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Ginger rogerers: A very brief look at figging‬

While researching various other blogs (most notably one on urtication and sexual arousal from stinging nettles), I came across the sexual practice of figging. For the uninitiated, figging in the broadest sense refers the act of inserting something (typically ginger) into the body (typically a bodily orifice such as the anus, vagina and/or urethra) that subsequently causes a stinging and/or burning sensation for sexual pleasure and arousal. Figging would appear to be a relatively rare sexual activity, as it doesn’t appear in either Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices or Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. Furthermore, there is not a single reference to figging in any academic article or book that I am aware of. According to an online article at the London Fetish Scene website:

“The word [figging] is likely to be a derivative of ‘feague’, the practice during Victorian times of putting a piece of peeled ginger into a horse’s anus to make it appear more sprightly and hold its tail up (for shows and selling). Mostly, figging is still used to mean putting a peeled, shaped piece of ginger root into an anus, but in a BDSM context the anus would be that of a [submissive]. Sometimes ‘figging’ is used to refer to a pervertable other than ginger (for example nettles) and also to cover the insertion into the vagina, athough it may be incorrect to consider these as figging…The ginger root is skinned and may also be carved into the shape of a butt plug. Inserting ginger into a healthy anus for even quite lengthy periods should cause no physical damage…Apart from, or together with, figging, ginger pieces or juice from crushed ginger can be inserted in the vagina or applied to the clitoris or male genitals. Care should be taken here, especially with juice, as the genitals are much more sensitive…Victorian texts on the proper treatment of recalcitrant wives included the instructions for figging as it was considered that a spanking should be received on relaxed buttocks and this was seen as one way to train them to receive the spanking properly. It may be from this practice that the phrase who gives a fig?’ originated”.

(By the way, I had never come across the word ‘pervertible’ but in another article on the London Fetish Scene website, pervertibles are defined as “ordinary non-sexual objects, especially everyday household objects, that can be used sexually, particularly in BDSM play”). The (very short) Wikipedia entry on figging also makes reference to the practice of inserting ginger into the anuses of horses (although they describe this practice as ‘gingering’ rather than figging).

As with other types of pain, sexual masochists can find the painful sensations of figging an erotic experience. In sadomasochistic sexual activity, the dominant partner may use figging as a punishment on their submissive partner. The London Fetish Scene article claims:

“If the sub is made to tighten his/her buttocks with a fig inside the anus, the sensation becomes more intense: thus they will usually try to relax those muscles. This provides a good target for caning or spanking, which will often cause the sub to clench his/her backside, which will immediately increase the feeling of heat and pain, thus causing them to want to un-clench”.

There is also the very similar practice called ‘rhapanidosis’ which refers to the insertion of horseradish into bodily orifices (usually the anus), and was allegedly a punishment given to adulterous wives in ancient Athens. According to Wikipedia:

“There is some doubt as to whether the punishment was ever enforced or whether the references to it in comic plays (such as the debate between Right and Wrong in The Clouds of Aritophanes) should be understood as signifying public humiliation in general. In order to be allowed to apply rhaphanidosis to an adulteror, one must catch the man in the act of adultery with one’s own wife, in one’s own house. Rhaphanidosis was not the only penalty available; sodomy by mulletfish was common as well, or the man could simply be killed on the spot. Following this, the adulterous wife would have to be divorced”.

In my research for this blog I came across more than a few websites that espouse the joys of figging. The Figging (Anal Discipline) website has a surprisingly diverse set of articles (such as one on ‘Why figging enhances sex’) and there are a number of websites that provide a ‘how to’ guide for figging. For instance, one detailed guide on the Live Journal by a BDSM practitioner provides the ‘theory and practice of ginger figging’ and asserts:

“Figging is a fairly rare practice that seems to have declined in popularity recently, which I think is a shame because it’s so easy and the effects are so interesting. It’s a lot of fun, and I encourage people to experiment with it”.

There’s also an interesting first person account by Elizabeth Black on the Sex is Social website who describes in detail the first time she tried it (and liked it). Other first hand accounts didn’t (such as those on A Kinkster’s Guide concluding “Stick to sex toys – don’t try this!”). Although there are many academic articles on sadomasochism and sadomasochistic practices, not one of them mentions figging. Therefore, we know absolutely nothing about the prevalence of the practice (but as I said earlier, it is likely to be very rare).

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

Further reading

Black, E. (2010). The fine art of figging Sex is Social, January 2. Located at: http://www.edenfantasys.com/sexis/sex/figging-0102101/

Figging: Anal Discipline (2005). Why figging enhances sex. November 19. Located at: http://www.figging.com/2005/11/19/why-figging-enhances-sex/

Live Journal (2007). BDSM: Theory and practice of figging. Located at: http://tacit.livejournal.com/225189.html

Wikipedia (2013). Figging. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Figging

Wikipedia (2013). Rhaphanidosis. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhaphanidosis

Wipi (2013). Figging. Located at: http://www.londonfetishscene.com/wipi/index.php/Figging

Wipi (2013). Pervertible. Located at: http://www.londonfetishscene.com/wipi/index.php/Pervertable

Token gestures: A brief look at ‘sexual trophy collecting’

Back in 2002, I had a little piece published on excessive collecting behaviour in the Guardian newspaper (‘Addicted to hoarding’). In it I wrote:

“I have always been interested in why we have what seems like an innate ability to collect. I would almost go as far as to say that we are ‘natural born hoarders’. Furthermore, there has been surprisingly little research in this area and Freud’s theories on the topic are unfortunately almost empirically untestable. I would also add that for some people, collecting is at the pathological end of the behavioural continuum. There are some that are (for want of a better word) ‘addicted’ to collecting and there are some with obsessive-compulsive disorders who simply cannot throw away anything”.

Since then I’ve published a few articles on the psychology of collecting in this blog and is probably one of the reasons that I have had a few approaches over the last couple months from journalists asking me about the psychology behind various forms of collecting. (In fact, I’ve also been approached to write an academic chapter on the phenomenon too). Two of the most recent media requests included journalists writing articles on why people collect retro video games (which I hope to write about in a future blog) and another on why people collect ‘sexual trophies’.

I have to admit that I am no expert on sexual trophies so I did a little reading on the topic. According to one definition I came across, a sexual trophy is “any item or piece of clothing gained from a sexual encounter as proof of a successful sexual conquest”. To tie in with the release of US comedy I Just Want My Pants Back, MTV conducted a [non-academic] survey and reported that one in three young British people (aged between 18 and 34 years) admitted to owning some sort of sex trophy with one in six of them (16%) claiming they had two or more sex-based trophies (a group that MTV termed ‘Sexual Magpies’).

However, when it comes to the collecting ‘sexual trophies’, I would argue that most academic research that I have come across on the topic relates to more criminal sexual deviance rather than day-to-day sexual encounters. For instance, in the 2010 book Serial Murderers and Their Victims, Dr. Eric Hickey described the case of man – who was a voyeur – from Georgia (US) that used to break into houses and steal women’s underwear. On his eventual arrest they found over 400 pairs of knickers that he had stolen. More disturbing are cases such as this excerpt from a story in the Daily Telegraph. This is arguably more typical of what I perceive to be sexual trophy hunters:

“A company manager and ‘pillar of the community’ has been exposed after 20 years as a serial sex attacker known as the Shoe Rapist. James Lloyd, 49, a long-standing Freemason who took the footwear of his victims as trophies, was finally caught through advances in DNA techniques. Police later found more than 100 pairs of stiletto shoes hidden behind a trap door at the printing works where he was employed… As well as taking their shoes, he often stole jewellery from the women, mainly in their teens and early 20s, between 1983 and 1986” (Daily Telegraph, July 18, 2006).

However, Dr. Hickey’s book describes even worse acts of sexual trophy collecting. He noted that many serial killers are “known for their habits of collecting trophies or souvenirs. Others have collected lingerie, shoes, hats, and other apparel”. A sizeable section of the book concentrates on the types of serial killers that are popular in the media (such as those that commit ‘lust murders‘) and are the subject of many Hollywood films such as the series of films with (my favourite fictional psychopath) Hannibal Lecter. As Hickey notes:

“These are the rapists who enjoy killing and, often, indulging in acts of sadism and perversion. These are the men who have engaged in necrophilia, cannibalism, and the drinking of victims’ blood. Some like to bite their victims; others enjoy trophy collecting – shoes, underwear, and body parts, such as hair clippings, feet, heads, fingers, breasts, and sexual organs…[and] evoke our disgust, horror, and fascination”.

One of the cases discussed is 1950s US serial killer Harvey Glatman (known in the media as ‘The Lonely Hearts Killer’) who used to take photographs of the women he murdered. Citing the work of Dr. Robert Keppel (another expert in serial murder cases and author of Serial Murder: Future Implications for Police Investigations), Dr. Hickey wrote:

“His photos were more than souvenirs, because in Glatman’s mind, they actually carried the power of his need for bondage and control. They showed the women in various poses: sitting up or lying down, hands always bound behind their backs, innocent looks on their faces, but with eyes wide with terror because they had guessed what was to come”.

Other murderers described by Dr. Hickey included a man that liked to surgically remove (and keep) the eyeballs from his sexual victims (most probably 1990s’ serial killer Charles Allbright) and another that skinned his victims and made lampshades, eating utensils, and clothing. In his overview of necrophilic homicide (i.e., those individuals that kill others in order to engage in sexual activity), Hickey also mentions that such necrosadistic murderers often engage in other paraphilias related to necrophilia “including partialism or the desire to collect specific body parts that the offenders finds sexually arousing. This may include feet, hands, hair, and heads, among others”. Hickey also noted that:

“Another important characteristic of these lust killers was the ‘perversion factor’. This subgroup was often prone to carry out bizarre sexual acts. These acts most commonly included necrophilia and trophy collection. Jerry Brudos severed the breasts of some of his victims and made epoxy molds. Brudos, like others, also photographed his victims in various poses, dressed and disrobed. The photos served as trophies and a stimulus to act out again”.

