The global musical hit Kinky Boots is currently on show in the Helsinki City Theater. Through Broadway to all around the World, the story of Kinky Boots is based on a British movie with the same title, which was inspired by a true story about Divine Footwear – a brand that manufactured feminine fetish shoes for manly feet.

In that story, a young yuppie Charlie Price reluctantly inherits a family business – a shoe factory which turns out to be at the brink of bankruptcy. Charlie, who had aimed to live in London, is forced to return to his small hometown of Northampton. The unexpected heavy responsibility and an equally unexpected drag queen friend, Lola, turn Charlie’s life plans upside down and force him to make his own path.

I got to experience Kinky Boots on September 21st at the large stage of Helsinki City Theater and I was completely blown away. Although let it be known that I’m not exactly a devourer of musicals. The last musical experiences I’ve had were The Lion King (The Lyceum Theatre, London) and The West Side Story (Jyväskylä City Theater, Finland) when I was still in elementary school. However based on these references I dare to claim that Finnish musical theater is no longer out shined by big city productions.

Technical mastery and the depth of experience go hand in hand

The technical execution of Kinky Boots was something incredible and I would like to point out immediately, that this was largely due to the basics that were refined to perfection. Technical matters like lights, sounds, hi-fi, scenes, set mobility and carefully thought out actor positioning were all top class.

I really believe that the ambitious perfecting of these technical aspects and the illusion of effortlessness it creates are a powerful way to enchant the viewer. The unbelievable flow of large entities and appropriately dispensed flood of stimuli spanned a space in which I could give up the role of an external observer and become a true experiencer and allow the artistic contents of the play really touch and change myself.

Even though I’m generally open, I tend to keep my guard in situations in which everyone but I knows the plot. By doing so I protect myself from feeling unsafe and getting bamboozled or scared. To my surprise, it only took the opening song of Kinky Boots for me to lower my guard and let my mental safety line between the stage and audience to fade away. This was largely thanks to many background workers I couldn’t see on the stage directly.

Alongside the outstanding technical work the second factor responsible for the Broadway-like atmosphere was of course the amazing musical spectacles. Each performer was highly skilled and their voices remained clean and flawless through the awesome choreographies while the band played each song with piety where a precise and clean touch and soulful and joyous jamming were simultaneously present.

Both lead singers had strong and powerful voices that really fit their characters. Charlie’s (Petrus Kähkönen) voice was clean and chaste like a shoe made by his father, whereas Lola (Lauri Mikkola) was able to channel her holistic drag essence all the way to her voice.

Even with all this praising, I was still most impressed by the group songs where 30 people at best seemed to be doing their own thing while contributing to the whole at the same time. By using the space and the set in inventive ways the group choreographies communicated the central messages of the songs and filled the whole theater with their energy. I could only sit still in awe of how all the pieces fell in their places while the soul filled sound wall pressed me against my seat.

The musical beat the movie

As a story Kinky Boots made a much better musical than a movie. I saw the film some five or six years ago and it didn’t make much of an impression then. The characters were left superficial, the drama felt forced and the ending was cheesy like a pizza-pastry.

On stage, in the swings and tensions of the musical, the characters were much more clearly defined by their presence. The story, which isn’t all that special alone, was just simple enough to be carried by the songs. The songs also described the characters and their relationships in creative and touching ways that were never there in the movie. Also the naive aspects of the story and the predictable ending were totally forgivable in the context of a musical.

The greatest merit of the musical version was the way it spoke to the audience. It brought home the messages but never in a lecturing tone. As a whole Kinky Boots was a carnival of love and humanity that could not have blossomed the way it did, if it was restrained by a too intensive plot.

All in all Kinky Boots was a phenomenal and unique experience and I give it full points, no matter the scale.

At the lobby of theater everyone can take their pic in kinky boots! Highly recommended!

Meta reflections of a boot fetishist

The actual review ended in the previous part. Now I thought I’d ponder some thoughts that Kinky Boots invoked in me.

The point of view of a fetishist is always biased by the fetish. The word “biased” sounds awfully strong and negative, but I’m talking about any kind of imbalance, be it positive or negative. Here are some of the thoughts that sparked in the mind of a boot fetishist.

Kinky Boots discusses the significance of shoes to a person. It labels three different points on the continuum of attitudes:

  1. “It’s merely a shoe” – indifferent or at most a pragmatic attitude, that doesn’t glaze the shoe with significances other than its practical purpose.
  2. “The most beautiful thing in the World” – elevating the aesthetic value of a shoe side by side its practical value. In the story these words actually refer to the Price & Son shoes that are not portrayed beautiful in anyone else’s but Mr. Price’s conservative sense of aesthetics. But that’s irrelevant. What really matters is whether a person is generally willing to recognize and cherish the aesthetic value of a shoe.
  3. ” Two and a half feet of irresistible tubular sex ” – the mental image of high-heeled thigh-high boots painted by Lola. Indulging a mental image like this is a sign of an attitude that highlights the symbolic value of a shoe on the expense of practicality to the very extreme. These boots are made for walking as well, but above all they capture one’s attention, provoke, excite!

