Monday, November 24, 2008
Fetishism, retifism and cross dressing
There is a school of thought which supports the belief fetishism has been around for thousands of years whereas others contend it is a recent developed to modern Western society. Fetishism as we recognise it today appeared in Europe in the eighteen century and crystallised as a distinct sexual phenomenon in the second half of the nineteenth century. Sexual behaviours including preferences are in part governed by biological factors and fetishism seems to be a product of both history and nature. At present there is no satisfactory explanation why fetishism is more common among males then females. It has been postulated the higher incidence of males is more than likely due to generic, hormonal or evolutionary causes.
Fetishism has been described as a continuum of behaviour which varies in intensity from partial to; to completely obsessed by. Steele (1996) described four stages.
Level 1: Partialism (Stekel,1964)
A mild preference for certain kinds of sexual partners, sexual stimuli or sexual activity. Not a true fetish but instead a liking towards.
Level 2: Low intensity fetishism
A strong preference exists to certain kinds of sexual partners, sexual stimuli or sexual activity. Normal sexual relationships continue but may incorporate the object of attraction in foreplay.
Level 3: Moderate intensity fetishism
Specific stimuli are necessary for sexual arousal and sexual performance.
Level 4: High level fetishism (Gebhartt, 1994)
Specific stimuli take the place of the sexual partner.
Shoe fetishists (retifists) are similar in principle to foot fetishists but their stimulus i.e. the shoes, becomes the total focus for arousal. Some shoe fetishists need only the shoe and not the person to be satisfied. Others will incorporate a shoe within their normal coital habits but to the true shoe fetishist complete satisfaction is impossible unless a shoe is involved.
Flugel (1930) described the phenomena where clothes could not only arouse sexual interest but in themselves symbolise the sex organs. Because the shoe becomes the erogenous zone then lovemaking incorporates all that would take place around genitalia. i.e. kissing, licking, biting and caressing. The delicate parts of the shoe resemble to the shoe fetishist the anatomy of genitalia. Even the aroma of the shoe has powerful aphrodisiac properties. The heel seems to represent the phallus and is an aspect often favoured.
Retifists usually collect women's shoes and appear to have exquisite taste for elegant style. Retifists often personalise their collection by giving names to their favourite shoes. Possession of shoes is important to the retifist and in cases of paraphilia, the man may steal the shoes they are attracted to. Theft from shops is common as is robbery from private property.
Retifists report less success in convincing partners to comply with their fantasies and hence use sex workers. The term "bootman" is used in the sex industry to describe such a client. In the majority of cases, a person with a shoe fetish poses no danger to others and pursues the use of the fetish object in private, usually through masturbation.
Shoe fetishists are not always sexually motivated and may just enjoy wearing woman's shoes. Many cross dressers for example are made aware of their attraction to female clothes when, as young children, they innocently witness sisters and other female members of the family, dressing. After all it is perfectly natural to have countless fittings before a special occasions such school balls and weddings. The female preparation in these circumstances is far more complex and intimate than males. These sessions would hold strong erotic attraction for any sensitive youth. Shoes complete the outfit and can only be appreciated at the end of the fitting sessions. Viewed with other accessory clothing shoes hold a provocative attraction. and under certain circumstances, some males are compelled to wear women's shoes. Terms like feeling sexy, appearing attractive to others, and exuding power in stature, are popular reasons for the habit. Some men love the sound high heeled shoes make and others revel in the different materials they are made from. Most wearers insist it is the comfort which draws them to wearing women's shoes and not the idea of the shoe as a sexual object.
Flugel JC 1930 The psychology of clothes International Universities Press: London.
Gebhard P 1969 Fetishism and sado-masochism Science and Psychoanalysis 15 71-80.
Steele V. 1996 Fetish: Fashion, sex and power New York; Oxford University Press.
Stekel W 1964 Sexual Aberrations NY: Grove Press Inc.