Later in the book, Dr. Hickey examines the case of Jerry Brudos in more detail (please be warned that some of the things written here may offend those of a sensitive nature):

“At an early age, Jerry Brudos developed a particular interest in women’s shoes, especially black, spike-heeled shoes. As he matured, his shoe fetish increasingly provided sexual arousal. At 17, he used a knife to assault a girl and force her to disrobe while he took pictures of her. For his crime he was incarcerated in a mental hospital for 9 months. His therapy uncovered his sexual fantasy for revenge against women, fantasies that included placing kidnapped girls into freezers so he could later arrange their stiff bodies in sexually explicit poses. He was evaluated as possessing a personality disorder but was not considered to be psychotic…He continued to collect women’s undergarments and shoes. Prior to his first murder, he had already assaulted four women and raped one of them. At age 28, Jerry was ready to start killing…He took [his first victim] to his garage, where he smashed her skull with a two-by-four. Before disposing of the body in a nearby river, he severed her left foot and placed it in his freezer. He often would amuse himself by dressing the foot in a spiked-heel shoe. His fantasy for greater sexual pleasure led him…to strangle [another victim] with a postal strap. After killing her, he had sexual intercourse with the corpse, then cut off the right breast and made an epoxy mold of the organ. Before dumping her body in the river, he took pictures of the corpse. Unable to satisfy his sexual fantasies and still in the grasp of violent urges, he found his third victim…After sexually assaulting her, he strangled her in his garage, amputated both breasts, again took pictures, and tossed her body into the river”.

Arguably the most infamous ‘sexual trophy collector’ was 1980s US serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, the so-called ‘Milwaukee Cannibal’. In Dr. Hickey’s account he noted that:

“Restraining Dahmer, the officers looked around the apartment and counted at least 11 skulls (7 of them carefully boiled and cleaned) and a collection of bones, decomposed hands, and genitals. Three of the cleaned skulls had been spray-painted black and silver. These were to be part of the shrine fantasized by Dahmer. A complete skeleton suspended from a shower spigot and three skulls with holes drilled into them were found throughout the apartment…Chemicals, including muriatic acid, ethyl alcohol, chloroform, and formaldehyde, were also discovered, along with several Polaroid photographs of recently dismembered young men. A complete human head sat in the refrigerator”.

Another infamous case from the early 1970s (that I admit I had never heard of until I read Dr. Hickey’s book) was Ed Kemper, a cannibalistic killer who also collected human trophies and keepsakes of his victims. Citing the book Hunting Humans by Dr. Elliot Leyton, it was reported that:

“At the age of 23, Ed started killing again, a task that would last nearly a year and entail eight more victims. He shot, stabbed, and strangled them. All were strangers to him, and all were hitchhikers. He cannibalized at least two of his victims, slicing off parts of their legs and cooking the flesh in a macaroni casserole. He decapitated all of his victims and dissected most of them, saving body parts for sexual pleasure, sometimes storing heads in the refrigerator. Ed collected ‘keepsakes’ including teeth, skin, and hair from the victims. After killing a victim, he often engaged in sex with the corpse, even after it had been decapitated. In his confession Kemper stated five different reasons for his crimes. His themes centered on sexual urges, wanting to possess his victims, trophy hunting, a hatred for his mother, and revenge against an unjust society (Leyton, 1986)”.

The most obvious question related to these depraved acts is why such people do it in the first place. Writing in the Encyclopedia of Murder and Violent Crime, Nicole Mott provides an answer:

“A trophy is in essence a souvenir. In the context of violent behavior or murder, keeping a part of the victim as a trophy represents power over that individual. When the offender keeps this kind of souvenir, it serves as a way to preserve the memory of the victim and the experience of his or her death. The most common trophies for violent offenders are body parts but also include photographs of the crime scene and jewelry or clothing from the victim. Offenders use the trophies as memorabilia, but also to reenact their fantasies. They often masturbate or use the trophies as props in sexual acts. Their exaggerated fear of rejection is quelled in front of inanimate trophies. Ritualistic trophy taking, as is found with serial offenders, acts as a signature. A signature is similar to a modus operandi (a similar act ritualistically performed in virtually all crimes of one offender), yet it is an act that is not necessary to complete the crime”

In one of my previous blogs on the psychology of collecting more generally, I referred to a paper by Dr. Ruth Formanek in the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality. She suggested five common motivations for collecting: (i) extension of the self (e.g., acquiring knowledge, or in controlling one’s collection); (ii) social (finding, relating to, and sharing with, like-minded others); (iii) preserving history and creating a sense of continuity; (iv) financial investment; and (v), an addiction or compulsion. She also claimed that the commonality to all motivations to collect was a passion for the particular things collected. Personally, I think that the acquisition of sexual trophies – even in the most deranged individuals – can be placed within this motivational typology in that such individuals clearly have a passion for what they do and I would argue that the behaviour is an extension of the self that to some individuals may be a compulsion or addiction.

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

Further reading

Branagh, N. (2012). Third of UK owns sex trophy. March 26. Located at: http://www.studentbeans.com/mag/en/sex-relationships/third-of-uk-owns-sex-trophy

Du Clos, B. (1993). Fair Game. New York: St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Griffiths, M.D. (2002). Addicted to hoarding. The Guardian (Review Section), August 10, p.19.

Formanek, R. (1991). Why they collect: Collectors reveal their motivations. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 6(6), 275-286.

Hickey, E. W. (Ed.). (2003). Encyclopedia of Murder and Violent Crime. London: Sage Publications

Hickey, E. W. (2010). Serial Murderers and Their Victims (Fifth Edition). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Keppel, R. D. (1989). Serial Murder: Future Implications for Police Investigations. Cincinnati, OH: Anderson.

Leyton, E. (1986a). Hunting Humans. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.

Leyton, E. (1986b). Compulsive Killers: The Story of Modern Multiple Murder. New York: New York University Press.

Urine for a treat: A brief overview of catheterophilia

In a previous blog, I examined medical fetishism (i.e., those individuals that derive sexual pleasure and arousal from medical procedures and/or something medically related). Maddy’s Mansion features a small article on medical fetishism and is a little more wide ranging in scope:

“Medical fetishism refers to a collection of sexual fetishes for objects, practices, environments, and situations of a medical or clinical nature. This may include the sexual attraction to medical practitioners, medical uniforms, surgery, anaesthesia or intimate examinations such as rectal examination, gynecological examination, urological examination, andrological examination, rectal temperature taking, catheterization, diapering, enemas, injections, the insertion of suppositories, menstrual cups and prostatic massage; or medical devices such as orthopedic casts and orthopedic braces. Also, the field of dentistry and objects such as dental braces, retainers or headgear, and medical gags. Within BDSM [bondage, domination, submission, sadomasochism] culture, a medical scene is a term used to describe the form of role-play in which specific or general medical fetishes are pandered to in an individual or acted out between partners”.

As is obvious from the description above, one very specific sub-type of medical fetishism is catheterophilia. Both Dr. Anil Aggrawal (in his book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices) and Dr. Brenda Love (in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices) define catheterophilia as sexual arousal from use of catheters. The Right Diagnosis website goes a little further and reports that catheterophilia can include one or more of the following: (i) sexual interest in using a catheter, (ii) abnormal amount of time spent thinking about using a catheter, (iii) recurring intense sexual fantasies involving using a catheter, (iv) recurring intense sexual urges involving using a catheter, and (v) sexual preference for using a catheter.

Not only is catheterophilia a sub-type of medical fetishism but is also a sub-type of urethralism (that I also covered in a previous blog). Catheterophilia may also share some overlaps with other sexual paraphilias such as paraphilic infantilism (i.e., deriving sexual pleasure and arousal from pretending to be an adult baby). Dr. G. Pranzarone in his Dictionary of Sexology (and relying heavily on Professor John Money’s seminal 1986 book Lovemaps) defines urethralism as:

“The condition or activity of achieving sexuoerotic arousal through stimulation of the urinary urethra by means of insertions of rubber cathethers, rods, objects, fluids, ballbearings, and even long flexible cathether-like electrodes (“sparklers”). This activity may be part of a paraphilic rubber catheter fetish, a sadomasochistic repertory, sexuoerotic experimentation and variety, or activity the result of anatomic ignorance as urethral intercourse has been described wherein a case of infertility was due to the insertion of the husband’s penis into the wife’s urethra rather than the vagina”.

Pranzarone also provides a little information on catheterophilia, and notes that it is a sexual paraphilia of the “fetishistic and talismanic type in which the sexual arousal and facilitation or attainment of orgasm are responsive to and contingent on having a catheter inserted up into the urethra”. Catheterization is nothing new and according to Dr. Brenda Love has been practiced for at least 4000 years. She also provided a lengthy entry in her sexual encyclopedia although most of it is devoted to describing different types of catheters. However, her perspective on catheter use is related more to sexual masochism and sexual sadism. More specifically, she claims that:

“Catheters are used in sex play as a symbol of total control over a partner. This type of sex play is similar to the catheterization found in health care facilities. The sterilized catheter is inserted up through the urethra and into the bladder which allows the flow of urine to be controlled by the dominant partner. The stimulation seems to trigger the brain’s pleasure center that ordinarily responds to urination or ejaculation…the urethra is often sore and burns for half an hour afterward”

Apart from definitions of catheterophilia, and short summaries that the condition exists, there has been little in the way of academic or clinical research. I couldn’t even find a single case study. A Finnish study led by Dr Laurence Alison reported in a 2001 issue of the Archives of Sexual Behavior reported that enduring the insertion of a catheter was one of the activities engaged in by sadomasochists, particularly those involved in ‘hyper-masculine pain administration’. Other associated activities by this group of practitioners included rimming, dildo use, cock binding, being urinated upon, being given an enema, fisting, and being defecated upon. Gay men were more likely than heterosexuals to engage in these types of activity.

In 2002, the same team, this time led by Dr. Kenneth Sandnabba examined the sexual behaviour of sadomasochists in the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy. The paper summarized the results from five empirical studies of a sample of 184 Finnish sadomasochists (22 women and 162 men). More specifically, the examined the frequency with which the respondents engaged in different sexual practices, behaviours and role-plays during the preceding 12 months and reported that 9.2% had used catheters as part of the sexual activities.

