“[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 used the opening quote in a previous blog on ‘stuck fetishism’ but is just as appropriate in the context of this article on quicksand fetishes. Such fetishes appear to be a sub-type of taphephilia (that I also examined in a previous blog on claustrophilia [sexual arousal from being in confined spaces]). Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices defines taphephilia as deriving sexual pleasure and arousal from being buried alive. I noted in my previous blog that when I first read about this paraphilia I had major doubts about it’s existence until I came across groups such as the Six Feet Under Club and the Buried Stories website. As the Buried Stories homepage asserts:
“Buried or burial whilst still alive is a nightmare to some but a joy or fetish to others. The desire to be boxed, bagged and buried is a great turn on for many. The feeling of utter helplessness as the sounds of the first shovel of dirt hits the top of their coffin. The fantasy may also involve being placed in a casket, bodybag, or other enclosure before being buried either on the beach, in dirt or even in quicksand. Encased or entombed, enclosed or just bagged. ‘Buried Stories’ contains stories of people being buried, sunk in quicksand or encased within an enclosure. Some may have acted out their desires whilst others have written about their fantasy to share with you”
An article about ‘stuck fetishism’ (on the now defunct Nation Master website) provided a typology of all the different types of stuck fetishes. There was no empirical evidence supporting the typology but has good face validity based on what I have read about the topic. The different type of stuck fetishism includes (i) sticky substance immobilization fetishes, (ii) non-sticky substance immobilization fetishes, (iii) situational immobilization fetishes, (iv) perceived situational immobilization fetish, (v) stuck clothing fetish, (vi) stuck transport fetish, (vii) stuck transformation fetish, (viii) stuck multi-person fetish, and (ix) stuck conjoinment fetish (for a detailed description of each of these fetishes, see my previous blog on stuck fetishism). These fetishes – while specific – may not be mutually exclusive, and some stuck fetishists may gain sexual arousal from more than one of these scenario. Quicksand fetishes are an example of ‘non-sticky substance immobilization fetishes’ (i.e., 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 or cement).
In an article on the Cracked.com website, ‘Girls stuck in quicksand’ was one of the six most bizarre safe for work fetishes they listed. The article noted:
“There’s no official name for this weird fetish – yet – but that doesn’t mean the Internet isn’t full of videos and photos depicting it. For some people, the idea of a person, especially a woman, nearly drowning in quicksand is quite the turn on. Perhaps these viewers imagine themselves as a hero who can swoop in and save the day. Or maybe these people are aroused by the woman’s fear. Either way, this is a fetish we hope you won’t experience any time soon. This is a perfect example of a nearly ‘safe for work’ fetish – it requires no nudity or sex, and it in fact involves a situation in which sex would be utterly impossible. It’s people who get aroused at the sight of fully clothed women sinking in quicksand”.
“A cursory search online would reveal tons of sites dedicated to compiling clips from various sources of girls drowning in quicksand, and then there are the niche video sites dedicated to providing original content (there probably is a booming industry in quicksand pit installation these days). On those sites, elaborate storylines are created to justify how these lovely ladies came to be trapped in the unforgiving, bottomless pit of certain-yet-sexy death. So … maybe the quicksand thing triggers some ‘damsel in distress’ response in the [brain’s cortex]? If there’s anything lonely Internet tough guys love, it’s sitting behind their keyboards visualizing all the many ways they would totally jump in and save the unfortunate lady fake drowning in a boggy marsh”.
Reference was made in the paragraph above to a “damsel in distress response”. In a previous blog I examined ‘damsel in distress’ (DiD) fetishes. I noted in thatblog that (like quicksand fetishes) it is mostly males who have DiD fetishes and that they can be very specific including (but not restricted to) such things as (i) ‘kidnap and rescue’ fetishes (sexual pleasure from watching or engaging in women being kidnapped and/or rescued from potentially life-threatening scenarios where they are cuffed, bound and/or controlled by another person or persons), (ii) tickle bondage fetishes (sexual pleasure from watching or tickling women while they are tied up), (iii) quicksand fetishes (sexual pleasure from watching women sink in quicksand), and (iv) ‘pedal pumping’ and ‘cranking’ fetishes (sexual pleasure from watching women stranded in their cars with repeated pressing of the gas pedal and revving up – which also has elements of foot fetishism – while turning the key in an attempt to get the engine to start).
Unsurprisingly, there are no academic papers on quicksand fetishes and very few articles of any description on the topic. One article by Jagger Gravning on the Motherboard news site wrote an interesting article on ‘The fetish for video game characters trapped in quicksand’ (and could arguably be classed as a sub-type of quicksand fetishism). This could also be classed as a type of toonophilia (sexual arousal from cartoon characters) that I also examined in a previous blog.
