Interesting blog about fetish. It starts by categorizing fetish as something to be treated, which I strongly disagree with unless the fetish is really inhibiting someone's life or is endangering others in non-consensual play. The blog goes on to say that fetishes can be incorporated into a "healthy" sex life, with the implication that fetishes are not healthy.
Part of the problem here is that in general people perceive there to be only one way to enjoy your sexual self, in a monogamous usual heterosexual relationship (although this is, thankfully!, changing in a significant way) and for women it has to be a committed one or they are perceived as sluts. Even masturbation, especially for women, still has the connotations of being taboo and naughty.
You know what? All of that is bollocks. The rather wonderful reality is that we each have a variety of different interests and desires, be it preferring strawberry/chocolate/coffee ice creams or hating any and all frozen desserts. You can like or hate rock or classical music, prefer a busy and thrilling nightlife over long active days walking in the sun or vice versa, or any combination of all these things because we each have different tastes. We each have things that make us happy, and this varies between people. So why on Earth should this not also apply sexually? If we can each crave and enjoy particular foods and also dislike certain food with the same fervor, why can this not also be the case for our sexual likes and dislikes? I enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy or romance or horror or any books that help me escape from the world. But that does not make my taste in books any better or worse than someone who enjoys biographies, a type of book I personally, find boring in the extreme.
No one would think to address my book tastes with counseling and treatments to help cure it. It could be considered damaging that I want to indulge my imagination and zone out from reality for a while. And when I become engrossed in a book (in particular any book written by Diana Gabaldon http://www.dianagabaldon.com/) it is addictive, I can't put the damn - and marvelous - thing down and I do not do housework or chores or even sleep properly until I can satisfy myself with the storyline, even carrying the book around the house with me, reading as I walk. Should I check myself in to see a psychiatrist? As far as I am aware, my reading habits are my own business and not registered as a mental health issue.
But yet again, anything involving sexuality comes with a puritanical mindset that there is a right and a wrong way to do things, that anything outside of the "norm" must be indicative of deviancy and in need of treatment. A prime example of this is with homosexuality. There are still people who think this requires treatment (http://narth.com/ - note, this site seems to be one of the more reasonable ones and claims that they accept people who chose to embrace their homosexuality, most of the paper linked seem to have a slightly negative slant, however, and I question the ethics of changing a person to be accepted by society rather than facilitate someone in the acceptance of themselves). Why? When homosexuality is observed in a variety of different animals and is part of our natural heritage (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/07/0722_040722_gayanimal.html), does no harm to anyone when engaged in with a consesual partner and says absolutely nothing about the health or personality of the people who embrace it, should it be vilified as unacceptable by some sectors of society?
Fetishes are a similar example, in my opinion, and like homosexuality have been and still are considered to be outside of "normal". They are another flavor that is available to us to sample if we like or not, as we chose. I am aware that there are individuals who find it hard to become turned on if the fetish is not in place but it is my perception that individuals for whom this becomes problematic are relatively rare in comparison to the number of people who have fetishes that are incorporated into their daily lives and relationships. The definition of paraphilia is "being aroused by factors considered non-standard by mainstream society." and is thus dependent on mob acceptance or rejection or said factors (http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Abnormal_Sexual_Psychology/Definition). Paraphilia is currently considered to be a mental "disorder" and is classified under DSM-IV (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental Disorders, 4th edition) with sadism and masochisms being some of the disorders specifically referenced. It is strange to me why non-harmful sexual practices are considered a mental health issue or that they should in anyway be judged by what society deems acceptable. The National Coalition for Sexual freedom is a worthy cause that is seeking to specifically get this "diagnosis" over-turned (https://ncsfreedom.org/key-programs/dsm-v-revision-project/dsm-v-program-page.html) and deserves support.
[ As a side note, in regard to the AND/OR sexual response difference between men and women, I have yet to be convinced. We all exist on a sliding scale of things that arouse us sexually and I find the concept (of course, I am female and cannot see from the perspective of a male brain, so any men who read this, please feel free to enlighten me) rather strange. I have had several male partners who do not seem to be triggered in the manner suggested by these authors (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/billion-wicked-thoughts/201104/men-women-and-the-software-sexual-desire). I know that anecdotes are not data and so I am asking if this is the experience for men in general? I also find the implication that it is predominantly men who have fetishes to be hilarious and exasperating at the same time. ]
But back to fetish, provided the fetish is not used in a non-consensual manner and only with people who have the ability to consent, then why should it be treated? It would be nice, one day, for people with fetishes to be able to be more open about it without fear of negativity from medical professionals and society at large, without fear of being open about it to people they are in a "healthy" relationship with. So it doesn't work for you? Ok then, don't engage in it, but also don't vilify the people who do so in a responsible manner. The title of the original article is "To each his own: Men and fetishes". I think the author of the article needs to actually engage with that perspective rather than simply have it as a nice catchy title for a predominantly negative and biased essay.
Skeptical kinkster musing on whatever takes my fancy!