One year. 100 articles. So we're having a Reader's Party. Come along to Upsidecrown.
Hit Me Baby, One More Time
19 March 2001
It isn't beyond the realm of possibility that the way it happens is one day he sees a woman stepping on a snail and (unconsciously recalling that long Summer when he was six watching his beloved mother stomping on the beasts on the patio) thinks: "My goodness, that's what I've been missing all these years," shortly followed by, "I'd better go to the bathroom. I wonder where the handcream is?"
The socialisation and sexualisation of young adults in the Western world is well documented and in the main pretty well understood. Whilst socialisation occurs constantly from the first point of contact with other human beings, the emergence of sexuality is a little more complex: The subtle interplay of media and peer pressure, the slow progression into adulthood, quiet sexual play through the teens -- all of this is dwarfed completely by televised pornography, dirty magazines found in skips, and pissed fumblings in the park (or, in the case of Americans: MTV, a box of Kleenex, and massive sublimated guilt that is liable to explode at any time in a shower of bullets).
The love that dare not speak its name simply doesn't need to because it's used every week or two as a prime-time tv ratings grabber.
Where fetishes come from is all-together more complicated. There are four general classes of fetish, each with a different method of initiation.
Typified by the "Hm, that looks about the right size to..."; "I wonder what happens if I stick this..."; "I'm all alone in the house and it suddenly seems a good idea to try using that stuff to smear my..." comment, this is the least controversial and often tamest fetish.
Being, as it is, the most common and spur-of-the-moment, this is the type the would be fetishist is most likely to be caught engaging in. While a curtain ring and a tub of low-fat spread seem awfully appealing when washing the car is the only alternative, there's going to be a sudden realisation that more planning would have been wise when Significant Other is walking through the front door ten minutes later.
Ironically being the most common it's also the most understood by the general public, and is often a fall-back excuse used by those caught out in the second category.
Secondly: Deliberate sexual experiments have to be brought about in some way, and the vector in this case is usually some unknown third party. A newspaper article, a close-to-the-edge Cosmopolitan article, a chance joke remark by a friend in the pub can all trigger a "Sounds interesting. I'll try anything once, twice if I like it" internal response. Low-level bondage, hetero anal sex, sober pre-planned group sex all fall into this category.
Unhappily, internally probing bodily orifices with foreign objects be they mobile telephones (vibrate alert a must) or small furry animals is something that should only be attempted with practice. Or at least give it a go with something that could plausibly be found in the shower so the hurried "um naked, um soap, um tripped over" explanation is slightly believable.
People are very good at detecting when a category one excuse is used with a category two fetish, mainly because people spend most of their lives pondering category ones (which is why you should never ever use your grandmother's hairbrush, especially for that).
Introduction to the third level of sexual delights has to be through a close acquaintance or - in this modern age - through the detailed resource that is the internet.
Although it's possible to find a habit here individually (touching feet at shoeshops, silently masturbating at work in front of the whole office), building up a large collection of high-heeled shoes or a well stocked dungeon takes monetary investment and practice to stop things going wrong. It's widely believed that Jesus died on the cross because he forgot his safe word.
Quite how the initial conversation in the pub progresses is not well known.
- You know, I was reading the other day about these guys who get turned on by really fat women eating shit.
- How horrible. I could never do that.
- I dunno. I can see how people might possibly, if they had nothing else to do, like it.
- Well quite. In fact, I've got some videos. And a stiffy.
- Shall we start an email list?
The fourth and final category of fetish is also the least understood. These are the new fetishes, the bizarre fetishes. The ones that if you belonged to the (very small, spread out, and never having met) community, a full third would be students taking the piss; another third under-cover police not quite knowing whether to report this higher up or not; and only a third genuine full-blood perverts.
A potential initiate is hardly going to stumble upon a support group this small. There aren't magazines. Television stations for something this far off the self-beating track do not exist. How a person realises that all they really want is to be eaten or crushed by a giantess is not by tuning in to Fe Fi Fo FM. This is a solitary fetish, a long lonely road.
So how does a man at the age of 45 realise that the one thing in the world that makes him harder than rock and randier than his 14 year old son is watching a complete stranger crush snails underfoot with pointed stilettoes? What event can be so life defining? Alas we can only guess.
And with that, we return to where we began.