“As far as I can remember I have been easily aroused by women wearing pantyhose. At the age of about 14 or 15 [years] I started wearing pantyhose and masturbating with them. At the time I was ashamed to tell my girlfriend at the time about it. I continued this up until about 19 or 20, when I finally had a girlfriend who I told about my fetish. I thought that by sharing this with my significant other at the time that it would help but it did not. I would just want it more and more. Now I am in a long-term relationship with a woman that I love. I have told her about my fetish and how I masturbate with her pantyhose and she said that she did not have a problem with it. She wears pantyhose for me rather frequently because she knows that I really like them…My obsession has really intensified to the point that I am doing more to achieve a stronger orgasm…I really feel like my fetish is out of control. In general my fetish for pantyhose has lead me to do immoral things that I would not do unless pantyhose are involved” (Letter sent to Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker)
For the benefit of my non-UK readers, here in the UK, ‘pantyhose fetishism’ is more commonly known as ‘tights fetishism’ (and is very similar to ‘stocking fetishism’, the commonality being the fact they are both clothing items worn on the legs that are often made of nylon and that have a silky veneer). The few online articles concerning pantyhose fetishism make similar claims although empirical evidence for such claims are generally lacking. For instance, the articles claim that pantyhose fetishism is (i) commonplace and (ii) usually first begins in childhood and/or early adolescence (after seeing pantyhose being worn by a significant person in the fetishist’s life such as their mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, family friend, neighbour and/or teacher).
One of the best studies published in a 2007 issue of the International Journal of Impotence Research by Dr G. Scorolli and his colleagues on the relative prevalence of different fetishes using online fetish forum data did not report the specific existence of pantyhose fetishism at all, although around 12% had fetishes concerning something associated with the body such as legs (which could have included pantyhouse). However, if you type ‘pantyhose fetishism’ into Google lots of dedicated pornographic photography and video sites can be found on the first few pages.
According to Wikipedia men may have a preference for pantyhose because unlike stocking, pantyhose has direct contact with female genitalia. An article on the Kinkly website claims individuals with a pantyhose fetish most commonly become sexually aroused by wearing pantyhose, watching other people wear (or undress wearing) pantyhose, or both. The Wikipedia article is a little more detailed and claims that the fetish manifests in one or more of the following ways (and which I have repeated verbatim):
- “Tearing or cutting holes in pantyhose to modify the garment or gain access to the wearer’s body.
- Wearing of pantyhose by either or both partners during sexual activity.
- A male wearing pantyhose alone or in front of others who may praise or humiliate him.
- Using pantyhose as bondage restraints.
- Interacting with pantyhose in any other way or form during sexual activity.
- Simply observing/admiring and experiencing heightened arousal/interest of females or males who are wearing pantyhose.
- Viewing material from store catalogues to pornography of models and actors wearing pantyhose.
- A man or woman in pantyhose encasement”.
As far as I am aware, only one paper solely devoted to pantyhose fetishism has ever been published in the psychological literature. This was a 1997 paper written from a psychodynamic perspective by Dr. L.M. Lothstein in the journal Gender and Psychoanalysis. In her paper, Lothstein describes this “unique fetish” using clinical vignettes of gender dysphoric men (i.e., transgendered males). The paper claims the pantyhose served a number of different functions (such as the repairing of psychic structure, and an expression and defence against underlying aggression). More specifically, Lothstein refers to pantyhose as a functional ‘magic skin’ or ‘second skin’ in repairing a defective ego and acting as a transitional object to allay annihilation and separation anxiety.
The Wikipedia and Kinkly articles claim that there are many sub-types of pantyhose fetish and that such fetishes often co-occur with other fetishes and sexual paraphilias such as shoe fetishes, transvestism, sadomasochism, and schoolgirl fetishes. For instance, the Wikipedia article notes that pantyhose fetishism can include:
- A focus on certain areas of the body while wearing pantyhose, [such as] feet, a variation of the very common foot fetishism.
