Earlier this week, an article by Felicity Monk was published on the Broadly website about macrophilia (individuals derive sexual arousal from a fascination with giants and/or a sexual fantasy involving giants) and also known as giant (or giantess) fetishism. Broadly is an offshoot of Vice.com and is a website is a website “devoted to representing the multiplicity of women’s experiences”. I have been interviewed by both Broadly and Vice over the last few years on a number of topics including gambling, dacryphilia, and Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. I was interviewed for the Broadly article mainly because I’m one of the few academics ever to have written an article on the topic. I was quoted as saying in the Broadly article that “no-one has ever published even so much as an interview with a macrophile in an academic journal”.
In the Broadly article, Monk managed to interview a couple of macrophiles including Katelyn, a bisexual female in her thirties (five foot two inches tall) who has a number of co-occurring fetishes including macrophilia (in which she is sexually aroused by the thought of being a giant). She also has her own giantess website (which can be accessed here, but please be warned that the site features sexually explicit content) which she set up so that macrophiles could come and “worship” her. For Katelin, her macrophilic tendencies started from watching Tom and Jerry cartoons and the disparate size of the characters. As Katelyn said:
“The first time I had a good tingly feeling was when I was watching Tom have so much fun trying to catch Jerry. I always liked how Jerry got away so that the game would continue. I so badly wanted to be that cat. Little did I know it was the start of my sexuality. [By the time I got to high school I] was fantasising about literally crushing [my] high school crushes, swallowing [my] boyfriends and girlfriends alive, and putting [my] entire foot through the school. Most of the time I felt out of place and very alone sexually. [My preferred size of being a giant] changes depending on what mood [I’m] in. Some days I’m in the mood to play with the entire earth/galaxy, and other times I’m in the mood to attack a lone city as a 100ft woman. I rarely go below 100 feet. Most commonly, however, I’m fantasizing about being mega – 3000-plus feet tall”.
Katelyn has now monetized her fetish by turning her website into a commercial venture. As the article in Broadly notes:
“[On Katelyn’s website you] will find videos for sale – many of which feature miniature, plastic people being swallowed or crushed under huge feet. There are also stories, comics, photographs, collages, a blog, and a link to Katelyn’s Amazon wish list, so her worshippers can purchase her gifts: underwear, Starbucks gift cards, vitamins so she can ‘grow’ bigger, and non-stick saucepans. Visiting the site is free, but each month around 700 of her fans make a purchase”.
My own research into macrophilia suggests that the overwhelming majority of macrophiles appear to be heterosexual males that are sexually attracted to female giantesses. However, I’ve also noted that even non-sexual scenarios involving giants can result in sexual stimulation. Each fantasy situation is different for every macrophile as the behaviour is fantasy-based. Even the preferred heights of the fantasy giants differ between individuals. For instance, some macrophiles have a preference for people only a few feet taller than themselves, whereas others involve giants who are hundreds of feet high.
In the Broadly article, Katelyn admitted she had other sexual fetishes including an “extreme mouth fetish” of similar intensity to her giantess fetish as well as furry and hentai fetishes (anime and manga pornography). This concurs with what I noted in my previous blog on macrophilia where I said that it had also been associated with other sexual paraphilias. I claimed the most noteworthy were:
- Breast fetishism: This is a sexual fetish in which an individual derives sexual arousal from being pressed against, or placed in between, the breasts of a giant woman.
- Dominance/submission: This is a sexual fetish in which an individual derives sexual pleasure being at the mercy of a giant, or from being in control of a tiny person.
- Sadism/masochism: This is a sexual paraphilia in which an individual derives sexual pleasure from being physically harmed or even killed (in this case by a giant).
- Vorarephilia: This is a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual arousal from the idea of being eaten, eating another person, or observing this process. Although there are cases of real life vorarephilia (that I wrote about in a previous blog), the behaviour is typically fantasy-based (e.g., fictional stories, fantasy art, fantasy videos, and bespoke video games).
- Zoophilia: This is a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure from sex with animals (in this case, the desire is to have sex with a giant animal that is given human characteristics (i.e., anthropomorphism). This also has some crossover with furries (those individuals who – amongst other behaviours – like to dress as animals when having sex)
- Crush fetishism: This is a sexual fetish in which an individual derives sexual arousal from being stepped or sat on by a giant person, and is also a variant of sexual masochism.
