Today is International Fetish Day, the day on which we honor those among us (and perhaps within us) whose sexual taste err on the wild side. But the holiday isn’t just for the whip-loving leather daddies. International Fetish Day celebrates all sexualities, fetishes, and the freedom to express them—so long as all parties give their consent.
International Fetish Day was born seven years ago in the United Kingdom and aims to fight against our culture's generally disparaging attitudes toward alternative sexual expressions, as reflected in its birth country's conservative pornography laws. While the holiday initially focused only on celebrating lovers of BDSM, it now aims to promote all fetishes, kinks, and everything in between.
Of course, there are at least as many variations on sexual preferences as there are toys in Christian Grey's red room, some of which have gotten more press over the years than others. Some people dig degradation. Others dig latex. Others wear a special leotard no one knows about under their clothes. But today, in honor of the holiday, we celebrate four of the most obscure fetishes—formicophilia, vorarephilia, eproctophilia, and mechanophilia.
So come, join us, and instantly become the most interesting person at tonight's dinner party.
For many of us, the idea of having tiny insects crawling and sometimes nibbling all over our bodies sounds like a challenge from Fear Factor (remember Fear Factor?), but for those who are into formicophilia, which is considered a subcategory of zoophilia or bestiality, it’s a turn on.
As with many things in the bedroom, however, formicophilia often looks better in fantasy than reality, explained Lanae St. John, a San Francisco Bay Area sexologist.
"In formicophilia, it will be very difficult to direct those insects to do exactly what you want, and trying to round them up afterwards might not be such an easy task," St. John explained.
People into vorarephilia derive sexual pleasure from the fantasy of being eaten, eating someone else, or just sort of watching the consumption of another human.
While this fetish may sound a lot like sexual cannibalism (of which there have IRL been cases), researchers have specified that with vorarephilia, the "prey" is swallowed whole—the fantasy does not generally involve the chewing of flesh or bodily harm. Vorarephilia also involves fantasies of "consuming" a person whole through the genitals or anus.
It's worth stressing that vorarephilia involves fantasy (which has been colorfully depicted in literature and art), seeing as how it's physically impossible to consume someone whole. It's the thought that counts!
One man’s trash may be another man's treasure—especially when we're talking about eproctophilia, or sexual arousal from a sexual partner's farts, more commonly known as a "flatulence fetish" or "fart fetish."
According to Mark Griffiths, a professor of psychology at Nottingham Trent University and author of the only recorded case study of eproctophilia, the practice appears to be gendered, largely involving heterosexual men being turned on by women's farts. And like some other fetishes, eproctophilia involves dominance/submission dynamics.
In the case study, Griffiths' subject explained that, "The more disgusting, the more I like it as it heightens the sense of duality. The more disgusting the fart and the prettier the lady, the more of a schism it is between the societal expectation and the reality. As for men, it’s simply more dominating for it to be a really gross fart than a mild poot.”
So there’s actually been a decent amount of media coverage (and sensationalism) of mechanophilia, or the sexual interest in machines including planes, trains, automobiles, appliances, robots, androids—really, any machine you can conjure. Mechanophilia is sometimes seen as a subcategory of objectum sexuality, or having an intimate personal and sexual relationship with an inanimate object.
Yet Griffiths guesses there aren't more than a few dozen people in the world who identify as having this type of objectum sexuality—which makes mechnophilia, along with many other fetishes, difficult to study.
“No one ever sees a psychiatrist and says, ‘I’m in love with a car and I feel great about it.’ You’re more likely to say, ‘I’m in love with my bicycle and this is a problem,’” he said. “The basic research is based on problematized fetishes.”
Indeed, all of these fetishes are rare, and even the experts are unsure how many people are into them. One thing that is helping people who feel alienated by their fetish, though? The internet.
Griffiths pointed out that the internet has a unique way of facilitating conversation about our most private sexual yearnings. “If there are four people in the world that have a very specific paraphilia, the internet is where you can meet up and talk about it.”
So there you have it! Let your freak flag fly today, folks.