- Wearing pantyhose with other specific garments, e.g. shoes, boots, or skirts, uniforms that usually include pantyhose (girl at work, secretary, flight stewardess, policewoman, Hooters waitress, girl next door etc.)
- Certain styles e.g. sheer-to-waist, opaque, patterned or specific deniers, certain brands or shades.
- Simply admiring women who wear pantyhose (a mild form of voyeurism).
- Finding the wearing of them to be a primarily sensual comforting experience, rather than sexual.
- The act of purchasing pantyhose, especially when aided by a female assistant, can also generate a degree of arousal”.
One of the problems with the Wikipedia article as that it is included in the entry on underwear fetishism and the section concerning pantyhose fetishes specifically notes that the section “does not cite any references or sources”. It then goes on to claim:
“The pantyhose covered foot can be extremely arousing to men who often find satisfaction in just looking at or more in that of rubbing, sucking/licking, and massage of the penis with the nylon clad feet. Others find arousal in sniffing the sour and pungent smell of soles made by excessive sweat when in pantyhose. Foot-jobs can be very intense and stimulating and covering a woman in pantyhose in semen is a common fantasy with some men. Pantyhose fetish can also be linked to that of the women dressing as the schoolgirl where stockings, knee high socks and pantyhose can be worn with a short skirt”.
The same article also lists a number of reasons why females wear pantyhose and then claims that these reasons as to why women wear pantyhose provides possible reasons for the allure of pantyhose fetishism:
- “They remove the appearance of blemishes, making the legs ‘perfect’.
- The reflectiveness of the material, coupled with the way they appear less transparent at the edges, often gives legs more contrast and definition, as though lit by dramatic lighting. This accentuates the curves of the legs, making them less ‘flat’, and can also make legs appear slimmer (with dark pantyhose).
- They often have a silky texture which is pleasing to both the wearer and her partner.
- They enhance the pleasure (and anticipation) associated with the removal of a woman’s clothes. Not only serving as an additional item to be removed; they allow the exciting moment of exposure to be drawn out much longer than other clothing items, as the pantyhose are slowly pulled down the legs. In addition to this, they do not actually hide what they cover.
- The slipperiness and smoothness of sheer pantyhose and stockings also makes women’s low cut court shoes slip off more easily. This vulnerability is often sexually attractive, and can often result in the women engaging in shoe dangling or shoe play which is also appealing to shoe and foot fetishists”.
Although I mentioned above I only knew of one academic paper on pantyhose fetishism, there are a few academic writings that have mentioned it in passing. For instance, in a 1979 issue of the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis, Dr. W.L. Marshall reported the treatment of two male paedophiles with satiation therapy, one of who was also a pantyhose fetishist (but no detail was given on this aspect of their sexual behaviour except he was also a shoe fetishist). A paper by Dr. L.F. Lowenstein in a 2002 issue of Sexuality and Disability claimed that pantyhose fetishism was “very common” but the only evidence given for this was a reference to Lothstein’s paper (which contained no information on the prevalence of the fetish). Finally, in a 2008 book chapter on themes of sadomasochism self-expression by Dr. Charles Moser and Dr. Peggy Kleinplatz, they used the example of pantyhose to define and explain what fetishes are:
“A fetish is characterized by sexual arousal to an inanimate object…Individuals who enjoy SM accessories often describe their interests as fetishes. They find wearing or touching the preferred articles highly arousing. The articles themselves are rarely arousing, but if they are worn by a partner, it heightens the partner’s attractiveness and heightens the eroticism of the sex. For example, pantyhose can be a fetish object, but brand new pairs, never worn, rarely become a focus of erotic interest. The same pantyhose worn by the participant or a partner can elicit a strong erotic response. Similarly an article of clothing that reminds the person of a partner or a specific erotic interlude can become a fetish object”.
