate degree I did a project on the psychology of female orgasm and read almost every paper and book that I could on sexuality and female sexuality. I read Desmond Morris’ book The Naked Ape and was very interested in Morris’ theories on sexual signalling. If memory serves me, Morris argued that women’s breasts had evolved to look like female buttocks as humans had slowly changed the way they had sex from males mounting females from the rear to face-to-face sex. In the 1998 book Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: Ideas, Issues, and Applications by Charles Crawford and Dennis Krebs (1998) it was theorized that humans’ permanently enlarged breasts allows females to “solicit male attention and investment even when they are not really fertile”. These hypotheses was also mentioned in the 2012 book The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction but rejected by the authors. Young and Alexander wrote:

“Biologically speaking the human male’s obsession with breasts is pretty weird. Men are the only male mammals fascinated by breasts in a sexual context. And women are the only female mammals whose breasts become enlarged at puberty, independent of pregnancy. We are also the only species in which males caress, massage and even orally stimulate the female breasts during foreplay and sex. Boys don’t learn on the playground that breasts are something that they should be interested in. It’s biological and deeply engrained in our brain. Man’s obsession with breasts is an unconscious evolutionary drive that helps humans forge loving, nurturing bonds”.

In fact, Young and Alexander forward a more biological explanation and went on to claim that it was oxytocin that best explained why women had developed breasts:

“When a woman gives birth, her newborn will engage in some pretty elaborate manipulations of its mother’s breasts. This stimulation sends signals along nerves and into the brain. There, the signals trigger the release of a neurochemical called oxytocin from the brain’s hypothalamus. This oxytocin release eventually stimulates smooth muscles in a woman’s breasts to eject milk, making it available to her nursing baby. But oxytocin release has other effects, too. When released at the baby’s instigation, the attention of the mother focuses on her baby. The infant becomes the most important thing in the world. Oxytocin and dopamine act together to help ‘imprint’ the newborn’s face, smell and sounds into the mother’s reward circuitry, making breastfeeding and nurturing a pleasurable experience that will motivate her to keep doing those activities to strengthen the mother-infant bond. This bond is not only the most beautiful of all social bonds, it can also be the most enduring, lasting a lifetime. When a lover touches, massages or nibbles a woman’s breasts, it sparks the same process of brain events as nursing.  Humans are also among the very few animals that have sexual intercourse face-to-face, looking into each other’s eyes. This quirk in human sexuality has evolved to exploit the ancient mother-infant bonding brain circuitry as a way to help form bonds between lovers. Because the release of oxytocin forces the brain’s attention to a partner’s face, smell and voice, the combination of oxytocin release during breast stimulation, and the increase of dopamine from the pleasure of foreplay and face-to-face sex, helps to forge an association of the lover’s face and eyes with the pleasurable feelings, building a bond in the women’s brain”

I was surprised to find there had been little empirical research on the role of breast and nipple stimulation in influencing sexual arousal during sex. In 2006, Dr. Roy Levin and Dr. Cindy Meston published a paper in the Journal of Sexual Medicine and claimed that there had never been a study that questioned people about breasts and sexual arousal. Consequently, Levin and Meston surveyed 301 “sexually experienced undergraduates” (148 males and 153 females mostly between the ages of 18 and 22). The authors reported:

“81.5% [of women] reported that stimulation of their nipples/ breasts caused or enhanced their sexual arousal, 78.2% agreed that when sexually aroused such manipulation increased their arousal, 59.1% had asked to have their nipples stimulated during lovemaking, and only 7.2% found that the manipulation decreased their arousal. In regard to the men, 51.7% reported that nipple stimulation caused or enhanced their sexual arousal, 39% agreed that when sexually aroused such manipulation increased their arousal, only 17.1% had asked to have their nipples stimulated, and only 7.5% found that such stimulation decreased their arousal”.

