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Period drama: A brief look at haematophilia and sexualized tampon use

I apologize in advance if today’s blog is a little more unpalatable than usual. If you are in any way prudish or squeamish, then stop reading now. The topic of today’s blog is the haematophilia and sexualized use of tampons. It was while researching my previous blogs on paraphilic vampirism and menophilia (i.e., a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual arousal from menstruating females) that I came across various references to tampons as a source of sexual arousal and pleasure.

Both menophilia and paraphilic vampirism are arguably sub-categories of haematophilia (i.e., a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from the tasting or drinking blood). As Dr. Eric Hickey notes in his 2010 book Serial Murderers and Their Victims, in most countries, drinking blood is not a crime. He also notes that in reference to haematophilia:

“The activity is usually done in the presence of others. Most persons engaging in this form of paraphilia also have participated in or have co-occurring paraphilia often harmful to others. In addition, a true hematolagniacis a fantasy-driven psychopath and to be considered very dangerous. According to Noll (1992), such desires are founded in severe childhood abuse. The child may engage in auto-vampirism in tasting his own blood and during puberty. These acts are eventually sexualized and reinforced through masturbation. A progressive paraphilic stage during adolescence is the sexual arousal of eating animals and drinking their blood (zoophagia) while masturbating. The compulsive, fantasy driven, sexual nature of this paraphilia creates a very dangerous adult”.

Dr. Hickey’s book also includes a case study of Peter Kürten (1883-1931), a mass murderer nicknamed the ‘Vampire of Dusseldorf’, who terrified the inhabitants of his home town in Germany (a case study also written about by Dr. Louis Schlesinger in his 2004 book Sexual Murder). Citing the work of criminologist Herschel Prins published in a 1985 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Hickey recalled that:

Kurten was raised in a very physically and sexually abusive home where he witnessed his alcoholic father raping his mother and sisters. He also engaged in sexually abusing his sisters…At age 11 he was taught by the local dog catcher how to torture dogs and sheep while masturbating. He developed multiple paraphilia including vampirism, hematolagnia, necrophilia, erotophonophilia, and zoophagia and was known to drink directly from the severed jugular of his victims. He raped, tortured, and killed at least nine known victims although he was believed to have murdered several others. He used hammers, knives, and scissors to kill both young girls and women and admitted that he was sexually aroused by the blood and violence. Some victims incurred many more stab wounds than others, and when asked about this variation he explained that with some victims his orgasm was achieved more quickly…Before his beheading he asked if he would be able to hear the blood gushing from his neck stump because “that would be the pleasure to end all pleasures”.

This brief overview shows that Kurten had multiple paraphilias (including necrophilia) and was a genuine haematophile. I picked out necrophilia as one of the co-occurring paraphilias because Dr. Anil Aggrawal has written extensively on necrophilia and noted in both his 2009 paper in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine and his 2011 book Necrophilia: Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects that: “some [necrophiles] remove clothes, especially panties or even tampons from corpses to keep as fetish objects…and their paraphilia is known as necrofetishism”. This was the first-ever academic reference I had read that related to the sexualized and fetishistic use of tampons.

Not only has sexualized tampon use been associated with haematophilia, menophilia, and necrophilia, it is also associated with mysophilia (in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from filth, and which I examined in a previous blog along with salirophilia). If you want some (non-academic) proof, a number of internet websites cater for tampon-loving mysophiles including Charlotte’s Panties site that sells used tampons and sanitary pads for sexual pleasure. Another avenue to check out is the Men in Menstruation website (that perhaps more accurately should be named ‘Men Into Menstruation’). Another unusual way in which tampon use has been sexualized is in their use in urethral stimulation. A number of medical papers have made reference to the fact that tampons have got stuck in the urethra during self-inflicted sexual stimulation (such as a paper by Dr. W. Kochakarn and Dr. Pummanagura in a 2008 issue of the Asian Journal of Surgery).

While researching this blog I came across dozens and dozens of ‘tampon fetish’ sites (type ‘tampon fetish video’ into Google and you’ll see what I mean – be warned, almost all of them are very sexually explicit such as Bloody Trixie’s Red Fetish Blog). I also came across quite a few men who confessed to their tampon fetish online:

  • Extract 1: “I have a fetish for tampons.  Lots of people think it’s disgusting, and lots of girls especially.  But since I was in Junior High I’ve been fascinated by girls’ periods, and began sneaking into toilets at an early age to look.  There are cool spy cam videos of girls changing tampons.  I love them. I found a good unisex bathroom in our building, and can go there and find fresh tampons.  The idea that it was just in a girl’s vagina, and that she was sitting there slipping it out, and a new one in, turns me on, and I’ll often masturbate.  Sometimes there is blood on the bottom of the seat.  I love pictures of girls with the tampon string showing, and having sex during my girlfriend’s period.  I found a site where girls discuss their periods often in detail, day by day, and I like to read it” (“String Lover”)
  • Extract 2: Recently when my girlfriend stayed over she said we couldn’t have sex because it was her period and after she left I saw a used tampon in the trash. I found it gross at first but then it kind of turned me on, without thinking I licked it I KNOW, I kind of liked it and now 2 months later I’m still eating her tampon blood, does this mean I’m a vampire? (“Sir Valentine”)
  • Extract 3: “I am a 37 year-old male that has a tampon fetish. I love to insert tampons into my rectum. When I insert it I get turned on and sometimes blow my load. It feels so good inside my rectum that I do it daily. It helps hold my poop in to my bowel movement is so full backed up that it pushes the tampon out and my poop goes into my diaper that usually is already soaked full of warm, most pee. The feel of the pee and BM is so great. Any women that would like me to do this to them would be awesome. While you are inserting the tampon into my rectum I’ll insert one into your rectum (“Unpottytrainedfireman”)
  • Extract 4: “I have been a cross dresser for years, and just in the last few years I started wearing tampons and Kotexs. I wear the tampons when I am dressed as a girl, and they give me a greater feeling of being a girl. I wear the kotexs the rest of the time when I am wearing panties and panty hose under my male clothes (“Marry”)
  • Extract 5: “I am a cross dresser and I fully dress as ‘Tami’ every day and when I am always dressed I use tampons and a Kotex because I love the feeling of them and they make me feel more feminine. Right from the start of my cross dressing I started just using Kotex to hide my manhood then I thought it might feel good to put a tampon in  my rear and it felt so good so now I wear them every day while I am dressed (“Tami”)

The first three extracts are all variants of what I would term the archetypal ‘tampon fetish’ (where the tampon itself is sexualized) in some way. In Extract 1 it appears to be linked to voyeurism, in Extract 2 it appears to be linked to menophilia, and in Extract 3 there are associations with both coprophilia and urophilia. The final two extracts are where the tampon is sexualized but only as an adjunct or accessory to the primary paraphilic interest of transvestism (something that I have never seen mentioned in the academic or forensic psychiatry literature). However, there are numerous examples of the practice online, and even an online article on the Blurt It website entitled Is It Okay For Men To Wear Panties and Kotex Maxi Pads?’ There are also websites that cater for tampon fetishes that do not appear to have anything to do with blood. For instance, there are some sites dedicated to those individuals (presumably men) who are sexually aroused by the sight of tampon strings hanging from female genitalia (such as at the Peachy Forum – be warned, this is sexually explicit site) as noted in Extract 1 (above).

Although there have been academic and clinical writings on various ‘blood paraphilias’ (most notably paraphilic vampirism), there is nothing (to my knowledge) specifically on tampon fetishes. Whether empirical research is needed is debatable, but even a quick perusal of the online fetish sites suggest that while it be an understandable niche sexual market, there are definitely admirers and adherents out there.

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. (2009). A new classification of necrophilia. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 16, 316-320.

Aggrawal A. (2011). Necrophilia: Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Benezech, M., Bourgeois, M., Boukhabza, D. & Yesavage, J. (1981). Cannibalism and vampirism in paranoid schizophrenia. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 42(7), 290.

