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Gert Hekma

Subject Sociology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


A fetish is a more or less concrete object of sexual desire. It can be a part of the body, an object, a situation, or some abstraction. Breasts, buttocks, feet, hair, and genitals belong to the parts of the body; clothing, shoes, whips, dildos, uniforms, cars, or specific materials such as leather, silk, satin, velvet, and rubber are possible objects; situations can be cinemas, saunas, dark rooms, dinner tables, beaches, or prison cells; and more abstract examples of fetishism include youth, beauty, hospitality, power, submission, and humiliation. Ultimately, any part of the body, object, situation, or abstraction can become a fetish and, on the other hand, all sexual pleasure depends on fetishes. Naming or reading the word can be as exciting as the object to which it refers. The term fetish comes from religion studies. The Portuguese named an object of African religious veneration a feticao , an object bestowed with surplus value ( McClintock 1993 ; Nye 1993 ; Pettinger 1993 ). Karl Marx used the term in this sense for his economic theory, and in 1888 the French scholar Alfred Binet used it for the sexual theory he expounded in “Le Fétichisme dans l'amour.” In the 1880s, which saw the beginnings of sexology, Binet asked why people had obsessive desires for nightcaps or women's ponytails. According to him, the coincidental association of sexual excitement and remarking a certain ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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