Again, this simply confirms that pantyhose fetishes exist (or theoretically exist) but there is no information on incidence, prevalence, or their psychosocial impact. I did come across one online account written by someone who confesses to being a pantyhose fetishist on the Act Sensuous blog site, and which I found a lot more enlightening that anything academic that I have read on the topic:
“I had tried several times before, but during my research to find scientific facts…I wanted to learn where pantyhose rank on a list of the most prevalent fetishes, but I couldn’t find credible material that could be documented. I did find one thing I expected – that the foot fetish is still No. 1, apparently, the most common. Suffice it to say that pantyhose are high up there somewhere. And, thankfully, pantyhose and foot fetishes seem to go hand-in-hand, or make that foot-in-hand…Obviously, there’s more to a pantyhose fetish than [what is on Wikipedia]…To me, pantyhose always have been about three things: the way they look, the way they feel to the touch, and the very concept of them in the first place. Maybe it’s just that they are designed to enhance the beauty of everything they cover. To me, there’s a profound dichotomy about pantyhose, which I find very exciting. Pantyhose possess enormous power, yet, by design, they are extremely delicate and feminine, causing an irresistible vulnerability for the wearer. This is never more evident than in the way the nylon fabric moves to the touch on a woman’s legs and feet. It’s almost as if she has a second, delicate, delicious skin. It’s as if the pantyhose are a living, breathing intimate part of the wearer. You can physically manipulate that lifeforce, and you have to be careful not to hurt it. Once on, any item of clothing a person wears, sort of disappears. You stop feeling it on your body. And even though you can touch the pantyhose on yourself, it isn’t the same as feeling them on someone else. Want your lover to feel what you feel when you caress her legs in pantyhose? All it takes is to move that delicate nylon fabric over her skin. The sensation is incredible for both parties”.
Maybe we will never know how common pantyhose fetish is but there appears to be a lot of anecdotal evidence that it exists, is male-dominated, and that there is some crossover with other more (empirically) established fetishes (such as foot fetishes).
Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
The Act Sensuous Blog (2010). What drives our pantyhose fetish? April 11. Located at: https://actsensuous.wordpress.com/2010/04/11/what-drives-our-fetish-for-pantyhose/
Kinkly (2015). Pantyhose fetish. Located at: http://www.kinkly.com/definition/6774/pantyhose-fetish
Lothstein, L.M. (1997). Pantyhose fetishism and self cohesion: A Paraphilic Solution? Gender and Psychoanalysis, 2(1), 103-121.
Lowenstein, L.F. (2002). Fetishes and their associated behaviour. Sexuality and Disability, 20, 135-147.
Moser, C., & Kleinplatz, P.J. (2007). Themes of SM expression. In D. Langbridge, & Meg Barker (Eds.), Safe, sane and consensual: Contemporary perspectives on SM (pp.35-54). Hampshire, UK: MacMillan.
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.
Wikipedia (2015). Underwear fetishism. Located at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underwear_fetishism#Panties
“Nothing has been invented yet that will do a better job than high heels at making a good pair of legs look great, or great ones look fabulous” (Stuart Weitzman, shoe designer).
“It is hard not to be sexy in a pair of high heels” (Tom Ford, Gucci designer and film director)
According to Dr. Russell Belk in a 2003 article (‘Shoes and Self’) in Advances In Consumer Research, individuals in the USA “buy approximately a billion pairs of footwear a year and 80 percent of these are estimated to be purchased for purposes of sexual attraction”. Belk’s figures come from Dr. William Rossi who has been writing scientific papers on shoes for decades. I have no idea whether these figures are (or were) accurate, but there is little doubt that when it comes to sexual fetishism, shoes – and particularly high heel shoes – are one of the most common types of object that people develop fetishes for.
