Fetish Concept – In religion, in sexuality, in Marxism and more

We explain what a fetish is in various fields. Also, differences with fantasy, paraphilia and examples of sexual fetish.

A fetish is something that provokes devotion, for a person or for a community.

What is a fetish?

By the word fetish is meant, first of all, an idol or divine representation to which supernatural powers are attributed, especially in the primitive cults of the ancestral societies. These objects are usually carried as an amulet or protection against evil, or as objects of power, and their religious veneration is called fetishism.

This term was taken from the Portuguese feitiço (“Spell”) by the French scholar Charles de Brosses, around 1757, and became part of the language of nascent anthropology. From there, however, it was adopted by other disciplines and destined for other references, always related to the idea of ​​the venerated object.

Thus, for example, it was used in the 19th century by the German philosopher Karl Marx (1818-1883), as part of his theory on capitalism, to construct the concept of commodity fetishism (Warenfetischismus). This concept consists of the perception of the economic value of the merchandise as something intrinsic, that is, something that arises from itself, and is alien to the set of interpersonal relationships that produce it and that really give it its value.

In the 20th century, another German philosopher took up the concept of the fetish for a different use, but still in force, which has to do with psychoanalysis. We refer to Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and his notion of sexual fetishism, that is, a form of paraphilia (atypical sexual behavior) in which a part of the person’s body is taken as an object of love, attraction and sexual arousal : feet, for example, or underwear, etc.

Although this last sense is the one that has ended up being imposed historically, the meaning of the word fetish always continues to be that of an object worthy of devotion, be it religious, philosophical or affective.

Sexual fetishism

Sexual fetishism, as we said before, was first described by psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, and is currently considered among the most harmless paraphilias (atypical sexual patterns or behaviors) that exist.

In a broad sense, fetishism consists of obtain erotic arousal and sexual pleasure from contact with a particular object and specific, often a part of the body of a person or a garment, or objects of another nature. The sexual pleasure obtained by coming into contact with the object (touching it, smelling it, feeling it against the skin, etc.) can even cause orgasm without the need for intercourse of any kind.

Fetishism is classified as a disease in psychiatric manuals when it is a recurrent and essential behavior for sexual arousal, capable of damaging the social or work life of the individual. Otherwise, it is considered simply one more manifestation of your sexuality.

Fetish, fantasy and paraphilia

In the sexual sphere, fetishes are, as we have said, objects that arouse sexual arousal and that can, by themselves, lead the fetishist individual to orgasm, replacing traditional intercourse. Nowadays, however, fetishism (objects) is usually distinguished from partialism (parts of the body), both considered different paraphilias.

In that sense, fetishism is considered among the paraphilias, which are atypical sexual behaviors; but there is no consensus as to where to draw the line between an original or simply creative sexuality, and properly a “deviation” (a term that is no longer in use). Typical cases of paraphilias are considered zoophilia, pedophilia or necrophilia, all three of which are very frowned upon socially and some are even punishable by law.

Instead, a sexual fantasy is a mental scenario that arouses excitement or that is erotic for an individual. Everyone has sexual fantasies, which can either be feasible situations (such as threesomes or sexual orgies) or unrealizable situations that deserve to be simulated or represented (often through costumes).

Examples of sexual fetishes

Some of the most common sexual fetishes are:

  • Retifism, the fetishistic interest in shoes, possibly as an even more deviant form of attraction for the feet, which takes the object for the part of the body and the latter for the whole body. Its name comes from the French writer Nicolas Edme Restiff de la Bretonne (1734-1806), one of the first to describe this paraphilia.
  • Underwear fetishism, generally feminine and generally used. It is a very common fetish, which encompasses both bras or bras, as well as pantyhose or panties. In some countries, such as Japan, there is even a flourishing trade in used panties for fetish use.
  • Latex fetish, specifically the clothes of this material, or the interaction with people dressed with them. It is a form of PVC fetishism (plastics), close to the fetishism for leather clothing, and is often called “rubberism” (from the English rubber, “Rubber”).
  • Coprophilia, the sexual arousal in the face of feces and excrements, generally of the desired person or of some specific origin, in different appearances and contexts.
  • Dendrophilia, the fetishistic interest in trees, plants and plant life in general, whether it is complete plants or fruits, many of them with phallic shape (similar to the penis), or also the use of flowers to caress the body with sexual purposes.