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The origin of fetishes: are they something natural or perversions?


Aug 26, 2021

“When you fetish something there is a crush and this is a beautiful feeling,” explains publicist Kaddie Rothe in the documentary ‘Discover your fetish!’ of the ARTE channel.

“Having fetishes is natural. In the 19th century, for example, lovers kept a garment of the loved one “, says the philosopher Pitt. 

Leather clothes, licking feet, collecting shoes … What is the origin of fetishes? Are they something natural or, on the contrary, perversions from which it is necessary to free oneself? Do they arise spontaneously or can we choose them? The interesting documentary Discover your fetish! Tries to answer all these questions . 

“ The fetish term originally represented something negative . In the 18th century, Europeans introduced the terms ‘fetishism’ and ‘fetish’ to denote the practices of the West African tribes. It is derived from a Portuguese term called ‘feitiço’, which refers to a magical or religious object, something like an amulet or talisman. Europeans considered it a very basic and inferior form of religious belief compared to Christianity. That is why the fetish or fetishism was always something negative ”, explains in the documentary the philosopher and fetish photographer Pitt to explain why darkness and the sinister play such an important role in the world of BDSM (acronyms that refer to the words bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism and masochism so closely related to the fetish).

For Rothe, the fetish is not chosen but it takes hold of you : “Maybe you are overwhelmed by the memories or a lot of happiness invades you at that moment. When you fetishize something – for example underwear – there is a crush and it is a beautiful feeling ”.

But why does the term fetish continue to retain a marginal denotation, especially when it is related to sexuality? Alfred Binet’s fetishism led to sexology or sexual psychology and subordinated all perversions. This is how certain sexual objects and practices are pointed out. In Freud’s case, it is deeply rooted in his libido theory . That is, the fetish as a substitute for the penis or an attempt to deal with the fear of castration, ”Pitt clarifies.

So why do people feel the need to have fetishes? “Because it is natural. There are certain fetishisms that already occurred in the nineteenth century. For example, lovers had an article of clothing of the loved one . There was a need to carry with you that object that was related to history, personality, with the whole aura. I think we have a great need for fetishes and we should go after that, ”says Pitt. For his part, the German-based expert on fetishes of Chinese origin Popo Fan points out that there is a fluid transition between people, animals and things, which is why it is so easy for human beings to build a fetish relationship with things and objects with which that establishes a special connection .

The fetish therefore brings a new and great meaning to life: “August Comte said as early as 1840 that this type of magical-religious treatment of nature, making natural objects something divine or deifying animals is a treatment fantastic of nature and creation itself. So we show much more respect and that also flows into a kind of admiration for what surrounds us ”.

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