When it comes to breast fetishism, it could be argued that there are many different sub-types. Reading Dr. Aggrawal’s book alone there are many other types of sexual activity surrounding the fetishizing of the breast. This includes lactophilia (arousal from lactating breasts), oenosugia (pouring wine over female breasts and licking it off), mazophallating (the rubbing of the penis between breasts, and also know as coitus a mammilla), mazoperosis (sexual gratification from mutilating of female breasts – arguably the most extreme form of what Dr. Aggrawal describes as “tit torture, the sexual gratification from any of several erotic BDSM activities focusing solely on inflicting pain on the breast, nipples, and areola”), and ‘downblousing’:

“[Downblousing] is a variant of voyeurism where the voyeur is attracted to women bending downward so he can view their breasts down their shirt or blouse. Viewing a woman’s breast while sitting on a. higher level than the woman is also downblousing. A good example is a person sitting on first floor of a restaurant, viewing the breasts of an unsuspecting woman sitting on the ground floor taking surreptitious photographs, especially with camera-enabled cell phones, is also common among voyeurs. Many times, these photographs are then posted on the Internet for all to see. Many nations and jurisdictions have now outlawed downblousing”.

There are also other sexual behaviours that may (or may not) involve breasts as the focus of sexual arousal. For instance, anaclitism refers to “the sexual enjoyment arising from activities, or being exposed to objects normally associated with childhood (e.g., toilet training, breast sucking, playing with dolls)”. One breast-focused sexual fetish not mentioned by Dr. Aggrawal at all is ‘breast expansion fetishism’. According to the Nation Master website:

“Breast expansion fetishism is a sexual fetish characterized by pronounced sexual fantasies involving a woman whose breasts enlarge, either gradually or suddenly, sometimes to gargantuan proportions. Breast expansion fetishism may manifest as a form of inflation fetishism. Many breast expansion fetishists are fascinated by the processes by which women’s breasts can become larger, whether from age progression, pregnancy, weight gain or surgery. It is not uncommon for them to examine closely the careers of adult and mainstream entertainers and their increasing, or decreasing, bust sizes…Many breast-expansion fetishists are morphers. A morph is a photograph, an artwork, an animation which uses morphing techniques to expand a woman’s breasts”.

In the name of research I went onto Google Scholar and unsurprisingly turned up little academic. However, I was surprised to find many breast expansion sites including websites like the Big Breast Expansion, Overflowing Bra, Breast Expansion Grove (with lots of links to other breast expansion websites) and Boob Growth (please be warned these sites are sexually explicit if you click on the links) as well as sites like Literotica with a dedicated breast expansion page of fan fiction. Breast expansion is also very popular in both Manga and Anime cartoons.

I also found various first-person accounts of young adult males admitting to having such fetishes:

“I have a breast expansion fetish. No matter what, I always find myself coming back to this. In so many ways it’s amazing. Slowly, suddenly, sporadically, I like to see them grow. But I have my limits of when it gets stupidly huge (bigger than their body size). But I also have a thing of [breast expansion] on myself, like to be gender changed, then added in bigger boobs. I have been off and on with this stuff for years” (MD12, The Experience Project).

“I am searching for help and I hope I could find it here. My problem is…I have a breast expansion fetish. I [get an] erection when I [see] female breasts are growing. It started when I had seen [the] film ‘The Adventures of Pluto Nash’ in hospital. Since [then I am] always looking [for] comics, videos and pictures with growing breasts. Now I am 18 years old, I have marvelous girlfriend and we love each other. I told her about my problem and understand it, but she has forbidden me to masturbate on growing breasts…We have awesome sex but I still want to watch growing breasts. And don’t know what to do now. I don’t wont to lie, and masturbate when I [am] alone, and I don’t know how to beat this fetish. Often I am imagining [my girlfriend] with growing breasts…I hope you can help me”. (Joishi, PsychForums)

I also found what I thought was an article on the psychology of breast expansion but it was a male on the Overflowing Forum trying to analyse his own behaviour (but I found it of interest). Unfortunately, the original post has disappeared but I managed to cut and paste the self-analysis before it disappeared:

“I´m very interested in the psychology of breast expansion fetish – my obsession. I think the expansion aspect is one of many others. I like expansion stuff, but as a category it does not seem meaningful. To me, these aspects are of relevance (i) deviance [standing out from the norm], sensuality [a focus on the physical body], and emotional sensitivity [for symbolic power and interpersonal processes]. First, I´m generally attracted to stuff that defies the norm, like Lady Gaga and Beth Ditto or Slayer, the Marquis de Sade, monster movies. Second: I am fascinated by the body/mind duality of the human existence…Prominent flesh puts the focus on the body, the animal aspect of our being. And prominent breasts especially have sexual and/or nurturing connotations. Third, body parts can be seen [as] anatomical, but also on a symbolic level, they can be a means to express and execute power over others, or they can be presented as a gift – craving, desire, attention, power…a certain tension, an emotional disbalance is important for me. Big breasts can be just a nuisance for a girl or woman – for good reasons – or something they hardly care about, and then they lose most of their erotic power they could have on me”.