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). Their results showed that there were 28 fetishists (less than 1% of all fetishists) with a sexual interest in catheters.

When I published my previous blog on urethralism, one reader wrote to me with an example of urethral stimulation via catheter use. Obviously, I have no idea to the extent of such practices and how typical this experience is, but I thought I would share it with you nonetheless:

“I have read a patient’s experiences of catheter insertions. He said his first one was excruciating and subsequent insertions became less and less bothersome. Nurses state that some men [say] the Foley catheter does not bother them at all. From common sense I see that there is callousing happening from urethra trauma (especially the first insertion. [This is a] compelling reason why patients should always have a condom catheter, and the Foley catheter used only when necessary. I am most concerned with the permanent nerve damage the very nerves that are also needed for optimum orgasmic intensity”.

The Right Diagnosis website claims that treatment for catheterophilia is generally not sought unless the condition becomes problematic for the person in some way and they feel compelled to address their condition. The site also claims that the majority of catheterophiles learn to accept their fetish and manage to achieve gratification in an appropriate manner.

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

Further reading

Alison, L., Santtila, P., Sandnabba, N. K., & Nordling, N. (2001). Sadomasochistically oriented behavior: Diversity in practice and meaning. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 30, 1–12.

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

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

Maddy’s Mansion (2010). Catheterophilia. October 4. Located at: http://maddysmansion.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/catheterophilia.html?zx=b5754ebdc388557b

Money, J. (1986). Lovemaps: Clinical Concepts of Sexual/Erotic Health and Pathology, Paraphilia, and Gender Transposition of Childhood, Adolescence, and Maturity. New York: Irvington Publishers.

Pranzarone, G.F. (2000). The Dictionary of Sexology. Located at: http://ebookee.org/Dictionary-of-Sexology-EN_997360.html

Right Diagnosis (2012). Catheterophilia. February 1. Located at: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/c/catheterophilia/intro.htm

Sandnabba, N.K., Santtila, P., Alison, L., & Nordling, N. (2002). Demographics, sexual behaviour, family background and abuse experiences of practitioners of sadomasochistic sex: A review of recent research. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 17, 39–55.

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.

Glued to the scene: A brief look at ‘stuck fetishism’

“[There] is a natural or unexpected form of bondage where girls step into cement, wander into spider webs or sink into quicksand. Often girls find themselves in perilous or humiliating situations like being in danger of sinking under quicksand or unable to stop the advances of a horny teenager after having stepped into superglue” (Weird and Sexy website).

“I was chatting via email with a friend of mine and we both agreed on the idea of being glue into and trapped in sexy clothing would be a very hot thing to do. A pair of very high heel patent leather boots for example. Certainly it would get me past my midnight witching hour with my latex panties. Imagine the thick gelatinous glue being poured into my latex catsuit and being made to put it on…anyway we’re still trying to figure out what glue would work well, enough to trap but nothing that would last forever” (Doll’s Realm website).

One of the strangest fetishes that I have come across is ‘stuck fetishism’ that comprises individuals deriving sexual pleasure and arousal from other individuals and/or themselves being immobilized in some way in a ‘sticky situation’ (either literally or metaphorically). It was while I was researching a previous blog on three other sexual paraphiliasclaustrophilia (deriving sexual arousal from being confined in small places) taphephilia, (deriving arousal from being buried alive) and wamming/sploshing (deriving sexual arousal from wet and /or messy [WAM] situations) – that I first encountered online references to stuck fetishes and came across the quotes that opened today’s blog. According to an article on ‘stuck fetishism’ in the Nation Master online encyclopedia, not only does the fetish involve immobilization, but sexual arousal is also gained from the individual struggling to escape from the situation. There may be elements of both sexual sadism (and domination) and sexual masochism (bondage and submission) in these scenarios, but the primary focus of the arousal is actually being stuck and/or trapped. The Nation Master article also states:

“Often a certain body part is the focus of such situations, the most common being the feet, although the hands, buttocks, or even ‘full-body’ situations are also quite popular. Other focuses may exist, such as when the subject is wearing a certain article of clothing; certain types of shoes (e.g., high heels) or hosiery are popular examples. The immobilization can involve an object. One form of this is arousal over vehicles that are stuck in mud. There is still a human element since there is a driver at the controls. Some stuck fetishists like to get stuck themselves, while some like to see other people get stuck. Some stuck fetishists enjoy either situation…An overlap between fetishes [bondage, WAM] doesn’t necessarily imply that a person who likes one also likes the other one, however”.

The article also claimed (without any supporting empirical evidence) that stuck fetishists prefer specific situations above all others, and that it typically involves one of the following scenarios:

  • Sticky substance immobilization fetish: Here, the individual is rendered immobile and gains sexual arousal from being in direct contact with real sticky or ‘gooey’ substance such as glues (e.g., superglue), melted candy, chewing gum, tar, or is rendered immobile from a fictional organic substance (such as being stuck in a giant spider web).
  • Non-sticky substance immobilization fetish: Here the individual is rendered immobile and derives sexual arousal from a substance that is not sticky but stops the individual from being able to move such as quicksand, mud and cement.
  • Situational immobilization fetish: Here, the individual is rendered immobile and gains sexual arousal from being confined and/or wedged in a narrow space.
  • Perceived situational immobilization fetish: Here, the individual is rendered immobile and gains sexual arousal from a perception that they are confined and/or wedged in a narrow space (e.g., the individual is hypnotized into thinking they are stuck and/or immobile).
  • Stuck clothing fetish: Here, the individual gains sexual arousal from something that is stuck to the individual’s body (e.g., a shoe, a piece of clothing, a whole clothing outfit, fetish outfits). Such stuck fetishes may overlap with paraphilic transvestism, rubber fetishes, Furry Fandom outfits, and ‘costume play’ more generally.
  • Stuck transport fetish: Here, the individual gains sexual arousal from being stuck in (or on) a particular form of transport (e.g., a car stuck in a muddy field, a tube train stuck in a tunnel, a bus stuck at the bottom of an icy hill, etc.).
  • Stuck transformation fetish: Here, the individual gains sexual arousal from being stuck in a particular persona as part of a transformation fetish (that I covered in-depth in a previous blog).
  • Stuck multi-person fetish: Here, the individual gains sexual arousal from being stuck in a situation with one or more other individuals (e.g., two are more people stuck in the same tight space, two people trapped inside a horse costume).
  • Stuck conjoinment fetish: Here, the individual gains sexual arousal from a fantasy where separate individuals’ bodies have been merged or fused.

These fetishes while specific may not be mutually exclusive, and some stuck fetishists may gain sexual arousal from more than one of these scenarios, and in some instances the scenarios might be confined (e.g., being stuck inside a broken down car). The Nation Master article also claims:

“There are many obstacles inherent in realizing such ‘sticky situations’ among fetishists. Although ‘surprise’ and ‘authenticity’ are usually traits that are highly sought after, they are difficult to attain in reality. Surprising an unknowing and possibly unwilling individual raises obvious ethical questions. Authenticity is difficult to attain because the substances involved are often expensive and hard to clean up, as well as being potentially dangerous (tar, for example). These issues, coupled with the fact the stuck fetish is still fairly obscure with a relatively small number of (mostly male) participants, means that the online community relies heavily upon fictional stories and pictures created within the community and occasionally media culled from popular culture and other outside sources”.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that there is no scientific research on the topic of stuck fetishism so the claims made by the Nation Master article that it is a mainly male-based fetish and “obscure” cannot be verified (although both assertions have good face validity and could be argued to be commonsense based on what we know about other similar fetishes). However, the fetish does appear to exist as evidenced by dedicated websites and forums such as the Stuck Head First website, the Stuck and Struggle website, and The Sticky Review website, as well as online discussions on topics such as ‘glue bondage’ at websites such as the Alt Bondage Narkive and The Bound Forum. Given the inherent medical dangers inherent in some of the scenarios (such as playing with superglue or cement), the most likely way of case studies entering the academic literature will be in the form of medical papers reporting on cases where something untoward and/or life-threatening occurs.

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

Further reading

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

Nation Master (2013). Stuck fetishism. Located at: http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Stuck-Fetishism

Wikipedia (2013). Wet and messy fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet_and_messy_fetishism

Getting in line for the barber queues: A brief look at ‘haircut fetishism’

In a previous blog I briefly examined trichophilia. According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, trichophilia is a sexual paraphilia (sometimes called trichopathophilia, hirsutophilia, and/or hair fetishism) in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from human hair (most commonly head hair). Since writing that blog, I have come across (what appears to be) a sub-type of trichophilia – ‘haircut fetishism’ that appears to share some behavioural and psychological similarities with depiliation fetishism (that I also examined in a previous blog). According to an article written for Wikipedia:

“A person with a haircut fetish is sexually and/or emotionally aroused by having their head hair cut, by cutting the hair of another, by watching someone get a haircut, or any combination of these. Haircut fetishist can be either male or female. The haircut fetish usually manifests as a desire to see head hair, often long hair, being cut off or even shaved, and often extends to a desire to witness or fantasize about non-consensual haircuts (including punishment, revenge, military/school /prison/religious induction or other kinds of forced haircuts)”.

One of my oldest friends that I was at university with owns a number of barber shops in the north of England and told me that haircut fetishism is well known in hairdressing circles and that there is a real niche market in ‘forced haircut fetishism’. As far as I am aware, there is no published academic or clinical research on haircut fetishism although there is a lot of anecdotal information about its existence. For instance, there hundreds of haircut videos on the internet, with a substantial majority of these that cater for those who are sexually aroused from seeing someone having their hair cut against their will (i.e., non-consensual coercive ‘forced’ haircuts). The article written for Wikipedia appears to confirm my own observations:

“[Haircut fetishism] would appear to be a widespread fetish, as there are many hundreds of websites devoted to it, based in countries all over the world, but it is a seemingly secret fetish, largely unrecognized by or commented upon by the media, or even acknowledged in western culture. There is no evidence to suggest that haircut fetishism extends to any significant practice of actual imposed non-consensual haircuts. Some haircut fetish websites advertise for and pay individuals to be filmed and photographed having their hair cut off. Other websites publish fantasy stories about haircuts, or track the long-to-short hair makeovers of celebrities. Some sites provide lists of haircutting scenes in literature or movies”.