Individuals with a shoe fetish derive sexual arousal from shoes and footwear as (according to the Wikipedia entry) “a matter of sexual preference, psychosexual disorder, and an alternative or complement to a relationship with a partner”. As I noted in my previous blog on foot fetishism (i.e., podophilia), shoe fetishism is also referred to as retifism (named after French novelist Nicolas-Edme Rétif). The Wikipedia entry on shoe fetishism also notes that:
Individuals with shoe fetishism can be erotically interested in either men’s or women’s shoes. Although shoes may appear to carry sexual connotations in mainstream culture (for example, women’s shoes are commonly sold as being ‘sexy’) this opinion refers to an ethnographic or cultural context, and is likely not intended to be taken literally. Another fetishism, which sometimes is seen as related to shoe fetishism, is boot fetishism”.
In a previous blog on sexual fetishism more generally, I wrote about a study led by Dr G. Scorolli 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 44,722 members of online fetish forums, among those people preferring objects related to body parts, footwear (shoes, boots, etc.) was the second most preferred (26,739 online fetish forum members; 32% of all ‘objects related to body parts) just behind objects wore on the legs and/or buttocks (33%).
As the opening quotes highlight, high heeled footwear is often associated with sexiness. Those that find allure of high heels sexually arousing are said to have altocalciphilia (a sub-type of shoe fetishism). The online medical website Right Diagnosis says that the defining features of altocalciphilia are (i) a sexual interest in high heels, (ii) an abnormal amount of time spent thinking about high heels, (iii) recurring intense sexual fantasies involving high heels, (iv) recurring intense sexual urges involving high heels, and/or (v) a sexual preference for high heels. I am not aware of any empirical research specifically into altocalciphilia but in researching this article, I did come across an interesting 2006 Master’s thesis by Ash Sancaktar who provided an analysis of shoes within the context of social history of fashion (including a chapter on shoe fetishism). In relation to high heel shoes, Sancaktar wrote that:
“There is no solid evidence that definite heels existed anywhere before 1500. According to legend, early 1500s the high heel may have been invented by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). There are earlier records of high heel shoes that served a practical function such as heeled boots horse riders wore to grip their stirrups better. However, 1533 was the year that gave birth to the high heel that served no purpose other than beauty and vanity. Catherine de Medici, when she got married to the Duke of Orleans, wore shoes with two-inch heels because she was sensitive about her lack of height…The development of a proper heel with an arched sole was the dominant feature of shoes in the seventeenth century. Elevated shoes had been known from early Hellenic times however this phase of fashion was the first time shoes were associated with the female sex. It completely altered the posture of the wearer, encouraging both men and women to carry themselves in a way which set off the flowing lines and affected manner of the Baroque period…Practicality has little to do with female high heels. They have always been essentially about allure – as they are today”.
Sancaktar also notes the association between high heeled shoes and sadomasochism by making reference to the (semi-autobiographical) book Venus in Furs by Baron Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch (from whom the term ‘masochism’ originated). Sancaktar reported that Sacher-Masoch] wrote about his experiences with his mistress in which he allowed her to whip and walk on him before kissing the shoes that had caused him pain. Sacher-Masoch’s ideal woman was cruel and wore furs and high heels. Citing the work of Linda O’Keeffe and Valerie Steele, Sancaktar wrote:
“According to [Linda] O’Keeffe ‘Women may wear slippers, put on sneakers and slip into loafers, but they dress in high heels’ (O’Keeffe 1996, p. 72). Psychologically, high heels give permission to lead than to follow. A woman might become a towering seductress or she can choose to become the subject of the object of a male…According to [Valerie] Steele, one reason high heels are considered sexy is because they produce an erect ankle and extended leg. The arch of the foot is radically curved like a ballet dancer on point. The entire lower body is thrown into a state of tension resembling that of female sexual arousal (Steele 1998, p. 18). By tilting the pelvis, her lower back arches, her spine and legs lengthen and her chest thrust out. The breasts thrust forward, and the derriére protrudes. A woman in high heels looks taller and thinner. Her legs are emphasized and the leg muscles tighten, the calves appear shapelier. And because they are at an angle, her feet look smaller and more pointed”.