Hickey, E. (2010). Serial Murderers and Their Victims. Belmont, CA; Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Jaffe, P., & DiCataldo, F. (1994). Clinical vampirism: Blending myth and reality. Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 22, 533-544.

Kochakarn, W. & Pummanagura, W. (2008). Foreign bodies in the female urinary bladder: 20-year experience in Ramathibodi hospital. Asian Journal of Surgery, 31, 130–133.

Noll, R. (1992). Vampires, Werewolves and Demons: Twentieth Century Reports in the Psychiatric Literature. New York: Brunner/Mazel.

Prins, H. (1985). Vampirism: A clinical condition. British Journal of Psychiatry, 146, 666-668.

Schlesinger, L. (2004). Sexual Murder. New York: CRC Press.

Turn on the eating: A beginner’s guide to sexual cannibalism

“People who have consumed human blood and flesh reportedly claim to experience an intoxicating euphoric effect. This reaction is similar to that experienced by anyone who satisfies a strong sexual craving that is not considered normal (exhibitionism, necrophilia, rape, etc.). However, in this case, it must have reinforced the beliefs of worshippers that indeed their god was present in the victim” (Dr. Brenda Love, Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices).

Today’s blog takes a brief look at sexual cannibalism in humans. I added “in humans” at the end of the sentence because sexual cannibalism is quite common in some animal species. As Dr. Brenda Love notes in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, sexual cannibalism is known to occur in some types of spider, praying mantis, scorpion, cricket, grasshopper, and fly. The Wikipedia entry also notes that sexual cannibalism has been observed in various types of crustacean (e.g., amphipods, copepods), slugs and snails (i.e., gastropods), and squids and octopuses (i.e., cephalopods). In the non-human species, it is typically the female that kills and eats the male before, during or after sexual union has taken place. Amongst humans, sexual cannibalism is extremely rare, and most humans who engage in cannibalistic acts for sexual purposes are generally considered sociopaths.

Of course, cannibalism for non-sexual purposes – known I more scientific circles as anthropophagy – has long been known among certain tribes and cultures. Throughout history, cannibalism has been practiced in many forms across Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas. Though rare today, it is believed to be still practiced in a few remote parts of Asia.  Cannibalism can be classed as either endocannibalism (i.e., consumption of another human being from within the same group or community) or exocannibalism (i.e., consumption of another human being from outside the group or community). Some acts of endocannibalism are actually acts of necro-cannibalism (i.e., the eating of flesh from dead humans also known as necrophagy) where dead people’s body parts are eaten as either part of the grieving process, as a way of guiding the souls of the dead into the bodies of the living, and/or as a way of imbibing the dead person’s ‘life force’ or more specific individual characteristics. Such endocannibalistic practices were common among certain tribes in New Guinea (which led to the prion disease kuru that I examined in a previous blog). However, it is known that many males among various tribes would not consume females for fear of emasculation. Exocannibalistic acts were most often carried out as part of a celebration victory after battles with rival tribes. There are various theories from many perspectives on why cannibalism may occur. These have included:

  • Religious theories (e.g., religious beliefs involving the need to eat human flesh as a way of sustaining the universe or as part of magical and ritualistic ceremonies).
  • Political theories (e.g., eating human flesh as a political tool to intimidate and control potential hostiles or subordinates).
  • Socio-psychological theories (e.g., eating human flesh due to unconscious factors such as a response to trauma).
  • Ecological theories (e.g., eating human flesh as a way of controlling the size of the population. The Aztecs were said to have eaten no less than 15,000 victims a year as – some have argued – a form of population control).
  • Dietary theories (e.g., eating human flesh as a source of protein).

There are of course other reasons (including sexual ones) that may be the root of someone’s cannibalistic desire to eat human flesh. One reason could be out of necessity. For instance, in 1972, a rugby team from Uruguay was in a plane crash in the Andes. Fifteen people died and the only way they prevented themselves starving to death was to eat the flesh of the deceased (which given the fact it took 72 days for them to be rescued, was one of the few viable options to prevent starvation). At its simplest level, human sexual cannibalism is usually considered a psychosexual disorder and involves individuals’ sexualizing (in some way) the consumption of another human being’s flesh. One online article claims that:

“This does not necessarily suggest that the cannibal achieves sexual gratification only in the act of consuming human flesh, but also may release sexual frustration or pent up anger. Sexual cannibalism is considered to be a form of sexual sadism and is often associated with the act of necrophilia (sex with corpses)”.

When it comes to sexual cannibalism in humans, there are arguably different subtypes (although this is based on my own personal opinion and not on something I’ve read in a book or research paper). Most of these behaviours I have examined in previous blogs (so click on the links if you want to know more:

  • Vorarephilia is a sexual paraphilia in which individuals are sexually aroused by (i) the idea of being eaten, (ii) eating another person, and/or (iii) observing this process for sexual gratification. However, most vorarephiles’ behaviour is fantasy-based, although there have been real cases such as Armin Meiwes, the so-called ‘Rotenburg Cannibal’.
  • Erotophonophilia is a sexual paraphilia in which individuals have extreme violent fantasies and typically kill their victims during sex and/or mutilate their victims’ sexual organs (the latter of which is usually post-mortem). In some cases, the erotophonophiles will eat some of their victim’s body parts (usually post-mortem). Many lust murderers – including Jack the Ripper – are suspected of engaging in cannibalistic and/or gynophagic acts, taking away part of the female to eat later. Other examples of murderers who have eaten their victims (or parts of them) for sexual pleasure include Albert Fish, Issei Sagawa, Andrei Chikatilo, Ed Gein, and Jeffrey Dahmer.
  • Sexual necrophagy refers to the cannibalizing of a corpse for sexual pleasure. This may be associated with lust murder but Brenda Love in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices says that such cases usually involve “one whose death the molester did not cause. Many cases of reported necrophilia include cannibalism or other forms of sadism and it is believed that many others fantasize about doing it”.
  • Vampirism as a sexual paraphilia in which an individual derives sexual arousal from the ingestion of blood from a living person
  • Menophilia is a sexual paraphilia in which an individual (almost always male) derives sexual arousal from drinking the blood of menstruating females.
  • Gynophagia is (according to Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices) a sexual fetish that involves fantasies of cooking and consumption of human females (gynophagia literally means “woman eating”). There is also a sub-type of gynophagia called pathenophagia. This (according to Dr. Brenda Love) is the practice of eating young girls or virgins. Several lust murderers were known to consume the flesh of young virgins, most notably Albert Fish). 

Added to this list, is something I would call ‘sexual autophagy’ which refers to the eating of one’s own flesh for sexual pleasure (and would be a sub-type of autosarcophagy discussed in a previous blog). I am basing this sub-type on an entry I came across in Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices and relating to a case study reported by Krafft-Ebing:

“Krafft-Ebing recorded the case of a man who at 13 [years of age] became infatuated with a young white-skinned girl. However, instead of desiring intercourse, he was overwhelmed by the urge to bite off a piece of her flesh and eat it. He began stalking women, and for years he carried a pair of scissors with him. He was never successful in accosting a woman, but when he came close he would cut off and eat a piece of his own skin instead. This act produced an immediate orgasm for him”.

This account seems to be confirmed by some online articles on sexual cannibalism claiming that cannibals feel a sense of euphoria and/or intense sexual stimulation when consuming human flesh. All of these online accounts cite the same article by Clara Bruce (‘Chew On This: You’re What’s for Dinner’) that I have been unable to track down (so I can’t vouch for the veracity of the claims made). Bruce’s article claimed that cannibals had compared eating human flesh with having an orgasm, and that flesh eating caused an out-of-body-experience experience with effects comparable to taking the drug mescaline. In another publication that I’ve failed to track down, the following snippet appears on at least 20 websites with articles on sexual cannibalism:

“Lesley Hensel, author of ‘Cannibalism as a Sexual Disorder’ [says] eating human flesh can cause an increase in levels of vitamin A and amino acids, which can cause a chemical effect on the blood and in the brain. This chemical reaction could possibly lead to the altered states that some cannibals have claimed to have experienced. However, this theory has not been substantiated by scientific evidence”.