There are (and have been) various hair-fetishist magazines (most of which are American), such as The Yankee Clipper, The Razor’s Edge, and The Bald Truth (although the latter may appeal as much to depiliation fetishists as haircut fetishists). There are certainly loads of websites that haircut fetishists can visit including CutsCuts, Bald Beauties, Haircut.net, Extreme Haircut, and Barber Shop Video (to name just a few). No-one appears to have any idea about the prevalence of haircut fetishism and the claims made in the Wikipedia article on the topic does not contain a single verifiable reference. For instance, the article asserts that:

“The haircut fetish can also extend to a general sexual preference for women or men with short hair or shaved heads. A haircut fetish is essentially pretty benign and harmless. In most cases, you aren’t hurting anyone by engaging in this fetish. In many cases, the fetish can even by a positive thing. It can add a certain degree of excitement to one’s sexual life and can lead one to take notice and care of his appearance. Many haircut fetishists, both male and female, claim their fetish began when their own hair was non-consensually cut short during childhood or puberty”.

One of the real problems in evaluating anything beyond the existence of haircut fetishism is that the paragraph above could apply to almost any niche fetish. I could replace the word ‘haircut’ with (say) ‘nail manicuring’ and the paragraph would still read well and still have face validity. Almost all fetishes are arguably harmless, don’t hurt anyone, and develop during childhood and adolescence and are often associated with a specific incident or event. Despite the lack of empirical research, there are certainly indicators that there are enough haircut fetishists for group events and conventions. For instance, the Wikipedia article notes:

“The first organized haircutting club for women was the ‘Progressive Hair Club’ first established in 1994. It sponsored [four] Ms Bald pageants in the USA and produced numerous haircutting videos. Similar clubs for men, such as the ‘International Leather Men’ have a subgroup of [haircut fetishists]. Some men form national and local groups to arrange ‘Clipper Parties’. In 2000, the first of the new breed of erotic headshaving websites came on the scene, ‘Headshave’, now known as ‘Bald Beauties’. Run by Katt and Wolfe, ‘Bald Beauties’ was the first website to portray head shaving as an erotic art on the Internet. For men, numerous websites have existed since the early 1990s [such as ‘Le Man To Man’, ‘Male Short Cuts’, ‘Slickville‘, and ‘Buzzed Hard‘]”.

In the name of research, I did check out all these sites and they all appear to cater for haircut fetishism (apart from Slickville that is more concerned with the fetishization of male hairstyles with creams and gels). From my own online research visiting these sites, it would appear that haircut fetishism is enjoyed by both males and females, and that such websites cater for both gay and straight individuals. It would also appear that for some people, it is themselves getting haircuts that is the primary source of arousal, whereas for others it is watching someone else get a haircut. There also appear to be individuals that are sexually aroused by both (i.e., themselves or others getting haircuts). The Wikipedia article adds that:

“The fetishist is often aroused by images (pictures, video, or fantasy) of the action of seeing hair being cut, the surrounding environment (barbershop / salon), and the tools used in haircutting (barber chair, barber cape, hair clippers and clipper blades, scissors, combs, hair tonics, pomades, dressings, dryers, shampoo bowls, etc…The haircut fetish finds its roots in both ancient Greece, biblical stories and religious rites. In mythology strength is associated with hair (Samson and Delilah). In Christian, Buddhist and Hindu religions, Tonsure is an established rite combining hair deprivation with purity of the body”

The other dimension in relation to hair fetishism concerns whether the haircut is voluntary or forced upon the individual. This latter dimension overlaps with both sexual sadism and sexual masochism but this aspect appears to have been all but ignored in the few online writings I have come across. The only article of any length on haircut fetishism is an online essay written by Robert Kesse who writes from the perspective of being a hair fetishist himself. Kesse defines haircut fetishism in the same way as found on the Wikipedia page but then goes on to say that the fetish isn’t necessarily harmless or benign:

“[Hair fetishism] CAN compromise one’s quality of life. In my case I no longer could feel an attraction towards my boyfriend because he had longer hair, and found myself compulsively and continually getting extreme haircuts that did not suit me. Suddenly, this interest in haircuts had become more of a curse than a blessing and I became depressed and lonely”.

I found Kesse’s account interesting because he attempted a psychological analysis of his own fetish toward haircuts and described his treatment intervention. He sought therapy for his fetish and also managed to get a number of different psychotherapists to talk about his case on an online forum. According to Kesse, all the therapists agreed that the underlying factor in Kesse’s haircut fetish was a fear of emasculation (i.e., a deprivation of his male identity). This clearly appears to be related to the fact that Kesse was a gay man. For instance, in a section entitled ‘A Portrait of a Typical Haircut Fetishist’, Kesse argued:

“At some point in these [male haircut fetishists’] lives, their subconscious mind made an intrinsic connection between their masculinity, and the length of their hair. They may have felt effeminate in some aspect of their lives. Almost all of those who have this interest are gay men. Society usually associates male homosexuality with effeminacy. In fact, when most people say ‘real man’ what they really mean is ‘a heterosexual man’. Thus, it is quite possibly the case that these men subconsciously internalized a fear of being found not to be a ‘real man’…At some point, their subconscious mind received the idea that their masculinity and hairstyle were unbreakably linked. They may have received such a message from their parents, peers, even the media. Many fetishists remember being forced into a short haircut as a child, or admiring the short haircuts of boys or men who embodied masculinity growing up. Thus, these men came to associate masculinity with short hair, and came to judge their own masculinity and that of other men by the length of their hair. This association can become so strong that many men feel emasculated when they do not have a short hairstyle. They may subconsciously use their hairstyle to feel more masculine in the presence of other men as well as women. As a result, they may feel a compulsive urge to get a haircut more often than is really necessary”.

Kesse goes on to assert that these sub-conscious associations are irrational (i.e., masculinity is not inherently linked to hair length) and that the desire to have one’s haircut (at least in his own case) is compulsive. He then claims that gay men adopt other behaviours to hide the feelings of emasculation (e.g., wearing leather jackets, appearing macho in front of others, talking in a misogynistic fashion, etc.). Kesse then talks about other haircut fetishists and how the internet potentially makes things worse for them:

“Most of the men I have met in the haircut community have been men in their 30s [through to] their 60s. The fetish is not as common among younger men. (Probably because it was more common for people to question a man’s gender identity by the length of his hair in the past than it is today.) Studies have shown that fetishists tend to have poor social skills and tend to become isolated from others. This seems to be the case for many of the haircut fetishists I have met. Most are perpetually single, and can suffer from bouts of loneliness. The internet, which at first seems a blessing, can become these men’s worst enemy as it gives them a means to interact with other fetishists without having to leave their home and no motivation to do anything but indulge in their fetish. We may find that the internet community will only serve to further isolate these individuals, and perpetuate already latent addictive/compulsive tendencies”.

Kesse then went on to describe the intervention used to overcome his irrational thinking (i.e., rational-emotive-behavioural therapy [REBT]). This approach appears to have been successful to Kesse but he does go on to say that there are other methods of treatment for pervasive/invasive fetishism including pharmacotherapy, aversion therapies, and other (unnamed) psychotherapies. However, Kesse found REBT to be “the most direct and fastest means to change” in overcoming his haircut fetishism. I would love to see a more formal (clinically published) account of Kesse’s treatment as such an intervention might be of great utility to others that feel their fetish is not benign and harmless.

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.

Kesse, R. (2007). The anatomy of a fetish. June 27. Located at: http://haircutfetish.wordpress.com/2007/06/22/the-anatomy-of-a-fetish/

Wikipedia (2013). Haircut fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Kaldari/Haircut_fetishism

The Reich Stuff: A brief look at Nazi fetishism

“I love your blonde hair/I kiss your pigtails/And I could not share/The scratch of your nails/And though you mark me/Your eyes so glassy/Oh why did you have/To be so Nazi?/Remember the curls/Of the Deutscher Girls?/A love of mine/From down on the Rhine” (Deutscher Girls, Adam and the Ants).

The first time I ever associated Nazism with sexuality was as a young teenager listening to Adam Ant sing Deutscher Girls in Derek Jarman’s 1978 punk rock film Jubilee. The punk rock movement – and particularly the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees – were arguably the architects of ‘Nazi chic’ (defined by Wikipedia as the approving use of Nazi-era style, imagery, and paraphernalia in clothing and popular culture, especially when used for taboo-breaking or shock value rather than out of genuine sympathies with Nazism”) when one of the Pistols’ entourage appeared on the London-region only television show Today (December 1, 1976) wearing a swastika armband. The Wikipedia entry on Nazi chic notes:

“In the 1970s punk subculture, several items of clothing designed to shock and offend The Establishment became popular…[Johnny] Rotten wore the swastika another time with a gesture that looked like a Nazi salute. In 1976, Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees was also known to wear a Swastika armband with fetish S and M clothing, including fishnets and a whip. These musicians are commonly thought to have worn such clothing for shock value…rather than being genuinely associated with any National Socialist or fascist ideologies”.

As an avid Adam and the Ants fan, I devoured every lyric of every song. One of Adam Ant’s heroes was Dirk Bogarde – as evidenced by the first album being named after him – Dirk Wears White Sox. The song Dirk Wear White Sox (a live favourite at their early gigs) wasn’t actually on the album and was never actually released on any official Ant recording. One of the reasons for this may have been because of the controversial lyrical content that also linked sex and Nazism via concentration camps:

“You gotta concentrate on kink/In a concentration camp/All dressed up like little David/In a concentration camp…You can get a uniform for free/Shiny boots of soft black leather/Oh how proud your mum will be”.