This probably seems like a peculiar way to analyze other people’s thoughts but I’ve actually used a scale more or less like this in my youth, when I’ve tried to probe whether another person thinks the way I do. The way we speak about a matter always reveals how we see it, what significances it bears to us and what emotions it invokes.

It’s amazing and on the other hand sad how different the World seems depending on what we treasure and cherish. We humans tend to glaze the objective reality with layers of significances, but what kind of glazings -interpretations of reality, that is – we expect from other people is largely cultural and bound to people’s roles.

Coming from my manly roles in life, earlier I felt it was impossible for me to talk about boots as a fascinating subject that invokes strong emotions. So I hid my passion and tried to talk about them as indifferently as I would talk about crackers or paperweights. Though, at the same time I still tried to survey other people’s attitudes and emotions about clothing in would-be-neutral initiatives.

So I have always cautiously tried to probe whether the people I talk with could understand how boots have such a special place in my heart. In the environment of my youth I didn’t meet but depressing indifferent attitudes. At times I might have discussed the topic superficially with some lady friends. In the light of traditional gender roles that was less awkward than trying to get something out of the grunting boys around me. But those discussions never became more than small-talk. The gap to bridge from recognizing the aesthetic value of boots to discussing a strong sexual fetish was simply too long.

I ended up telling some of my closest friends about my fetish but it was merely socially awkward self-centered unraveling that didn’t lead into much deeper discussions. And how could it have? My friends were probably as tangled in the strings of their own emotional lives as I was back then. Discussions only ever emerged of topics to which both parties could actually relate.

Back then I thought that opening up was a brave thing to do but the tendency to conform socially was also strong in me. Thus I never dared to imagine that I could follow this unusual passion of mine further in life. I’ve only learned to question social norms as an adult and I’ve been able to let go of the self-sabotaging inner voices of critique only in the past few years.

As liberating as this openness is for me now, I’m disappointed in myself at the same time for not having the courage to follow my passions earlier. I could have been exemplary and brave, but in my insecurities I ended up enforcing the culture of bullying, where following one’s unusual passions is always nerdy and weird and results in mockery. Lola from Kinky Boots and others who have followed their hearts bravely always make me reflect on this.

Better late than never, as the saying goes. Now that I’m more aware of myself and my environment, this blog is the least I can do. Now I am finally brave enough to follow Lola’s example: no more awkward splutter but saying it like it is. Not only painting mental images but becoming visible as I am. Provocative? Only if our idea of being human is so narrow that we are unable to publicly admit that we are sensitive, complex and sensuous creatures.

About shame and acceptance

In one of the most important scenes of the musical Charlie and Simon discuss about their relationships with their fathers and about letting the people close to you down by following your own passions instead of meeting their expectations. The scene touched me in profound way.

I have come face to face with this theme after coming out of the closet. It has been exceptionally difficult, because the shame I feel about my fetishism is at its greatest with the people who have known me for a long time. With some of them it has been almost mortifying to admit that I am a different person than I’ve pretended to be and that I’m so into boots, dress up, make up and other things culturally typed as feminine.

Most of all I’ve been ashamed about how great sensations boots can invoke in me. It has made me feel vulnerable and faulty. The shame about this fetish has been much greater than the shame I’ve endured for breaking the gender expectations by cross dressing or for my love of power exchange. I believe this is because my boot fetish is a founding piece of my sexuality while these other tendencies have developed as a result of it.

The scene ends as Charlie hugs Simon and says “Let’s make boots”. In that moment I felt like Simon who is being caressed both physically and mentally. That line was especially significant for me because in my years of being closeted the word “boots” has become a trigger that gets me on my toes thinking “NOBODY IS SUSPECTING ANYTHING NOW?! ARE THEY?!” I’ve tried to work on this by consciously using the words “boots” and “fetish” whenever I can so that I wouldn’t stumble around the subject anymore.

I acknowledge I constantly crave for the sensation of total acceptance that scene sparked in me. It’s probable that my craving for acceptance will never end, not even if all my loved ones poured their love on me at once. The black hole created by my past is simply to big. Luckily, with practice, I’m able to turn that craving into productive activities such as this blog. By being myself more and more courageously I can also meet my emotional needs myself.

Thus I’ve decided to make boots and the fetish style I love my own thing and keep living according to Lola’s 6 step program:

  1. Pursue the truth.
  2. Learn something new.
  3. Accept yourself and you’ll accept others.
  4. Let love shine.
  5. Let pride be your guide.
  6. You’ll change the world when you change your mind.

Red is the color of sex and fear and danger and signs that say, ‘Do Not Enter.’ All of my favorite things in life!” – Lola. This is my Jessica Rabbit styled Kinky Boots look. Red, from head to toe!