As I’ve covered many of the cannibalistic sub-types in previous blogs, I tried to do some further research on gynophagia. There is almost nothing written from an academic or clinical perspective about gynophagia (in fact when I typed in ‘gynophagia’ only one reference turned up – a paper on ‘the psychophysical basis of feelings’ published by Dr. C.L. Herrick in an 1892 issue of the Journal of Comparative Neurology that only mentioned gynophagia in passing). However, there are quite a few dedicated gynophagia websites out there including dedicated pages on the Deviant Art website and an interesting set of cannibalistic links (that you can check out for yourself on the Indie Film website. There is also a reasonably lengthy article in the Urban Dictionary but it features little of any substance. The person writing the article makes the following observations:

“Gynophagia is the fetish of a person becoming food for someone else as a fantasy. As a fantasy it’s just as taboo as BDSM or other kinks…Gynophagia can really be a more gentle fetish than BDSM because torture is almost never applied. Honestly, when you boil it down to its essentials (no pun intended), gynophagia is an extension of the ‘Damsel in Distress’ scenario…Gynophagia is present in a lot of the older media we have, the most widely recognized being a helpless woman being boiled alive by a native tribe when the hero rescues her. Another example would be in Little Red Riding Hood where the wolf devours Red Riding Hood, but this could also be classified as a separate but similar fetish called Vorarephillia. One of the more widely known scenarios of gynophagia is known as the Dolcett method which usually centers around the main female character of a Dolcett comic being spit roasted alive and enjoying every moment of it. But again I must stress that gynophagia is one of those few fetishes that can only be a fantasy and should not be practiced in real life”.

If you really want to find out what gynophagia disciples are into, I suggest you check out the Carnal Consummations fetish website (but you’ve been warned!).

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.

Arens, William (1979). The Man-Eating Myth: Anthropology and Anthropophagy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Beier, K. (2008). Comment on Pfafflin’s (2008) “Good enough to eat”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 164-165.

Benezech, M., Bourgeois, M., Boukhabza, D. & Yesavage, J. (1981). Cannibalism and vampirism in paranoid schizophrenia. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 42(7), 290.

Cannon, J. (2002). Fascination with cannibalism has sexual roots. Indiana Statesman, November 22. Located at: http://www.indianastatesman.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2002/11/22/3dde3b6201bc1

Krafft-Ebing, R. von (1886). Psychopathia sexualis (C.G. Chaddock, Trans.). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.

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

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.

Prins, H. (1985). Vampirism: A clinical condition. British Journal of Psychiatry, 146, 666-668.

Unlimited Blog (2007). Sexual cannibalism and Nithari murders. November. Located at: http://sms-unlimited.blogspot.co.uk/2007/11/sexual-cannibalism-and-nithari-murders.html

Wikipdia (2012). Cannibalism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannibalism

Wikipedia (2012). Human sacrifice in Aztec culture. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sacrifice_in_Aztec_culture

Wikipedia (2012). Sexual cannibalism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_cannibalism

Banned on the run: The extreme world of Throbbing Gristle

“I don’t think there’s any point in doing anything unless you push yourself. When in doubt – be extreme” (Genesis P-Orridge)

“[We] were interested in taboos. What the boundaries were, where sound became noise and where noise became music and where entertainment became pain, and where pain became entertainment. All the contradictions of culture” (Genesis P-Orridge)

Today’s blog is a little leftfield and as I write this, I’m not quite sure where it’s going to end up. Regular readers will know from some of my previous blogs that I am a bit of a music obsessive and that music is one of the most important things in my life. Given that one of the things I like to examine in my blog is extreme behaviour, I thought I would have a brief look at one of the most extreme bands of all time – Throbbing Gristle (TG) – who coincidentally happen to be one of my all-time favourite groups. (In fact, I have surreptitiously snuck in TG references in previous blogs, the most blatant example being my blog on sexual sadism that I entitled Entertainment Through Pain – the name of TG’s most recent ‘best of’ album).

I have no idea how much any of you reading this knows about TG, and if you do know about them, you will no doubt be aware that listening to them is an experience (to say the least) and they were the first (and best) group to make ‘industrial music’ (in fact they coined the term and formed their own record label Industrial Records). TG’s live shows (which incidentally were all recorded and all made commercially available to buy albeit in limited editions) were notorious and highly confrontational. They featured highly provocative and disturbing imagery including hard-core pornography and scenes from Nazi concentration camps. TG continually said that that their mission was “to challenge and explore the darker and obsessive sides of the human condition rather than to make attractive music”. This they did to great effect!

I’ll start with a brief history. TG grew out of the ‘performance art’ group COUM Transmissions in the mid-1970s. COUM Transmissions comprised Genesis P-Orridge (born Neil Megson in 1950) and Cosey Fanni Tutti (born Christine Newby in 1951), and both took a great interest in radical counter-culture. TG officially formed in 1975 when Chris Carter (born 1953) and Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson (1955-2010) joined Genesis and Cosey. The final performance by COUM Transmissions was the highly controversial show Prostitution at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts Gallery in September 1976. The final show featured transvestite guards, a female stripper, and used tampons in glass. In the print media, Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Fairburn famously called the group “wreckers of civilisation” (which eventually became the title of their 1999 biography by Simon Ford). Even their name is subversive – ‘Throbbing Gristle’ is actually Yorkshire slang for a penile erection. Roni Sarig in the 1998 book The Secret History of Rock: The Most Influential Bands You’ve Never Heard, notes that in relation to their propensity to shock audiences:

“[Throbbing Gristle] spent a number of years shocking and provoking even the most open-minded members of the avant-garde art world with shows featuring body fluids, dead animal parts, and nude photos of Cosey (a part-time stripper), that pushed the limits of obscenity and taboo. By the mid-‘70s, the group…determined that the best avenue for continuing their cultural assault was music. [They used] an array of instruments (most of which they couldn’t play), as well as tape machines and various electronic effects”.

There are dozens of TG recordings available but the most well known LPs are arguably The Second Annual Report, D.o.A. – The Third and Final Report, 20 Jazz Funk Greats, and Heathen Earth (and if you want to just dip in and see what all the fuss is about try The Taste of TG featuring on the front cover a manipulation of a still from the Pasolini film adaptation of the Marquis de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom). They broke up in 1981 and reformed again in 2004 (until 2010).

Their musical performances were often improvised but there were certainly sonic soundscapes that could be described as actual ‘songs’. Most of the fans’ favourites covered extreme, controversial and/or provocative subjects and lyrics including (but not limited to): sado-masochism (Discipline), masturbation (Five Knuckle Shuffle), ejaculation (Something Came Over Me), sexual manipulation (Persuasion), the Moors murderers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady (Very Friendly), the gassing of Jews in Nazi Germany (Zyklon B Zombie), Nazism (National Affront), misogyny (We Hate You Little Girls), school bullying (Blood On The Floor), burns victims (Hamburger Lady), ultra-violence (Subhuman, Dead Ed, and Hit By A Rock), castration and foetus eating (Slug Bait), and suicide (Weeping). A really good paper written by Dr. Danielle Kirby in a 2011 issue of Literature and Aesthetics highlighted the cultural space that TG’s music inhabited:

“[Throbbing Gristle] both musically and magically, constitute an integral element of what Christopher Partridge calls ‘occulture’. Occulture, a neologism attributed to Genesis P-Orridge, has come to express a socio-spiritual milieu encompassing ‘those often hidden, rejected and oppositional beliefs and practices associated with esotericism, Theosophy, mysticism, New Age, [and] Paganism’ amongst other subcultural ideas and lifestyles”.