The inspiration for the song may well have been the controversial film The Nightporter starring Bogarde as a former Nazi SS officer (Maximilian Theo Aldorfer) and his “ambiguous” relationship with concentration camp survivor Lucia Atherton (played by Charlotte Rampling). As the Wikipedia entry on the film notes:

“Flashbacks show Max tormenting Lucia, but also acting as her protector. In an iconic scene, Lucia sings a Marlene Dietrich song ‘Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte’ to the concentration camp guards while wearing pieces of an SS uniform, and Max ‘rewards’ her with the severed head of a male inmate who had been bullying the other inmates, a reference to Salome. Thirteen years after World War II, Lucia meets Aldorfer again; he is now the night porter at a Vienna hotel. There, they fall back into their sadomasochistic relationsip relationship…The film depicts the political continuity between wartime Nazism and post-war Europe and the psychological continuity of characters locked into compulsive repetition of the past. On another level it deals with the psychological condition known as Stockholm Syndrome”.

There is obviously a big difference between Nazi chic and Nazi fetishism (although there may be overlaps for some adherents). The online Urban Dictionary defines Nazi fetish as:

“Somebody who becomes sexually aroused when seeing someone of the Aryan race in an SS Nazi, Third Reich uniform or Holocaust/Hitler related uniforms. Charlotte Rampling in ‘The Night Porter’ would be a Nazi Fetish for some men or women”.

Academically there has been little written on Nazi fetishism. I went searching online and found dozens of confessions by people claiming to enjoy and be fans of Nazi fetishism (as well as lots of websites – such as the uniform fetish site at Live Journal – that feature lots of sexually provocative Nazi fetish clothing). Here are some of the online admissions that I found. Obviously I can’t guarantee their veracity but they all seemed genuine to me:

  • Extract 1: “Don’t get me wrong. I DO NOT IN ANY WAY support their murders, torture, or anything of the sort. I would never support such heinous actions. That being said…I like Nazis. I like the uniform, the boots (Yesss, the boots), the fact that they’re German/speak German, as well as the whole ‘Aryan’ look. Neatly combed blonde hair, blue eyes. My friends think I’m insane, because I’m half black and I like blonde Nazis. Anyway, I love the masculinity they seemed to have. It’s very attractive. It’s a fetish I have”.
  • Extract 2: “I am a girl and I am turned on by The Nazi look blonde hair blue eyes and uniform, I can’t help but have thoughts about it is there something wrong with me? I think the holocaust was awful and I hate what the Nazis did but I just can’t help it, am I normal to have a weird fetish?”
  • Extract 3: “Nazi fetishes are actually fairly common in BD/SM. There used to be tons of Nazi-themed pornography and general exploitation movies although as the years following WW2 pass it is becoming more uncommon…The taboo and violence attached to Nazis makes them a popular fetish for people of many races, religions, and sexual orientations. Nazi fetishism is currently most popular in Asian and in gay pornography”.
  • Extract 4: “Lately, I’ve found myself getting a little too excited thinking about what most would call Nazi fetishism. I already had a bit of a German fetish, what with the accents and appearances, but when the SS uniforms started sneaking into my fantasies, when the idea of a little Nazi roleplay started to really appeal, things were different. I even fantasize about my love interest in the uniform (which is ironic because he is quite far from being an Aryan)!…I’ve uncovered other fetishes I have and now see how this fits in. (i) German accents are extremely sexy to me, (ii) I have always liked uniforms and nice clothes. (iii) taboo appeals to me quite a bit, [and] (iv) power and being dominated appeals to me” (z0mbiequeen)
  • Extract 5: “I have a fetish for uniforms and I don’t blame someone for having a Nazi fetish, people who are sharply dressed do look pretty sexy, especially the women’s clothing. I don’t have a fetish for the accents and everything German…It could also be how Nazis are frowned upon, so having a fetish for something so controversial and wrong makes it dirty?” (lovingpegasister)
  • Extract 6: “[Nazi] fetish is so common in many circles, from anime cosplay to gothic culture. They had the most badass uniforms at the time and they still look hot on just about anyone” (derBunker)

The Nazi clothing appears to be a fundamental part of the fetish and would appear to be a sub-type of uniform fetishism (that I outlined in a previous blog). In 2007, Roxy Music singer Bryan Ferry appeared to praise the Nazi style (both in fashion and architectural terms) when he was quoted in a German newspaper as saying: ‘The way that the Nazis staged themselves and presented themselves, my Lord!…I’m talking about the films of Leni Riefenstahl…And the buildings of Albert Speer and the mass marches and the flags – just fantastic. Really beautiful”. However, Ferry’s comments caused huge controversy and he then clarified his comments by saying: “I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused by my comments on Nazi iconography, which were solely made from an art history perspective”. This type of apology is very similar to the caveats made by Nazi fetishists online in justifying their like of Nazi imagery from a sexual perspective.

Arguably the most high profile case of Nazi fetishism was Max Mosley (youngest son of Sir Oswald Mosley, the former leader of the British Union of Fascists and former head of Formula One’s governing body) who was caught in 2008 on video with five prostitutes playing concentration camp fetish games. One article quoted [unnamed] “experts” saying: “While the Nazi concept is not unusual in sadomasochistic circles, playing both sides in such a kinky ritual is unusual”. Another (less high profile) case was that of Gareth Meade, a senior council officer in London (UK), who lost his job for gross misconduct after his involvement in Nazi fetishism was exposed by a Sunday newspaper. Photos of Meade posing in Nazi regalia was found on a gay sex website. Meade claimed in the newspaper interview that he was “not a racist” and that his sexual activity was “a private fetish”.

A recent 2013 paper published by Dr. David Lopez and Dr. Ellis Godard in the journal Popular Culture Review studied Nazi fetishism using online forum data (a method that I have also been using to study rare paraphilic behaviours and which I have recently published a couple of papers on – see ‘Further Reading’ below). They also view the fetish as a type of uniform fetish. Their paper notes that:

“Nazi uniform fetishists and role-players represent the diversity of BDSM subculture as it is a very unique activity with a specific form of expression. The most salient form of this expression is seen in the style and fashion of these fetishists and role-players. Style and fashion express autonomy, proclaims messages, establishes boundaries, and generates definitions of a subculture (Hebdige, 1979). For uniform fetishists, the uniform creates a context for the BDSM scene. A Nazi uniform is just one type of uniform fetish. We suggest for these participants, they are attracted to Nazism as a movement steeped in violence and evil and the uniform is representative of this movement. BDSM practitioners use the term ‘scene’ when referring to erotic power exchange”.

Lopez and Godard collected data from a BDSM site that had over 900,000 members. They then focused on specific discussion groups within the main site. One of these groups comprised individuals that were interested in ‘Nazi Uniform Fetish and Roleplaying’ [NUFR] and had 617 members. They also noted that there were at least 12 other similar groups with an interest in Nazi fetishism including ‘Females of the Third Reich’ (114 members) and ‘SS [Shutzstaffel] Protection Squad] Uniforms and Those Who Love Them’ (162 members). The NUFR group was chosen as the site to study as it had the biggest number of members and the most detailed postings from its members about Nazi fetishism. The data were content analysed and comprised over 300 threads (approximately 10,000 comments). The authors reported that members discussed the uniforms themselves, including where to acquire them and pointedly disavowed white supremacy and anti-Semitism, emphasizing only the erotlcism associated with the uniforms. They also reported that many posts commented on the sex appeal of the uniforms. In response to a post asking “What makes a sexy Nazi?” one respondent noted that:

“A well cared for athletic, mature female body, subtly made up fair skin and hard steely blue eyes, long dark hair gathered up carefully in a high ponytail. She is very stylish and well groomed, a pristine women’s tailored Black SS uniform laid out for her on the bed beside her as she sits gracefully at her dressing table in her delicate, demure lingerie and Fully fashioned seamed and Cuban heel Nylons leaning elegantly forward and to the side to pull up the zips on her gleaming almost mirror polished Black Leather 5″ heel knee boots. Her visor cap, Black Leather Gloves, 4ft bull whip and SS officer’s belt on her pillow along with the heavy Leather holster that shrouds her 9mm P38. The interest in Nazi role-playing and the Nazi fetish is for most people (I can’t vouch for everyone), is a stimulating response to strong imagery, well tailored uniforms, and notions of power and fear”.

As with the online posts I found online, Lopez and Godard noted that their participants were “very careful and go to great lengths to establish that they are not anti-Semitic or supremacists”, and were fully aware that confusion is possible. For instance, some respondents noted:

  • Example 1: “People tend to automatically assume that someone who finds the uniform or the role-play sexy, is actually a Nazis themselves. Which I’m sure can be the case from time to time but couldn’t be further from the truth for me. I’m actually the exact opposite”
  • Example 2: “There are a lot of Jews in this group, like me. Except we’re clever enough to know the difference between a fetish and actually committing racist acts”
  • Example 3: “The biggest fan of my ex’s SS-uniform was a friend of ours who is Jewish”
  • Example 4: “Jews like to play Nazis and Nazis like to play Jews”
  • Example 5: “I’m a Jew who likes to keep being a Jew in my Nazi torture role-playing”

The authors also noted that not one post they examined expressed explicit anti-Semitism. It was the violent nature of Nazism, not anti-Semitism that motivated the self-presentation of individuals as ‘Nazis’ among Nazi uniform fetishists. They also added that it was the image of violence that was being portrayed, more than the actual violence. This is because BDSM play is highly controlled (as evidenced by, consensual scene negotiation and the use of safe-words). Based on the (mainly) qualitative data collected, Lopez and Godard concluded that:

“Nazi uniform fetish and role-play is just that, the playing of a role. The fetish serves to enhance the BDSM experience and has little to do with white supremacy or anti-Semitism. The world of BDSM is an erotically charged arena that incorporates a variety of interests, desires, and tastes. It is the association with evil that participants in Nazi uniform fetish and role-play find appealing. The self-presentation of erotic evil serves to contribute to the quality of the BDSM experience and allow participants in this subculture a safe and accepting environment in which to explore and express their fetish. This suggests, as oxymoronic as it sounds, that evil isn’t all that bad. The incorporation of evil symbols in a safe, non-harmful, consensual manner to enhance one’s pleasure suggests some performances (i.e., role-playing) serve a purpose in popular culture; it allows us to be bad”.

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

Further reading

Betts, P. (2002). The new fascination with fascism: The case of Nazi modernism. Journal of Contemporary History, 37, 541-558.