Gravning’s article concentrated on the ‘quicksand artists’ (and other types of fetish illustrations on the Deviant Art website) rather than the quicksand fetishists (such as A-020, an artist who “draws women trapped in quicksand for the titillation of those with a predilection for such imagery”) as well as interviewing various academics about the fetishistic side of the practice. However, A-020 admitted he was also a quicksand fetishist. When asked about the origins of his fetish, which he claimed were integrated with other types of fetish behaviour: “I think it could be a distant cousin of fetishes like vore and bondage with a combination of muddy and stuck elements. Those similarities may be why I find it interesting mixed with an attractive female”.
Gravning wanted to know whether witnessing human beings stuck in quicksand in cartoons over and over as a child possibly lead to this unusual fetish. She asked Dr. Catherine Salmon, an evolutionary psychologist, who wrote the book Warrior Lovers: Erotic Fiction, Evolution and Female Sexuality:
“It could be something like that. Whether it’s quicksand or tar pits, there are things like that in children’s cartoons. It could be something as simple as that. Part of it is the damsel in distress kind of image. Watching ‘Wonder Woman’ caught in that kind of circumstance when people are younger—[it’s] an image that’s eroticized, a very sexually drawn, very feminine image. And they might enjoy watching that sort of thing or the struggle, as she’s trying to get out of whatever that circumstance is. There are a lot of unusual circumstances in cartoons and fantasy and you may get aroused while you’re watching it and then carry some of that too”.
Gravning also interviewed Dr. Elizabeth Larson, the Director of the Seattle Institute for Sex Therapy, Education and Research. Like me, Dr. Larson sees the development of such fetishes as most likely the consequence of associative pairing early in childhood or adolescence. More specifically she noted:
“These associations that come to be associated with an aroused state and are ‘accidents of learning’. These accidents of learning are most potent in the early sexual learning history, although it’s not impossible later. They don’t have to be exactly like the fantasy that comes. It just has to resemble it…[Quicksand fetishists] probably fantasized and got into the feeling that goes with that, not just watching. It could [also] be identifying with it. The kid imagining himself stuck in quicksand in the victim’s place, for example, could be part of its erotic appeal. You could either be observing it or experiencing it. You could be doing both at the same time in a fantasy. Some evidence certainly suggests that sexual patterns are already there, for sure in males, by the age of eight [years of age]. They may or may not have begun masturbating to fantasies until adolescence but something is going on internally at a very young age”.
Gravning also spoke to the US computational neuroscientist Dr. Ogi Ogas who was quoted as saying:
“While uncommon, the notion of being smothered or trapped is universal in the sense that it exists to greater and lesser degrees ‘all over’ [the world]. It’s not just one or two people that have it. It is found in a lot of places. Clearly our normal brain design is not that far removed from [wanting to be] enveloped. It’s probably something to do with our tactile system, our touch system of the brain, that’s quite naturally wired to our sexual arousal system. The tactile system is also interconnected with sensations like being smothered and being interred, being doused with water. Probably, somehow – and I’m speculating here – that’s what got crossed up for whatever reasons…A quirk in the brain, essentially…As we’re learning more about the genetics of brain construction, we’re coming to understand the genetic expression that leads to different neural wiring is highly variable and dependent on so many things [that] could happen in the womb, things that happen in early life, different environmental things. There’s just myriad, myriad factors that can cause unusual neural wiring to arise. Following this logic, some boy who just happens to have the notion of being smothered or trapped somehow interconnected to his arousal system becomes aroused when he sees an attractive woman struggling in quicksand, and that image burns into his mind”.
I have no idea how common quicksand fetishes are (but I would suspect it’s a very niche fetish), and I doubt whether the fetish is the only type of fetishistic behaviour among such people as there is so much crossover with many other different niche fetishes (stuck fetishism, buried fetishism, etc.). As with many other extreme sexual behaviours I have examined, I can’t see this becoming an area of serious academic study any time soon, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting topic.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction, 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.
