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  • When it comes to sex, we are - in theory - living in wildly liberated times.

  • So you’d think it would easy to feel at ease owning up to certain sorts of sexual desires.

  • But for most of us, the world doesn’t actually feel that generous about fetishes.

  • It’s very tricky to talk about many of the things that turn us on - especially with our partners.

  • Our fetishes can seem deeply weird, perverse or politically incorrect.

  • So we stay quiet. And it is not only the reactions of others

  • which cause us anxiety. We might at times ourselves worry there’s something a bit wrong with us.

  • To get more confident, we should get philosophical about sex and ask: what do our fetishes really mean?

  • Why do we even have them?

  • The good news is that the things that turn us on are in fact really very logical and

  • hardly ever simply odd or twisted.

  • Here is how it works: Every fetish or sexual obsession is really

  • an imagined erotic solution to a real world anxiety.

  • Let’s look at some very common turn ons through this theory:

  • People in uniforms are for many of us a major turn on, especially doctors, nurses, firemen and pilots.

  • Tellingly, erotic websites are full of uniforms

  • What’s going on?

  • As so often with turn-ons, uniforms are exciting because there is an underlying anxiety around them.

  • How many times were belittled by people in uniform: ignored by a busy doctor,

  • made to feel like lowly fools by the heroic fireman, intimidated by the pilot

  • Authority is frequently hostile to us and frustrates our desires.

  • But in sex, we can reverse this situation. Here uniforms can be invited into our games.

  • The uniform still stands for authority. But now authority has moved to our side, paying

  • us exactly the right kind of attention.

  • The pilot, far from being impassively at the controls, is thrilled to be here with us,

  • she is no longer a stern-faced controller of the Airbus A380, but our collaborator and friend.

  • The busy sensible doctor is no longer just stern and responsible, only interested in

  • blood sugar levels and kidney functions: he wants us to have fun.

  • A real world ideal is being sketched in sex: were being invited to imagine what authority

  • might like if it helped rather than hindered us, reassured rather than intimidated us.

  • Sex is hinting at a utopia where strength, organisation, neatness and order would be

  • there to make us feel more at ease, more relaxed and truer to ourselves.

  • We are taught from a young age that we must become independent. We live in an individualistic

  • culture that constantly vilifies dependence and pushes us towards an ideal of solitary maturity.

  • But some of us are excited by something very different: the idea of submission, of being

  • totally passive, perhaps becoming someone’s slave, surrendering all autonomy and just

  • letting another person do everything and anything to us.

  • Being a ‘slavemeans that someone else will know exactly what we should do, will

  • take full responsibility, will take choice away from us.

  • This is curiously nice, because were not surrendering to any old person, were surrendering

  • to someone who is good and kind and interested in our pleasure. The delight we take in surrender

  • reveals how hard it is always to have to be in control - how much we long for someone

  • else to take charge fully sometimes, as a relief from the pressures of daily life.

  • In the real world so many crucial tasks actually depend on one’s capacity not to be daunted

  • by suffering. Taking on the masochistic role rehearses - in erotic play - a fundamental

  • idea, that of being good at suffering, of being willing and able (and even at time eager)

  • totake it”: to be strong because one has invited someone to call one a stupid bastard or a bitch.

  • It’s a common feature of all sexual fantasies that they do notof coursegenuinely

  • solve the problems from which they draw their excitement. But we shouldn’t worry if the

  • fantasy fails to solve the problem in reality. What were looking for here is simply a

  • way of explaining and sympathising with the desire and the erotic relief.

  • Were not generally allowed to be very bossy with anyone. In our hearts, we might like

  • to be very demanding and insistent. We might like to enforce absolute obedience on all

  • those who defy us. But we know how bad it is to be too strict and tyrannical. We have

  • to go gently - all the time.

  • But in a sexual game, our will to dominate can be let loose. Someone puts themselves

  • in our hands and asks that we do with them as we please. What a deep honour!

  • They allow us to shout, bully and order us around - as we otherwise never dare to.

  • And now the commands are met only with delight. You can be as strong, harsh and insistent

  • as you like, safe in the knowledge that the other person is going to be just fine.

  • Why can it be such a turn on to do it outside? In a park, an elevator, or the toilets behind the party...

  • Again, it’s to do with healing a wound from daily life.

  • Normally, we sense that we have to be guarded, on our best behaviour: out there in the elevators,

  • public plazas, shopping centres, garage forecourts of the world. Even nature is seen as quite

  • hostile – a cold, dangerous place where enemies may set upon us.

  • But in the sex games we play outside, we can prove that the public realm is not as threatening

  • as we had supposed. We can behave as we’d like. Show our desires, and survive. And if

  • other people disapprove, that can’t stop us, were strong enough to disregard them.

  • Public sex civilises the wilderness and the lonely formal places of the city.

  • It lets us feel more at home in the world.

  • One can analyse almost any so-called fetish and find similar structures: an anxiety and

  • a corresponding solution, to which an erotic charge has become connected.

  • Looked at like this, sexual scenarios can be explained to ourselvesand, crucially

  • to other people in our livesin fairly rational, sensible terms.

  • Ee can explain how our fear of being responsible became oppressive, and

  • therefore why we enjoy being put in a dog collar. Or why we were afraid of authority,

  • and therefore what fun it is to be examined by a doctor in bed.

  • By talking like this, we can hope that sexual tastes will become less a little shameful

  • and a little less threateningand our erotic games in their own way, a lot more

  • logical and sane.

When it comes to sex, we are - in theory - living in wildly liberated times.

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B1 UK erotic sexual authority anxiety real world ons

How to Understand Sexiness

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    Kat posted on 2014/12/21
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