Psychologically they are simply one of the most interesting groups I have ever come across. They lived life on the fringes, and much of their performance whether it was art, drama and/or music was extreme and morally provocative. In one interview, Genesis P-Orridge revealed perhaps one of his most depraved artistic improvisations:

“I used to do things like stick severed chicken’s heads over my penis, and then try to masturbate them, whilst pouring maggots all over it…At the ICA I did a performance where I was naked, I drank a bottle of whiskey and stood on a lot of tacks. And then I gave myself enemas with blood, milk and urine, and then broke wind so a jet of blood, milk and urine combined shot [out and] then [I] licked it off the not-clean concrete floor. Then I got a 10-inch nail and tried to swallow it, which made me vomit. Then Cosey helped me lick the vomit off the floor. And she was naked and trying to sever her vagina to her navel with a razor blade and she injected blood into her vagina which then trickled out, and we sucked the blood from her vagina into a syringe and injected it into eggs painted black, which we then tried to eat. And we vomited again, which we then used for enemas. Then I urinated into a large glass bottle and drank it all while it was still warm. This was all improvised. And then we gradually crawled to each other, licking the floor clean. ‘Cause we don’t like to leave a mess, y’know; after all, it’s not fair to insult an art gallery. Chris Burden, who’s known for being outrageous, walked out with his girlfriend, saying, ‘This is not art, this is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen, and these people are sick’.”

I have no idea if my brief look into the world of Throbbing Gristle has totally put you off exploring their art and music, but as a group, their artistic mission and philosophy complements much of the more extreme academic material that I have featured in my blog.

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

Further reading

Cooper, D. (2012). Sypha presents … Music from the Death Factory: A Throbbing Gristle primer. Located at: http://denniscooper-theweaklings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/sypha-presents-music-from-death-factory.html?zx=c19a3a826c3170a7

Ford, S. (1999). Wreckers of Civilization: The Story of Coum Transmissions and Throbbing Gristle. London: Black Dog Publishing.

Kirby, D. (2011). Transgressive representations: Satanic ritual abuse, Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth, and First Transmission. Literature and Aesthetics, 21, 134-149.

Kromhout, M. (2007). ‘The Impossible Real Transpires’ – The Concept of Noise in the Twentieth Century: a Kittlerian Analysis. Located at: http://www.mellekromhout.nl/wp-content/uploads/The-Impossible-Real-Transpires.pdf

Sarig, R. (1998). The Secret History of Rock: The Most Influential Bands You’ve Never Heard Of. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications.

Walker, J.A. (2009). Cosey Fanni Tutti & Genesis P-Orridge in 1976: Media frenzy, Prostitution-style, Art Design Café, August 10. Located at: http://www.artdesigncafe.com/cosey-fanni-tutti-genesis-p-orridge-1-2009

Wells, S. (2007). A Throbbing Gristle primer. The Guardian, May 27. Located at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2007/may/29/athrobbinggristleprimer

It’s the pits: A brief look at maschalagnia

Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices defines maschalagnia as a fetish for armpits, and also defines maschalophilous (slightly differently) as arousal from armpits – although a quick internet search will highlight that most sources use these two words interchangeably to mean the same thing. According one (gay) fetish website, the attraction to armpits can be based on a number of factors and senses, but claims it is the olfactory (smell) and visual components are the most common sensory factors involved when it comes to armpit sexual arousal.

Other armpit related sexual practices include hircusophilism (a sexual preference for underarm hair), and axillism (the use of the armpit for sex, and known more colloquially as ‘bagpiping’). There are a surprising number of fetishistic websites purely devoted to the sexual allure of armpits (e.g., Armpit FetishArmpit Sex, Armpit Licking, Girl Pits [‘The Original Underarm Fetish Forum”], Man On Man Armpits). Most of these people enjoy kissing, tasting, smelling their partner’s armpits during sexual foreplay. Sometimes they ask their sexual partners not to shower, bathe or wash their armpits, so that the smell is as strong as possible. Brenda Love in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices claims that sexual arousal from armpits:

“…is more common in Europe where women allow their armpit hair to grow. This area is very sensitive to the flicker the tongue or the warmth of a penis. Unshaven hair is also said to retain pheremones, the sex hormones that cause arousal when inhaled. The advantages of axillism for men are that of a tight fit, friction against the penis, close proximity to the breasts, and no risk of pregnancy or disease. Axillism, when engaged in within a day of shaving, produces more sensation but later underarm stubble can cause irritation of the penile skin”.

As far as I am aware, there is no empirical evidence suggesting that armpit fetishism is more prevalent in Europe and my feeling that this is educated guesswork on Dr. Love’s part. In Volume 4 of his Studies in the Psychology of Sex from the early 1900s, the British psychologist and early sexologist Havelock Ellis made many references to armpits and sex. For instance, he notes that:“Before coitus the sexual energy seems to be dissipated along all the nerve-channels and especially along the secondary sexual routes, the breasts, nape of neck, eyebrows, lips, cheeks, armpits, and hair”. He then goes on to say later in the book how the focus of sexuality can shift:

“The odour of the body, like its beauty, in so far as it can be regarded as a possible sexual allurement, has in the course of development been transferred to the upper parts. The careful concealment of the sexual region has doubtless favoured this transfer. It has thus happened that when personal odour acts as a sexual allurement it is the armpit, in any case normally the chief focus of odour in the body, which mainly comes into play, together with the skin and the hair”.

He also cites a case study from Féré’s 1902 book L’Instinct Sexuel. Féré is arguably the first academic to mention the fetishistic properties of armpits when he wrote:

“Sometimes the odour of the armpit may even become a kind of fetish which is craved for its own sake and in itself suffices to give pleasure. Féré has recorded such a case, in a friend of his own, a man of 60, with whom at one time he used to hunt…On these hunting expeditions he used to tease the girls and women he met…when he came upon them walking in the fields with their short-sleeved chemises exposed. When he had succeeded in introducing his hand into the woman’s armpit he went away satisfied, and frequently held the hand to his nose with evident pleasure. After long hesitation Féré asked for an explanation, which was frankly given. As a child he had liked the odour, without knowing why. As a young man women with strong odours had stimulated him to extraordinary sexual exploits, and now they were the only women who had any influence on him. He professed to be able to recognize continence by the odour, as well as the most favourable moment for approaching a woman”.

Ellis’ book also contains a section where he claims that some men can detect menstruating women from the smell of their armpits. Although this is not sexual in and of itself, more those men who engage in menophilia (a sexual paraphilia where individuals derive sexual arousal from menstruating females), the armpits may be an indirect sexual stimulus Ellis argues that the attraction is mostly directed towards the “strong pungent odour of the armpit” as it is the most powerful in the body, sufficiently powerful to act as a muscular stimulant even in the absence of any direct sexual association. As one website’s description of armpit fetishism notes:

Armpit odour is an aphrodisiac for some people. The smell acts as a muscular stimulant, naturally encouraging arousal, reminding armpit lovers of their favourite part of the opposite sex’s body. Compared to other fetishes, it’s not that weird. But don’t tell that to people in Singapore, where an armpit-loving man was recently sentenced to sentenced to 14 years in jail and 18 strokes of the cane”

One online essay at an “adult” site (you’ve been warned if you click on the link) has briefly examined armpit fetishes and had a small section entitled ‘psychological aspects’. However, it really didn’t give any psychological insight at all. The anonymous author speculated that:

“I think the act of licking another person’s armpit or breathing in their odour are a means of striving for intimacy, on a very base level. A person’s musk is very distinctive; very much a product of that individual and how their body processes various consumables…Or it could be a physical reaction having to do with the taste and smell of a man’s underarms, in their natural form: minus cologne, antiperspirant, and the like. Pheromones, commonly believed to trigger a social response in members of the same species, are produced by the skin’s apocrine sebaceous glands, secreted via armpits and found in sweat”

As with many of the paraphilias and fetishes that I’ve examined of late, there is little empirical research on maschalagnia or armpit sexual practices more generally. Reference to sexual aspects of armpits sometimes crop up in the academic literature on gay sexual preferences. For instance, in a 1987 issue of the journal Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, Dr. David  Moskowitz and Dr. Michael Roloff examined sexual practices in relation to ‘bug chasing’ (relating to a small group of gay men who attempt to voluntarily contract the HIV virus). They noted that among gay BDSM (bondage, dominance, submission, (sado)masochism) practitioners, a small but significant minority were into dominant and/or submissive ‘armpit play’.