From transforming myself to transforming the World

I believe Lola would have my back when I say deep down we’re all fetishists. Like I said before, we humans add layers of significance to everything we experience and do – sex, sexuality and gender included.

When I’m asked, I usually describe fetishism as being significance-centered: conscious and unconscious indulging of the glazings we ourselves add to different things. After all, what else could we – intelligent but extremely susceptible and sensitive beings – do?

It would be only reasonable that the proper words that describe this human activity would find their way to our everyday vocabulary – our way of structuring thoughts and actions. It might just be that we’d become more self-aware. At least that’s the way it has worked with me.

Experience has taught me to lead by example. That’s why I seek to be the change I want to see in the world. Superficially I can momentarily transform into a woman and play around with sexuality and gender. But when I do so, I reflect into my environment a much larger inner transformation that has happened in me over the years. That transformation is about openness, courage, acceptance and love and my gorgeous boots are the symbol of it all.

Even if I got critique about what I do on the outside, I know it’s usually about something else. It’s about a desperate cry of social power structures we’ve given in to all our lives even though silently we’ve known for a long while that there are no logical or ethical grounds for maintaining them.

The screaming red high-heeled thigh-high boots of mine may be too much for those structures. But if something crumbles under the weight of love and truth, it deserves to crumble. May each knock of my heels be a crushing blow to the very foundations of those structures.

These boots are made for walking
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

-Nancy Sinatra

I published this website in April 2018 and simultaneously put out the three texts I had prepared in advance. Since then, I haven’t been able to write all that much. I’ve started drafts for several different topics but failed to deliver anything significant.

I’ve blamed the lack of fruitful writing sessions on all the other things I’ve got going on. Work is hectic, my goals in physical exercise require dedication, I bought a set of electric drums and need to practice to make the investment worth it, spending time with my wife is more important than any of this.

While all of the above is true, there’s still time to write at least 2 to 4 hours every week. But I haven’t. Instead I’ve struggled with motivation and coming up with meaningful thoughts even though the subjects I’ve been meaning to discuss are really important to me.

Why then? It took me time to realize that the difficulties I’ve had in what started out as a liberating and empowering writing experience, are due to a buzz kill I suffered after publishing my first texts. Without going into high detail, some of the people whose opinions and acceptance I’ve learned to hold high did not welcome my decision to write publicly about sexuality and fetishes.

They discouraged me appealing to multiple different reasons that seemed to change on the fly as I countered each one with well-thought arguments based on my own reasoning and emotional needs. Obviously, after a while such reasons start to look more like excuses that are made up just to defend a prejudice the person is not inclined to give up no matter what.

I understand that dealing with something like this for the first time is difficult. I probably shattered the expectations and assumptions these people had about me and also did it in a way that they have a hard time valuing.

Still, it’s arrogant for such people to expect for me to take any advice from them. If they cannot grasp why this type of radical openness is important for me and even refuse to listen when I explain, then they are in no position to give me any advice. Instead their advice ends up feeling like ignorant opinions thrown forcefully my way. And even worse, as they reject my context, they end up looking down on my emotional needs as something pitiful and treat the actions I take about it as irresponsible and desperate calls for help.

Ring ring! It’s your ass calling. It would like you to pull your head out of it. This message goes out to all who patronize other people over their choices. It is not your business. Do you, honestly, think you know better than the person at hand? The person, who has contemplated the issue through out their life and weighed all the possible outcomes of being public about it. The person who gathered all their strength and courage to change the course of their life to be able to feel whole. If you do, go to your room and think. And don’t come out until you’ve learned some basic respect and humility.

That’s enough I guess. I don’t want dwell in anger, but I can’t help being provoked when someone tries to shut me down immediately after I’ve started to shine for the first time in my life.

This blog is going to continue on the glorious path it started on and you can either accept it or leave, because fighting it is certainly useless. It’s a cliché but the process of coming out of the closet and facing resistance about it causes a huge need to take pride and boast about the things I’ve been told to fall silent about.

That said, I fucking love boots, gloves, leather outfits, latex, PVC,  make-up, long nails and pretty much everything our twisted culture enforces as feminine. I equally love muscles, manliness and power. I could argue I have a fetish for binary dynamics (and so do many others, even though it’s rarely conceptualized that way)! Riding outfits are just the best. Any fetishizeable thing a person consciously carries with charisma is hot. BDSM, humiliation and teasing are amazing forms of interaction.  Can you shove it in your mouth? If yes, it’s potentially interesting.

So many fetishes, so little time. Perhaps I manage to go through most of them before I die, the Internet shuts down or some other catastrophe prevents me from writing.

I’m quite optimistic that blowing off steam like this increases my future productivity. After months of self-doubt and -censorship with trouble producing a single consistent paragraph, I wrote this piece off the top of my head in an hour’s time on a train barely using any backspace.

herutus2
Oh yeah! I also love myself. You don’t approve? Cum try me.