When Monk interviewed me, one of the most important questions she wanted an answer for was how people develop macrophilic tendencies. I told her that the roots of most fetishes lie in childhood and early adolescence where sexual arousal is, at first, accidentally associated with giants – maybe watching a TV programme where a giantess initiates feelings of sexual arousal. Over time the giant itself is enough to cause sexual arousal through classical conditioning. However, as there are no case studies in the literature, this is complete speculation on my part. However, she also interviewed one of Katelyn’s ‘worshippers’ (‘Mark’) who appeared to confirm my speculative thoughts.
“[I remember] seeing a re-run of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman when [I] was around 13 years old. The [point of view] of Allison Hayes walking across the desert was the first time I can recall being turned on. Seeing her tear the roof off of the building to get at her husband overwhelmed my young brain at the time. Shortly after that, another movie called Village of the Giants did the same thing. I can remember one of the giantesses in the movie said something like ‘Oh, why don’t I just step on him?’ which again turned my underage mind on like nothing prior. I would be uncontrollably drawn to [the giantess’] beauty and power despite the danger such an encounter would bring. As a superior being, she would have little regard for me other than supplying her own needs. Whether it be as food to nourish her superior body, or as a sexual play toy to be used and broken after, I would have no other choice other than submit myself to her. To have my life be hers to do with as she pleased would become the sole purpose for my existence. The exhilaration, danger, fear and sexual excitement would outweigh my very instinct for survival. I only wish it would become real”.
For her article, Monk also interviewed the Australian sex and relationship therapist Pamela Supple. Supple claimed that:
“Power, domination and vulnerability are at the heart of macrophilia. It’s allowing your mind to go wherever it wants to go, whilst engaging in play to gain the maximum sexual arousal. Some want to feel and experience terror – being crushed or controlled. Everyone is different in what they want to experience.”
Both I and Supple agree that macrophilia has enjoyed a massive surge in popularity in the past few years, with both of us citing the crucial role of the internet in helping to both create and facilitate the fetish “and, in some cases, introducing the fetish to those who have been looking for a name for what they feel”. This was confirmed by another one of Katelyn’s worshippers (‘Semeraz’). As he explained:
“[I didn’t know macrophilia’ was a thing” until [I] discovered Katelyn’s website. Before then, remember being in fifth grade and playing a game where the teacher assigned team names of ‘predator’ and ‘prey’ and becoming excited when a girl taunted him saying: ‘We’re going to eat you!’ But I never thought of it as a sexual fetish until running into Katelyn’s site”.
Since writing my article on macrophilia over four years ago, the presence of maxcrophilia online appears to have grown. Katelyn claims that her website was very niche when she set it up a number of years ago:
“It only had a handful of websites and contributors, a lot of lurkers – fetishes were much more taboo a decade ago – the content production was scarce and I was the only girl who had come out of the closet with the giantess fetish. Members thought there was no way a girl could have the giantess fetish. That made me feel alone, because I was the only giantess, and a lot of people doubted my sexuality. Nowadays, there’s so much giantess fetish content that you wouldn’t be able to see everything in a lifetime. There are millions of collages, stories, artists, producers, models, videos, and more.”
I’m not sure there are “millions of collages, stories, artists, producers, models, videos” out there on the internet but macrophilia is probably a lot less rare than I thought a few years ago.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Biles, J. (2004). I, insect, or Bataille and the crush freaks. Janus Head: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature, Continental Philosophy, Phenomenological Psychology and the Arts, 7(1), 115-131.
Bowen, J. (1999). Urge: A giant fetish. Salon, May 22. Located at: http://www.salon.com/1999/05/22/macrophilia/
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.
Monk, F. (2016). The men who want to have sex with actual giants. Broadly, October 26. Located at: https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/macrophilia-fetish-the-men-who-want-to-have-sex-with-actual-giants
Pearson, G.A. (1991). Insect fetish objects. Cultural Entomology Digest, 4, (November).
