Where do these sexual fetishes come from?

For the purposes of this post, I’ll limit the question to leather getup and gas mask types of things.

Other fetishes, I can understand. Maybe it came from childhood sexual abuse, or innocent bathroom experimentation, or voyeurism. Maybe it came from memories of a comforting caregiver, a stern disciplinarian, or unique circumstances of a memorable early sexual experience. This is the general category where I’d put fetishes like urine, scat, shaving, body hair, fat, spanking, nurses.

Getting to the point… where does the studded leather getup and gas mask stuff come in? Particularly puzzling are the gas mask images where the mask is somehow connected to another body orifice. It seems remarkably specific, but not the kind of thing one would ever naturally encounter in life outside the fetish community. Yet it seems to have a relatively long history and doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. If the answer is “it’s inherited by way of the fetish community” then I want to know who originally came up with the idea of connecting a gas mask to the anus via a rubber tube.

I don’t know if I’ve phrased this question well, but I hope there’s a fetish scholar out there who can understand what I’m asking. It’s sort of like the old saw of “who got the idea to drink cow’s milk.”

I don’t know, but here is how to get your wife to wear them. (potentially not work safe)

Why the assumption that fetishes have to “come from somewhere”?

In the book Why Things Are, Vol II: The Big Picture, Joel Achenbach speculates that humans’ bizarre sex tastes may be an offshoot of all this brainpower which we have for understanding language. It’s not that fancying gas masks and leather has any evolutionary advantages, it’s just a side effect.

I guess I always assumed that fetishes “came from somewhere”, too. An experience as a child or a fond memory.

The one I’ve not “gotten” are foot fetishes. While we’re taught that breast, for example, are sexy, I never got the memo that feet were particularly sexy.

The gas mask thing became popular after WWII with Germans to some extent and the Brits in particular. The phenomenom was attributed to young boys having their first close contact with girls in the hypercharged imprint-friendly atmosphere of looming death while wearing gas masks. Also, maternal love and love in general, like a gas mask, can be protective yet suffocating.

When you compare normal human sexual behavior with anything else, you run into a big problem. What is normal human sexual behavior? There is no real norm in human sexual behavior. Humans are operating with biological instincts that evolved for an environment that no longer exists, and has not since clothing was invented. After that, everything was adjustments to the absence of “normal” sexual signals, and consequences to those adjustments.

Domesticated animals have the same difficulties, although probably less imagination. The natural normal way for horses to breed involves running, fighting, and travelling in herds. That won’t work for racehorses worth millions to their owners, so the answer is to assist the horses in mating. The horses are not perverts, but the perversion is their entire sexual experience.

Now we all bathe, and remove our scent signals, replace them with artificial scent signals, paint our faces to enhance what we believe are attractive features. Then we put on or take off clothes according to fashion advice from people who may, or may not have sexual orientations similar to our own. Within statistical limits our responses to that set of artificial stimuli are labeled normal. Outside of that, they are labeled kinky.

How do you acquire a fetish? You fail to have satisfying sexual expressions over a long period, and then when you do, you associate it with whatever coincidental objects, or situations you encountered, or imagined in that experience. After than, it’s sophistication, or if you prefer, being jaded.


“These things that are pleasin’ you can hurt you somehow.” ~ Don Henley & Glenn Frey ~

Sorry to the hijack.

A long time ago, one of these boards(this one, IIRC), had a thread something like “How do I become a dominatrix?”

It was full of helpful(?), creatative and informative suggestons.

Gas mask fetishes? I thought I’d seen everything on the 'Net, but that’s a new one by me.

I’ve always been completely mystified by this fetish, too. Try as I might, I cannot find anything sexy about a picture of someone’s feet :confused:

I’ve read (sorry, no cite) that it starts off with the idea barefoot = innocent, and innocence is sexy. And then the human mind perverts it into a fetish.

All of your senses have corresponding parts in the brain and feet are located right next to genitals, so I am not surprised this fetish is so common.

This is just a guess, but I think many fetishes are about control at some level. Perhaps controlling someone’s breathing might be seen as an extreme type of control. I’ve heard of suffocation and drowning fetishes too, and maybe these are all psychologically related. Putting them on other orifices doesn’t make sense logically, but maybe it’s just the idea of exploring every part of the body sexually.

Leather, I don’t get at all. I can’t even guess as to why people find leather to be sexy, other than the fact that restraints are often made of leather.

I myself am more mystified about the whole urine and scat thing. The feet thing might be a little :dubious:, but I’ll take it over the urine and scat thing anyday.

Maybe you have never received a proper foot massage? :wink:
Also, having your toes sucked on can be very stimulating.

As someone who can understand MOST sexual fetishes, I am with you on these two.

One day, a friend tried for something like 20 minutes to convince me that a foot massage/toe sucking not only can be, but should be very sexy. No matter how many times I told him that I’m sure that it is for many people, but that I find contact with my feet about as interesting as contact with the middle of my upper back. So even a ‘proper foot massage’ may not do something for someone, and people for who it is very stimulating need to understand that other people can be wired differently. I mean, lucky folks that they are, they experience something delicious that some of us cannot! And no amount of ‘proper’ massage will make any difference.

Couldn’t agree more!
Can’t fault me for trying, though. :wink:

I’m a perv through and through, and I’ve never gotten the appeal of leather. In a broader sense, I don’t see why folks want the ritualized clothing and props for sex at all, and for some reason it seems endemic in the BDSM culture to the point that you practically need assistants to do costume changes and a props crew during the scene. I don’t see the appeal in having “things” distracting one from the actual sex. At best it seems ridiculous to me.

It strains belief to think that the human psyche has contained a latent “gas mask” attraction that has lain dormant for millions of years, waiting patiently for the 20th century advent of chemical warfare to rear its head.

I picked the example of gas masks and leather harnesses because they are decidedly artificial (note that I’m consciously avoiding the judgement-loaded word “normal”). So by definition they have not always existed, and thus must have “come from” somewhere or “started” somehow.

Ah, it’s morning, now I’m able to phrase my questions better.

I’m currently finishing my psychology doctorate. In the state I live in, psychologists are required by law to take graduate level classes in sex and sexuality. We learn all sorts of things, including all about fetishes. We also learn how to teach couples to have anal sex, special stretching exercises for virgin asses, and how to possibly cure oneself of hemmoroids in the process. Sadly, though, you aren’t asking about anal sex. No one has ever asked me about it. All that learning, gone to waste.

No, what you asked about is fetishes. Specifically where they come from. The straight dope is…no one really knows. Sure, we have theories. Some say they come from unfortunate coincidences where a kid is aroused and happens to see an object (say a shoe) and their libido gets transferred onto that. Some say it’s biological weird wiring. Some say most people really are attracted to all sorts of things, but only a few admit it. Some say it is connected to abuse. Some religous nuts trot out the old “sin” chestnut. But no one really knows.

And as long as you and your partners are all of age, consenting, and safe, psychologists don’t really care either. Unless of course you are into something super weird, then we write about you and call it a case study.

Here is a good link that can answer all sorts of sex questions in a reliable, safe, and nonjudemental way. Society for Human Sexuality Here is a link for a strange fetish- dolphin sex. :eek: We think this FAQ is a total hoax. But hey, you wanted to know about fetishes. Dolphin Sex FAQ (likely full of crap)

Any other burning sex questions?