Despite the burning need, writing about myself is not easy for me. I still feel like my texts lack some level of honesty and intimacy. To lighten the atmosphere I’ll try a more easy-going style. Hooray! Next I’m simply going to list some of the good stuff my fetishes have brought into my life. Here it comes with pictures!

  1. The experience of being different has increased my understanding and acceptance

    wp-1519655806862..jpgI believe this is a shared experience for everyone who for some reason have grown to be sensitive. Love is wise, hatred is foolish. I do my best to live each day according to this moral code.

  2. I’ve learned to know myself and interpret my feelings

    knowmyself_small
    Deviating from the norm has pushed me to a thorough self-search of my emotions and needs. I’ve learned to know and accept them without shame.

    Up to my twenties I had trouble owning up to some sides of my sexuality. Failing to recognize its dynamic nature added to the confusion. To find a stable sexual identity, I tried boxing myself artificially to given categories but time after another I found myself becoming interested in things I thought I didn’t like.

    For me a part of growing up has been the realization that I don’t need to define myself based on what I don’t like. Quite the opposite, in addition to certain fixed desires, my sexuality is best described as curious and susceptible to influences.

  3. I’ve learned that honesty and openness allow me to grow and fill my relationships with trust

    pic3_smallEach time I’ve discussed my sexuality with a new person has been rewarding in some way. At best it has strengthen our relationship by increasing mutual trust and has encouraged the other to share something personal as well. At least it has opened up new perspectives and clarified why some people may find these topics and open discussions difficult. To justly expect their tolerance, I’ve respectively tried to understand their backgrounds and points of view.

  4. Facing myself has helped me build my character

    kapula_small
    Facing myself and talking about it is the bravest thing I’ve ever done. Being gagged is a blast but only when it happens with my consent. Falling silent because of being ashamed is a different story.

    One shouldn’t take their self too seriously. That’s a prerequisite of a healthy confidence. “I don’t give a shit what everybody else thinks” is a typical phrase from the mouth someone who appears confident. I’ve chanted this mantra myself a lot but it’s never my honest primary reaction. Instead I’m intuitively worried about how socially popular my words and actions are. My sexual identity is one of the first things about which I’ve adopted a true sense of dignity.

  5. I know exactly what I like and I can arrange myself quality time

    omaa_kivaa
    Boots, gloves, leather, lace, jewelry, make up etc. – I can enjoy my fetishes on my own or in company.

    In love creating and realizing different visions in my free time. I do it by myself as well as with my wife and friends. Whether it’s about designing outfits, shopping, photography, having fun, discussions or sex, fetishes can be a part of everyday life and celebration.

  6. I’m thoughtful

    syvallinen_small
    For their part, the insecurities of my past have helped me establish a habit of constant reflection. I question my own thoughts and feelings. I observe how they affect me and the people around me. I’ve become an independent thinker because many of the issues that I’ve wondered about along the way have felt meaningful and relevant only to myself.

  7. On the other hand I’m easy, when you know which buttons to push

    helppo_small
    As a lover I’m somewhat exotic and open for pretty much anything. At the same time I’m idiot proof. My strongest fetishes are as if they were carved in stone.

  8. I have a strong vision that nurtures my imagination and creativity

    visio
    Peek-a-boo!

    I’m not a great photographer or model yet, but I love taking pictures and posing for them. Photography allows me to present any object or person in the light I desire. I’m especially interested in perspectives that can be interpreted as erotic through fetishism. There’s perhaps no better way for me to communicate the insides of my head to other people.

  9. Pleasure

    nautinto_small
    The essence of all fetish related activities boils down to pleasure. Yet it is often not about direct sexual pleasure, but about small and big positive sensations here and there.

    I feel appreciated and loved when my wife decides to wear beautiful boots to an everyday trip to the grocery store. I feel free when I get to plunge into a highly detailed masculine or feminine essence. I feel connected when me and my friends plan and design party outfits together. I get small spikes of pleasure and inspiration when I see lovely outfits and confident people wearing them.

That’s that for this time. What have fetishes given to you? Tell about it in the comments! You may also leave

  • personal stories
  • good, bad and neutral feedback about the text
  • wishes about future topics
  • your own thoughts
  • any questions.

One typical prejudice about fetishism is to assume that a person with a strong fetish has trouble managing their everyday life. They fiddle other people’s belongings. They stalk and gaze at other people in public places and peep at their private moments. They harass other people and violate their immunity. They’ve lost control of their personal economy and spend all their money to acquire more fetish objects. When broke, they resort to stealing. Basically they are ready to abandon their morality and humanity trying to satisfy this never ending need.

It’s typical to see a fetishist represented like this in pop culture. In some movies fetishists are even prepared to kill to get what they desire (Blue Velvet, Silence of the Lambs, Pulp Fiction, Perfume).  Of course the drama of movies is exaggerated compared to real life, but that’s just the thing needed to enforce blameworthy mental images. Mainly the image of fetishism provided by the entertainment industry is narrow and biased, and encourages judgmental attitudes by associating fetishism with people who are unpleasant and dangerous in other ways.