Ramses, S. (undated). Introduction to macrophilia. Located at: http://www.pridesites.com/fetish/mac4black/intro2macro.htm
Slothrop, T. (2012). The Bible and Macrophilia: He Thong’s Goliath Art. Remnant of Giants, February 6. Located at: https://remnantofgiants.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/the-bible-and-macrophilia-he-thongs-goliath-art/
Today’s blog is the fourth part in my review of little researched (and in most cases non-researched) sexual paraphilias and strange sexual behaviours. (You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here). I’ve tried to locate information on all of these alleged sexual behaviours listed below and in some cases have found nothing more than a definition (some of which were in Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices and/or Dr. Brenda Love’s Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices).
- Astraphilia: This behaviour refers to the sexual attraction toward thunder and lightening, although is sometimes defined as sexual attraction to lightening only. (In a previous blog, I noted that brontophilia is often defined as being sexually attracted to thunder and lightening).
- Bastinado: This behaviour (also known as Falanga) is a form of foot beating where the soles of a person’s bare feet are beaten continually with such implements as leather/rubber straps, bats, canes, rods, electric cords, truncheons, etc. According to Michael Samadhi’s Joy of Kink website, “the documented history of bastinado goes back more than 1000 years, and it’s been employed by repressive regimes like the Nazi’s and the Khmer Rouge”.
- Climacophilia: This behaviour refers to individuals that get sexually aroused from falling down the stairs. There hasn’t been a wide body of research conducted on people affected with this particular sexual preference and/or fetish. This particular paraphilia got lots of press coverage when the psychologist Dr. Jesse Bering published his 2014 book Perv: The Sexual Deviant In All Of Us that mentioned 46 different paraphilias, many of which were described as “outside of the statistical norm”.
- Defecaloesiophilia: This behaviour refers to individuals that are sexual aroused by painful bowel movements (the word derived from its phobia opposite ‘defecaloesiophobia’). I’ve never found anyone online admitting to having such a paraphilia although there certainly appears to be those with haemorrhoid fetishes as I outlined in one of my previous blogs.
- Erythrophilia: This behaviour (sometimes referred to as erytophilia and ereuthophilia) refers to being sexually aroused by the colour red (but some definitions say it is also to red lights and even blushing (i.e., red faced individuals). Although I’ve come across a few individuals online that admit to having a blushing fetish I’ve yet to find anyone admitted to being sexually aroused specifically by the colour red.
- Francophilia: This behaviour refers to those who derive sexual arousal towards France or French culture. Anecdotally I know of women who claim to be sexually aroused to the French accent and I mentioned a few examples in my blog on xenophilia (sexual arousal from foreigners) but whether this paraphilia genuinely exists is debateable.
- Gomphipothic: According to the Right Diagnosis website, gomphipothic refers to being sexually aroused by the sight of teeth. (This appears to be another name for odontophilia that I covered in a previous blog).
- Hephephilia: This behaviour refers to individuals who have a compulsion to steal specific items related to their fetish such as retifists (shoe fetishists) who steal items of footwear (for example) from shoe shops or innocent victims at the beach. An article on the Toeslayer website recalls an infamous case from 1979 in Japan involving the “shoe thief of Tokyo”. Over three-and-a-half years (before he was finally caught), he accosted women, stole their shoes, and then ran off. When arrested, the police found 127 pairs of women’s shoes at his home.
- Ichthyophilia: This behaviour refers to those who derive sexual arousal from fish. I have never seen any case study in the academic literature although in previous blogs I did outline cases of humans having sex with other water creatures (cephalopods like octopus and squid) and there are certainly zoophilic films where fish have been used as a masturbatory aid. (There are of course the infamous stories about the band Led Zeppelin, groupies, and fish tales that you can Google for yourselves – just type in ‘Led Zeppelin’ and ‘red snapper’ or ‘mud shark’).
- Japanophilia: This behaviour refers to those who derive adoexual arousal towards Japan or Japanese culture. Some of my readers have accused me of having Japanophilia given the number of blogs I have written about Japanese sexuality and fetishes (but I can assure you I haven’t).
- Kinbaku-bi: This behaviour refers to a Japanese type of bondage and has the literal meaning of ‘tight binding’. According to the Wikipedia entry on Japanese bondage, Kinbaku-bi “involves tying up the bottom [the receiver] using simple yet visually intricate patterns, usually with several pieces of thin rope…In Japanese, this natural-fibre rope is known as ‘asanawa’; the Japanese vocabulary does not make a distinction between hemp and jute. The allusion is to the use of hemp rope for restraining prisoners, as a symbol of power, in the same way that stocks or manacles are used in a Western BDSM context. The word ‘shibari’ came into common use in the West at some point in the 1990s to describe the bondage art Kinbaku”.
