Just Going to Toss This One Up...


Nothing will ever convince this man to give up his ridiculous definition. Anyone using the DSM to define things is already clearly off their rocker.
If science is right, and women are all turned on by watching macaques get it on, then don't we all have a macaque fetish?
If you go by recent DSM definitions, he is clearly wrong, but I assume he thinks of early psychoanalytic theory that actually coined the term and in that case, he has a point. I would have to read up on it, but I think that in the original definition, a fetish is required to achieve an erection, a condition that can only apply to men.
I'm sure this will carry a *ton* of weight with the prof (some random commenter on the internet said this!), but dude, I'm female, and I definitely have fetishes. In the interests of decency, I won't get into them here, but we do exist. Tell your prof that he's a nutjob.
Well... the DSM online uses "his or her" pronouns, which suggests that fetishism is not limited to men. (Some other sexual disorders are quite specifically limited to men, with statements like "this diagnosis is used for heterosexual men who...." which makes it seem likely that DSM would say so if it wanted to restrict fetishes to men.)

Then again, the DSM specifies that the term "fetish" when used technically really means that the person cannot become aroused at all without the object in question, which does not really sound like the way people tend to use the term in Savage Love land.
@4, "In the interests of decency, I won't get into them here..."

Decency? What, are you new?
Why is he using the DSM at all? Fetishes are not medical conditions! That's like using the Compendium of Pharmaceuticals to look up a vitamin.

Even if the prof is right, then all he's saying is that fetishes are only medical conditions in men. You could counter-argue that the DSM doesn't cover non-medical fetishes, which women would have in abundance.

However, referring to a medical manual to define "fetish" is the first mistake.
1) This is an anecdotal statement. It's essentially useless to base any kind of conclusion upon. Bring in the professor's *actual* statement & then let's figure it out.

If we take her statement as factual, (a ludicrous leap in logic, but for academic purposes) then...

2) Helix (& others) points out the obvious. DSM is about mental disorders. Any "strict interpretation" of their definitions on fetishism (which has been under debate for many a long year) is going to give illogical results.

3) The prof said "in general." Which is the academic term for YMMV. Mr. Savage himself has stated on more than one occasion essentially the same thing: female sexuality is generally more fluid that male sexuality.

4) Finally, this student claims something that her prof said that directly contradicts her other claim. Either he said 'in general' or he said 'no women ever.' Which is it?

My conclusion is that the female student demonstrates a lack of critical thinking. She should take more care in listening, ask specific questions to clarify her professor's position, and address only that issue. And do so in the classroom. You're paying money to be there and to talk to them directly.
By the way, the word "fetish" goes back to the 17th century, which pre-dates the DSM. Since you're studying sexuality and not psychiatry, best to use a standard dictionary definition. Neither Oxford nor Merriam Webster limit the definition to a gender.
Her professor could mean that women's self-proclaimed fetishes are hard to validate and observed. I mean most guys' dicks get hard while engaging fetish plays. Are women's clitoris get enlarged or other areas of the bodies get "excited" AND can be scientifically measured ?
@ 8 - He said "in general" about the fluidity of sexuality, and "never" about the fetishes. These are two different subjects. The female student didn't contradict herself.
If the professor is 1. using the DSM definition and 2. interpreting it correctly, then the issue is not to harass the prof but to have the DSM corrected.

And kudos to this professor for actually saying which definition was in use and that important words can have more than one. I swear, when my first anthropology professor said, "Gender is a social construct," I thought she'd lost her mind. How could human society have constructed something that fruit flies and sharks and dinosaurs had? It was years before I learned that she was just using the word to mean "gender roles." Getting social scientists to realize that defining their terms is important can be like pulling teeth.
JaxBriggs @10 No. People have tried to measure the clitoris and vaginal moisture levels, but as of the publication of Bonk by Mary Roach, none of these things were found to parallel the female subjective experience of sexual arousal the way that penile engorgement parallels the male subjective experience of sexual arousal. There might be a way to measure female arousal, but we haven't found it yet.
Quick note - the technical definition of "fetish" is basically sexual attraction to non-living objects or body parts that are not normatively sexualized in the culture in question.

One of the benefits to working for a university psychology program is that I happen to have a copy of the DSM-5 right here. Bearing in mind that's it's already slated for an addendum this year (though probably not to change the "Fetishistic Disorder" diagnostic criteria), the criteria are:
A. Over a period of at least six months, recurrent and intense sexual arousal from either the use of nonliving objects or a highly specific focus on nongenital body part(s), as manifested by fantasies, urges, or behaviors.
B. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning. [Note: this is a boilerplate criterion that the APA uses to distinguish between harmless psychological variation and pathology.]
C. The fetish objects are not limited to articles of clothing used in cross-dressing (as in transvestic disorder) or devices specifically designed for the purpose of tactile genital stimulation (e.g., vibrator) [Note: this last bit strikes me as an odd qualifier - if one ONLY achieves sexual arousal in response to a specific kind of object intended for sexual stimulation and this causes distress or impairment, I'm unsure why one should be excluded from the disorder.]