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The classic gimp scene of Pulp Fiction. Zed is allotting who gets raped first. What wonderful people! [1]
As someone with both strong fetishes and a sense of control over my own life I wonder why having a fetish would go hand in hand with low morality and a corrupted sense of justice? Surprise news: a person can have strong and versatile sexual desires simultaneously with a good sense of empathy, respect towards other people and their rights and other principles that don’t necessarily favor their personal desires.

Of course all people have a tendency to think in ways that justify their customs and hopes and dreams, but this applies to everyone equally and fetishists don’t differ from the mainstream in this sense. If we didn’t actively practice paying attention to other people and common rules while growing up, there would be no civilization as we know it.

A motive does not make anyone a bad person. Instead it places one in front of a moral choice. Whether to ruthlessly follow one’s individual desires or to respect the basic rights of other people. For a mentally stable fetishist who has socialized oneself with society these kind of choices are obvious and do not require any active thought. I guess you wouldn’t steal a bag of sweets from a passer by even if you suddenly felt like candy. Equally one could think people in general would want to fulfill all their sexual fantasies regardless of what it feels like to the subject of choice. Anyone who violates someone else’s immunity for personal gain is more likely to suffer from a blurred sense of justice and a lack of empathy.

A fetish can serve as a motive as well, but it doesn’t explain the harassing behavior. A real sign of being somehow deranged is the ability and will to enjoy something that is unequivocally revolting to others involved. The concept of right and wrong is a matter of culture, of course, so let it be stated that I write this from the viewpoint of someone who has grown in a western democracy (or more precisely in a Nordic welfare state).

I also want to stress that a fetish is not an obsessive thought (see definitions[2,3]). Basically it’s just about having one’s sexual desires linked to an object or some other thing. A strong fetish can develop into an obsession, but so can sex in general like many other things as well. There is no direct link between obsessions and fetishes.

I can not estimate how many people would really think that fetishists are like what I portrayed in the beginning of this text. Probably not too many. I must say it feels rather silly to argue so seriously against such foolish assumptions. Still there’s something to fetishism that makes us wary about the subject and in the silent atmosphere the most ludicrous of misunderstandings can grow without being corrected.

I’m not stating that fetishism is a problem-free phenomenon in today’s society. I simply try to critically review it as it is with its good and problematic sides. In the future I will write several more texts about problems related to fetishism, but here I want to focus on one that gives birth to many prejudices.

Having looked into the subject myself and through numerous discussions with other fetishists I know, that some morally questionable actions with a low risk of being caught do happen by fetish motives. By this, I mostly mean taking advantage of someone else’s property without permission. A person I know masturbated through their teenage years rubbing themselves with their sister’s leather jacket. Another got their first orgasm when they secretly pulled on the high heeled boots of their friend’s mother. A third one kept borrowing the knickers of other family members and a fourth one wrapped themselves in their mother’s rain coat to breathe in the rubbery scent. In my early teens when the opportunity came, I also touched, smelled and even licked boots that weren’t mine, and I’ve talked to many other people with similar experiences.

These kind of deeds seem to happen at least among young object and material fetishists, and I’m not trying to cover it up. This may be one reason why a community’s ignorance about its members’ fetishes can be considered bliss. When deeds like this surface, they can be very uncomfortable for the owners of the fetish objects but if they are kept a secret, life goes on happily and nobody is offended.

What now happened to moral of the fetishist? I just emphasized it above. I did say that a mentally healthy person wouldn’t do anything more severe motivated by a fetish than by other motives. And I stand by what I said. Whenever we weigh our actions, we assess the gains against the potential risks and harms. You probably wouldn’t steal a bag of sweets from a passer by, but you might make a secret visit to your friend’s or family member’s bag when they look the other way. Perhaps you ate all the best candy from a shared box before anyone else got the chance. Perhaps you downloaded something illegally from the Internet. Perhaps you secretly browsed through your older brother’s porn magazine. Perhaps you smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol as a teen. Or perhaps you did none of the above. We are all individuals when it comes to obedience but many of us tend to justify ourselves these kind of tricks and crimes with insignificant consequences. Therefore I suspect that a fetishist who refrains from doing these kind of things also refrains from borrowing other people’s property for their own pleasure. I had no moral issues filching a candy from a friend and I didn’t experience a strong enough inner conflict to keep myself from experimenting how someone else’s boots felt, smelled and tasted like.

I remember pondering something like “Well it’s a victimless crime to borrow another person’s stuff for a short moment of fun, right? If no one finds out, nobody is offended.” It’s not that simple really. Sorry for ruining the party, past-me. It’s quite obvious that from the viewpoint of the owner, it’s rather unpleasant if someone uses their property for intimate moments.

But I don’t want to get lost in the ethics of this. It is also obvious that a horny teenager’s decision is no way objective or thoroughly thought from all points of view. I just want to describe this phenomenon from the viewpoint of the individual.

