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
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 (Part 2): An A to Z of non-researched sexual paraphilias and strange sexual behaviours
In a previous blog I did an A-Z of sexual paraphilias about which we know almost nothing. Today’s blog takes a brief A to Z look at another 26 unusual and/or strange sexual behaviours where (as far as I am aware) there is absolutely no empirical or clinical research on the topic. The majority of the paraphilias below can be found in either 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 (although a few were also taken from such sources as the Write World’s dedicated webpage on ‘philias’ and the online Urban Dictionary).
- Autodermatophagia: This behaviour involves eating one’s own flesh as a form of erotic auto-masochism. The only place I’ve seen this mentioned is in Dr. Aggrawal’s book and appears to be a sub-variant of autosarcophogy (i.e., self-cannibalism) that I covered in a previous blog.
- Brontophilia: This behaviour involves people who derive sexual arousal from thunderstorms. It was also the inspiration for the song Brontophilia (Satanic Anal Thunder) by the group Spasm (Google it if you don’t believe me!)
- Cryptoscopophilia: This is the desire to see behaviour of others in privacy of their home (although some sources claim it is not necessarily sexual). The One Look website lists three different websites that have definitions including the online Urban Dictionary that defines it as “the urge to look through the windows of homes upon walking past them. Usually done for sexual satisfaction/curiosity reasons”. This appears to be a sub-type of voyeurism.
- Dermaphilia: This is a behaviour in which the sexual stimulus for arousal comes from skin. The Sex Lexis definition website is a little more specific and claims that it is common among leather fetishists who becomes sexually aroused “when coming in direct contact with the skin or leather from animals or humans, from wearing leather clothing”.
- Ederacinism: This is possibly one of the most unbelievable behaviours on this list and refers to the tearing out of sexual organs by the roots as in a frenzied way to punish oneself for sexual cravings. This would appear to be a sub-variant of genital self-mutilation and/or Klingsor Syndrome (that I covered in previous blogs).
- Furtling: According to Dr. Aggrawal’s book, this behaviour involves the use of a person’s fingers underneath cut-outs in genital areas of photos as a way of gaining sexual arousal. It is also listed in a Spanish article on sexual paraphilias by Dr. Ruben Serrano in the Revista Venezolana de Urologia.
- Gynotikolobomassophilia: This apparently refers to sexual pleasure from nibbling on a woman’s earlobe (aural sex?). At least four websites list this as a bona fide sexual activity according to the One Look webpage.
- Hodophilia: This behaviour refers to individuals that derive sexual arousal from travelling (at least according to Dr. Aggrawal’s book). It is unclear whether this refers to modes of travelling (such as those who derive sexual pleasure from riding in cars or trains) or whether it refers to deriving sexual pleasure from being a tourist.
- Icolagnia: Again found in Dr. Aggrawal’s book and is defined as those individuals who derive sexual arousal from contemplation of, or contact with, sculptures or pictures. This would seem to overlap with more specific sexual paraphilias such as agalmatophilia (sexual arousal from statues and/or manquins) that I covered in a previous blog.
- Judeophilia: According to the Write World website, this behaviour involves “abnormal” sexual affection towards Jewish people. I have never come across this in any reputable sexual text.
- Kokigami: According to the online Urban Dictionary, this involves the wrapping of the penis in a paper costume. The roots of Kokigami apparently lie in the eighth-century Japanese aristocrats who practiced the art of Tsutsumi (i.e., a man wrapped his penis with silk and ribbons in elaborate designs as a gift to lovers. He would then enjoy the physical sensations as his lover carefully unwrapped her prize.
- Lygerastia: This is mentioned in Dr. Brenda Love’s sex encyclopedia and refers to tendency to being sexually aroused by being in darkness. This would appear to share psychological and behavioural overlaps with amaurophilia (sexual arousal from blindness) that I covered in a previous blog.
- Melolagnia: This behaviour refers to those individuals who derive sexual arousal from music (and listed as a sexual paraphilia by both Dr. Love and Dr. Aggrawal).
- Nanophilia: This refers to sexual arousal from having a short or small sexual partner. This is one of the few behaviours on this list that has been mentioned in an empirical research paper (as it was mentioned in the research on fetishes by Dr. C. Scorolli and colleagues in the International Journal of Impotence Research
- Oenosugia: According to Dr. Aggrawal, this behaviour refers to the pouring wine over female breasts and licking it off. If you type ‘oenosugia’ into Google you get only two hits (one of which is Dr. Aggrawal’s book).
- Phygephilia: I’m not sure how many people this could possibly refer to but Dr. Aggrawal defines this behaviour as sexual arousal from being a fugitive. The Inovun website defines it as “arousal from flight” (i.e., running away).
- Queening: According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal, queening is a BDSM practice in where one sexual partner sits on or over another person’s face “typically to allow oral-genital or oral anal contact, or to practice ass worship or body worship”. In the book’s glossary of sexual terms, Dr. Aggrawal simply defines queening as “sitting on the side of a person’s face as a form of bondage”.
- Rupophilia: According to the online Kinkopedia this behaviour refers to a sexual attraction towards dirt (and presumably derives from the word ‘rupophobia’ that is a phobia towards dirt). This sexual paraphilia would seem to share similarities with mysophilia (i.e., sexual arousal from filth and unclean items) that I covered in a previous blog.
- Savantophilia: According to Dr. Aggrawal, this behaviour refers to those who are sexually aroused by mentally challenged individuals. The only case that I am aware of that could potentially fit such a description is Jimmy Saville (see my previous blog for details).
- Tripsophilia: According to the Sex Lexis website, this behaviour refers to being sexually arousal by being “messaged or otherwise manipulated”. Dr. Aggrawal describes the same behaviour as tripsolagnophilia.
- Undinism: Dr. Aggrawal simply describes this behaviour as individuals who derive sexual arousal from water. This appears to be another name for aquaphilia (that I covered in a previous blog).
- Vernalagnia: This is a seasonal behaviour and according to Dr. Aggrawal refers to an increase in sexual desire in the spring. Another online website simply defines it less sexually as “a romantic mood brought on by spring”.
- Wakamezake: This appears to be similar to oenosugia (above), and is a sexual term originating in Japan involving the drinking alcohol (such as sake) from a woman’s body. The Wikipedia entry on ‘food play’ provides a description: “The woman closes her legs tight enough that the triangle between the thighs and mons pubis form a cup, and then pours sake down her chest into this triangle. Her partner then drinks the sake from there. The name comes from the idea that the woman’s pubic hair in the sake resembles soft seaweed (wakame) floating in the sea”.
- Xenoglossophilia: I have yet to find this sexual act in any academic text but a few online websites define this as a sexual affection for foreign languages. I briefly mentioned this behaviour in a previous blog on xenophilia (sexual arousal from strangers) but asserted that such behaviour could hardly be classed as a sexual paraphilia.
- Yoni worship: This refers to the worship of the female genitals (yoni is the Sanskrit word for the vagina). There are some interesting articles on Yoni worship at both the Basically Blah and Tantric Serenity websites.
- Zeusophilia: I have yet to come across this behaviour in any reputable academic text, but a number of online websites (such as the Write World website) all claim that this behaviour refers to a sexual love of God or gods.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
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.
Serrano, R.H. (2004). Parafilias. Revista Venezolana de Urologia, 50, 64-69
Write World (2013). Philias. Located at: http://writeworld.tumblr.com/philiaquirks