Valerie Steele also notes that fetishes come in various degrees (which I agree with) and uses the example of high heeled shoe fetishes to make her point and claims there are four different levels. She claims most people are among the two lowest levels (and basically equates to people finding high heels sexually appealing). Steele provides an example of someone at level three (a French writer who would follow high heeled women women in Paris). Her example of level four was the ex-publicist of Marla Maples’ who was found guilty of stealing Maples’ shoes. Steele said the publicist “denied being a fetishist, but admitted that he had a sexual relationship with Marla’s shoes”.
This need to steal shoes appears to be backed up by podophilia and retifism articles on the ToeSlayer website:
“Possession of shoes is important to the retifist and in cases of paraphilia, men may steal the shoes they are attracted to. Kiernan (1917, reported in Rossi, 1990) first described the term kleptomania which was used when theft took place when associated with sexual excitement. ‘Hephephilia’ is a term used when there is an uncontrollable urge to steal the objects of specific focus. Many hephephiliacs are ordinary people with no criminal intention other than a compulsion to possess the object of their desire due to a repressed or complicated sex life…Many retifists keep copious records of their activities all of which adds to their excitement…It is important exploring also the symbolism and fetishism of high heels. The erotic literature on shoe fetishism often associates high heels with the image of the ‘phallic woman’. According to [Valerie] Steele, submission to the powerful ‘phallic woman’ is a very popular fantasy”.
“The allure of high heels (altocalciphilia) for some people is very strong. Subconsciously this may relate to a primal instinct to identify lame prey. Throughout recorded history limping in others has been seen both as a physical weakness as well as a sexually attractive impediment. Wearing high heeled shoes can accentuate the limping characteristics in a very tantalising way…High heels are also thought to place the female pelvis in a precoital position. Whether or not this is true, the idea by itself, may cause arousal. Long legs are thought a strong arousal signal (Lloyd-Elliott, 2006). Men may be attracted to women in heels because it appeals to their superior nature seeing a member of the opposite sex vulnerable…Today, heeled shoes are very much part of the bondage ritual (Rossi, 1997) and sado-masochists maybe attracted to the perceived pain associated with wearing high-heeled shoes”.
Most of the academic writing I have read on this topic is anecdotal at best. There is much speculating and theorizing but little data. However, there is no doubt that high heel fetishism exists and that of all fetishes it appears to be one of the most common.
Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Belk, R.W. (2003). Shoes and self. Advances In Consumer Research, 30, 27-33.
Kunjukrishnan, R., Pawlak, A. & Varan, L.R. (1988). The clinical and forensic psychiatric issues of retifism. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 33, 819-825.
Kunzie, D. (2013). Fashion and Fetishism: Corsets, Tight Lacing and Other Forms of Body-Sculpture. The History Press
O’Keeffe, L. (1999). Scarpe Una Celebrazione di Scarpe da Sera, Sandali, Pantofole e Altro. Hong Kong: Sing Cheong Printing Company.
Rossi WA (1990). Foot and shoe fetishism: Part one. Journal of Current Podiatric Medicine, 39(9), 9-23.
Rossi WA (1990). Foot and shoe fetishism: Part two. Journal of Current Podiatric Medicine, 39(10), 16-20.
Sancaktar, A. (2006). An analysis of shoe within the context of social history of fashion (Doctoral dissertation, İzmir Institute of Technology)
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.
Steele, V., 1998. Shoes, A Lexicon of Style, (Co & Bear Productions, London).
Steele, V. (2001). Fashion, fetish, fantasy. Masquerade and Identities: Essays on Gender, Sexuality and Marginality, 73-82
Wikipedia (2014). Boot fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boot_fetishism
Wikipedia (2014). Shoe fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoe_fetishism
On a wet Sunday afternoon, I recently found myself reading through a list of strange paraphilias in Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. I came across a sexual paraphilia called ecouteurism which according to Dr. Aggrawal refers to individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal “by listening to stories of sexual encounters of others or to sounds of others produced during intercourse either live or recorded”. Other slightly different definitions of the behaviour have been noted. For instance, the Right Diagnosis website says that ecouteurism refers to “intentionally listening to other people having sex without them being aware of it or consenting to it” whereas the Dictionary of Psychology and Allied Sciences notes that it refers to the “sexual pleasure obtained from sounds or listening to sexual or toilet activities of others”.