- Lockiophilia: This behaviour refers to sexual arousal derived from childbirth (and is named after its opposite phobia – lockiophobia). In a previous blog I did look at childbirth fetishism which you can read here.
- Metrophilia: This behaviour refers to sexual arousal derived from poetry. I don’t doubt that some poetry (like music) can contribute to sexual arousal (and that there is fetish-based and other erotic poetry) but I know of no actual case (anecdotal or otherwise). Prove me wrong and I will happily write about it.
- Normophilia: This was a term coined by the sexologist Professor John Money and refers those only sexually aroused by acts considered normal by their religion or society (and excellently critiqued by Dr. Lisa Downing in a 2010 issue of Psychology and Sexuality).
- Ochlophilia: This behaviour refers to sexual arousal derived from crowds or mobs. I’m not aware this exists as a standalone fetish but frotteurs (those who derive sexual arousal from rubbing up against people) love crowded places as a way of engaging in their preferred sexual behaviour).
- Phalloorchoalgolagnia: According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, this behaviour refers to sexual arousal by the experiencing of painful stimuli being administered to the male genitals (of which a sub-type would include tamakeri that I examined in a previous blog). It is related to ‘cock and ball torture which the Wikipedia entry (based on Darren Langdridge and Meg Barker’s 2008 book Safe, Sane, and Consensual: Contemporary Perspectives on Sadomasocism) notes “may involve directly painful activities, such as wax play, genital spanking, squeezing, ball-busting, genital flogging, urethral play, tickle torture, erotic electrostimulation, or even kicking. The recipient of such activities may receive direct physical pleasure via masochism, or emotional pleasure through knowledge that the play is pleasing to a sadistic dominant. The practice carries significant health risks”.
- Queefing fetishism: A little bit of a cheat here as I’ve covered queefing fetishes (sexual arousal from vaginal flatulence) in some detail in a previous blog but there are so few potentially paraphilic behaviours beginning with the letter ‘Q’. (If you feel I’m short-changing you, read my previous article here).
- Rhytiphilia: This is where individuals derive sexual arousal from facial wrinkles. This would appear to be related to gerontophilia (sexual arousal to people who are much older than the individuals themselves). I doubted whether this fetish actually exists but I have came across individuals that claim to have such fetishes (such as here and here).
- Stygiophilia: According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal, stygiophilia refers to sexual pleasure from the thought of going to hell. It’s also the name of a novel on the topic by Nathan Tyree.
- Teleiophilia: This neologism was coined by the sexologist Dr. Ray Blanchard and refers to sexual interest in adults. As the Wikipedia entry on Blanchard notes: “Unlike the terms referring to sexual interest in other age groups, such as paedophilia (sexual interest in prepubescent children), teleiophilia is not considered a paraphilia. The term was formalized in order to forestall neologisms, such as ‘adultophilia’ or ‘normophilia’ that were occasionally used, but had no precise definition. The term is used primarily by professional sexologists in the scientific literature”.
- Urethral fetishism: In previous blogs I have examined urethral sex play in its many forms and with its own lexicon (so if you want to read about it in more detail, read more here).
- Venatophilia: In an online article about cartoon quicksand fetishes, there was mention of a fetish group called ‘Giant Video Game Girls’ and they appear to have coined the term ‘venatophilia’ from the Latin venatus, meaning ‘game’ and describes sexual attraction to or fascination with video game characters. Personally I find this strange as most paraphilias derive from Greek (rather than Latin) names. This paraphilia (if it exists) is arguably a sub-type of toonophilia (sexual attraction to cartoon characters) that I examined in a previous blog.
- Wolf-play: In previous blogs I have examined the Furry Fandom (individuals that dress up as animals that engage in both sexual and non-sexual interaction) and various fetish pet play behaviours such as pony play. Wolf-play is just another variant of pet-play.
- Xyrophilia: This behaviour refers to those individuals who derive sexual arousal from razors (and again has a name derived from its opposite condition – xyrophobia). However, there are online forums for razor fetishists and there may be crossover with those that have blood fetishes (which I’ve looked at in various previous blogs).