Encyclopedia Dramatica (2016). Quicksand fetish. May 4. Located at:https://encyclopediadramatica.se/Quicksand_Fetish
Gravning, J. (2015). The fetish for video game characters trapped in quicksand. Motherboard, March 19. Located at: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/quicksand
Ntumy, E.K. (2013). The 6 most bizarre safe for work fetishes. Cracked.com. November 7. Located at: http://www.cracked.com/article_20691_the-6-most-bizarre-safe-work-fetishes.html
Pop Crunch (2010). Quicksand, pedal pumping, tickle bondage, women in distress in general. May 11. Located at: http://www.popcrunch.com/the-17-most-wtf-fetishes-imaginable/
In a previous blog, I examined vorarephilia (usually shortened to ‘vore’) – a sexual paraphilia in which people are sexually aroused by (i) the idea of being eaten, (ii) eating another person, and/or (iii) observing this process for sexual gratification. A few weeks ago, the Archives of Sexual Behavior published an interesting paper by Dr. Amy Lykins and Dr. James Cantor entitled ‘Vorarephilia: A case study in masochism and erotic consumption’. The authors presented a new case study accompanied by a brief overview of the previous literature including some cases that I had never come across (because the material was in non-academic texts and/or not listed in the academic databases that I usually search). They also referenced the same academic sources as I did in my previous blog on the topic – particularly the papers by Dr Friedemann Pfafflin (also in the Archives of Sexual Behavior). For instance, they wrote that:
“Pfafflin (2008) commented on the many phrases that exist in the English language to relate sex/love and consumption, including referring to someone as ‘looking good enough to eat’, ’that ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’, and describing a sexually appealing person as ‘sweet’, ‘juicy’, ‘appetizing’, or ‘tasty’. Christian religions even sanction metaphorical cannibalism through their sacrament rituals, during which participants consume bread or wafers meant to represent the ‘body of Christ’ and wine intended to represent the ‘blood of Christ’ – a show of Jesus’s love of his people and, in turn, their love for him, by sharing in his ‘blood’ and ‘flesh’. This act was intended to ‘merge as one’ the divine and the mortal”.
Lykin and Cantor also made reference to two case studies in Katharine Gates’ book Deviant Desires. One of the cases was a man that allegedly fantasized that the witch in the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale both cooked and ate him. The other case involved ‘The Turkey Man’. In Lykins and Cantor’s version:
“The Turkey Man was a travelling businessman who regularly hired a dominatrix to meet him in his hotel room to ‘cook’ him. He had designed a facsimile of an oven from a cardboard box, including rudimentary knobs and a door that could be opened and closed. He would lie down in this box, on his back, wearing only socks, while the dominatrix would describe in great detail the process of his body being cooked and eaten by her. The Turkey Man could become so aroused by this fantasy that he was able to orgasm without any physical stimulation of his penis”.
Lykins and Cantor also noted the difference between vorarephilia and cannibalism:
In most cases [of vorarephilia], the victim is swallowed whole – in fact, several requests for fantasies included a specific ban on the chewing of the victim. This is an important aspect that separates persons interested in vore versus those interested in sexual cannibalism – in vore, the victim is swallowed whole, while still alive. Though consumption most often occurred through the mouth, it also occurred through the vagina, the anus, or the breasts (through the nipples) of the consumer”.
Lykins and Cantor then went on to describe in vivid detail a case study of a middle-aged male (who they called ‘Stephen’) who had multiple sexual paraphilias including vorarephilia. Stephen described himself as heterosexual with little or no problems sexually during his teenage years. At the time that Stephen was assessed he had experience of three female sexual partners but masturbation was his current sexual outlet (two to three times weekly. The authors conducted phallometric testing and the results confirmed that Stephen had a “clear sexual preference for adult females” rather than any other age or group of people. Back in 2002 he had sought psychiatric help for two specific fetishistic sexual behaviours (i.e., analingus and podophilia [foot fetishism]). He also reported that he engaged in voyeurism (but was not wanting treatment for it). More recently he sought help for more unusual sexual fantasies. The authors’ reported that Stephen had developed an intense “interest in ‘being’ a woman’s anus”. In fact, he appeared to have some kind of anal fixation as it was reported that:
“Stephen described an intense sexual interest in analingus. He reported this interest to have begun around age 13–15, during which he reported having performed analingus on five to ten children (both male and female, ranging in age from 3 to 1 years). He described having done this when the children were asleep and he stated he believed they were unaware of what he had done. He reported experiencing sexual arousal both during those events and subsequently during masturbation, despite experiencing significant guilt and distress about having engaged in the behavior, and he denied any specific interest in children as sexual partners…Stephen’s interest in analingus crossed over into sexual arousal associated with coprophilia and seemed also to be related to his vorarephilic interests. He described fantasizing about being consumed and destroyed by a very large, dominating woman, who would later defecate him as her feces. He often fantasized about being feces or semen and being expelled by a person. Stephen reported having stuck his hand in human fecal matter, smelling it on several occasions, and having eaten feces out of a toilet on two occasions. On one occasion, he reported feeling traumatized and distraught about an unexpected negative event: To cope with those feelings, he went into the woods and masturbated while eating cow feces. Consistent with his previous assessment, Stephen reported sexual arousal associated with the thought of being someone’s anus…Following the assessment, we diagnosed Stephen on DSMIV-TR Axis I with Paraphilia [Not Otherwise Specified] NOS (partialism for women’s feet), Paraphilia NOS (vorarephilia), and Sexual Masochism, with a prior diagnosis of Dysthymic Disorder, a rule-out diagnosis of Social Phobia, and diagnosis deferred on Axis II.2”
Although a lot of what Lykins and Cantor reported could arguably be viewed as coprophilic, the coprophilic elements are clearly symptomatic of the vorarephilic primary sexual fantasy (i.e., being eaten by a large, female dominatrix and then being defecated by her). Dying was not part of the fantasy – what he really wanted was to be ‘‘taken in and then expelled (as feces)”. Stephen had no desire himself to eat anyone (fantasy or otherwise) and only became sexually aroused when he thought of himself in his vore fantasy as the victim. Lykins and Cantor then went on to speculate that:
“Stephen’s reported fantasies highlighted the focus on both the act and the result of consumption – total destruction of being and personhood – and his sexual arousal associated with such acts. Consistent with fantasies produced by the vore community, Stephen reported no interest in cannibalism (having his flesh eaten or chewed). It seems possible that Stephen’s interest in feces and anal play may relate to the most tangible outcome of the possibility of having acted out these behaviors, specifically human waste and its immediate sources. Alternatively, it also seems reasonable to posit the reverse: that his interest in feces and anal play may have led him to vorarephilic fantasy. This directionality remains difficult to ascertain. Stephen’s fantasies were not entirely consistent with the typical vore fantasy, in that he appeared to be much more focused on the end result (himself as feces) than the majority of the fantasies found in online vore erotica…It is interesting to speculate whether the set of interests Stephen experienced represent a cluster of multiple interests or a single interest which happens to overlap or only superficially resemble multiple, more common categories…Stephen’s case suggests itself as an example of a progression in paraphilic interests. It is unfortunate Stephen ceased clinical contact again after the latter interview. Although some individuals refer to a very specific episode in early life in which they first experienced a fascination with a stimulus that later served as their erotic focus, Stephen may have experienced a slower progression over the course of adulthood”.
The authors also claimed that many features reported by Stephen had never before appeared in the academic, clinical or popular literature. More specifically, they claimed that “sexual arousal to the idea of actually being body parts (e.g., an anus) and bodily products (e.g., feces, semen)” had – to their knowledge –never appeared in print before. The authors concluded in the hope that their published case study would be a good “starting point in the exploration of this unusual paraphilia”.
Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Adams, C. (2004). Eat or be eaten: Is cannibalism a pathology as listed in the DSM-IV?The Straight Dope, July 2. Located at: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2515/eat-or-be-eaten
Beier, K. (2008). Comment on Pfafflin’s (2008) “Good enough to eat”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 164-165.
Gates, K. (2000). Deviant desires: Incredibly strange sex. New York: Juno Books.
Lykins, A.D., & Cantor, J.M. (2014). Vorarephilia: A case study in masochism and erotic consumption. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43, 181-186.
Pfafflin, F. (2008). Good enough to eat. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37, 286-293.
Pfafflin, F. (2009). Reply to Beier (2009). Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 166-167.
In a previous blog, I briefly examined ‘unbirthing’ a fantasy-based sexual paraphilia in which individuals are sexually aroused by the idea of being enveloped and swallowed by a woman’s vagina. This is often termed ‘vaginal vore’ and is commonly viewed as a sub-type of vorarephilia (a sexual paraphilia in which individuals are sexually aroused by the idea of being eaten, eating another person, or observing this process for sexual gratification). While researching the blog on unbirthing, I came across quite a few references to ‘partial unbirthing’. For instance, according to the online Urban Dictionary:
“[Partial unbirthing is the] fetish of an adult head inside a vagina. [The] term was created a few decades ago when the fantasy of unbirthing was broken down into total and partial types with partial unbirthing being the only remotely possible form of the unbirthing fantasy. Even then it is an extremely rare activity and the practice of partial unbirthing, as opposed to the fantasy, is not a form of Vore”.