None of this is gendered at all, unless the prof (falsely) assumes women have no sex drive. Also of interest may be one of the diagnostic notes (though it also has nothing to do with gender): "Many individuals who self-identify as fetishist practitioners do not necessarily report clinical impairment in association with their fetish-associated behaviors. Such individuals could be considered as having a fetish but not fetishistic disorder."
Psychiatrist here - First problem with the argument is the difference between what people commonly call a fetish versus a pathological fetishistic paraphilia. Basically, if a kink or fetish does not cause distress or dysfunction in a person's life or cause harm to others, it cannot be considered a mental illness. This is regardless of how odd or rare the sexual interest or behavior is.
When considering actual pathology - such as true fetishism or pedophilia - the vast majority of people with such conditions are men. However, there are plenty of women with paraphilias. Statistics are irrelevant when applied to an individual whose symptoms are being assessed. Even if 99.99999% of people with paraphilias were men, that still could not refute the possibility that any given woman could have a paraphilia.
Oh, reading further, there *is* a gender-specific diagnostic note, though it does not necessarily contra-indicate the diagnosis in females: "Fetishistic disorder has not been systematically reported to occur in females. In clinical samples, fetishistic disorder is nearly exclusively reported in males." This potentially could have something to do with the rather odd third criterion I noted above - fetishistic disorder is rare in females because objects that might commonly qualify are defined as not qualifying.
@11 where in the world is Lebesia?! XD
The professor is mischaracterizing DSM, which may well deserve all the ire heaped upon it, but it has evolved in recent decades. Someone correct me if I am mistaken, but V does not focus on fetishism as either a class of 'deviant' behavior, or as a specifically masculine behavior, but it is still diagnosed as a specific pathology when it in fact appears as though a case is indeed pathological. Her professor appears to throw out a gendered narrative, some pastiche of Freud and Lacan, to see if it will stick.

The student is going to have to carry some of her own water on this one, though. The fetish as a feature of language, and it's interplay in sexuality is a fascinating topic - and there are a number of interpretations (psychological, anthropological, physiological) she can choose from. A competent professor would direct her to a coherent survey or primers that summarize different standpoints on the subject.
@10: Contrary to @14, yes. Female genitals are full of erectile tissues just like male genitals (and those of intersexed persons - all of these structures start out the same and are broadly analogous even after developmental differentiation). The issue is that the subjective experience is culturally-defined (not just culturally-mediated, but entirely culturally-defined) in different ways for men and women, hence the difference in reporting (the definitions are, of course, unstable and contested, like most socially-constructed meaning). Actually, it's largely not defined at all for women beyond the circular definition of "feeling sexually aroused", so it can be anything and everything, whereas for men, it's much more narrowly defined in the context of penile erection. Thus, subjective "sexual arousal" for men is far more likely to be used by men to describe very similar subjective experiences, those linked to physiological sexual arousal, than subjective "sexual arousal" is for women, where it may be used by women to describe many dissimilar subjective experiences. Physiological sexual arousal can be measured in both men and women and involves engorgement of genital erectile tissues.
@17. Missed that. Thanks for clarifying. The editors carefully avoided stepping into a theoretical turf battle. Just the facts, ma'am.
12, you're right. Strike #4 of my points. But my main point is still valid. The professor *didn't* say that "no women ever have fetishes." He said that "according to a strict DSM interpretation, no women ever have fetishes." * There is a big difference. If she's in college to learn critical thinking, this is a good place to start, by applying it to herself.

*Again, this is purely anecdotal, and therefore worth bupkiss.
You people are weird. Who really cares? The trick is to find someone who likes the same dirty shit you do. Over thinking sex is retarded. Arguing about it on a chat board is uber retarded.
I'm willing to bet what @3 says (I would have said it but he got here first).

The strictest interpretation of the DSM is a condition causing a disorder. The strictest clinical definition of being sexually functional is penetrative sex resulting in the outie bit's ejaculation (likely based on what is needed for pregnancy if the two are capable). The partner with the innie bit doesn't need to be aroused for this to happen.

It's really just a semantic argument. If you sensibly expand your idea of what is sexually functional, like enjoyment, satisfaction, erotic triggers, etc, then it becomes a lot less gender specific.