- “Yaoi fetishism: According to an online article about kinks and fetishes on the Your Tango website, “Yaoi is a type of anime, manga, or fan fiction that originated in Japan which centers on male-on-male sexuality”. The article notes the term ‘Yaoi’ comes from the Japanese phrase “Yama nashi, Ochi nashi, Imi nashi” (and translates to “no climax, no meaning, no point”). An article on the Kinkly website claims that “Yaoi is typically created by women and aimed at women although it has some male fans. It should not be confused with ‘Bara’ which is aimed at a gay male audience”.
- Zentai fetishism: Again, according to the online article on the Your Tango website, zentai fetishism involves individuals that “like to wear, be covered in, bound by and otherwise enjoy lycra full-body suits”. An article in Fortune magazine notes that the ‘zentai’ is derived from the Japanese words zenshin taitsu that translates as “full body tights”. The same article claims that zentai suits tend to be more fetishistic whereas “morphsuits” are “for more mainstream cosplay fun and are likely to show up at football games, ComicCon, or frat parties”.
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.
Bering, J. (2014). Perv: The Sexual Deviant In All Of Us. London: Doubleday.
Downing, L. (2010). John Money’s ‘Normophilia’: diagnosing sexual normality in late-twentieth-century Anglo-American sexology. Psychology and Sexuality, 1(3), 275-287.
Gates, K. (2000). Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex. New York: RE/Search Publications.
Langdridge, D. & Barker, M. (2008). Safe, Sane, and Consensual: Contemporary Perspectives on Sadomasocism. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.
Scorolli, C., Ghirlanda, S., Enquist, M., Zattoni, S. & Jannini, E.A. (2007). Relative prevalence of different fetishes. International Journal of Impotence Research, 19, 432-437.
Serrano, R.H. (2004). Parafilias. Revista Venezolana de Urologia, 50, 64-69.
Shaffer, L. & Penn, J. (2006). A comprehensive paraphilia classification system. In E.W. Hickey (Ed.), Sex crimes and paraphilia. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Write World (2013). Philias. Located at: http://writeworld.tumblr.com/philiaquirks
“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.
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.
In a previous blog, I examined toonophilia (i.e., a sexual paraphilia in which individuals are sexually and/or emotionally attracted to cartoon characters). I also mentioned in the same blog that some toonophiles are very specific in regard to what they find erotic and that one particular sub-type of tooniphilia involves those individuals who find Japanese ‘anime’ characters particularly erotic. While researching that blog, I came across the lecture notes of an unnamed academic (posted by one of his/her students) that I found interesting (although I don’t know what the primary sources for the notes were). I’m aware that Japanese comics are known as ‘manga’ and that cartoon pornography is highly prevalent (inside and outside of Japan) and is known as ‘hentai’ (but I can’t claim to have known much else before researching this blog).
“Enthusiasts [of anime/Hentai/Manga] are technically known as otaku (Japanese for anime fan), and most of these cartoons have a hardcore, bondage, or rubber/latex flavor. Erotic art has been around, of course, since antiquity, but anime and hentai are more like the adult versions of ‘new animation’ cartoons (like Sailor Moon). The Japanese government requires censorship (blotting out) of genitalia in any picture showing penetration (with the toon showing that ‘look’ of painful enjoyment), but easily downloadable programs like G-mask can remove the censorship masking. Other cartoon images range from Betty Boop, Disney, the Flintsones, and Jetsons to highly erotic fantasy artwork (sometimes featuring penetration by laboratory devices, aliens, or cephalopod squids). Manga art is the most popular American variant, coming from the underground comix culture of R. Crumb and followers. The mutant alien (with tentacles) space theme is probably the most popular, followed by a vegetation or animal fetish, and then only about 30% thoroughly enjoy that degrading ’look’ on the victim’s face. A higher percentage enjoys something of the same ‘look’ in hardcore cumshot photos”.