Like many other sexual paraphilias I have written about (such as macrophilia, microphilia, exophilia, and vorarephilia), much of the breast expansion community appears to base a lot of the online activity around fan fiction and fan art. As the Nation Master article on breast expansion notes:

“Breast expansion stories are often fantastical tales of women’s busts being enlarged by air, food, magic, medicine, alien technology or some other unseen force. Generally, the amount of enlargement is limited only by the imagination of the author, from as little as a cup size to as big as room-filling and beyond. Occasionally, there are other types of fetishes included in these stories, such as lactation, anthropomorphism, giantess, transgender, body inflation, penis expansion, or any of the processes under the umbrella term transformation fetish. Stories and pictures associated with breast expansion sometimes contain vivid depictions of sexual activity, but it is not a necessity of the fetish” 

This brief overview has highlighted that when it comes to breast fetishism and its many variants, that there is surprisingly little scientific research.

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.

Crawford, C. & Krebs, D, (1998). How Mate Choice Shaped Human Nature. Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: Ideas, Issues, and Applications. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,

Levin, R. J. (2006). The breast/nipple/areola complex and human sexuality. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 21, 237-249

Levin, R., & Meston, C. (2006). Nipple/breast stimulation and sexual arousal in young men and women. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 3(3), 450-454.

Nation Master (2014). Breast expansion fetish. Located at: http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Breast-expansion-fetish

Wikipedia (2014). Breast fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breast_fetishism

Young, L. & Alexander, B. (2012). The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction. London: Penguin.

From the university of perversity: An A to Z of non-researched sexual paraphilias (Part 3)

Today’s blog is the third part in my review of little researched (and in most cases non-researched) sexual paraphilias and strange sexual behaviours. (You can read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here). I’ve tried to locate information on all of these alleged sexual behaviours listed below and in some cases have found nothing more than a definition (some of which were in Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices and/or Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices).