Fuchs, M. (2012). Of Blitzkriege and Hardcore BDSM: Revisiting Nazi Sexploitation Camps. In Elizabeth Bridges, Kristin T. Vander Lugt, & Daniel H. Magilow (Eds.), Nazisploitation: The Nazi Image in Low-Brow Film and Culture (pp. 279-294. New York: Continuum.

Griffiths, M.D. (2012). The use of online methodologies in studying paraphilia: A review. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 1, 143-150.

Griffiths, M.D., Lewis, A., Ortiz de Gortari, A.B. & Kuss, D.J. (2013). Online forums and blogs: A new and innovative methodology for data collection. Studia Psychologica, in press.

Hebdige, D. (1979). Subculture: The Meaning of sSyle. New York: Methuen & Co.

Lopez, D. A., Godard, E. Nazi (2013). Uniform fetish and role-playing: A subculture of erotic evil.  Popular Culture Review, 24(1), 69-78.

Rocker, S. (2010). Council officer sacked for Nazi ‘fetish’. Jewish Chronicle, March 22. Located at: http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/29730/council-officer-sacked-nazi-fetish

Wikipedia (2013). Nazi chic. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_chic

Shaving accounts: A brief overview of depilation fetishes

In a previous blog I looked at hair fetishism. While researching that blog, I came across what might be considered the opposite (i.e., depilation fetishes – those who derive sexual pleasure and arousal from lack of body hair). The fetish appears to take many different forms and might include being sexually aroused by (i) the sight of a shaved area of the human body such as a bald pubic area, (ii) the sight of someone actually shaving an area of their body (e.g., their pubic region), and/or (iii) the actual act of shaving someone’s body parts. The fetish may overlap with other sexual paraphilias such as olfactophilia (i.e., deriving sexual arousal and pleasure from certain smells) as those individuals with a depilation fetish may find the odour of shaving cream or aftershave products additionally attractive.

Dr. Brenda Love in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices devoted a reasonably large section on sexual depilation and claimed that in some countries, the origins of sexual depilation preferences are conditioned by early pre-adolescent experiences. She claimed that:

“Shaving or removal of the pubic hair was practiced in Rome, the Middle East, Japan, China, India, and North Africa. Sex in many of these countries began during pre-pubescence before either partner had developed pubic hair. The male and female became conditioned to respond sexually to bald genitals. Some later in life became impotent at the sight of pubic hair on a partner”.

She also referred to the act of pulling out clusters of pubic hair produce an orgasm in some men. Her research had indicated that this particular type of sexual service was offered in Moorish baths in North Africa, by women who were skilled at this art. A short article on the Alternative Lifestyle website claims that depilation fetishes are usually genitally based and may overlap with those into sexual sadism and sexual masochsim. More specifically:

“Men especially are often attracted to a shaved public area and enjoy watching or performing depilation on a partner. The entire act is often very sensory and erotic. In cases of both female and male depilation, shaving creams usually are applied and lathered which can cause arousal from touch. There is a huge aspect of trust involved in depilation as a fetish too because razors or scissors are in such close proximity to the sensitive genitals. Depilation can also be a fetish is a much different way, especially in BDSM. Because hairstyle is very important in many cultures, dominants often shave the heads of their slaves. This is particularly true in cases when a female is in the submissive role”. 

Such practices were also noted in Dr. Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices as she noted that depilation or shaving is used in sex play as part of body worship and bondage. She reported that dominant partners “shave their slaves to put them into a psychological role of submission, exposure, humiliation and shame”. It was also noted that depilation may be a necessary for aesthetics in transvestism, infantilism, and/or body painting.

As far as academic research goes, I have only managed to find one study that has specifically examined depilation practices. A paper published in a 2008 issue of the journal Body Image led by Dr. Yolanda Martins (“Hair today, gone tomorrow”) and compared body hair removal practices among gay and heterosexual men. The team based at Flinders University (Adelaide, Australia) A sample of gay (n=106) and heterosexual men (n=228) participated in a survey assessing “whether they had ever removed their back, buttock or pubic hair, the frequency with which they did so, the methods used and their self-reported reasons for removing this hair”. The results showed that most men had engaged in hair removal practices but that heterosexual men (33%) were much less likely than gay men (63%) to have removed their back and/or buttock hair at least once in their lives. In relation to removal of pubic hair, heterosexual men (66%) were again much less likely than gay men (82%) to have removed their pubic hair at least once.

The authors also reported that the frequency of hair removal “was also associated with the motivational salience component of appearance investment”. In laymen’s terms, men basically removed their back, buttock and pubic hair to improve their appearance (either for themselves or others). The men surveyed also reported that they preferred the feeling and sensitivity of smooth skin. Results also showed that the removal of back and buttock hair was never done for sexual and/or fetishistic reasons. However, in relation to pubic hair removal, 9% of gay men and 20% of heterosexual men had removed their pubic hair for sexual and/or fetishistic reasons. It was also reported that 14% of gay men and 10% of heterosexual men had removed their pubic hair to make their genitals look bigger and/or more appealing. Dr. Martins and her colleagues concluded that their findings offered further support to the premise that gay and heterosexual men exhibit similar body image concerns.

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). Their results showed that there were 864 fetishists (less than 1% of all fetishists) comprising non-head body hair fetishes including depilation sites, beards, and pubic hair.

As far as I can ascertain, there have been no case studies published examining depilation fetishes. The Sexy Tofu website interviewed ‘Adam’, a 45-year old male depilation fetishist from Illinois (US) about his sexual interest in depilation. Adam was asked about when his interest first occurred:

“It started when I first got pubic hair. I’m not sure why, but my first thought was ‘Shave it’. I did, but I had to be careful as a teenager — having shaved pubes in the boys’ locker room back then would have made me pretty ‘out there’, and I wasn’t ready for that. So I’d shave only during the summers. I didn’t have much chest hair back then but once I got to college and it started growing, I would shave it fairly often. I finally took the plunge and shaved my entire body about 15 years ago. I have remained mostly hairless since…It’s both the act of shaving, changing my body look, and being smooth skinned. I have done some shaving as part of sex. Once I let a woman tie me up and she shaved my pubic hair and my head. That was really a hot scene…Sadly, I have not been able to find too many partners willing to shave me or be shaved”.

Unfortunately, there is too little information provided by Adam in his interview to make any informed speculation as to the causes and/or motivations for his depilation fetish. They obviously started in early adolescence and has developed over the subsequent thirty years. Clearly the visual element is crucial for sexual arousal (but that is the case with most paraphilias and fetishes). Adam’s account also suggests it is a minority interest based on the fact that the number of willing and/or reciprocal partners has been minimal. Like many other fetishes and paraphilias that I have examined in my blogs, this is yet another one where there is a great need for further research.

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

Further reading

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

The Bedpost (1999). Depilation for the terrified. Located at: http://www.cleansheets.com/archive/archarticles/bdsm_3.10.99.html

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

Martins, Y., Tiggemann, M. & Churchett, L. (2008). Hair today, gone tomorrow: A comparison of body hair removal practices in gay and heterosexual men. Body Image, 5, 312-316.

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.

Sexy Tofu (2011), Fetish Friday: Trichophilia. December 2. Located at: http://sexytofu.com/2011/12/02/fetish-friday-trichophilia-hair-fetish/

Royal male: A brief look at queening fetishes

While researching a previous blog on squashing fetishes I came across an online account from a dominatrix talking about ‘queening’ fetishes. According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, 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”. A 2005 book chapter by Dr Brenda Love (in Russ Kick’s Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong) examined some of the strangest sexual behaviours from around the world and included a short section on queening. She wrote:

“The term queening refers to the European practice of a dominant female using a man’s head as her throne. The woman sits in one of several positions, either on the side of the man’s head or so that his nose is near her anus with his eyes covered by her genitals. The object of queening is bondage or breath control, not cunnilingus. The man may wear supplemental restraints on the wrists and ankles. A slightly comparable American sex scene is where a stripper completely disrobes and stands over a sitting male with his head titled back so that her genitals are only a couple of inches above his face. She stays in this position, moving her pelvis to the music for about five minutes. The male is not permitted to touch her in any manner during this exhibition”.

According to the Wikipedia entry on ‘facesitting’, within a sadomasochistic and dominance/submission context, the practice can be an “especially intense form of erotic humiliation”. The article also claims the practice is commonplace among sadomasochists. Although this would appear to have good face validity, I have yet to come across an empirical piece of research that either confirms or disconfirms this. The article differentiates facesitting from ‘smothering’ (i.e., the complete obstruction of the airways for sexual purposes) because the person being sat is not totally deprived of oxygen. The article also claims:

“The full-weight body-pressure, moisture, sex odors and darkness can be perceived as powerful sexual attractions or compulsions. The person sat upon may be in bondage, sexually submissive, or simply held down by the body-weight of the other person. Sometimes special furniture is used, such as a ‘queening stool’ or ‘smotherbox’. A queening stool is a low seat which fits over the submissive’s face and contains an opening to allow oral-genital and/or oral-anal stimulation of the domme while seated. In modern BDSM vernacular, the queening stool allows open access to the crotch while seated…The queening stool is also related to a ‘smotherbox’ which also allows the person under the seat to be locked in place, restrained by the neck as in a set of stocks”

This description also suggests there may be overlaps between queening and other sexual paraphilias and fetishes such as squashing fetishes, amaurophilia (where individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal by a partner who is blind or unable to see due to artificial means such as being blindfolded or having sex in total darkness), and osmophilia (where individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal caused by bodily odours such as sweat and urine).

An online article about queening on the Toilet Duck website (that ‘celebrates and questions watersports and toilet games’) begins by asserting that defining the act of queening is “difficult to say the least without leaving readers wondering why”.  Unlike the Wikipedia article, it does not differentiate between facesitting and smothering:

“[Queening is a] very erotic act in which a woman sits on a man’s face and is satisfied sexually while dominating her man and the man is incredibly turned on by the act as well…Also referred to as face sitting or smothering, queening is most often accomplished by a dominant woman sitting on her submissive man’s or slave’s face and deriving sexual pleasure by riding his face or forcing him to lick, suck, bite, or orally massage his domme’s vaginal and anal area until she climaxes. During a queening session a submissive experiences the sensation of his mistress’s weight on his face as she squats on top of his face. The smell of her, the moistness, and the slow erotic motion as she moves around on his face to gain pleasure from her submissive mixed with the urgency to breathe is what turns the sub on…Sometimes queening is accompanied by the infliction of pain, verbal humiliation, or water sports (the act of urinating on a sexual partner) depending on the couple and how deep into the BDSM scene they are into. Nipple twisting or flogging are also great additions to smothering as is a little cock and ball torture. However, Queening is most often used as a form of reward for submissives that have been very good”.