As I said, I have no idea where the claims made originate (particularly the percentages given), but they appear to have good face validity based on my own anecdotal reading of the popular literature that I have tracked down online. Unsurprisingly, the most popular consumers of hentai are men. The Wikipedia entry on hentai also adds that:
“Eroge games [erotoc games] in particular combine three favored media, cartoons, pornography and gaming into an experience. The hentai genre engages a wide audience that expands yearly, with that audience desiring better quality and storylines, or works which push the creative envelope. The unusual and extreme depictions in hentai is not about perversion so much as it is an example of the profit-oriented industry. Normal sexual situations don’t sell as well as the more unusual situations, such as depicting sex at schools or bondage. Dr. Megha Hazuria Gorem, a clinical psychologist says, ‘Because toons are a kind of final fantasy, you can make the person look the way you want him or her to look. Every fetish can be fulfilled.’ Dr. Narayan Reddy a sexologist, commented on the eroge games, ‘Animators make new games because there is a demand for them, and because they depict things that the gamers do not have the courage to do in real life, or that might just be illegal, these games are an outlet for suppressed desire’”.
Another aspect of hentai that I kept coming across was ‘tentacle porn’ and ‘tentacle rape’ (or ‘shokushu goukan’ as it is known as in Japan) that a number of articles I read says it dates back to the eighteenth century although the more recent tentacle rape genre is generally attributed to Urotsukidoji, manga created by controversial erotic cartoonist Toshio Maeda who emphasized the elements of sexual assault. Maeda claims to have introduced tentacle porn as a way to circumvent Japan’s very strict censorship laws. These laws didn’t allow the depiction of penises but at the time (in 1986) didn’t forbid sexual penetration by anything else (such as tentacles or robotic appendages). In an online article on “depraved fetishes that are older than you think”, the author Nathan Reed reported that:
“For men, the [tentacle rape] fetish appeals to those who enjoy seeing women humiliated and subjugated by something that isn’t even human. While [Toshio] Maeda may have created the modern tentacle rape, he wasn’t the inventor – not even close. Maeda was preceded by Katsushika Hokusai, an artist from the late 18th and early 19th century. Hokusai was the artist of the ‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji’ an internationally recognized series of prints that earned him fame both locally and globally…Hokusai’s ‘The Dream Of The Fisherman’s Wife’ is speculated to be the first instance of tentacle erotica…[Also] check out ‘Tentacles of Desire: The Man Who Loved Cephalopods’. Contained within is the story of Joshua Handley, an English artist in the late 19th century whose travels to Japan resulted in an obsession with tentacle erotica. Handley attempted multiple times to publish some of it in England, even coming up with some of his own to add to the table. People were appalled – not by the tentacles, but at the notion that the women in the stories were actually enjoying themselves, because for some reason rape would make it much less disgusting”.
A 2001 paper by Dr. Danielle Talerico in the academic journal Impressions showed argued that although Western audiences have usually viewed Hokusai’s painting as rape, “Japanese audiences of the Edo period would have associated it with consensual sex”. This is also echoed in the Wikipedia entry that claims ‘tentacle erotica’ can be of a consensual nature “but frequently has elements of non-consensual sex”. It also notes that it has become much more popular outside of Japan and Asia and has found an audience among people in both Europe and the US but “still remains a small, fetish-oriented part of the adult film industry. While most tentacle erotica is animated, there are also a smaller number of live-action movies featuring this theme”.
Some academics believe that tentacle rape – even in animated form is a step too far. For instance, a 2004 book chapter by Dr. J.P. Dahlquist, and Dr. L.G. Vigilant asserts that:
“The experience of hentai is morally distancing. Tentacle hentai offers the telegenetic signs of the most perverse and debased sexualities. It opens for fantastic examination a sexuality that transgresses all ‘simulated’ moralities of the ‘real’ world, where tentacle sex between nubile girl-women and cloned boy-men monsters are the order of the day – a monstrous sex-feast of the most abnormal acts: pedophilic bestiality, sex with machines, sex with cyborgs, sex with dangerous protruding tentacles, and, of course, an endless stream of the most debasing, brutal, and humiliating rape images”.
Whether animated pornography is less ‘harmful’ than non-animated pornography is something I will leave to others more knowledgeable than me to debate. However, there is clearly a market for hentai more generally, and tentacle porn more specifically as evidenced by those who sell it commercially. The whole area raises interesting moral questions which I hope to return to in a future blog.
Absolute Astronomy (2013). Tentacle rape. Located at: http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Tentacle_rape
Dahlquist, J.P., & Vigilant, L.G. (2004). Way better than real: Manga sex to tentacle hentai. In D.D. Waskul (Ed.), Net.sex: Readings on sex, pornography, and the Internet (pp. 91–103). New York: Peter Lang.