The Intimate Medicine website claims there is no scientific literature on ecouteurism but that is not quite true. The one and only paper the academic literature was written back in 1968 by Australian psychiatrist Dr. F.M. Mai and published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. Dr. Mai’s paper concerned the case of 32-year old single man who derived his sexual satisfaction from covertly tape-recording and then playing back the sounds from female toilets. Over a one-year period he amassed 13 hours of females’ toilet recordings, all of which were made at nights and only when he was feeling lonely and depressed. Dr. Mai argued that this was phenomenologically and psychopathologically similar to voyeurism (i.e., the deriving of sexual pleasure from watching other people typically engaged in sexual behaviour). The Intimate Medicine website concurs with this as they assert that “ecouteurism is the same for the ear as voyeurism is for the eye”.
It was in fact Dr. Mai who termed this condition ‘ecouteurism’. Over a 12-month period, the man in question had regularly frequented female toilets and placed microphones through the windows to record all the sound activity inside the cubicles. The man would then go home and listen to the recordings he had made but strenuously denied that he masturbated while the sound recordings were being played. The furthest that the man would go was to say he “got something out of it”. Dr. Mai noted that despite no admission of using the recordings as masturbatory material, there seemed little doubt in his mind “that this man derived sexual gratification from recording and later listening to the sounds emanating from female toilets”.
Dr. Mai claimed that the roots of the behaviour were due to the man’s sexual inadequacy that was – at least in part – caused by the man’s dysfunctional relationship with his overtly aggressive father. His father had high hopes for his son’s future but his son could not live up to his father’s ambitious plans because of his relatively low intellectual ability. Ultimately, this had led to the man seeking alternative forms of sexual expression manifested in his desire to listen to women going to the toilet. As to more specific causes, Dr. Mai could only speculate. He said that:
“[The man’s] long-standing auditory symptoms may have played some part in localising the symptoms to the organ of hearing rather than any other sense organ. His relative social isolation and passive personality could be a further contributory factor. The passive-aggressive quality of his behaviour is clear, and is in keeping with the personality features he presented on clinical examination. A compulsive aspect is also suggested by his reference to unsuccessful efforts to control his symptom”
In his paper, Dr. Mai also spent some time discussing two other cases of “sexual gratification from auditory stimuli” that were observed by his colleague (Dr. Millar) but not published.
“The first was an “impotent man with a complex history of oddities of behaviour, poor heterosexual adjustment complicated by alcoholism. He remembered as a young child being aroused and stimulated by seeing and hearing his mother urinating”. As an adult he admitted that ‘the sound ofconstant drumming of female urine in a lavatory pan fills me with the greatest excitement’. The other was a criminal trans-sexualist, who when very young witnessed and heard his mother having intercourse with men she picked up in the street. Millar considered that ‘critical imprinting’ may have played an important part in the psychopathogenesis of both these psychosexual disorders”.
Taking all three cases together, it could perhaps be argued that two of the cases perhaps involved some type of urophilia and/or coprophilia (as the sexual excitement was gained from the hearing of female toilet activity. Ecouteurism would appear to be related to other auditory paraphilias listed in both Dr. Aggrawal’s Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices and Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices This would appear to include both acousticophilia (i.e., sexual arousal from certain sounds), and melolagnia (i.e., sexual arousal from music). According to the Right Diagnosis website, acousticophilia signs and symptoms included: (i) sexual interest in certain sounds, (ii) abnormal amount of time spent thinking about certain sounds, (iii) recurring intense sexual fantasies involving certain sounds, (iv) recurring intense sexual urges involving certain sounds, and/or (v) sexual preference for certain sounds.