Someone may be thinking that I’m doing a disservice for everyone by bringing up this topic. Why am I even writing about it? Do I enjoy causing uncomfortable thoughts and situations? Perhaps I do, but that’s not why I’m doing this. Seriously I believe that the reputation of fetishism can only be cleansed through understanding that is achieved through open observations and honest discussions. I’m done hiding and being ashamed.

Just why is a young material fetishist inclined to fiddle other people’s property then? Perhaps it’s about whether young fetishists have any means to get to know their selves and study their sexuality within the existing social norms. For comparison, imagine a society where expressing one’s sexuality and engaging in sexual activities is forbidden all the way. How many lawful citizens do you expect to find there? Most likely people would fulfill their needs just as much as possible with any means available in those circumstances. In their cognitive dissonance they would probably deny it all and condemn each other.

All youngsters have the need to become familiar with their own sexualities. They observe and wonder their own bodies, thoughts and desires. For someone who deviates from the sexual mainstream, there is simply more to wonder about and less available answers. Sex education in school and other information sources for teenagers give straight answers to many questions and help ease the confusion. However, for sexual minorities sex ed can become a double edged sword. While it seeks to convince the teens that the changes and feelings they go through are normal, it can convey a very narrow perception of what is normal, and an idea that being normal is something one should pursue in sexuality.

Luckily the World is changing very fast. The established attitudes become more and more tolerant as the amount of available information grows. Judging simply based on the sex education materials one could think, that today’s teenagers are much more aware than my generation was back in the day. Of course the attitudes of the educators themselves and the established attitudes in the teen’s own social circles have a huge effect on the teen’s wellbeing, and these attitudes may vary a lot. The cultural change is still evident and today a teenager can find credible information and support from the Internet rather easily (depending on their tendencies).

Internet access and the ability to delete the browser history first came to my life at the age of 12. Before that I had already spent 2 years actively feeling bad about my desires and wondering whether I’m normal and if I should be like this. I had read the sex ed columns of Suosikki-magazine (a big thing among teens in Finland in my time), where one of the most popular educators of my generation, Eki, answered the questions of troubled teenagers. During those years Eki told his audience about 10 000 times that masturbation is OK, even encouraged, and that the arousal of sexual desires happens individually. Originally I found this information reassuring, but it did not answer my most troubling questions.

Every now and then someone actually opened up about their deviant experiences, and at those times Eki usually reassuringly said, that all types of fantasies and ways of masturbation are OK as long as they are safe. Still, I couldn’t find peace of mind because I never saw a message where someone would have said that they arouse from objects or materials. I also never dared to write a question myself because I was so ashamed and afraid of being caught.

When I eventually got to explore the Internet, I couldn’t find any proper information about fetishes and fetishism (at least in Finnish). The first truly relieving experiences were a discussion I had about deviant desires in some ancient sex chat, and the fetish video libraries of porn sites that were thousands of videos wide. “Well someone must watch these since there are so many of them” I figured.

The depth to which one has to dig to find something out is easy to interpret as a social signal about how taboo the subject is. My experience did not encourage me to talk about my thoughts and feelings to anyone. However, I am quite an extrovert and that lead me to opening up to selected friends just a few years later. Ever since, each time I’ve opened up has increased my wellbeing by making me feel more accepted. I think it’s that feeling that gives me the motivation to write right now as well.

Let’s try and conclude this train of thought. So do I think that better knowledge and understanding might prevent young fetishists from fiddling the property of others? Not really, but better knowledge and understanding create a more open atmosphere. Most problems related to fetishism are a consequence hiding and secrecy. If one doesn’t dare to be oneself in daylight, fulfilling one’s needs becomes inevitably shady and others are bound to perceive the fetishist’s behavior as something suspicious. In a more open atmosphere a teenager could find the courage to talk about their feelings e.g. to their caretakers. As a result of discussion, a caretaker who supports the sexual development of the teen could end up buying the object the teen desires or use other means necessary to show acceptance and support for the teen.

Written out, the thought of this looks Utopian to me, but I can not come up with any plausible reasons why it couldn’t be like this. All the counter arguments I can come up with reflect old fashioned and harmful attitudes, and as we all know, those attitudes truly suck.

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Life as an adult is about 100 times easier when you can be, do and buy whatever you want. It’s easy for me to give a balanced and sophisticated impression now.

Do you have any fetishes? Comment below!
You may also leave

  • personal stories
  • good, bad and neutral feedback about the text
  • wishes about future topics
  • your own thoughts
  • any questions.

References:

  1. https://giphy.com/gifs/michael-madsen-u7UQxy1lAcZPO
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_fetishism
  3. https://www.ocduk.org/types-ocd

I’m a boot fetishist. There, I said it.

What now?

“Nothing. Life goes on.” Would be the reasonable response to this constant headache of mine.