Ortega-Brena, Mariana (2009). Peek-a-boo, I see you: Watching Japanese hard-core animation. Sexuality and Culture, 13, 17–31.
Reed, N. (2010). 6 Depraved Sexual Fetishes That Are Older Than You Think. Cracked.com, March 30. Located at: http://www.cracked.com/article_18472_6-depraved-sexual-fetishes-that-are-older-than-you-think.html
Talerico, D. (2001). Interpreting sexual imagery in Japanese prints: A fresh approach to Hokusai’s Diver and Two Octopi. Impressions: The Journal of the Ukiyo-e Society of America, 23, 24-42.
Wikipedia (2013). Hentai. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hentai
Wikipedia (2013). Manga. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manga
Wikipedia (2013). Tentacle erotica. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tentacle_erotica
Wikipedia (2013). Urotsukidoji. Located at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urotsukidōji
While researching previous blogs on the Furry Fandom (i.e., those individuals who derive sexual pleasure from dressing up as an animal and/or derive sexual pleasure from having sex with someone dressed as an animal) and objectum sexuality (i.e., those individuals who develop deep emotional and/or romantic attachments to specific inanimate objects or structures), I kept coming across various online references to toonophilia.
Toonophilia is a sexual paraphilia in which individuals are sexually and/or emotionally attracted to cartoon characters (including Japanese anime characters). There are a number of slightly different definitions found online some of which claim that toonophilia only applies to those individuals whose primary or exclusive sexual interest is in cartoon characters. There also appears to be other similar paraphilias such as fictophilia (in which individuals are romantically and/or sexually attracted to fictional characters in books) and gameophilia (in which individuals are romantically and/or sexually attracted to fictional video game characters such as Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft). One website claimed that toonophilia is seen as a life-style and that “due to the absence of physical contacts between humans and cartoon characters” most toonophiles’ sexual activity (unsurprisingly) comprises masturbation.
I’ve only come across one academic reference to toonophilia and that was in a comprehensive list of paraphilias in the 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices by Dr.Anil Aggrawal (Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India). However, there is nothing more than a one-line definition. The same book also notes that tooniphilia is also known by another name – schediaphilia. I also checked out Brenda Love’s (normally very reliable and all encompassing) Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices but there was nothing on toonophilia at all.
One of the most infamous toonophiles is cartoonist and comic book artist Robert Crumb who has gone on record saying that as a youngster he was sexually attracted to Bugs Bunny when he was dressed in drag. More specifically he said:
“When I – what was it – about five or six? – I was sexually attracted to Bugs Bunny. And I – I cut out this Bugs Bunny off the cover of a comic book and carried it around with me. Carried it around in my pocket and took it out and looked at it periodically, and – and it got all wrinkled up from handling it so much that I asked my mother to iron it on the ironing board to flatten it out, and – and she did, and I was deeply disappointed ’cause it got all brown when she ironed it, and brittle, and crumbled apart”
In one of the regular polls carried out on the Deviant Art website, 58 “deviants” responded to the poll “Do you have toonophilia?” with 60% responding that they did (n=35), 14% responding “not really” (n=14), and 16% responding “sort of”. Yes, I know it’s not scientific and it’s a very small number of respondents, but that was the only numerical data of any description I could find. An article in a 2008 issue of the Huffington Post reported that some toonophiles wanted to make their relationships with cartoon characters official. They reported that the Toonophile Planet website were offering marriage certificates (assuming the character was not already married to another toonophile). At the Go Petition website, there is a genuine petition asking for relationships and marriages between humans and cartoon characters to be made legal. The petition said:
“Toonophilia is a growing belief. Not only do our kind love cartoon/videogame characters, we feel their presence and our love for them are as real as you and I. Toonophiles are registering marriages to their virtual lovers on the Internet and the number of virtual marriage certificates are growing. An example of toonophile oriented websites are: www.sonic-passion.com, www.toonophilia.net. These marriage certificates sadly are only virtual. We desire to have “legal” marriage certificates with our name and loved one’s name written on it. I have never been interested in relationships with real people and am only interested in virtuality. This petition will be sent to the BBC as soon as enough signatures have been signed. We the undersigned request that you allow the marriage between Humans and virtual cartoon/videogame characters be permitted in the UK”
