The Need for a Safe Place for Sexual Fetishists
Your essay will include the following three elements:
1. Describe the community and individuals: What you include in your description will depend on the community chosen. In general, consider these areas. What is the community? What is its purpose? What are its boundaries, how is it constructed, and how do people become members (for example, a medical diagnosis, addiction, or commitment to a way of thinking or a practice)? What issues, themes, or problems are they addressing? What are the principles, rules, or norms that govern group membership? What makes them deviant or abnormal and why are they regarded this way?
As discussed below, I am also interested in the lived experiences of deviant individuals. While it is impossible for us to really get “inside” the heads of group members, attempt to offer (if possible, based on the materials you have available) a brief description of what it is like to have the condition or be a member of the group (or how they represent being “deviant”). Explore the experiences and what happens to people who exhibit the characteristics of this classification or categorization. How might deviant labels shape people’s identities and life chances? How does being a member of this group influence people’s interactions, relationships, emotional health or well-being? How do people make sense of being in this group? For example, if you are studying drug use, how to people manage and make sense of their own drug use. You might also explore the range of punishments and treatments associated with being a member of that group (such as arrest for drug use). Concepts that we discussed in class, such as sick roles, medicalization, stigma, labelling, and moral entrepreneurs are useful concepts to work with.
You should reference some of the readings and lectures from class, and show evidence or insights from discussion and other material in your writing. You are required to find at least 5 additional outside sources, either from the anthropology and/or the medical/psychiatric literature, on the identity/condition/community/practice you are writing about.
2. Analysis of Forum Members’ Narrartives of their Own Experience: The direction that your analysis can go is quite broad and dependent on the community you choose. Your analysis will likely be embedded within or closely connected to the descriptive materials discussed above. What I do want you to consider is the “discourse”that is, what they talk about and how they talk about it.
Look for and describe “themes” that regularly appear in their discussions, representations of life, and other postings. A theme might be, for example, a unique perception of gender, sexuality, desire, relationship to power or authority figures, methods of resistance, moral values, methods of public representation, or claims of authenticity. What sorts of metaphors seem to structure the way they talk about their identity/practice/condition? What are the dominant issues and conversations people are having? How do people present their own experiences, and respond to those of others?
As you read posts and other materials significant patterns or themes will arise. Take note of these and record examples. In your essay, describe a set of the common themes you found and use examples or quotes from your community to support your analysis. Finally, what does your analysis of this community tell you about the culture(s) (or subcultures) they come from? Think about the topics we have covered throughout the semester and you will likely see some connections to the narrative.
3. Analysis of Social Factors: Also, be sure to discuss peoples’ experience in reference to the larger cultural and social contexts and forces that seem to be shaping them. Discuss the role of their larger context in which they live. For example, is the environment or social structure a possible factor that plays some role? Did people experience discrimination? Was work and making a living interrupted? Is their condition medicalized in some way? How had this community or identity changed over time? Is this a new “kind of person” (a la Hacking)? If so, what are some of the social forces that seem to have contributed into its emergence? These are just some examples of the many directions that your narrative might go.
The Need for a Safe Place for Sexual Fetishists
Technology has become more and more cheap, easy to use and susceptible (Bocij, 2004, p.106). It is thus not astonishing that more people are inferring from this state of affairs to utilise the technology to pursue their different practices since they can hide their identities from others, costume their acts and annihilate all implicating attestation towards them (Bocij, 2004, p.106). The fact that their real identity can’t be exposed, sexual fetishists feel covered as they explore their fantasies thus learning more about themselves and others like them. These individuals’ couple into small clusters which may, over time, grow into large groups. These groups then find it necessary to form their forum in which they can experience a sense of ease as they share their experiences and opinions- away from the casual society they reside in. One of such forums is the Fetlife.com.
Fetlife.com is a global platform. The site comprises of persons who are subject to the simple erotic acts of Bondage and Discipline or dominance and submission or sadomasochism fetishism (involving kinky and sensual acts together with the mindset of domineering or waiving domination) to the very extreme ones. Here, the members share their feelings, opinions and experiences on erotic fantasies they have undergone or desire to undergo-freely. Membership and admission into the forum are free. Individuals are driven to this site on their quest for easiness and agency in their alienated societal inclinations. There is no limit of the uncensored content to post/publish on the different forum subtopics on the members. The conference is devised in such a manner as to create conversations on a topic displayed by a member. The other members come in and post their opinions and experiences on the same while offering support and encouragement to each other at the same time. The members tackle each sexual fetishism either as an isolated case or relating to another or a real life instance. Members are allowed to post nude pictures of themselves, upload scenes of sexual acts, erotic scenes images and any other graphic material they feel they would want other members to view and probably comment on.
In pursuit of acclamation, the members post to the most extreme of the lewd acts they perform either by themselves or with their partners. Each image or video posted receives its separate comments from the members on how they view the scene. The response can be either negative or positive. The member who posted then respond to each comment at free-will. The members, since all view the entire chat, can then assess on their own on how the scene could or could not be appropriate for them. They then can go ahead and try the same in consideration that if the act induces pain to the doer or the partner, then the action is harmful and should be shunned (Sofeminine, 2012). The members of the forum on general exhibit signs of sexual dissatisfaction and an imminent down-reaching craving for heightened sexual arousal and concurrent climax. Members enjoy a pool of celebration for the erotic scenes they post from their counterparts who fancy what they see the member has done. Sexual life for the members revolves around trying new ways to achieve the craved heightened sexual instances and perfecting on the ones they already practice.