Maybe the area is just too trivial for academic and/or clinical study as it’s not a condition that requires medical, psychiatric and/or psychological intervention. In fact, the only snippet I came across was a 2006 book chapter in Key Topics in Sexual Health by Steve Baguley on ‘pediculosis pubis’ (crab lice) reminding readers that such lice (as part of a sexually transmitted disease) can be found in armpit hair as well as pubic hair.

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.

Baguley. S. (2006). Pediculosis pubis (crab lice). In S. Baguley, S. Kumar & R. Persaud (Eds.), Key Topics in Sexual Health (pp.150-162). London: Taylor and Francis.

Criminal Justice Degrees Guide (2008). 10 unusual fetishes with massive online followings. November 10. Located at: http://www.criminaljusticedegreesguide.com/features/10-unusual-fetishes-with-massive-online-followings.html

Ellis, Havelock (1905). Studies in the Psychology of Sex (Volume 4). Located at: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13613/13613-h/13613-h.htm

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

Moskowitz, D.A. & Roloff, M.E. (1997). The ultimate high: Sexual addiction and the bug chasing phenomenon. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, 14, 21-40,

Wonderland Burlesque (2011). Acquired Tastes, Chapter II: Armpits, January 22. Located at: http://wonderlandburlesque.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/acquired-tastes-chapter-2-armpits.html

Squeezy does it: A brief look at acnephilia

I want to start today’s blog with a few quotes that I’ve taken from various online discussion groups:

  • Extract 1: “I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t enjoy popping blackheads. It’s the ultimate secret pleasure”
  • Extract 2: “My ex-girlfriend used to [squeeze my spots] all the time too. I thought it was a little weird also, but what the hell, I let her pick and pop”
  • Extract 3: “Zits aren’t fun. Or so the general attitude goes. No one admires a good zit the way you marvel at a perfectly sculpted nose or cheekbone. But for a small group of people, acne isn’t just a mini volcano of pus, it’s a beautiful bump of love juice” 
  • Extract 4: “So this is kind of gross, but my wife has a fetish for popping zits. She absolutely cannot pop enough. Whether it be whiteheads or blackheads, she can’t get enough. I can’t take my shirt off without watching my back because she will pop around a corner to try to squeeze out a blackhead before I notice and run away. She says it’s like the best feeling ever to feel a zit pop between her fingers”
  • Extract 5: “This guy I was talking to on Facebook just told me that he thinks pimples are cute and that he wanted to lick mine. I’m sure that he was serious, he also has a foot fetish. He’s like begging me to like role play with him a situation with me making him lick my pimples”
  • Extract 6: “So I would think that this whole pimple popping thing falls under the category of a fetish, wouldn’t you?? And as we all know, groups of people who share a fondness for the same fetish often get together and ‘practice” this fetish, right? Even if it’s sick, twisted, or immoral??”

All of these quotes appear to suggest the existence of acnephilia. The word is made up and it does not appear in either Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices or Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. The only operational definition of the condition I have come across is from the online Urban Dictionary that says acnephilia is:

Deriving pleasure from popping pimples or zits on either one’s own face or someone close to them. Acnephilia is usually common among girlfriends as they find enjoyment in popping their boyfriend’s pimples, despite the pleas and groans from their mates. Symptoms of Acnephilia could arise anywhere. From one’s own personal home to the public streets. Once Acnephilia takes over a young woman’s body she is not content until every single one of her boyfriend’s pimples are popped and done with”.

Before examining the alleged sexual nature of squeezing spots, I did come across an interesting article in a 2003 issue of Salon magazine where the author (Anna Holmes) interviewed a number of scientists about why women will happily squeeze their sexual partner’s spots. Most of those interviewed conceptualized such behaviour as ‘grooming’. For instance, Dr. Robin Dunbar (professor of Evolutionary Psychology, Liverpool University, UK) was quoted as saying:

The chief manner in which primates regulate their relationships with one another is through grooming, whereas we more evolved humans rely on verbal and written language. Relationships are negotiations and we use many devious ways and wiles to get close to members of the opposite sex. At the end of the day, grooming and language are part and parcel of the armoury we have to facilitate and build relationships. Language is a very inefficient mechanism in terms of making the social wheel go ’round. Grooming is a much more powerful way of conveying a sort of emotional state; nothing you can say verbally can compare with what you say through touch”.

The article also featured a female psychoanalyst who refused to be named and speculated there may be a ritualistic or purification element at play, and implied that the activity is sadomasochistic. She argued that in the same way that those with obsessive-compulsive disorders engage in rituals in order to overcome their anxiety, picking spots may be something soothing thing in a frenetic life. She then went on to speculate that spot squeezers may be just transferring “the pleasure of picking at themselves to some other person in a sort of sadistic fondling”. I don’t see this at all, and neither did psychologist Dr. Fred Penzel (an expert on dermatological obsessive-compulsive disorders) who said:

“The field of psycho-dermatology has gone nowhere. It’s just a bunch of people trying to come up with psycho-sexual interpretations of why people do this sort of stuff. It’s all symbolism with them, like interpreting poems and literature. In psychology we sort of look at the whole picture, both behavioural and biological, and believe that these compulsive behaviours are neurobiological and maybe even genetic. People use certain grooming behaviours as means to calm themselves during times of stress or anxiety or to provide focus while feeling bored or sedentary. Although these behaviors are most often self-directed, they are sometimes also performed on other people, even animals and objects. Of course I’ve had patients who mention that they pick at their spouses”.

If you type in ‘acnephilia’ or ‘zit fetish’ into any search engine, there is one webpage that almost every other article mentions and that is an undated online essay entitled “Acnephilia: More commonly known as the zit fetish” on the Backwashzine (BWZ) website. The article claims that as the pornography market has expanded, there are an increasing number of fetish videos and films being produced to cater for every sexual fetish and sexual niche imaginable. As I’ve noted in many of my previous blogs, almost every (seemingly non-sexual) fluid that can come from a human body has a corresponding sexual paraphilia and/or fetish. This includes urine (urophilia), faeces (coprophilia), vomit (emetophilia), blood (menophilia, clinical vampirism), saliva (spit fetish), and breast milk (lactophilia). So what about pus and the acnephilia market? The BWZ article gave a detailed overview of an acnephilia film called Pus Poppin’ Forefingers. Here is just the start of the description:

“For 90 minutes this film follows the adventures of Pizza Face Joe and Polly, whose breasts are covered with zits…A romance is budding. Polly invites Pizza Face inside, and they head straight to the bedroom. She turns on a bright lamp, and starts examining Pizza Face’s face. The camera zooms in real tight, giving viewers a good close-up of Pizza Face’s horrid cystic acne. Mounds of pus are just waiting to explode, like little time bombs ticking away. Polly takes a hand and gently caresses the contours of Pizza’s face. They stare each other in the eyes. Pizza then takes Polly’s other finger and brings it up to his face. She takes it from there, bringing her forefingers together, and giving the most monstrous zit a good, hard squeeze…It spurts white goodness all over her face! Blood then seeps out. They grab a bit of tissue and dab it on the opened crater. Polly then aims for another. “I want your warm, white, milky pus in my mouth!” she says in her most sexy whisper. With that, she puts her mouth to his face and squeezes off another pimple with her teeth”.