Although most of the claims made here are unsubstantiated empirically, the Toilet Duck article is at least written by proponents who actually engage in the practices they write about. This extract also suggests there are yet more overlaps with other sexual paraphilias including urophilia, masochism, and hypoxyphilia.

In my research for this blog I came across the Informed Consent website (“The UK’s BDSM website”) which highlighted queening as its ‘fetish of the week’ back in September 2010. As a consequence, it featured people writing about their queening experiences. I have collated a few extracts here to provide a flavour of what people enjoy about queening from a personal standpoint:

  • Extract 1: “I practice [queening] and regard it more in [an orally erotic] way than as a means of breath play. Although I know for some the oral element doesn’t feature at all. For me, the breath play aspect is a fairly insignificant part of it”
  • Extract 2: “I love all aspects of it. The sheer enjoyment of someone dominating me by pushing their body down on my face; the oral sex; the worshipping of an anus; the smells and tastes; the inability to control my breathing; being pushed right to the edge, gasping for the slightest bit of air. I love it when Mistress losses herself ‘in the moment’ so much that she forgets about me, and I literally have to protect my own breathing/life”
  • Extract 3: “It’s one of my favourites, yet very rarely practiced…it encompasses so much…from total control to total intimacy”
  • Extract 4: “Personally, I love [queening] and just can’t get enough of it. I seem to never get bored of it. The ultimate for me is for Mistress to sit on my face and conduct some nipple torture or candle wax on my chest. I think this is proper pain and pleasure mixed up perfectly”

The only other article of any length I have come across on queening is one on the Kinky Britain website. Their main take on queening is that it is a form of body worship but also sees the behaviour has having other sexual attractions including the darkness, the weight pressure, the smells, and the wetness (echoing some of the aspects outlined above). The article claims that it is not only engaged in by dominant women and submissive men, but also by “vanilla couples who use this highly-enjoyable position for woman-superior cunnilingus”. Like the Wikipedia article, smothering and queening are viewed as two different forms of sexual activity. The anonymous author notes:

“Smothering is NOT like regular cunnilingus. In fact, at times the guys can’t even lick because they’re just trying to inhale a breath of fresh air. Sure, that overpowering smell of [the vagina] is great, but oxygen is what they really want at times. Facesitting is very erotic in essence and may be practiced by non-BDSM (vanilla) couples for sexual pleasure. However, when applied in the context of female domination it symbolizes the Mistress superiority over the sub. There is a slight difference between facesitting to smothering or queening, which is associated with the deprivation of air, yet in the BDSM world these terms are often regarded as one”.

The other aspect to this article that is not mentioned in any others I have read concerns the type of submissive man (i.e., ‘the slave’) that engages in queening. The article claims it is the woman who chooses who the submissive male is, and it appears there is no commonality amongst the type of man who participate. The article claims (and I have no empirical evidence to counter them) that:

“She may wish to have a wimpish male twit under her. She may find more delight in subduing a macho strong male. She may have a cuckolded husband to humiliate, taunt and sit on. Some women like to have a mouth-dildo attached to their slave’s head, sticking up from his open mouth as a rideable accessory. This provides pleasant, full, vaginal passage orgasms, but prevents sucking and licking by the male victim. Other women blindfold their prone slaves, thus deleting any possible visual pleasure they might obtain. A few cruel ladies inevitably urinate on to his face after having orgasmed. Others enjoy demanding mouth service right after enjoying satisfactory adultery with a lover, thus making the victim more humiliated. Most queening ladies humiliate, taunt, torment, degrade and tease their victims before and after this enforced cunnilingus”.

The bottom line (no pun intended) about queening fetishes is that almost all the information we have appears to have been written by those who actually engage in the practice and that there is nothing written academically except passing references in academic books on unusual sexual practices. There is also the question of whether those who engage in the behaviour view it as fetishistic, and whether academics such as myself would class the behaviour as a fetish. Based on what I have read, queening appears to be an adjunct to other types of sexually paraphilic behaviour such as sexual masochism rather than a stand alone fetish although for some people, it may well be a genuine fetishistic sexual activity.

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.

Charland, V. (2010). Fetish furniture in art (queening chairs, bondage, facestting, etc.). Cuckold Journal, November 27. Located at: http://cuckold-journal-wet-options.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/fetish-furniture-in-art-queening-chairs.html

Kinky Britain (2010). Questions and answers about facestiing/queening. August 25. Located at: http://kinkybritain.co.uk/kinky/2010questions-answers-about-facesitting-queening

Love, B. (2005). Cat-fighting, eye-licking, head-sitting and statue-screwing. In R. Kick (Ed.), Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong (pp.122-129).  New York: The Disinformation Company.

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

McGuire, C. (1989). Perfect Victim. New York: Dell.

Murray, T. (1989). The Language of Sadomasochism. Westport: Greenwood Press.

The Toilet Duck (2011). Queening – Can this be enjoyable for both parties? August 7. Located at: http://thetoiletduck.com/20/queening-can-this-be-enjoyable-for-both-parties/

Wikipedia (2012). Facesitting. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facesitting

Needle work: A beginner’s guide to belonophilia

A year ago, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported the case of a 58-year old Australian facial surgeon (Arthur Bosanquet) who was disqualified from practicing as a dentist after admitting to the Dental Tribunal of New South Wales that he had a “needle fetish” with an underlying homosexual/bisexual interest that led to the sexual abuse of three teenage patients. He was initially jailed for nine months for both indecent and common assaults but on appeal these were downgraded to suspended sentences. As the article in the SMH noted:

“[Bosanquet] devised a bogus university study which tricked the young men into masturbating in front of him…The surgeon blamed his behaviour on his needle fetish, sexual interests, and too much work…The tribunal heard evidence that, in several cases, Bosanquet offered the young men money to complete the study, which focused on taking blood pressure readings and blood samples before and after masturbation. The incidents, which spanned an eight-year period, included two occasions where he conducted the ‘study’ at the patients’ homes”

In another case last year reported by Asia One News, a 40-year old man from Kuala Lumpur had pricked “scores of needles into his lover’s body” claiming that he had been performing acupuncture on her. His lover was forced to endure his fetishistic use of needles and was threatened with stabbing if she did not let her become his human pin cushion. He threatened to knife her if she did not submit to his fetish. The report noted:

“The woman was startled from her slumber by a sharp piercing feeling on her body. The man pointed a knife at her and threatened to kill her, saying he was going to perform acupuncture on her. Afraid, she gave in to the agonizing ‘treatment’. The man told her that he, too, needed the treatment and wanted her to prick needles into his body. The victim, worried that the matter could get out of hand, told her boyfriend she needed to wash up and prepare for work. She pleaded with him to remove the needles and pins from her face, hands and body. During the brief respite, the frightened woman stealthily left the house and fled to the Sungai Besi police station to lodge a report”.

In his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, Dr Anil Aggrawal defines belonophilia as the deriving of sexual pleasure and arousal from pins or needles and both of the above cases appear to belonophiles (although I only have media stories as ‘evidence’).

In a previous blog on piquerism (sexual arousal from penetrating another person’s body with sharp objects such as pins, razors, knives, etc.) I briefly looked at the case of 25-year-old American (Frank Ranieri) who was accused of paying large amounts of money to at least five young females in exchange for poking their buttocks with sharp objects (e.g., pens, pins, nails, etc.) while masturbating. Although Ranieri was a piquerist, it could also be argued that he was (in part at least a belonophile). As one article on the case noted:

“Ranieri was charged with two counts of second-degree assault as a sexual felony for paying a 17-year-old Richmond Valley teen about $6,000 to be his erotic pincushion for about a year and a half…Ranieri liked to see pins go through muscle and flesh…He didn’t see much wrong with it”.

Although media stories relating to ‘needle fetishes’ appear to be relatively rare, clinical and medical case studies in the academic literature are almost non-existent. One of the very few academic case studies of pin fetishism was published back in a 1954 issue of the medical journal The Lancet. Dr. W. Mitchell and two other colleagues reported the case of an epileptic male with a safety pin fetish (in fact, there is a known association between epilepsy and sexual fetishism). For as long as he could remember, the patient had had a safety pin fetish and often entered a trance-like state when gazing at a safety pin. The man claimed that during his early childhood, contemplation of an actual or imagined safety pin evoked a feeling described by the man as “thought satisfaction”. During his teenage years, the `thought satisfaction’ developed into absence seizures, and then motor automatisms. At the age of 38-years, the patient was given a temporal lobectomy. This completely eliminated both the epilepsy and his fetishistic desire for safety pins.

The sexualization of pin and needles has long been part of sexual sado-masochistic practices and is known as ‘needle play’. The Informed Consent website has an article on the practices and notes that:

Needle play is the practice of inserting needles under the skin of the submissive. Needle play is considered [a form of] Edge Play and care should be taken to follow all appropriate safety precautions when engaging in play in order to avoid injury or infection. Only use sterile needles approved for medical use, and not reuse them after they have been used. The basic idea is that the needle should travel just underneath the surface of ordinary skin, to emerge through the skin a short distance from where it was inserted. The needle tips have a bevel. With regard to the skin being pierced, the bevel may be up or down (it’s personal preference). Shallower [equals] More Pain, Larger Diameter Needle [equals] More Pain. Do not stick needles into internal organs, bones, eyes, etc. Again, the idea is that the needle should travel just underneath ordinary skin, passing only through skin and the subcutaneous layers just underneath the surface”.