I had my doubts as to whether partial unbirthing could be anything but a fantasy-based sexual paraphilia until I came across what appear to be actual photographs and videos of the practice online (such as those on the partial unbirthing page of the Encyclopedia Dramatica (ED) website – please be warned that if you click on the hyperlink, the page that opens shows photographs of men with their heads inside female vaginas). In part of an online article on vorarephilia, the Serial Killer Calendar (a surprisingly knowledgeable website on paraphilic behaviours), it noted that partial unbirthing is also known as ‘adult heading’. Looking at the same online photographs as I had looked at, the article claimed “there is controversy about whether it has ever truly happened and disagreements about whether photos of the practice are Photoshop fakes”. The same article also questioned the feasibility of the practice in relation to the restriction of the oxygen supply for the person inserting their head (although this would arguably be an added turn-on for a hypoxyphiliac). The ED article also noted:
“Partial unbirthing (adult head insertion into the vagina) [is a] real practice as opposed to fantasy, it is not a category of ‘vore’. It is only done by sex partners who both find it safe and extremely enjoyable. It is a fetishism that is extremely rare and probably one of the rarest of all human sexual activities. The reason for this is that to be mutually enjoyable and erotic, it requires that the vagina must stretch to enormous size”
I have no evidence to dispute such claims but given the sheer pragmatics involved, the claims don’t seem unreasonable. One of the more in-depth articles on partial unbirthing can be found on the Wikibin (WB) website. It also claims that the activity is (unsurprisingly) “extremely uncommon” and “much more common as a pure fantasy than in actuality”. The WB article also claims that there have been attempts (but it doesn’t say by who or what) to sub-classify partial unbirthing under a new category called ‘endosomatophilia’. The article estimated that less than one in a million sexual partners have actually engaged in partial unbirthing (although personally I think this figure is still too high). The article also claims that it is mutually enjoyable and erotic for couples that engage in the practice:
“It requires that the vagina must stretch to enormous size. This requires a consenting, cooperative, and extended effort between the sexual partners, with both partners considering the same fetish to be erotic…This of course is only possible where the woman has an extremely huge opening of her pelvis. Such a huge or Justo Major Pelvis is also called ‘Giant Pelvis’. This condition is where the minimum pelvis size is enlarged uniformly in every direction by a linear factor of 1.5, or more than the average 11-inch wide pelvis. This 16.5-inch ‘or more’ Justo Major pelvic width is a condition that is only present in less than one in a thousand adult women”.
The article also claims that some normal sized women sometimes stretch their vaginas to facilitate orgasmic stimulation. This is sometimes as a consequence of the woman having a “fullness fetish” that according to the article is also known as a ‘bulk intromission’ fetish (I’ve tried to look for further information on this fetish but have not yet found anything). Although this would appear to be exceedingly rare, the WB article says that with “gradual repeated stretching they occasionally stretch almost to the walls of their pelvic bone opening” to the size of a newborn baby’s head.
There is still the fundamental issue of whether partial unbirthing is humanly possible. A number of partial unbirthing articles all carry exactly the same text about an alleged study that I have been unable to track down. The verbatim text used in most of these articles claims that:
“A well known government Hispanic study included the anthropometry (scientific measurement) of nearly 5000 adult women using anthropometric calipers to measure the largest pelvis at 19 inches bi-iliac width (side-to-side bone width). This made her 19-inch wide Justo Major pelvis have a huge 1.73 ratio when compared to the average size pelvis of only 11 inches width. This was even a larger size pelvis than a pelvis of ‘minimum’ Justo Major size (that requires at least a 1.5 ratio). If a woman with a pelvis of this very large size were to do the same vaginal stretching practice to near her bone opening size, she could then vaginally take inside her vagina a huge 24-inch adult head. That size head would be 24 minus 21 inches, or 3 inches, larger than the 21-inch circumference adult head that a pelvis of the minimum 1.5 ratio Justo Major size pelvis could potentially stretch around. This larger size 19-inch wide pelvis would require a lesser degree of stretching to be comfortable when taking inside a 21-inch (much smaller size) adult head. This degree of comfort might be comparable to a woman of average size being vaginally double fisted by hands of considerably smaller size, or even being fisted by just one large hand. This less common but larger size pelvis (one in five thousand) Justo Major pelvis would have a sufficient size to potentially make partial unbirthing much easier to achieve”.
There is no academic or clinical research on partial unbirthing fetishes although I did come across a small unscientific poll on the Deviant Art website. The poll asked its clientele of self-admitted ‘sexual deviants’ what the strangest fetish was and 16% of the sample said partial unbirthing was the strangest. Unbirthing topped the poll (22%), followed by neophilia (18%; having sexual intercourse with baby children), and furry infantilism (11%; a form of paraphilic infantilism among the Furry Fandom in which adults pretend to be baby animals). Other strangest fetishes included cement fetishes (8%), necrofurs (5%; Furry fandom necrophilia), vorarephilia (5%), and zoophilia (3%).
After reviewing the scant anecdotal evidence I am convinced that that partial unbirthing fetishes exist at the very least in fantasy form and there are certainly examples of online fictional fantasy stories involving partial unbirthing. However, I remain ambivalent as to whether the practice can be achieved in actuality. The evidence (such that it is) suggests it is theoretically possible but whether there are genuinely recorded cases is suspect at best.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Encyclopedia Dramatica (2011). Partial unbirthing. May 25. Located at: https://encyclopediadramatica.se/Partial_Unbirthing
Serial Killer Calendar (2012). Vorarephilia. Located at: http://www.serialkillercalendar.com/VORAREPHILIA.html
Urban Dictionary (2012). Partial unbirthing. Located at: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=unbirthing
Wikibin (2012). Partial unbirthing fetishism. Located at: http://wikibin.org/articles/partial-unbirthing-fetishism.html
Wikipedia (2012). Pelvis justo major. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelvis_justo_major
In a previous blog on vorarephilia and ‘vore’ (individuals who are sexually aroused by the thought of being eaten, eating another person, or observing this process for sexual gratification; sometimes referred to phagophilia), I noted that one of the sub-categories of this sexually paraphilic behaviour was ‘vaginal vore’ in which an individual is sexually aroused by the thought of being consumed by the vagina and taken into the womb. This is commonly referred to as ‘unbirthing’ or a ‘reverse birth’ if the participants are human. Among the Furry Fandom who dress up and fantasize about being animals, the process is known as being ‘re-whelped’). A short article on unbirthing at the Oh Internet website claims that “unbirthing fetishes are most commonly found in the furry community” (although there is no evidence to support the claim).