After this, the article gets very pornographic so you can read it for yourself if you’re interested. The author of the article then interviewed a young male who rented out the film and asked him what he liked about acne and spot squeezing. The interviewee was quoted as saying:

“My favorite is the big, red kind that festers on the back. Guy or girl, I don’t care, I just want to sit back there and squeeze. Sometimes I’ll put on some Oxy first, just for taste. It gives the pimple some real zing. You know, popping, is just like grooming, like the apes do. There’s something primeval about it. And then when it finally pops, I sop up all the gushing goods with my tongue. The ass is a great place too. They can get pretty big down there…I usually make my partner sit on pizzas, and squish around for a bit. In a few days, it’s paydirt”.

After reading the article, I did a bit of my own research on the topic and I can confirm (a) that there are online forums out there that genuinely appear to cater for acnephiles (such as The Pimple Erotic), and (b) there are dedicated ‘spot squeezing’ websites where dozens of videos have been uploaded for acnephile pleasure (such as the ‘zit lovers community’).

Another online article by Naweko San-Joyz on acne fetishes tried to argue that squeezing spots – even if there is no sexual focus – can be a fetish, and that it can be real or imagined. Personally, I don’t agree that this is fetishistic in the way that I conceptualize fetishes but I thought I would give some blog space to this viewpoint:

“A fetish is an object of unreasonably obsessive attention or regard. Thus, extreme attention given to zits and pimples characterize an acne fetish. Two clinical forms of an acne fetish include excoriated acne and imagined acne. Excoriated acne occurs when an acne patient continues to pick at or squeeze acne formations on their face, never allowing the skin to heal. This constant picking aggravates the acne condition and often times leaves severe scarring. Imagined acne happens when a patient is convinced she has acne but in reality does not. This person may have one small pimple and blow the existence of the pimple out of proportion and view it as a severe case of acne.Underlying both of these acne fetishes is the fear of being ugly, or dysmorphophobia. It’s an easy psychological state to acquire in a society that increasingly places more value on superficial looks than personal traits”.

Somewhat predictably, there isn’t a single academic or clinical study on acnephilia as a sexual paraphilia, and any psychological insight into the roots and motivation for engaging in the activity are highly speculative at best. I did come across one site – the Mystery Sex Fetish Theater – that briefly examined the sexual side of squeezing spots and whose anonymous writer compared the eruption of pus from spots with male ejaculation and asked rhetorically “are pimples phallic symbols?” (No, is my response).

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

Further reading

Backwashzine (undated). Acnephilia: More commonly known as zit fetish. Located at: http://www.backwashzine.com/acnephilia.html

Holmes, A. (2003). In grossness and in health: Psycho-dermatology, female gorillas, and why women love to pick their boyfriends’ zits. Salon, August 11. Located at: http://www.salon.com/2003/08/11/grooming/

San-Joyz, N. (2004). An acne fetish is no laughing matter. E-Zine Articles, December 4, Located at: http://ezinearticles.com/?An-Acne-Fetish-is-No-Laughing-Matter&id=6684

The salivation army: A brief look at spit fetishes

In previous blogs I have examined many different bodily substances that have formed the basis of paraphilic and/or fetishistic behaviour including urine (urophilia), faeces (coprophilia), blood (menophilia and clinical vampirism), and breast milk (lactophilia). One bodily fluid that has not really been the subject of scientific research is saliva in relation to saliva fetishes and spit fetishes. In fact, the only purely academic reference I could find was from sociologist Eviatar Zerubavel who suggested in a 1991 book that many Americans seem to find sex “morally repugnant” and that it is because of the bodily fluids associated with sex (i.e., saliva and semen) are sticky, a liminal category between solid and liquid.

From my reading on this topic, there appears to be a difference between saliva fetishes and spit fetishes (which I will explain below). In researching this blog I came across two cases of saliva fetishes (one from New Zealand and one from Japan) that were both very similar.

  • Case 1: Back in 2007 in Christchurch (New Zealand), a 28-year old male vineyard worker – Jared Simmonds – was jailed for 32 months because of his “deviant sexual arousal” towards saliva from young girls. He was arrested following an indecent sexual attack on an 11-year old girl. Simmonds had been previously convicted in 2005 for obtaining saliva from four pre-pubescent girls that he would use as a lubricant for masturbatory purposes. He had also been trying to do the same thing with the 11-year old girl. The court was told that Simmonds was incapable of relating to women of his own age and therefore targeted young girls to help maintain his sexual saliva fetish. The court was also told that Simmonds’ behaviour was premeditated as he approached the girls with plastic cups and chewing gum, and pretending to the girls that he was conducting a scientific survey and that their saliva would be analysed at Christchurch Polytechnic. He would give the girls gum to chew to stimulate salivation, and then get the girls to spit into the cup. As soon as the spittle was collected, he would rush back to his house to masturbate using the girls’ saliva as a lubricant.
  • Case 2: More recently, at the end of 2011, there was a news report of a 55-year old Japanese man with an alleged saliva fetish. The man in question – Toshiko Mizuno – was arrested after approaching young women, and asking them to spit into a jar. While they spat into the jars, Mizuno filmed them and then kept their saliva to drink at a later point. To get them to spit in the jar, Mizuno used a cover story that he was doing research on saliva. After searching Mizuno’s house, they found over 200 video taped recordings of women spitting into jars, and dozens of empty jars that had once had women’s saliva in them. The police also found other videos of Mizuno masturbating and using the female saliva as a masturbatory lubricant. The man was charged with indecency as he had not actually caused any knowing harm to the women he had approached.

The online Urantia Book claims that (historically) saliva was a potent fetish. Apparently, “devils could be driven out by spitting on a person” and “for an elder or superior to spit on one was the highest compliment”. Furthermore, it could perhaps be argued that saliva plays a (direct or indirect) role in a lot sexual behaviour that raises the question of how “deviant” saliva fetishes actually are. However, in the case of Simmonds, the use of saliva from prepubescent girls suggests that the behaviour was a paedophilic precursor. There are also cultural variations that need to be taken into account. Few Westerners would disagree that kissing can be erotic and enjoyable. However, other cultures view kissing as simply the human exchange of saliva. For instance, the Amazonian Mehinaku tribe view kissing as disgusting and a sexual abnormality.

The saliva fetishists above don’t really appear to share much in common with spit fetishes that appear to be more a part of sadomasochistic sexual activity. For instance, at the ‘All Experts’ website, one of the female “experts” (“Hollie”) wrote speculatively about spit fetishes in response to one man’s question about what spit fetishes actually involved. Her perspective was clearly from those with an interest in sexual sadism and sexual masochism. She wrote:

“A spit fetish could manifest itself in a number of ways…either partner could have a fetish to be spat on, usually this is always closely linked to that individual seeking domination from the spitter, making the person being spat on submissive. it may also be part of sexual humiliation and other aspects of BDSM [Bondage, Discipline, Submission, Masochism]. Or, an individual could have the need to spit on someone, that would probably make them dominant and to want to control and/or humiliate their partner sexually. Or…both people could either enjoy to be spat on or to be the spitter…this could work both ways and simultaneously”.

In fact much of the online literature on spitting fetishes (as opposed to saliva fetishes) appears to be rooted in BDSM and is usually referred to as ‘spitting domination’. The dominant partner may spit into their submissive partner’s face and/or mouth. The submissive partner may also be forced to swallow the liquid spit if their mouth is spat into. Many of the online articles about spitting fetishes see parallels between the act of spitting and the act of ejaculation – particularly in relation to ‘facials’ (i.e., the act of men ejaculating onto someone’s face) and the practice of bukkake (i.e., the act of many men simultaneously ejaculating onto someone’s face and/or body).

In an online article on “Spit feeding [and] eating”, the [anonymous] writer examines spit fetishes, and asks whether spitting is an aggressive act of degradation, and if being spat on is always humiliating. The response was:

Like any sex act, it all depends upon the attitudes of those involved. A slap can be aggressive or playful, hurtful or stimulating. Likewise, a wad of spit can be contemptuous or loving, depending on the intention. There’s nothing inherently demeaning about wanting to devour your lover’s liquid essences”.

