Continuing with my Valentine’s Day theme, I thought it would be fun to talk about sex. But what’s better than talking about plain old sex, is talking about weird sexual disorders! Fetishism & exhibitionism are some of my favorite sexual disorders. These disorders are under the category of paraphilias. A paraphilia is a “type of mental disorder characterized by a preference for or obsession with unusual sexual practices.”
Fetishism is a disorder where a person is highly aroused by a non-living object, or a highly specific non-genital body part. We have all heard of people with foot fetishes. It’s something funny that we joke about, but I’m not sure people realize the intensity of a fetish. It isn’t just a person who really likes feet. It’s a person who literally gets aroused by feet. These people fantasize about feet, have sexual urges towards feet, and actually achieve orgasm by interacting with feet in a sexual way.
Exhibitionism is my absolute favorite paraphilia. Exhibitionism is when a person experiences intense sexual arousal from exposing their genitals to an unsuspecting stranger. All disorders have a certain intensity about them that I feel needs to be emphasized. A person with exhibitionism can literally achieve orgasm at the sight of a stranger being shocked at seeing their genitals. They fantasize about exposing themselves to strangers, and they have urges that they act on. This can obviously be a very distressing disorder. They can be arrested for exposing themselves in public, and they can earn a terrible reputation for being a freak. This can affect all aspects of a person’s life. They can be fired from their job, be an outcast among friends and family, and literally go to jail. Unfortunately, since this a disorder, it is not a behavior that can just be stopped.
What I always wonder is how people come to have such strange sexual desires. Maybe in fetishism there is an association made with an object. Maybe a person with a foot fetish had some pleasurable experience with feet; maybe this person has highly sensitive feet and has associated all feet with sexual pleasure. With exhibitionism, maybe the person was walked in on while achieving orgasm and associated the element of surprise with sexual pleasure.
However it happens, sexual disorders are more serious than people take them in popular media. People suffering from a paraphilia have to seek help to stop their behaviors. I am not saying there is anything wrong or disgusting about these people. They are people with an unusual problem. They might need or want help or they might not. It doesn’t bother me if you get off on feet. If you have a foot fetish, I hope you get a pedicure for Valentine’s Day and enjoy yourself.