Happy Mortal

This life, well-lived.

Fetish in America

shoe foot fetish When it comes to sex, America is a pure democracy. What does this mean? It means that sexuality feels democritized. It means that “sexy” tends to follow accepted norms. Of course, we all have our private fantasies, our personal turn ons, but sex as a general rule, follows a general rule.

As I started to think about this more, it hit me that portrayals of fetish in the media fall into two camps: trendy and abberant. It’s funny in American Pie 3 when Finch yells out “put a finger in my ass”, because the ass has been democritized. When the movie came out, anal play was the dirty-not-dirty.

Trouble is, fetish, as a rule, tends toward the subjective. Subjective in this sense means that our sexuality feels aberant when its not reflected in what we have mistakenly considered to be normative sexuality. In other words, if someone gets “freaky” with us in bed, we’re only supposed to like it if its generally accepted “freaky.”

So, the question becomes for me. How do we reclaim our sexuality? With something as personal and inherent as our sexual wiring, should I have to wait until my fetish is trendy to accept it? Equally as important, how much can we expect of our partener when exploring the un-democracy of sex? And finally, how do we go about freeing our fetish?


  1. I think the root of the idea is that we want to deviate with out being deviants. And that can be a hard concept to accept as a society.

    There is no way to be democratic with two people. So I say as long as it’s safe it should be up for discussion. And if your partner doesn’t agree than you need to figure out what the issue is. Or maybe just find someone else to explore it with.

  2. I think it is a good first step to realize that our sexual fantasies are not strictly our own, just like our clothing choices are not our own. This is the reason we can track trends in sexual behaviors (like you said, anal sex is on the upswing, at least in discourse).

    Once we make this realization we enter the complications of trying to figure out what it is we want from sex (and/or how we want to have sex). This takes bravery because it means being honest with ourselves and our partners. It takes courage to say, “hey, can we let the dog watch?” It may take even more courage to ask yourself why you want Champ’s attention while you make happy friction times.

    Finally, it may be hardest of all not to pass value judgments on yourself for your fantasies. Here is where it is helpful to remember that the voice in your head is not fully your own. It may be the voice of Uncle Jeb or CSI Miami. And they shouldn’t have the final word on your sexuality. You may decide your fantasies will be harmful to someone. You may try them and be disappointed. Or you might love them. None of those options make you a less-than-swell person.

    So rah rah rah, awareness and honesty.

  3. Window, you’re right. When it comes to our sex wiring, there is the general and the specific. I have my sexuality, but it is not separate from the corporate sexuality because that has contributed to it. That said, it seems that the dominant sexual narrative of America is one of conformity. We may be republicans (small “r”) in politics, but we’re democrats in the bedroom, which, is, as pebble pointed out, an oxymoron.

  4. I think there are two primary forces that shape American views on sexuality: Our Puritan/Catholic/Baptist Fundamentalist past and our capitalist present.

    You can see this every evening on prime time television, where sex sells for the first 50 minutes of every episode of every show, but the moral of the story is almost always sermonic.

    It’s hard to imagine fetishes being embraced publicly, when we haven’t yet even figured out whether we can embrace basic sex. Our current choices are between sex as a crass commodity or sex as a sin.

  5. I had never noticed the sermonic wrap up of media before you mentioned it. The “it’s fun to sneak out and have sex, but oh no you had sex once and got pregnant,” sort of thing.

    The market seems to have legislated the the Sin City mantra: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” The message is as insidious as it is implicit. We need an excuse (i.e. sin) to get our freak on, and we have need the promise that our sexuality won’t encroach upon our “real” life.

    In this extreme reading of culture, our sexuality is parasitic to the market. I feel that changing in me, but I also feel the dominant narrative resisting that change.

  6. cf any Seth Rogan film.

  7. Pingback: Sex and Predicate | Happy Mortal

  8. To the question of how much we can expect from our partner: Communication of our desire is relevant to our partner’s reception of it. There is trouble with this, however, because communication about sex is something most people in our culture struggle with, particularly if they have background in the church. Embodiment by James Nelson is essential to current conversation about sexuality and culture, particularly in the church context.