In researching this blog I came across various people’s experiences of spit fetishism. The following quote was typical:

“I actually was in a relationship with a individual who had a spit fetish.  He longed for me, while we were having intercourse, to spit on him, his face all over him, he didn’t mind where but he especially liked it if I was dominant with him in doing so, maybe called him names at the same time, played a Dom to him. His fetish for spit also extended into dribbling, where he liked for me to dribble on myself, preferably across my chest, and for him to rub his face in it, in the spit. He loved the moistness physically, but it was more mental for him, the control aspect, the humiliation of it all, the dominance”.

Compared to all other paraphilic and fetishistic behaviours concerning sexual arousal to human bodily fluids, there is significantly less written about saliva and spitting fetishes. Whether academic and/or clinical research is needed is – at present – debatable.

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

Further reading

All Experts (2004). Fetishism/Spit fetish. January 14. Located at: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Fetishism-2835/spit-fetish.htm

Backdrop.net (2007). Spitting fetishism. Located at: http://www.backdrop.net/sm-201/index.php?title=Spitting_fetishism

Dahmer, J. (2011). The Guy with the Creepiest Fetish Ever! WDRG, December 14. Located at: http://wgrd.com/the-guy-with-the-creepiest-fetish-ever-yuk-bar-stool/

New Zealand Herald (2007). ‘Deviant saliva fetish’ led to attack, court told. July 30. Located at: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10454692

Pervscan (2007). Deviant saliva fetish led to attack. August 19. Located at: http://pervscan.com/2007/08/19/deviant-saliva-fetish-led-to-attack/

UB The News (undated). Fetishes, charms and magic. The Urantia Book (Paper 88). Located at: http://www.ubthenews.com/UrantiaBook/papers/p088.htm

World of Sexual Fetishes (2012). Swapping spit. March 5. Located at: http://worldofsexualfetishes.com/wordpress/?p=158

Zerubavel, E. (1991). The Fine Line: Making Distinctions in Everyday Life. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Blood lust: A brief overview of menophilia

I apologise in advance if this is “too much information” but back in 1985, I had a brief relationship with a woman who had just come out of a long-term relationship with someone in the Hell’s Angels. One of the things she told me was that her ex-boyfriend had earned his ‘red wings’ many times and that he couldn’t wait each month for her to be on her period. For those who are wondering what the hell I am talking about, ‘red wings’ are earned by Hell’s Angel’s members when the perform oral sex on a women while she is menstruating. As I later found out, other groups of males who spend a lot of time together – such as those in the armed services – also engage in such practices to earn their ‘red wings’.

Many reading this might find my first paragraph of today’s blog utterly disgusting. For many, blood is associated with injury, trauma and/or violence. The fact that some may associate blood with sexual arousal sets the stage for an uncomfortable psychological and physical dichotomy.

It wasn’t until I came across a 1966 book by one of my favourite US writers – Hunter S. Thompson – that I first saw this practice written about in print. In the book Hells Angels, A Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, Thompson wrote that red wings meant that the “the wearer has committed cunnilingus on a menstruating woman.” There were also other types of ‘wings’ that Hell’s Angels could earn including ‘black wings’ (engaging in oral sex on a black woman) and ‘brown wings’ (for anal sex with a woman).

Such practices were virtually unknown by anyone outside of Hell’s Angels circles until journalists like Thompson started chronicling their activities and interviewing Angels’ members. Although many of the badges, patches and tattoos were worn with pride, they were often earned as part of male initiation rituals (the key components of which are typically pain, sacrifice, disgust and/or a sense of accomplishment). Clearly my own personal anecdote highlights that for a minority (at least), performing oral sex on menstruating women was something to be treasured, celebrated, and enjoyed sexually. What may have started as a ‘rites of passage’ became a regular and – well at least monthly – highly arousing occurrence. The fact that for many women their sexual drives often increase during menstruation may be another reason why some men find this so sexually arousing.

In trying to research this blog, I didn’t come across too much information. In Tantric sex, the practice is mentioned but not encouraged. However, in Karezza (a Westernized form of Tantra), it is viewed as an opportunity for increased intimacy between consenting sexual partners. In voodoo folklore, it is claimed by some that having oral sex with a woman during their period ties the man with that woman for life.

In previous blogs I have examined sexual paraphilias in relation to other activities that have involved blood including sexual vampirism and vorarephilia (i.e., being sexually aroused by the idea of being eaten, eating another person, or observing this process for sexual gratification). Another blood-related paraphilia of direct interest here is menophilia. Menophilia is a sexual paraphilia in which an individual (almost always male) derives sexual arousal from menstruating females. Such individuals (which may have included the ex-boyfriend of the women I mentioned at the start of this article) are also aroused by the smell, image, taste and/or feel of the blood expelled during menstruation. As one female menophile reported online:

“Blood to me is exciting. Thrilling. A visual delight. It has been that way since I was a young girl. Nose bleeds and the sight of blood was exciting to me. I would sit in the mirror and watch the red rivulets run down my face. I began to menstruate and after a period of self loathing and fear of my cycle”

It has also been claimed that some menophiles also enjoy licking used sanitary towels and/or sucking on used tampons. For these individuals, there are some clear overlaps between mysophilia (sexual pleasure from filth and unclean items such as soiled knickers) and sexual vampirism. There was also a case of a man who was both a menophile and a coprophile (i.e., sexually aroused by faeces). He was allegedly caught tampering with public toilets as a way of collecting excreted waste products from female users to fuel his sexual desires. Anecdotal evidence suggests that most menophiles are male, some lesbians are also claimed to enjoy such practices.

I have yet to come across any psychological theorizing about the roots and causes of menophilia in any academic paper or book. I did come across the following online speculation although there was seemingly no empirical evidence backing up such claims:

Some theorize that men lust after menstruating women because they are envious of the woman’s body which is in constant preparation for fertilization.  Contrary to this however is the fact that it is almost impossible for a woman to become pregnant during her menstruation. Either way, a fascination of period blood is a fairly common fetish at [this website]. Luckily for menophiliacs, it is easy to find a female who is willing to have sex during menstruation.  Often, women are charmed by men who aren’t disgusted by what is a perfectly normal and healthy body process”

In a previous blog on fetishism, I wrote at length about a study led by Dr G. Scorolli (University of Bologna, Italy) on the relative prevalence of different fetishes using online fetish forum data. It was estimated (very conservatively in the authors’ opinion), that their sample size comprised at least 5000 fetishists (but was likely to be a lot more). They reported that some of the sites featured references to menophiles. However, this particular fetish was included in a ‘body fluids’ fetish category along with coprophilia, urophilia, lactophilia and mucophilia. Although this category made up a sizeable minority of all online fetishes (9%), it is unlikely that menophiles made up more than a handful of websites found compared to the fetishes of other bodily fluids.

As with many of the paraphilias I have examined in my blogs, there is almost a complete absence of any academic study on menophilia. Maybe this is one of those paraphilias that – amongst others – is seen as more trivial and/or devoid of academic merit.

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

Further reading

Flow Forum (A website about menstruation). Located at: http://www.dotcomjunkies.com/members/kayo/forum/

Red Wings (undated). The history and culture of red wings. Located at: http://www.red-wings.com/wings-culture.html

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.

Thompson, H.S. (1966). Hells Angels, A Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. London: Random House

Milking the situation: A beginner’s guide to lactophila

Lactophilia (i.e., breast milk fetishism) is a sexual paraphilia where individuals (typically male) derive sexual pleasure from watching women lactate, sucking on women’s milk-filled breasts and/or having sex with lactating women. Sometimes, the sexual arousal is enhanced by the woman also being pregnant, although many men prefer lactating women post-pregnancy. The paraphilic aspect may also be part of other sexual paraphilias such as infantilism (where sexual arousal is derived from being an adult baby). For many infantilists, the practice is often referred to as adult adult nursing, suckling, and adult breastfeeding. In fact, some lactophiles describe themselves as being in an adult nursing relationship. Those who suckle and are suckled within the confines of a monogamous sexual relationship are often referred to as a “nursing couple”.

