Fetishism and Empathy

It’s come to my attention that many of my fans don’t really understand what a fetish is, and where the word comes from, or whether they even have one. So let’s go back to basics and talk about definitions and origins. The origin of the word fetish I first came across in art school when I took a few classes in African Art. A fetish in African Art is a ritualistic sculpture, mask, or other artwork that was used in ceremony. They were also used to bind communities together in African societies.

Nkondi Nail Fetish

The fetish is an object imbued with supernatural powers and that adds a sense of magic, mystery, and celebration to a ritual.

African art is known to be extremely vibrant, powerful, dynamic, and creative, and many modern artists such as Picasso liberally stole from it in order to create art that changed the nature of art as we know it, but I digress.

From Dictionary.com:

Fetish. [ fet-ish, fee-tish ]noun

  1. an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency.
  2. any object, idea, etc., eliciting unquestioning reverence, respect, or devotion: to make a fetish of high grades.
  3. Psychology. any object or nongenital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.

Wikipedia describes a fetish as a manmade object designed to have power over others. Complicating this term is the fact that Africans, of course, did not use create it, it was adopted by Europeans who doubtless derided and misunderstood the use of ritual objects, much as many misunderstood the use of statues and images in Indian art and pagan cultures as idol worship. Capitalism also plays a role in the trade in African art and the alienation of the magical object from its original purpose.

In this way, European cultures came to view a fetish as a fascination with an object that is given undue, even sacrilegious worship . So in the development of psychological awareness of human sexual fetishes, we can see this misapprehension is translated into foot fetishes, shoe fetishes, pantyhose fetishes and so in, indefinitely.

One can perceive a tone of judgement from psychiatrists here as well, a sense of the “perverse” or “inappropriate” where something out of the norm is given undue attention, obsession, or reverence.

Classifying people who have sexual fixations in the same category as a whole culture who is also perceived to be fixated on the wrong thing, an object, instead of a one true God, is misunderstanding both the fetishist and African culture.

Regardless, this is how the term developed, problematic as it may be. A fetish has come to indicate a sexual obsession or fixation without which, the fetish-haver cannot experience satisfaction. There are gradations of fetishism, of course, as with sexual orientation and gender. One fetishist can absolutely not orgasm if he is not fantasizing about a giantess or jerking off to giantess porn. Fetishism is only considered to be a psychological disorder if it causes distress in the fetishist, or according to some, if it interferes with normal functions, but as a fetish performer, I would stress the former. If a person is content with only having sex with vacuum cleaners, who am I to judge? It is similar to a person whose only love in life is to collect knickknacks, is this a disorder? Others may think so but if it brings them joy, more power to them, in my mind.

As Joseph Campbell says, “follow your bliss.”

That’s what I think we should all do in life, shamelessly, as long as it doesn’t harm others. If others feel hurt because you aren’t conforming to their expectations, however, then they aren’t minding their own business and they shouldn’t be a concern. However, I do encourage fetishists to find community and life authentic lives in order to be mentally healthy and have a satisfying and full existence. I encourage you to find a partner or a friend you can share your secret with so you don’t feel so alone. I think many rely on sex workers for this, and I do treasure that I get to share in this very private, secret part of people, it is quite special and also fascinating.

For another fetishist, his fetish is simply one of many interests and although it may be his favourite, he can climax easily with his girlfriend and doesn’t even think of his fetish while in bed with her. For the psychologist however, the true definition of a diagnosable fetish would be someone who cannot enjoy sex without it. In this way, it could become a problem for many people, perhaps standing in the way of an enjoyable relationship.

In my 18 year career as a sex worker, I’ve encountered fetishists of all kinds. There aren’t many fetishes I haven’t heard of or catered to in some form, whether in roleplay, in a porn video or texting session. Not much phases me anymore, to be honest, and often the more bizarre the better, since it’s hard to shock or surprise me now, but of course I have my own limits and preferences.

This brings me to a question I am often asked by my fans. Do I share your fetish for balloons? Am I truly mad about the sneezing fetish? Do I get wet when I tell you to sniff my pantyhose?

My answer may surprise you. I do, actually, at least for a time. Let me introduce you to another word you may have heard of but don’t understand. I am an empath. Now this is a new term of dubious origins (ever watch Star Trek the Next Generation?), but people like me have always existed, we make up a small but not minuscule part of the population. We are those hyper-sensitive people who care so much about others, their pain makes us cry. We care for the downtrodden, animals in need, people in crisis around the world. We feel deeply when we see beauty, and our sensitivity can often bring us pain but also a lot of joy. We feel what others feel, sometimes to our detriment. We are your artists, your musicians, often your nurses or volunteers. We are your kind and selfless relatives and friends. What does this have to do with your fetish, you may ask? Quite a lot.

When I read your custom video request or fantasy, I can get in your head. I can perceive what turns you on about your kink. I can empathize. I can be the fetishist, for that moment that I’m reading your story or performing your video or sexting with you.

I do get wet, usually, and I can see what you like about it. There are some limits of course, when things go beyond the pale of my boundaries and I just can’t get into it, but by and large, this is true.

This has become quite long so I will add my thoughts on what the difference is between a fetish and a kink at a later date.

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