The simplest definition of unbirthing is that it is a sexual paraphilia that involves being ‘swallowed’ alive by female genitalia. As with most forms of vorarephilia, the paraphilia is fantasy-based as it is not humanly possible to be unborn. Most unbirthing websites feature masses of fan art and fan fiction (such as the Mindless Consumption website). However, there are also some very specialist types of unbirthing website such as the Pony Inside Story website that (predictably) only features unbirthing pony stories and art. According to the Wikifur article on unbirthing:
“A less-common but still significant minority also practice UB-Vore, wherein the female unbirther’s body ultimately consumes the unbirthed. Another variant on this is males absorbing others (generally other males) as a form of male pregnancy. This is known as cock vore and often involves hypertrophilia and/or macrophilia”.
[Macrophilia – which I covered in a previous blog – refers to individuals that are sexually aroused by giants. Hypertrophilia describes individuals – usually macrophiles – who are sexually and/or emotionally attracted to ‘hyper-endowed’ characters. Hypertrophic individuals typically feature over-exaggerated (and impractically large) sexual and erogenous characteristics]. The article on unbirthing in the online Encyclopedia Dramatica says that US grunge group Nirvana may have unwittingly started the fetish in their 1993 hit single Heart-Shaped Box from their final studio LP In Utero when they sang “Broken hymen of ‘Your Highness’/I’m left black/Throw down your umbilical noose/ So I can climb right back”. However, I know of no academic research on unbirthing although there are a number of online articles that examine the phenomena and its underlying motivation and meaning. For instance, the Wikifur article makes a number of interesting observations:
“For many, unbirthing is attractive in its symbolic meaning. The opportunity to trust someone quite literally with one’s entire life, to be nurtured and protected, is what attracts the unbirthed. On the other side, the unbirther can demonstrate her care for another in a deep, trusting way, and enjoy something living inside her, a sensation often attractive in and of itself”.
For others, unbirthing has dominant, controlling and almost sadistic elements where the person being unbirthed becomes dependent upon the vaginal enveloper for oxygen and sustenance. Those undergoing unbirthing become restricted in what they can do as movement is almost totally inhibited and the senses are all but redundant having been enveloped and swallowed. For some, the age regression aspect and returning to the womb is said to be sexually arousing. As the Wikifur article notes:
“Returned to the womb, an unbirthed creature grows younger; the unbirther may choose to rebirth their guest at any point or simply regress the unbirthed past the point of conception, effectively erasing their existence. There are many variations on this theme, some overlapping with the oviposition [paraphilia]. [For others there an] overlap between fans of unbirth and those of vore lies in the endosomatophilia paraphilia, or attraction to fantasies involving complete encapsulation of a living thing within the body of another living thing. A second overlap between the two lies in absorbing or digesting an unbirthed creature: a form of genital vore”.
According to the online Nation Master encyclopedia, the term endosomatophilia (and sometimes shortened to ‘endosoma’) was coined in 2004 (although it doesn’t say by who and in what context), and is a sexual attraction to “fantasies involving complete encapsulation of a living thing within the body of another living thing” and is therefore a critical part of unbirthing and other similarly related behaviours such as vorarephilia and ‘insertion fantasies’. [According to a Wikipedia entry, ‘insertion fantasies’ refer to “the sexual desire or fantasy of having something inserted into a person in the pelvic region; usually referring to something out of the ordinary like specifically shaped foods, abnormal objects, or even people”]. The Nation Master entry also claims that:
“Due to its relative youth as a fetish term, there are currently no known websites or references with focus on endosoma. Because of this, many vore sites host endosoma material unrelated to vorarephilia itself. Because vore fantasies often involve violence and/or snuff, endosomaphiles are often daunted by the overwhelming presence of vore, as opposed to other forms of endosoma. The term was created in the hopes of forming more endosoma-oriented web content, communities, and chat rooms. Endosoma is often associated with macrophilia and microphila [which I also covered in a previous blog] as a large size difference can facilitate bodily containment. Currently, endosomatophilia is most well known among furries…Endosomatophilia is sometimes misdefined as soft vore in which the prey is not digested. Also, it was originally coined as endosomaphilia, which was later found to be incorrect”.