There are a number of different methods by which erotic lactation can take place. “Lactation games” typically refers to any kind of sexual activity that includes female breast milk. The activity is thought to be widespread but can be unintentional post-pregnancy as many women who have just had babies release milk as a reflex action when sexually aroused.

Over the last decade there appears to have been an increased demand for lactation pornography with magazines such as ‘Pregnant Pink and Milking’. It is evidently a specialty market although the internet has increased the opportunity to see such pornography – even if the person is not a lactophile. Such niche pornography may also be considered taboo – even by those who have no objections to pornography – particularly because of its association with children and incest.

Adult nursing relationships involve a person (typically male) breastfeeding from a woman’s lactating breast. It is only considered to be an ANR when the practice is regular rather than a one-off or happens almost accidentally during post-pregnancy sex. Anecdotal evidence suggests that successful ANRs are reliant on trusting and stable long-term relationships. If the practice is not regular, the women’s milk production ceases. It is thought that in some cases, the suckling can be a replacement for sex and that the mutual and intimate tenderness involved between consenting couples has a stabilizing influence on such relationships. It has also been noted that some women are capable of achieving orgasm during the suckling process. There may also be a number of inherently non-sexual reasons as to why such behaviour is found within loving couples. For instance, couples who may want to adopt a child may use the context of an ANR to stimulate the production of breast milk pre-adoption.

It has also been notes that an apparently small minority of womenexperience sensual and/or sexual pleasure from pumping breast milk (either manually or from a breast pump. The feelings produced may depend on the context (for instance, some women may only get sexual pleasure if their partner is present during the pumping process. Dr. Fiona Giles (of the University of Sydney, Australia) in her 2003 book Fresh Milk – The Secret Life of Breasts’noted that some women feel more “feminine” when breast feeding, and may therefore may want to continue with lactation, even after their child have been weaned for emotional and/or sensual motivations.

In a previous blog on fetishism, I wrote at length about a study led by Dr G. Scorolli (University of Bologna, Italy) on the relative prevalence of different fetishes using online fetish forum data. It was estimated (very conservatively in the authors’ opinion), that their sample size comprised at least 5000 fetishists (but was likely to be a lot more). They reported that some of the sites featured references to lactophiles. However, this particular fetish was included in a ‘body fluids’ fetish category along with coprophilia, urophilia, menophilia and mucophilia. Although this category made up a sizeable minority of all online fetishes (9%), it is unknown what proportion of these online fetish sites were lactophilic in comparison to the fetishes of other bodily fluids.

The rise in interest surrounding lactophilic activity has led to lactation prostitution where grown adults – including women – pay for the opportunity to be breastfed. This can either be part of other activities such as infantilism (where other activities such as having a diaper [i.e., nappy] changed may play a more primary role) or may be an activity done is isolation to any other service or activity. A 2004 paper in the journal Australian Feminist Studies (again) by Dr. Fiona Giles made reference to a New Zealand brothel that offered lactation services to its clients. In a paper in Women’s Studies the following year, Giles also wrote that:

“Induced lactation allows for a splitting away of breastfeeding from maternity, opening up possibilities for elaborating on the cultural meanings and uses of breastmilk as a substance, breastfeeding as a practice, and lactation as a process. Finally, by introducing lactation into sexual play, it offers the opportunity for a mutual confluence of bodily flows which may help to disassemble the binaries of sexual difference”.

Breastfeeding can also feature in other types of sexual activity such as sadism and masochism (as part of wider set of dominance and submission sexual practices). For instance, submissive women may be commanded by their (male or female) dominant partner to be milked or to produce milk. Alternatively, breastfeeding can be used as a surrogate pleasure reward (or surrogate pleasure) for (male or female) submissive partners who have done exactly as they have been told by the dominant partner.

Lactophilia may also be associated with other specialist types of paraphilia. One such sexual fetish is Maieusiophilia (i.e., pregnancy fetishism). This is where individuals (typically male, but some bisexual or lesbian females also) derive attraction and/or sexual gratification from someone being (or appearing pregnant). There is also a very small minority of people who develop a sexual fascination with the idea of themselves being pregnant (i.e., gravidophilia). This would appear to be psychologically similar to those people who get sexually excited by the thought of being an amputee (i.e., apotemnophilia).

There has been very little empirical research on lactophilia (or associated behaviours). A recent 2011 study was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine led by Dr. Magnus Enquist (Stockholm University, 2011). They reported the results of a questionnaire study designed to investigate whether two specific sexual preferences (for pregnant women and for lactating women) were associated with exposure to pregnant or lactating women early in an individual’s life. Their data were collected via an online questionnaire advertised in newsgroups (e.g., alt.sex.fetish and alt.sex.fetish.breastmilk) and Yahoo! discussion groups (e.g., Lactaters and Pregnant Ladies). Individuals in these online communities typically describe themselves as fetishists for pregnant and/or lactating women. The research team collected usable data from 2,082 participants. Some of the main findings were that:

  • Average age of the respondents was 37 years
  • Average age at which respondents became aware of their preference for pregnant and/or lactating women was 19 years
  • Most respondents reported both a pregnancy and a lactation preference (71%; 1,474 people);
  • A small minority of the respondents reported having a preference for pregnancy fetish only (14%; 296 people)
  • An even smaller minority of the respondents reported having a preference for lactation fetish only (11%; 224 people)
  • A total 4% (87 people) had neither preference and were excluded from further analysis
  • A great majority of the sample had younger brothers or sisters suggesting that they were exposed to pregnant women and/or experienced seeing their siblings being breastfed when in childhood.

Because of this final finding, the authors suggested their results were consistent with the hypothesis that specific sexual preferences may be acquired through exposure to particular stimuli during a specific period early in life (similar to “sexual imprinting” in birds and mammals). In fact, there have been a number of studies offering empirical support for the idea that human partner choice is (at least in part) determined by parental characteristics. The authors concluded that their study offered new insights to growing issue of the correlation between pregnancy, lactation, and sexuality.

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

Further reading (Lactophilia)

Enquist, M., Aronsson, H., Ghirlanda, S., Jansson, L. & Jannini, E.A. (2011). Exposure to mother’s pregnancy and lactation in infancy is associated with sexual attraction to pregnancy and lactation in adulthood. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8, 140–147.

Giles, F. (2003). Fresh Milk – The Secret Life of Breasts. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Giles, F. (2004). Relational, and strange: A preliminary foray into a project to queer breastfeeding. Australian Feminist Studies. 19, 301-314.

Giles, F. (2005). The well-tempered breast: Fostering fluidity in breastly meaning and function. Women’s Studies: An inter-disciplinary journal. 34, 301-326.

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.

Further reading (Sexual imprinting)

Bereczkei, T., Gyuris, P. & Weisfeld, G.E. (2004). Sexual imprinting in human mate choice. Proceedings of Biological Science, 271, 1129-1134.

Perrett, D.I., Penton-Voak, I.S., Little, A.C., Tiddeman, B.P., Burt, D.M., Schmidt, N., Oxley, R., Kinloch, N., & Barrett, L. (2002). Facial attractiveness judgements reflect learning of parental age characteristics. Proceedings of Biological Science, 269, 873–80.

Jedlicka, D. (1980). A test of psychoanalytic theory of mate selection. Journal of Social Psychology, 112, 295-299.

Wilson, G.D. & Barrett, P.T. (1987). Parental characteristics and partner choice: Some evidence for oedipal imprinting. Journal of Biosocial Science, 19, 157-161.

Zei, G., Bereczkei, T., Gyuris, P., Koves, P., Bernath, L. (2002). Homogamy, genetic similarity, and imprinting: Parental influence on mate choice preferences. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 677-90.

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