By Gabby Curran
Human sexuality. It’s a pretty straightforward concept, isn’t it? At least, it can be. Over the course of our evolution, we’ve depended on some variant of it to reproduce and to express love to each other. Because sexuality comes in a variety of flavors, it can manifest itself in some pretty strange and unconventional ways. One of the more eccentric of these means is fetishism, a form of sexual pleasure experienced through engaging with a particular object or activity. While fetishism might seem niche because we don’t tend to talk about it seriously in our everyday lives, it’s far more prevalent––and diverse––than one might think. The advent of the internet has also allowed for people with the same or similar fetish to connect and swap experiences and material with one another. Here are just a few of the wackier fetishes I’ve stumbled across online and read about:
- Wool fetishism (“Woolies”)
Has the thought of pulling your favorite sweater on aroused you? No? It has for these people. People with a wool fetish––known diminutively across the Internet as “Woolies”––feel the most sexual gratification when they are covered head-to-toe in cable-knit clothing. You’d think this would be a fairly rare fetish––I had personally never heard of it before I read about it––yet it seems prevalent enough to have entire websites, like WoolSpace or WoolFreaks, dedicated to it. Bring on the cold weather for these folks––they welcome any opportunity to wrap themselves up in fuzzy clothing.
- Insect fetishism (formicophilia)
Unfortunately, The Bee Movie’s romance between Barry and Vanessa isn’t as far-fetched as you’d hope. People with formicophilia, an insect fetish, lust after the creepy-crawlies that are so reviled by many. One user on Reddit with the fetish explains that cockroaches specifically entice them because of an accidentally sexual experience they had with an infestation in their first apartment. Some formicophiles are more specific––those with melissaphilia are aroused by bees, wasps, and other stinging insects. According to Kinkly.com, a website that concerns itself with any and all topics related to sex, melissaphiles experience the most intense sexual gratification by getting stung on their genitals. Ya like jazz?
- Vore (vorarephilia)
One of the biggest memes on the Internet nowadays, those with vorarephilia––often shortened to “vore”––are aroused at the idea of consuming or being consumed by another person, or watching a third party engage in these activities. The popular website KnowYourMeme actually has an entire article dedicated to vore in which it explains the various categories that exist within the fetish, including soft-vore, where the prey consumed remains alive and may be released; hard-vore, where the prey is more violently consumed; same-size vore, where the consumer and the consumed are of the same size; and macro-vore, in which the consumer is much larger than the consumed. Neither parties need to be human; in fact, the furry community––a group that enjoys dressing up as anthropomorphic animals––once had a now-defunct website featuring furry-oriented vore illustrations. Bon appetit, I guess.
- Tree fetishism (dendrophilia)
The term “tree hugger” takes on a whole new meaning for this community of fetishists. Dendrophiles are aroused by trees, and often experience gratification through physical contact with them. Some theorize that the fetish has roots in the fact that trees were often considered symbols of fertility in ancient cultures. Dendrophilia even has media representation––British electronic band Metronomy, for instance, features a love story between a man and a pile of tree litter in the music video for its 2014 song The Upsetter. Talk about a case of morning wood.
- Car fetishism (mechanophilia)
Internet sensation and pompous asshole Tai Lopez once said, “Here in my garage, just bought this new Lamborghini here.” I can’t imagine what mechanophiles––people sexually attracted to cars and other vehicles––must have made of it. While enthusiasm over vehicles isn’t unheard of and seems especially prevalent among the rich, mechanophiles take it a step further by feeling aroused at the thought of your average planes, trains, and automobiles. A case involving a man under the pseudonym “George” was reported in a 1992 issue of “Sex and Marital Therapy”, wherein George’s parents bought him a car he eventually developed sexual feelings for, going as far as masturbating by the car’s exhaust pipe to experience gratification. Va va vroom.
- Small space fetishism (claustrophilia)
You’ve heard of claustrophobia, the fear of small spaces, but do you know its other extreme––claustrophilia? Yes, the desire to be confined or engage in sexual acts in a small space is a thing. Why one would experience arousal at the idea of being squeezed into a minuscule room is a mystery to those who don’t belong to this community, but claustrophiles are all about it. There even exists special bondage-wear for those lovers of small spaces called “sleepsacks.” Think sleeping bag, but far tighter and restrictive. Cozy!
While these fetishes are certainly bizarre to those outside of their respective communities, at the end of the day, they’re just a manifestation of the bigger strangeness that is human sexuality. And as long as they’re not hurting anyone in the process, there’s no point in kinkshaming––after all, it’s all a matter of preference.