Membership and Admission
Cutting across the forum is the prominent subject of sexual satisfaction. Sexual pleasure is the “feeling of satisfaction rising from the high concordance of corporeal and emotive scopes of sensual life with the already done norms of the discrete” (Yekta, Raisi, Ebadi and Shahvari, 2015). This subject tends to assume the dominant bearing of approximately 98% of the posts present on the forum. Members continuously question the societal view of their respective sexual inclination and are relentless in expressing their desire to be allowed to do as they please without care of what the others (the general society) think of them or their actions. One member-alias ‘little_tn_sub’ expresses this desire saying;
“…Wouldn’t it be nice if all of us weren’t afraid of what others thought, and could let go of our inhibitions? Why is it that we let others dictate how we live our lives? I hear, “I can’t do that. What if my friends found out? What if my family discovered…Is living my life affecting anyone?... or is it their narrow views that shackle their lives? We decided just to be ourselves and experience things that interest us…”
Members hold in high regard scenes of heightened lewd acts regardless of how mad, extreme or perverse they may seem to the discerning eye. Instances where one partner in a sex act is subjected to some form of constraining for their pleasure or the associate(s)’ are appreciated and approved by the members with those who can’t experience the same showing great desire to enjoy such a ‘privilege’. Another member-alias ‘Lumandy’ responds to a post of this type saying; “…will always stay in fantasy land for me. But I enjoyed reading this. It is a brilliant piece for those of us who are curious about them. Thank you for sharing! ...”
The members at Fetlife.com consistently portray an unrepentant response to fellow members posts that displease them in one way or the other. These posts can be termed as extremely gloss with an unfathomable, disgusting display of a final sensual scenes- to the casual eye, but which in this case was another fetishist who responded in that manner. On such an instance, a member responds by saying; “…your… is yellow… mine is white, yuck!”
As the reader goes through the member’s profiles, one quickly identifies a unifying factor in most of them- the search for approval. The members clearly indicate how they felt/viewed themselves before they joined the forum and how they are currently feeling about themselves. They tell a great discrepancy of then and now. On such an instance, a member alias ‘HarleyQuinn4him’ profile reads; “…I struggled with how I view myself and never have seen myself as sexy or something that others would enjoy looking at. This site has helped with that and has given me more courage and has made me want to push myself farther…”. On the other hand, new members’ profiles exhibit a similar story telling of the high hopes they have to be accepted, approved and lavished in a way to escape the desolation they feel in the outer world. Although the forum welcomes members on a global scale, the majority of the members active on the forum are the resident of the Unites States of America.
The Prominence of Sexual Satisfaction
Sexual fetishism can be rooted in the society. The past experiences of the fetishist can reveal an instance in their individual life that can be identified as the source of the fetishist sexual inclination in his/her current life. A member narrates how she had been heavily restricted by her mother- who was married, from any association with any male. Early in her teens, she spotted an assortment of objects inside her mother’s bed-drawer which she was later to discover that they were a collection of sex toys. After some time, in her late teenage, she too acquires her set too but opted to add more to the assortment so as to have more than her mother. Over time, she would compare with her mother’s and add more toys to her collection as she deemed necessary. She had used these toys for several years before her mother came to know of them. She was utterly shocked- but the damage had been done. The mother decided to dispose of them together with hers, but it was too late since she (the member) had assimilated the toys to be part of her life and could not live without them. Several other members indicate clearly that their needs are paramount to them thus they continually move in the direction that favors their sexual desires regardless of the consequences facing them from the society they live in (Gonzales, 2011).
The members of this and similar other forums are people who live with us in our society. It is laden upon us to fathom that their sexual urges/compulsions are usually indocile to participate in a certain form of sexual behavior. The internet has become increasingly well-suited to cater for the needs and offer an escape to the deviant behavior in the society (McDonald, 2009). With the extent to which these online forums affect the life of the deviants in the society remaining unknown (McDonald et al., 2009) it’s only prudent for us (the society) to handle these with care, love and the respect they deserve.
Bocij P. (2004). Cyberstalking: Harassment in the Internet Age and how to Protect Your Family.
Sofeminine (2012). The Beginners guide to BDSM.
Findahl O. (2014). The Swedes and the internet 2014; An annual study of the Swedish people's internet habits.
Gonzales R.D.S (2011). Comprehensive Analysis on Human Sexuality.
Yekta P.Z., Raisi F., Ebadi A. and Shahvari Z. (2015). Canadian Centre of Science and Education; Sexual Satisfaction Concept Analysis in Iranian Married Women: A Hybrid Model Study.
McDonald H.S., Horstmann N., Strom K.J., and Pope M.W., (2009). Institute for Homeland Security Solutions; The Impact of the Internet on Deviant Behavior and Deviant Communities.
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