I think the question can offer insight into thinking about the difference for the mechanics of sex to work at all vs. sex being healthy and happy, not to mention psychiatry's shamefully Victorian-ish history on the subject.

I think fetishes are part of human sexuality. If you dig below cultural conditioning, I don't think men and women work very differently about it, if at all.


Is "wanting to cuddle" a fetish?

I was taught that a fetish is an object or body part that isn't usually sexualized that is required to achieve orgasm. This was back during the DSM IV days, so I'm not sure what the DSM V is saying currently. And females can certainly have fetishes, but in psych terms most of what people think of as fetishes aren't fetishes and would probably be best described as kinks. Some of the most common fetishes are shoes, feet, and hair, which all seem pretty benign, although having to have something involved in your sex life is obviously somewhat limiting, which is why fetishes are less than ideal. Whereas kink more implies it's something you enjoy, and thus something that can add to your sex life, but most people can also have enjoyable sex that does not involve their kink(s).
@20 and @17

1. @10 is asking if female arousal can be "scientifically measured" using physical signs. The answer is no. Measuring tissue engorgement and vaginal moisture looks like it should work just like measuring penile engorgement, but people have tried it and it doesn't. Men with strong erections almost universally report strong feelings of arousal, but women with a lot of vaginal moisture or a lot of clitoral engorgement report either a lot, a little or none. The upshot is that women were found to differ from each other (and from themselves under different circumstances) a lot more than men were. So no, we can't use physical signs to scientifically measure female arousal the way we can with male arousal. (Not yet anyway.)

2. Subjective experience is affected by culture but it is not defined by culture. Sex and arousal were around a long time before civilization. Think of them like food. "Dinnertime" is a cultural thing, but it comes from our biological and psychological need for food and social contact. "Fashion" is heavily cultural, but it comes from our physical need to protect our bodies from the cold and sun. Culture affects but does not create or define physical needs and experiences.

3. -ly adverbs do not require hyphens after them.

4. I concur with what I read as your implication that this professor is misinterpreting the DSM V. "Has not been systematically" does not mean "cannot." The only excusable thing that might be happening here is that, if this professor is also a researcher, he might be reporting his own unpublished findings, beliefs or professional opinion, the way a medical doctor might say, "Lyme disease can/cannot be a chronic condition because these spirochetes can/cannot form cysts."
I'm a 35ish female medical fetishist, myself. I've come.... Oh 10 or 12 times in my life *without* relying on medical fantasies. I think I fit the definition, but god knows your prof probably has his PhD, *and* a penis. So that makes him right, I'm sure.
It's extremely possible that I have a fetish for shoving a big strap-on dildo up my girlfriend's pussy. Either that or I just like it a whole, whole, lot. Also, things I don't know whether to categorize as liking or fetishizing: being slapped in the face while fucking, fucking or masturbating with the risk of being seen or caught (exhibitionism). I'm kinky, and these kinky things turn me on to the point of cumming, so possibly they're fetishes?
28 & 29: Do your likes and fetishes cause a problem in your respective lives? Do you wish you did not have these desires or preferences? Can you not get aroused at all without them?

28 says she almost always has to have medical fantasies, but does not mention having to have medical gear present, or a that partner must role play in order for her to get off.

29 talks about things she enjoys doing, and having done to her. She doesn't say that she *cannot* come without them, or that she cannot get aroused without them.

I don't think either of you has a DSM5-level fetish. As someone upthread mentioned, it's the difference between 'fetish' and 'paraphilia'.
i've never really been clear on the distinction between a fetish and a kink. if you dig something that's a little freaky, but it's not required in order for you to get off, that's a kink, right? i've always thought of a fetish as being somewhat obsessive, required for getting off, and/or involving something not "typically" regarded as sexual, like, humping your lamp or whatever.

based on my own very lazy definitions, i have no doubt that most women have kinks, and many women have fetishes.
One word--and one word only: Twihard.
@9: actually, the word "fetish" isn't even English, but Polynesian. And it has a much longer history than you think.

So is "taboo", coincidentally.
see, now if it wasn't a community college then surely there would be some psych grad student taking advantage of the Last Textbook Example of Closeted Flaming Gay

*behind the scenes as the grad student writes her thesis*
Finds it incredibly hard to skip over the phenomena that only at a community college will a teacher stare at you, clearly seeing and hearing you -- yet refuses to acknowledge you exist -- with merely a strained look of confusion until you address him as "Professor So & So"

I don't know what's more awkward, when he goes to suck your dick like the bigoted Dad from American Beauty or that he doesn't budge for even a two year old holding the breathe -- if you don't address the Community College Teacher as "Professor" you don't exist in his world.