The Huffington Post article also noted that other websites (like the ToonsPortal) featured obscene and/or pornographic images and videos of many different cartoon characters (like The Flintstones) having sex. In March 2012, Willow Monroe wrote an online essay about toonophilia. There was nothing to back up what was written but she claimed that:
“Sexy for the Toonophile need not be a blatantly erotic character like Jessica Rabbit, or Betty Boop, rather, the subject of affection and desire can be any animated or sketched figure from Bugs Bunny, to Ms Pacman. Toonophiles are known to carry pictures of their adored character and even collect the plush toy and figurine versions of them. Some Toonophile friendly sites even allow members to wed their preferred character, provided that character is unspoken for.There is an abundance of sites on the web that cater to this fetishist’s fantasies. A range of characters can be watched performing pretty well every – and any – kind of sexual act imaginable. By far the most popular form of cartoon pornography on the internet is served up courtesy of the Japanese anime market. The pornographic cartoons in the anime style are casually called Hentai. The word’s etymology gives insight into what the original artists of this style thought of their work, as the word can be translated as ‘perversion’”
I spent an idle hour scouring toonophile forums and I came across dozens of people claiming to be in love and/or having longstanding sexual relationships with cartoon characters.For instance, here are a few (genuine) confessions and just the tip of the iceberg:
- “I think I have schediaphilia because whenever I watch a show with the particular anime character I like, my heart beats like crazy. I can almost hear it beat and my stomach does a flipping thing, and I even have sexual dreams about that character. I have a full on crush on this anime character”
- “I’m the neighborhood toonophile. I’ve known I’m one for a good 4 years now, but even long back into my childhood days when I didn’t even realize it. I’ve always had a fascination with cartoon characters, and it just grew in my adulthood. Can’t really explain it to most people because they’ll be like ‘whaaa?’ and some don’t even think it’s a real thing, but it really is honestly. I can’t really find attraction in real people. I honestly get sick to the stomach at the thought of having sex with a real person, it’s just not my thing, but with a certain character like Beast from Beauty and the Beast, it’s a real turn on for me”
- “Ever since I was 15 I fell in love with a cartoon character by the name of Amy Rose [a character in the Sonic The Hedgehog video game]. To this day I am still in love with her and share my life with her. Most of you will think ‘what a loser, loving a fictional character. Get a real girlfriend’. But Amy makes me happy, so let’s leave it at that”
- “I am a Toonophiliac or should I say fictosexual since I’m attracted to fictional characters and not just toons. I just noticed that I wasn’t attracted to real people but that I had sexual and relationship fantasies about fictional characters. I imagine myself with a fictional character, having a relationship then having sex. Depending upon the character, it might be more sexual or more relationship based. One day it’s one, the other day it’s another. It’s like polygamy, but none of them are jealous and there’s no risk of getting a disease or ending up pregnant”
- “I have no idea how it finally clicked, other than a strong fascination with cartoon characters since childhood that sort of matured with me. It’s physical for me too, of course – things like ponies or Beast or cartoon dragons or Pokemon or Digimon. They’re literally physically attractive to me in their base state. I think part of the appeal to me is that, by being attracted to characters that by definition don’t necessarily confine to reality like that, it lends itself to more ‘creative’ or ‘unrealistic’ fetishes too”
From my research into video game playing, I can certainly see echoes of toonophilia among younger players when looking at video game characters such as Lara Croft. In previous articles, I have asked myself what explains Lara’s immense popularity. At one level this may seem fairly obvious – she’s a big-breasted digital icon. However, most Tomb Raider players aren’t lusting adolescents. I questioned a group of players and asked them about why Tomb Raider was such a good game. The single most important factor appeared to be the problem-solving component as part of the treasure hunt genre. Her physical attributes didn’t seem to be important for most players apart from the youngest teenagers. Maybe it’s among this group of teenage video game players where some toonophile tendencies begin to develop?
Griffiths, M.D. (1998). Shrink Rap: The Croft Report. Arcade, 1 (November), p. 49.
Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.
McCombs, E. (2008). Toonophilia: Is it porn? Huffington Post, October 1st. Located at: http://www.asylum.com/2008/10/01/toonophilia-is-it-porn/
Monroe, W. (2012). Fetish of the Week: Schediaphilia (Toonophilia). ZZ Insider, March 12. Located at: http://www.zzinsider.com/blogs/view/fetish_of_the_week_schediaphilia_toonophilia