The Informed Consent website also makes reference to very specific types of needle play including genital play piercing and nipple piercing. The article claims that those individuals that like “intense nipple play” also like temporary nipple piercing. The article also notes that:

“The needle can be thrust through back of the nipple, taking care to include areolar tissue. An entire rosette of needles can be inserted. This of course can be dangerous, with potential exchange of bodily fluids and other infection. Don’t pierce wrists, hands, or spines, or near them. In general, piercing near a nerve tract (e.g., near joints); avoid piercing where bones are close to the skin surface. Waist to shoulders is usually fine, though one should avoid the armpit and sternum. The primary danger in play piercing is infection. Be sure that the person you are playing with would recognize the signs of infection should they occur”.

The Wikipedia entry on play piercing briefly examines both needle play and recreational acupuncture and defines such practices as temporary where the main reason for engaging in the behaviour is to enjoy the experience rather than permanent body decoration. Other motivations for engaging in needle play include (i) a mode of self-expression, (ii) spiritual self-discovery, (iii) sexual pleasure, (iv) simple entertainment, (v) raising awareness, (vi) relieving boredom, and/or (vii) as “part of a ritual imitating mock tribal cultures”. The article also claims:

“Play piercing can produce an intense natural endorphin high which can last for hours and can induce orgasm in many of the people who experience it. The experience of multiple piercings in an erotically or spiritually charged context is qualitatively very different from the experience most people have had with phlebotomists in medical settings, in part because the needle is placed ‘through’ the skin at a secant so that both ends are accessible, rather than ‘into’ the skin”.

Whether ‘needle play’ can really be classed as a ‘needle fetish’ as part of belonophilia is debatable. The (online non-academic) needle play literature appears to be more rooted in erotic piercing that needle fetishes per se. There are certainly a growing number of academic papers on sexual piercing since Dr. Neil Buhrich’s research in a 1983 issue of the Archives of Sexual Behavior (so I’ll leave that for another blog). Genuine ‘needle fetishism’ appears to be very rare.

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.

Asia One News (2012). Man has ‘acupuncture’ fetish, January 4. Located at: http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Malaysia/Story/A1Story20120104-319766.html

Buhrich, N. (1983). The association of erotic piercing with homosexuality, sadomasochism, bondage, fetishism, and tattoos. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 12, 167-171.

Fuller, B. (2012). Dentist disqualified over ‘needle fetish’. Sydney Morning Herald, August 21. Located at: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/dentist-disqualified-over-needle-fetish-20120821-24jdc.html

Informed Consent (2012). Needle play. Located at: https://www.informedconsent.co.uk/dictionary/Needle_play/

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

Mitchell, W. & Falconer, M.A. & Hill, D. (1954). Epilepsy with fetishism relieved by temporal lobe lobectomy. Lancet, 2, 626-630.

PervScan (2007). Piquerism in New York. June 12. Located at: http://pervscan.com/2007/06/12/piquerism-in-new-york/

Spencer, P.N. (2007). Bizarre allegations at pin-fetish arraignment. Staten Island Advance, June 6. Located at: http://blog.silive.com/advanceupdate/2007/06/bizarre_allegations_at_pinfeti.html

Wikipedia (2012). Play piercing. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play_piercing

Heard mentality: A brief look at headphone fetishism

“Just wondering why some of us like seeing pictures of women in headphones? I think it can be a bit creepy and fetishist. Do we have reclusive guys on this board that (a) don’t have girlfriends and (b) are also so enamored with gear that they want their dream girl to be utilizing or associated with said gear? I will say that if I ever desire to see women in headphones, please slap me. I really don’t want to get that deep into gear-love!” (American male, post at Head-Fi website)

I can honestly say one of the strangest sites that I’ve come across in my search for weird sexual fetishes is the Headph0ne Fet1sh website. Not surprisingly, it’s a site dedicated to “all manner of ladies wearing all kinds of headphones”. There appears to be thousands of photographs and video clips of attractive woman wearing headphones. Even the site itself acknowledges that its topic matter is strange and that the attraction is aesthetic rather than overtly sexual:

“You might wonder why such a strange fetish has a huge website devoted to it, well the answer is simple – it has lots of really devoted fans, who scour the internet day and night to find awesome pictures for the site. There are many more popular fetishes, the websites of which don’t add up to the content of this one site for this fetish. So don’t knock it until you’ve tried it…You won’t find any explicitly sexual images on the site, as this fetish tends be more orientated towards an aesthetic appreciation of ladies in headphones, rather than the more run-of-the-mill ‘wearing the fetish object during sex’ sort of thing. There are visitors to this site who do enjoy that sort of thing, but they are in the minority”.

I also came across a webpage hosted by The Church of Headphone Fetish that appears to be more geared towards anime-type illustration material rather than the photograph and video clips found on the Headph0ne Fet1sh website (a similar selection of headphone fetish illustrations – although not just restricted to anime – can also be found on the Deviant Art website). The opening blurb (in the style of a vicar’s sermon) and somewhat tongue-in-cheek announced:

“All rise. In the name of past headphone girls, current headphone girls, and future headphone girls, amen. We thank you, headphone goddess, for blessing us with past headphone girls, current headphone girls, and future headphone girls. When all other fetishes fail, headphones rose majestically to the challenge. Reestablished the otaku/perverted spirit inside all men, rekindled our fire of passion for the mighty search engine of Google. And so today we offer our utmost respect for the Goddess of Headphone, and will recruit countless believers in the name of headphones. May the eternal light of Headphone Fetish guide us to salvation”.

Headphone fetishism would appear to be a relatively rare sexual activity, as it doesn’t appear in either Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices or Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. Furthermore, there is not a single reference to headphone fetishism in any academic article or book that I am aware of. Therefore, I went online in search of people that had confessed to this strange fetish. I have to admit that it was fairly slim pickings but I did find the following admissions:

  • Extract 1: “I dunno why, but I find hot girls with a headphone hot. True story. And I hope I am not the only one” (9mm, heterosexual male)
  • Extract 2: “I don’t know why but I find girls with headphones extremely attractive! She could be a normal girl, everyday run of the mill average 6.5-7 [out of 10], but put a pair of phones on her, and she shoots up to an 8-9 to me automatically! It’s crazy how attractive they get to me. Not just these pics specifically, but in general, it’s a BIG turn-on and I would absolutely lose it if they wore a skirt, tank top and knee socks while rockin’ out with a pair of oversized headphones” (Steven, heterosexual male)
  • Extract 3: Anyone else find headphones kind of sexy, especially when paired with another fetish? I was wearing headphones the other day to block out distracting outside noise when I noticed. I kind of like the way they feel. It was kind of…sexy. Now that I’ve discovered some sexy sounds/songs they’re kind of like a kinky sex toy” (Erobert, homosexual male)
  • Extract 4: I don’t have any fetishes (that I’ll admit to publicly). But I have to confess that hot women in headphones touches a chord. Earbuds just don’t do it for me, ya know? But princess Leia’s ludicrous locks? Mmmm. What is it about muffins around the ears I like so much? I don’t know what is. Maybe it’s because every picture of a girl you see with headphones on – she’s happy – or intensely channeling her muse – singing….something” (David, heterosexual male)
  • Extract 5: “I am [a headphone fetish sex man]. [Although] headsets are often used in bondage experiences, I find headphones highly sexy, especially huge, complicated and elaborate military headsets…This is the source of a lot of fantasies and erotic situations. I’ve wide collection of pics with men in headsets and headphones” (Ted, homosexual male)
  • Extract 6: “I have a headphone fetish…Then, I stumbled on Headphone Muslims and my eyes were opened to the brilliance of pretty anime-style girls wearing new and antique high-quality headphones! Musume is a Japanese term for ‘girl’…But what’s so cute about a girl wearing headphones? Is it the way the phones look like large ears? Is it the way the headphone cord tends to run and drape and tangle across the girl’s body, somewhat like a snake or a string of flowers? Or, maybe it’s the deep sense of relaxation that the girls seem to possess? Well, whatever it is, the image is certainly rather sexy, in a geeky way at least” (Jae Mie, heterosexual male).

To be honest, I can’t really be sure that any of these quotes in any way show a genuine fetish (as most seem to be a sexual preference rather than an exclusive focus for sexual arousal). However, if they are honest quotes (and I have no reason to suspect otherwise), the only conclusions I can draw are that the fetish is (i) male-based, (ii) found across the sexual orientation spectrum as both heterosexual and homosexual appear to have such sexual preferences, and (iii) not just restricted to real humans (as some appear to be sexually attracted to cartoon-like representations). This latter observation suggests there may be some psychological and behavioural overlaps with toonophilia (which I covered in a previous blog). There may also be overlaps with other sexual behaviours such as sadomasochistic bondage. The person in Extract 3 above (Erobert) also noted in his posting on the topic that:

“I guess we are out there as a sub fetish group – a very small one at that…I like sleek headphones; though large one’s aren’t bad either. Very hot when used in bondage, some sexy scenarios like listening to erotic music or sounds are a big turn-on. Or binural sounds that reportedly can cause an orgasm. Wouldn’t mind being tested a test subject for that”

In the absence of scientific research, why anyone should be sexually attracted to headphones is anyone’s guess. David Täht, writing on his Postcards From The Bleeding Edge website speculated as to what makes wearing headphones so fetishistic. He said:

‘I think it’s because as a female they are so alien to males…that wearing a pair of big cans is a bold statement ‘I’m listening to music’. There are so many ways you use that or can use that. Right from the start you can relate to what they are doing and their attention is focused on the music, i.e., not another man so you can’t even use the music/phones, as a pickup line”

The Is It Normal? website included a discussion thread on headphone fetish following a post from someone who started a discussion thread by saying girls wearing headphones are extremely attractive”. The site also featured a poll for its readers and the overwhelming majority (86%) responded by saying headphone fetish is normal (although I have no idea how many people voted – it might just have been the six people who took part in the discussion). Elsewhere, another online discussion on the Banging Tunes website prompted one discussant to say that headphone fetish is strange [but] not as odd as balloons or clowns but still very strange”. Personally, if headphone fetish really exists, my own view is that its etiology is most likely explained by behavioural conditioning in childhood and adolescence.

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

Further reading

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

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

Love, B. (1992). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books.