After all, why should anyone care? It’s not like the World revolves around me. If ever has my judgement failed, it’s here. This secret I’ve had my entire life has grown to an absurd extent inside my head. Most likely nobody is affected by this revelation.

nobodycares

A discussion with my inner Dennis Nedry (pictured) helps me get my feet back on the ground.

Then why do I need to talk about this in the first place? Shortly, because I feel a general need to talk about matters that are important to me. Starting a casual conversation about one’s own sexuality is just a lot harder. Usually I consider myself open and talkative. Usually no topic is hard for me, yet talking about my private issues without anyone asking feels awkward in our conversation culture. Despite this, my sexuality has affected my upgrowth, interests and choices through out my life and still occupies my thoughts on a daily basis. If you really wish to know me, this is something you have to know about as well.

Writing a blog feels like a fitting way to express myself. Reading it is not mandatory, but everyone is welcome to do so. At times you may notice that this is not very easy for me. I come from a background of lifelong shame and insecurity even though I recognize that many people have it harder than me.

For the liberal reader this inner wrestling of coming out may seem silly. I don’t need anyone’s permission to be myself. Writing a blog to lighten my inner burden doesn’t require special justification.

My thoughts exactly. But on the other hand I’m afraid. I fear being labelled. I fear that my words and actions are misinterpreted based on prejudices. I fear that my close ones will not approve this issue or the fact that I decided to write about it publicly. I fear that someone will try to use my openness against me. Despite these I believe that writing is a good way to make my case and I’m ready to accept whatever consequences.

Now I’m done worrying. Let’s cut to the chase and begin with the basics.

What is a (sexual) fetish? A fetish is a individually experienced thing, object, action or gesture that causes sexual arousal[1]. There is no conclusively established psychological theory that would explain how fetishes originate, but many alternative and partially overlapping explanations have been suggested[2]. These explanations have to do with early childhood vulnerability and associations[3,4], sexual imprinting[5,6] as well as classical conditioning and abnormalities in the sexual learning process[6,7].

A person may link their fetish with meanings that don’t belong to it internally but rather thourgh personal experiences and cultural nuances. E.g. pragmatically a pair of women’s leather boots are simply an object to keep one’s feet and legs warm and protected. Yet all clothes carry various symbolic and aesthetic significances and they can always be interpreted to message something. These interpretations are subjective but they are often guided by historical significances, social customs, entertainment and fashion. I suspect I became sensitive to such interpretations very early on. The following is about my personal experiences and thoughts.

In an early age I became mesmerized by a poster image which gave me the idea that long boots were superior in femininity. Through repetitive (but cherry picked) similar associations this mental image grew stronger in time. Being charmed by gender highlighting is very typical I suppose, but for me the significance of boots in this highlighting became exceptional by chance. As I became aware of my own sexual nature, my boot related desires became stronger and more versatile. Slowly I learned to understand the cultural significance of clothing and started paying attention to it. My observations about existing attitudes and the significance history of boots added to my imagination and gave rise to even more fantasies. Today I associate boots with confidence, awareness of one’s own attraction, strength and power.

Still, I don’t want to make assumptions about fellow people by their choice of footwear. I know that very few people who pull on their boots on a fall day’s morning think anything like this about their selves or their boots (at least with such magnitude). My first reaction at the sight of a beautiful pair of boots occurs in emotions and is linked to a far more primitive brain function than this pondering. All the thoughts I wrote in the previous paragraph have crystallized through long and tedious self exploration. They are based on an effort to understand my memories in the light of (uncertain) psychological theories. The memories themselves are much less clear and more emotional.

In reality it happens very quickly. I get a stimulus, my focus sharpens to it and I get an immediate sense of excitement and pleasure as my curiosity is awakened. Usually it’s best to hide this reaction and let it pass to avoid awkward situations. I know my way around the social code, so I’m able to adapt my behavior to each situation. But as anyone who has ever had a crush on someone knows, not looking like a fool in the company of your crush requires extra filters and effort.

I adore both low and high heels. Gorgeous boots can be styled rough or elegant. The length can vary from mid calf to thigh high. They can be practical or impossible to walk with. With or without decorative details. As with all preciosity, quality is what matters.

Even though I consider boots almost mystical as objects, their true potential is only revealed in when worn by someone. The most important thing is that the person wearing them feels like home, carries their self with good posture and becomes one with their boots. Perhaps it’s funny, but to me this is when a person is at the peak of their beauty (superficially speaking).

Boots are not the only fetish I have and a more detailed description of the evolution of my desires would make several posts of its own. However, boots are my first and the strongest of my fetishes that has served as a gate for a large variety of other milder fetishes. Fetishism has lead me into pondering myself, other people and the surrounding world from very early on. It guides my thoughts and I can only ignore it for a moment at a time. On the other hand it has affected the development of my imagination, aesthetics, emotional intelligence, empathy, social skills, self awareness, tolerance, openness and liberality in the most positive ways. I have my fetishes to thank for many of my personal virtues.