According to the Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices (as well as the online Sex Dictionary and Fetish Freedom websites), acousticophilia is defined as being sexually aroused by any auditory stimulus (including music, songs, poetry, verbal abuse, speaking in a particular foreign language, screaming, panting, moaning, groaning, and heavy breathing). The key to defining it as acousticophilia appears to be that the stimulus itself is not necessarily sexualized. Many websites I have come across claim that the character Wanda Gershwitz (in the film A Fish Called Wanda) has acousticophilia as she is sexually turned on whenever she hears a male speaking in Italian. Similarly, in The Addams Family film, Gomez Addams becomes sexually aroused when his wife Morticia speaks in French. Another film character that appears to have acousticophilia is Séverine in Belle De Jour who has several sexual fantasies involving the noise of carriage bells and cats’ mewing.
The Intimate Medicine website cite a book called Sex Variants (by Paul J. Gillette) who wrote about an acousticophile. The
“Gillette came across a young man who confided in him that he gets very much aroused when he can listen to others’, including his girlfriend’s real sex stories. He demanded from the girl to be very clear, use juicy expressions, and tell everything she did. The young man admitted the narration led him to the climax, and he experienced it by accident. He asked one of his friends if anything new was going on in her private life. When she told him that she had two lovers, he got a little curious about it, and then he realised that he had a strong erection and everything drove him wild. Gillette concluded that it was a sort of foreplay, and ecouteurism cannot be considered a disorder, meaning that it is in fact less “dangerous” than voyeurism”.
To me, this account is not acousticiphilia but narratophilia (which I examined in a previous blog – or maybe narratophilia is just a subtype of acousticophilia). Gillette also noted that very few women that he had come across in his research were ecouteurists and that the vast majority of them were men. The lack of empirical research in the area may be more down to the fact that auditory aspects of sex have become so commonplace within traditional sexual practice that they are not considered in any way ‘abnormal’ unless the person engages in such activity without the consent of the other individual(s).
Finally, I will leave you with a snippet that I came across on the Foot Fetish Photography website that seems to suggest there could be an overlap between acousticophilia and some aspects of foot fetishism. The author of the article (Johnny Jaan) is a foot fetishist and made the following observation based on an experience in a hospital waiting room:
“Arousal from sounds. So, could it be a cocktail of three fetishes? Foot fetish, retifism (shoe fetish) and sound fetish all in one…I once recall sitting in a hospital waiting room waiting for someone. It was rather “quiet” as waiting rooms are and no one was in conversation. I remember hearing someone walking through a side corridor approaching the waiting area. From the type of the sound, the heels, I could tell that it was a woman walking towards where we were sitting. It was a slow walk. The sound was getting louder and louder as she approached. She eventually came into the waiting room and walked right by me into another room…what was most striking was the “sticky” slapping sound that the soles of her feet made with the arch of the shoes every time she took a step, rather like the sound that flip-flops make only a bit more “sticky” as if her soles were a little moist with sweat”.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Bhatia, M.S. (2009). Dictionary of Psychology and Allied Sciences. Delhi: New Age International.
Fetish Freedom (2012). Acousticophilia: Sound fetish. Located at: http://www.fetishfreedom.co.uk/articles/acousticophilia_sound_fetish_150.htm
Intimate Medicine (2010). Do you like to listen to others having sex? May 10. Located at: http://www.intimatemedicine.com/sex-in-society/do-you-like-to-listen-to-others-having-sex/
Jaan, J. (2006). Foot fetish and acousticophilia. Foot Fetish Photography, February 23. Located at: http://johnnyjaan.blogspot.co.uk/2006/02/foot-fetish-and-acousticophilia.html?zx=f9ebdaebaedaeb33
Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.
Mai, F.M.M. (1968). A new psychosexual syndrome – “Ecouteurism” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 2, 261-263.
Right Diagnosis (2012). Ecouteurism. February 1. Located at: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/e/ecouteurism/intro.htm
Sex Dictionary (2012). Acousticophilia. Located at: http://www.sexforums.com/adult-forum-help/Sex_Dictionary/A/acousticophilia