Compared to other sexual paraphilias that have not been researched empirically, the number of online forums that cater for vorarephilia in all its sub-varieties (including unbirthing) appears relatively large with relatively large numbers of members. It is certainly an area that I would personally like to carry out some research.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Encyclopedia Dramatica (2011). Unbirthing. August 14. Located at: https://encyclopediadramatica.se/Unbirthing
Oh Internet (2012). Unbirthing. Located at: http://ohinternet.com/Unbirthing
Nation Master (2012). Endosomatophilia. Located at: http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Endosomatophilia
Nation Master (2012). Unbirthing. Located at: http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Unbirthing
Wikifur (2010). Hypertrophilia. November 11. Located at: http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Hypertrophilia
Wikifur (2009). Unbirth. March 19. Located at: http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Unbirth
Wikipedia (2011). Insertion fantasies. September 4. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Xomic/Insertion_fantasy
Vorarephilia – usually shortened to vore – is a sexual paraphilia in which people are sexually aroused by the idea of being eaten, eating another person, or observing this process for sexual gratification. Since the behaviour is unlikely to actually be carried out by the vorarephiliac, the behaviour is more likely to be fantasy-based via different media (e.g., fictional stories, fantasy art, fantasy videos, and bespoke video games). The behaviour doesn’t necessarily involve digestion and/or pain. Probably because it is both rare and fantasy-based, it doesn’t appear in any psychiatric manuals such as the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Vorarephilia can sometimes co-exist with other fetishistic behaviour such as masochism (sexual arousal from receiving pain), hypoxyphilia (sexual arousal from suffocation and oxygen restriction), and ‘snuff’ fetishes (sexual arousal from seeing someone die). In some cases vorarephilia has been argued to be a variant of macrophilia (i.e., sexual fascination and/or fantasy relating to giants). Most of the fantasies of vorarephiliacs involve the person being the ones being eaten (i.e., the ‘prey’, although a few like to be the ‘pred’ taken from the word ‘predator’). Some vorarephiliacs are known to derive pleasure – sometimes sexual – from watching some animals (e.g., snakes) eating other animals whole.
There have been many different types of vorarephilia documented including ‘hard vore’ and ‘soft vore’. Being primarily fantasy-based, almost any orifice or body part can be capable of vore (e.g., ‘vaginal vore’, ‘anal vore’ and ‘cock vore’). Very briefly:
- Hard vore (sometimes simply called ‘gore’) is where the person is often subjected to horrific injuries and involves lots of blood because of the ripping, cutting, biting, tearing and/or chewing of flesh. It is not typically thought of as either sensually or sexually motivated.
- Soft vore is where the person (that may not necessarily be a willing victim) is consumed alive and whole and is typically unharmed before reaching the stomach but then may be asphyxiated and/or digested. Compared to ‘hard vore’, soft vore is usually seen as more sensual and sexually oriented because of its relatively non-violent nature.
- Female genital vore (vaginal vore) is where the person is consumed by the vagina and taken into the womb (and often referred to as ‘unbirthing’ or a ‘reverse birth’).
- Male genital vore (cock vore) is where the person is consumed by the urethral opening of the penis and taken into the scrotum, prostate, or bladder.
- Anal vore is where the person is consumed by the anus and taken into the rectum, colon, or stomach.
- Breast vore is where the person is consumed by the nipples and taken into the breast.
Here’s a confessional piece I found on a psychology forum discussion group:
“I’m almost 17 now. But since I was really young, I’ve been a phagophile (with a specific interest in being swallowed whole). I’ve had a few girlfriends now, but my present one is by far the most engaging and interesting person I have ever met. She’s the only one I’ve engaged in any real sexual contact with. After meeting her, my interests expanded somewhat; she’s the only person I’ve ever been interested in eating. Fortunately this was impossible, for obvious reasons: I was still thinking in terms of “soft vore”, in which no damage is done to either party. This is where things get difficult. We’ve been together a while now and within the past few weeks, I’ve begun to shift towards “hard vore”. This includes cannibalism: I’ve been attracted especially to biting at her neck, hands, and nose. I feel that I’ve done a good job at communicating this to her, so I haven’t crossed any lines because I’ve controlled myself.”
The motivational driving force underlying vorarephilia is some ways appears to resemble that of sadomasochism from a dominance and submission perspective. Devouring someone could be viewed as the ultimate act of dominance by a predator, and the ultimate act of submission by the prey. Paradoxically, most vorarephiliacs have no real interest in cannibalism, although a few do. Possible vorarephiliacs include the Japanese man (Issei Sagawa) who in 1981 killed and then ate a Dutch woman (Renée Hartevelt), and the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer who killed 17 men and boys and engaged in both cannibalistic and necrophilic acts with his many victims between 1978 and 1991.