  • Agrexophilia: This behaviour refers to the gaining of sexual arousal from other people knowing that you are having sex. According to the online Probert Encyclopedia, agrexophilia is “sexual arousal from the knowledge that other people may become aware of the lovemaking, for example by being overheard or seen”.
  • Brachioproctic eroticism: According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal, brachioproctic eroticism (also known as brachioproctism) refers to the “insertion of the arm into the rectum of another person for sexual pleasure”.
  • Catagelophilia: This refers to being sexually aroused from being ridiculed. This appears to be the opposite of categelophobia (ridicule phobia).
  • Dystychiphilia: According to Dt. Anil Aggrawal, dystychiphilia refers to those that derive sexual pleasure from accidents (although what “accidents” refers to in these cases is left undefined). The Squackle.com website provides the example of “dropping a plate on the floor”. The online Medical Dictionary defines it as paraphilic sexuoeroticism linked to watching or participating in accidents” and adds that “it is not used to working medical parlance”.
  • Endytolagnia: Most definitions of endytolagnia say it refers to sexual arousal from partners who are fully clothed. The Word Information website defines it as a sexual perversion in which sexual intercourse is had with a fully dressed female”.
  • Frictation: This is a form of frotteurism, and according to Dr. Anil Aggrawal, frictation is “a sexual practice in which two male partners achieve sexual satisfaction by rubbing against each other while in a face-to-face position. (The female counterpart is known as tribadism)”. (Tribadism as far as I am aware is the mutual rubbing of clitorises – sometimes called ‘tribbing’ – and gave rise to the term ‘Scissor Sisters’).
  • Graophilia: This behaviour 9according to Dr. Anil Aggrawal) refers to sexual arousal from an older female partner. I’m assuming this refers to the woman being significantly older but no definition I have come across explicitly mentions what the age difference needs to be.
  • Hygrophilia: This behaviour refers to arousal from body fluids or moisture (although it’s also the name of a plant. The Right Diagnosis website adds that hygrophilia is (i) sexual interest in body secretions, (ii) recurring intense sexual fantasies involving body secretions, and/or (iii) recurring intense sexual urges involving body secretions.
  • Iantronudia: This behaviour refers to getting sexually aroused from exposing oneself to a physician, usually by faking an ailment. Some websites refer to it as “flashing a physician”.
  • Jactitation: According to Wikipedia, in English Law, jactitation “is the maliciously boasting or giving out by one party that he or she is married to the other”. However, some online sites claim that it is a false boast that causes harm to others, and is sometimes sexual. The Right Diagnosis website claims jactitation refers to sexual arousal or excitement derived from discussing their own sexual exploits”.
  • Knissophilia: This behaviour may well be a sub-type of olfactophilia as (according to Dr. Anil Aggrawal) refers to the sexual attraction of incense-burning.
  • Loutrophilia: This behaviour refers to the love of washing or bathing. Such a definition does not necessarily make this a sexual paraphilia although someone on the Kinkopedia website claimed they had loutrophilia. This may be a sub-type of aquaphilia that I examined in a previous blog.
  • Mammagymnophilia: This refers to sexual arousal from female breasts and on various websites it has also been called breast fetishism, mazophilia, and breast partialism.
  • Nemophilia: This behavioud has been defined as the love and/or sexual arousal from forests (and as such might be similar to dendrophilia that I discussed in a previous blog). The online Urban Dictionary defines nemophilia as the love of spending time in forests or woodland; woodland survival training, as practised by the armed forces could, therefore, be considered the equivalent of sex”.
  • Oikophilia: This behaviour has been defined by Dr. Anil Aggrawal as the sexual attraction to one’s home. The word has also been used (by such people as the philosopher Roger Scruton) to denote the love of houses but in this sense it has no sexual connotations whatsoever.
  • Phallophilia: This behaviour refers to those individuals that have a large penis fetish or preference. The Right Diagnosis website defines it as “urges, preferences or fantasies involving [an] unusually large erect penis”
  • http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/p/phallophilia/intro.htm
  • Queeb fetish: Queeb fetish is actually another term for ‘queef fetish’ and refers to those individuals that are sexually aroused by vaginal farts (and which I examined in a previous blog on queefing).
  • Raptophilia: According to the Right Diagnosis website, raptophilia refers to a sexual interest in rape, an abnormal amount of time spent thinking about raping a victim, recurring intense sexual fantasies involving rape, and recurring intense sexual urges involving rape”. Other websites claim that this paraphilia only concerns the fantasy of raping someone rather than the act of actually doing it. According to Wikipedia, raptophilia is another name for biastophilia (a sexual paraphilia in which sexual arousal is dependent on, or is responsive to, the act of assaulting an unconsenting person, especially a stranger”).
  • Sarmassophilia: According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal, sarmassophilia refers to sexual arousal from kneading flesh (and appears to derive from its opposite, sarmassophobia). The Encyclo website defines it more generally as a fondness for amorous caressing, necking, or stroking”.
  • Toxophilia: I’m not sure if this related to the sexy image of Robin Hood, but according to Dr. Anil Aggrawal, toxophilia refers to sexual arousal from archery.
  • Vincilagnia: There is actually loads of empirical research on vincilagnia as it is just an old scientific name for those that are sexually aroused from bondage (see the overview at the Nation Master website)
  • Wind Fetish: This has nothing to do with eproctophilia (sexual arousal for flatulence), but is (according to Dr. Anil Aggrawal) is a “sexual attraction to being blown by the wind”.
  • Xanthophilia: This behaviour refers to individuals that have an “abnormal affection” for the color yellow or the word yellow. Appears to be derived from its opposite (xanthophobia) so is likely to be more theoretical than actual.
  • Yeast infection fetish: There appear to be some individuals that have a fetish for ‘thrush’ (yeast infections) as discussed at various online forums (such as one on the Reddit website). For instance one man confessed: I have never told anyone in my life this before, but since I was young (about 12 years old) I used to love the smell when I put my face in my mom’s lap. It was a little fishy odd kind of odor but always super attractive to me. A while after this the smell went away and I was very disappointed. Later I found out that she had a yeast infection. To this day however i cannot resist the smell of the yeast infection vagina. It is like field of roses to me, ethereal, heavenly”.
  • Zemmiphilia: According to a long list of obscure paraphilias at the Write World website, zemmiphilia refers to an “abnormal affection for the great mole rat”. I would guess this is theoretical rather than actual but I would never rule anything out.

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.

Gates, K. (2000). Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex. New York: RE/Search Publications.

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.

Write World (2013). Philias. Located at: http://writeworld.tumblr.com/philiaquirks