But where lies the difference between liking something and having a fetish? In the mainstream e.g. tight jeans and lace underwear are considered sexy. The word fetish is only adopted when the object of charm is rare or the level of charm is exceptionally high. There’s no need to give an excuse for the desire to touch round buttocks in tights pants but the desire to lick someone’s wrist watch will raise some eyebrows. To my understanding both cases are based on the same phenomenon and the question is only about what we are used to consider normal.

The word “fetish” has often a negative tone to it. This is understandable as it was only in 2011 that the National Institute for Health and Welfare removed fetishism from the classification of diseases along with sadomasochism and transvestism in Finland[8]. (It should be mentioned that fetishism was defined quite narrowly as “object-specific sexual disorder”.) Today, fetishism (along with sadomasochism and transvestism) is still found in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD)[9]. Perhaps this is why fetishes are rarely mentioned when discussing widely accepted ideals of what is sexy.

A person who is charmed by a muscular body or female breasts will probably not identify as a fetishist but someone who prefers feet, hands, or say, raincoats is probably aware about how they deviate from the norm and may have adopted the concept of fetish to describe their desires. However, by definition fetishism has nothing to do with the rarity or conventionality of desires[1]. Even a small arousal from clothing, accessories, jewelry, hair, beard, status symbols, gestures, actions, behaviors, or other body parts than genitals is fetishism because in the end it’s about the same phenomenon: the connection between our desires and significances we give to different things. This way it can be argued that many people have fetishistic fantasies[2]. So, is it a fetish or do you just like something? If you get aroused by it repetitively, it’s justified to talk about a fetish.

I want to stress that this is not some pseudointelligent effort to normalize my own desires and to argue that I too fit in the mainstream. No. Instead I’m trying to reason that by using the word fetish correctly in our everyday language, we can create an atmosphere which recognises the diversity of different sexual desires and treats them equally. Close to the norm or not, everyone’s desires are individual and everyone has a right to fulfil them as long as they don’t break the rights of other people while doing so.

Sexual desires are often a taboo. Sometimes for a good reason, other times not. Bottom line, they’re not discussed enough. A persons sexuality penetrates their whole life. Therefore it is a great source of understanding oneself and society on a root level. Sexuality is also very vulnerable and may contain severe sore spots. It would be a huge favor for our own well being if we dared to ponder and discuss our sexualities with each other. After all, sexuality and desires can be discussed in a neutral and sober manner. Tones and details can be adjusted based on the situation and audience. This way we can plant more trust, understanding and tolerance into our personal relationships.

A forced silence may result in bottled up emotions, mental health issues and harmful behaviors. The better we understand ourselves, each other and nature, the more civilized our society is. And knowing is not enough. A change in culture is put forth when knowledge is applied. We must be able to discuss human matters openly and without prejudices. In the end of the day that’s what this blog is about. My intention is to make brave openings to increase general well being for the individual as well as for the society not forgetting the occasional humor and versatile ways of self expression.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie

balance
Finding my balance

Do you have any fetishes? Comment below!
You may also leave

  • personal stories
  • good, bad and neutral feedback about the text
  • wishes about future topics
  • your own thoughts
  • any questions.

When writing a generally applicable text about a personally touching issue, it’s extremely easy to end up generalizing personal experiences too far. Let me know if I’ve slipped. Naturally, I want to become a better thinker and writer as well.

References:

  1. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/fetishism
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/fetishistic-disorder
  3. Freund, K., Seto, M. C., & Kuban, M. (1996). “Two types of fetishism”. Behaviour Research and Therapy34 (9): 687–694. doi:10.1016/0005-7967(96)00047-2.
  4. Raymond, M. J. (1956). “Case of fetishism treated by aversion therapy” (PDF). British Medical Journal2 (4997): 856. PMC 2035612Freely accessiblePMID 13364343.
  5.  Pfaus, J. G., Kippin, T. E., Coria-Avila, G. A., Gelez, H., Afonso, V. M., Ismail, N., & Parada, M. (2012). “Who, what, where, when (and maybe even why)? How the experience of sexual reward connects sexual desire, preference, and performance”. Archives of Sexual Behavior41 (1): 31–62. doi:10.1007/s10508-012-9935-5PMID 22402996.
  6.  Darcangelo, S. (2008). “Fetishism: Psychopathology and Theory”. In Laws, D. R.; O’Donohue, W. T. Sexual Deviance: Theory, Assessment, and Treatment, 2nd edition. The Guilford Press.
  7. Bancroft, John (2009). Human Sexuality and Its Problems. Elsevier Health Sciences. pp. 283–286.
  8. http://www.terveyskirjasto.fi/terveysportti/uutissorvi_uusi.uutissivu?p_uutis_id=14743&p_palsta_id=23
  9. http://apps.who.int/classifications/icd10/browse/2016/en#/F65.0

(References 3 to 7 tracked from the wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_fetishism and read when freely available)