However, the most infamous vorarephiliac is arguably the German Armin Meiwes. His case was referred to at length in a 2008 essay in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, by Dr Friedemann Pfafflin (a forensic psychotherapist at Ulm University, Germany). Meiwes, a computer technician, gained worldwide media attention as the ‘Rotenburg Cannibal’ for killing and eating a fellow German male victim (also a computer technician). Meiwes had allegedly been fantasizing about cannibalism since his childhood and frequented cannibal fetish websites and posted around 60 advertisements asking if anyone would like to be eaten by him. Meiwes claimed around 200 men responded to his request but only one finally met face-to-face.
In March 2002, Bernd Jürgen Brandes responded to Meiwes’ advertisement on the Internet. At their one and only meeting at Meiwes’ house, their first cannabilistic act was for Meiwes to bite off Brandes’ penis and then jointly cook and eat it. Brandes then drank lots of alcohol, cough syrup, and took sleeping pills, and was stabbed to death by Meiwes in his bath (and videotaped). The body was then stored and over time, Meiwes ate large amounts of it (about 20 kg). The one aspect that shocked most people was not the fact that Meiwes ate a lot of Brande’s body but that Brandes appeared to consent to being eaten. Email exchanges between Meiwes and Brandes were later shared in the court case:
Brandes: “Thanks for your mail. You really turn me on…Winter with the temperature at around 5 to 15 degrees below freezing is good weather for slaughter. Great to be naked and tied in weather like that and to be driven to the slaughter. Where you then stun me and I collapse. You then hang me up, jerking, and cut my carotid artery. Warm blood flows. Everything goes routinely. I don’t have any chance to escape my slaughter at the last moment. It’s a real turn-on, the feeling of being at your mercy being in your possession. Having to give up my flesh”
Meiwes: “It’ll be awesome, anyway. Your tasty body on show like that. Spicing it…Tying you up will be no problem, I’ve got rope and some cuffs for your hands and feet. I’ll really enjoy the bit with the needles. I’ll see if I can get hold of some really long ones. I can’t wait for you to be here”
It wasn’t until about 18 months after Brande had been killed that the German police started to investigate Meiwes. An Austrian student had seen Meiwes boasting that he had successfully killed and eaten another man. The police then arrested Meiwes and found human body parts in the freezer and the videotape of the killing. In court, Brandes’ consent to being killed was accepted by the jury and Meiwes was given an eight and a half year prison sentence for manslaughter. Neither Meiwes or Brandes were deemed mentally ill by the court appointed psychiatrists. Dr Klaus Beier (Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine, Free and Humboldt-University of Berlin, Germany) was the expert witness who twice provided forensic expertise on Miewes. He said that:
“Armin suffered neither from a psychosis nor any other mental illness or any personality disorder. Quite the contrary, he had a normal IQ and his social competence was high. To everybody who had private or professional contact with him, Armin seemed to be an open-minded and friendly contemporary man who, in the forming of contacts, appeared pleasant-natured, flexible, and socially competent, even agile. Even extremely experienced police officers, who could not believe what he had done, had to put on record that, if they had not known about the offence, Armin M. never offered anything conspicuous during the entire period of investigation.”
A later paper by Dr Beier in response to Dr Pfafflin noted that:
“Before the age of 11 years [Armin] was preoccupied by the idea of incorporating another male by eating his flesh. This paraphilia caused him to seek unsolicited partners who pretended to mirror his desire insofar that they should have the wish of being incorporated. It took him years to find such a counterpart using the frighteningly developed subculture on the internet for that purpose, where people with this special inclination can encourage each other.”
Dr Pfafflin outlined some other cases of German cannibalism including cases he was personally involved in. he said that:
“From my intensive knowledge of both these case histories just referred to, I have no doubt that every form of cannibalism, excepting at most those which happen in times of extreme hunger and whose only purpose is to secure survival, has a pathological, perverse background.”
Little is known about how prevalent this type of behaviour is although Meiwes claimed that based on his internet activity on cannibal fetish websites that there were at least 800 Germans that shared his passion for wanting to eat another person. The number of people that have a desire to be eaten and actually go through with it is likely to be incredibly small – but the internet helped Meiwes locate a willing victim.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Adams, C. (2004). Eat or be eaten: Is cannibalism a pathology as listed in the DSM-IV? The Straight Dope, July 2. Located at: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2515/eat-or-be-eaten
Beier, K. (2008). Comment on Pfafflin’s (2008) “Good enough to eat”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 164-165
Brundage, S. (2002). Fetish confessions. The Wave Magazine 2(15). Located at: http://web.archive.org/web/20070927061721/http://www.thewavemag.com/pagegen.php?articleid=22026&pagename=article
Pfafflin, F. (2008). Good enough to eat. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37, 286-293.
Pfafflin, F. (2009). Reply to Beier (2009). Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 166-167.