The Context Of Kink

Lisa Miller wonders where sexual idiosyncrasies stem from. First she looks to childhood:

There is hardly a transvestite—defined in the literature as a straight man whose sexual arousal depends on wearing women’s clothes—who doesn’t remember being dressed up in his older sister’s bras and panties. Enema fetishists, for whom the ultimate erotic act is to be splayed across someone’s lap with a rubber hose in their rectum, are rarer than they used to be, says Lehne, but those that do exist tend to be older Jewish men of Eastern European descent whose mothers used enemas to force the issue when their little ones didn’t poo on cue. The Other Side of Desire contains the story of a man with a foot fetish so overpowering that he found it difficult to listen to the weather report in winter; just hearing the words feet of snow could make him hard. He confided to a therapist that in second grade, ashamed that he could not read, he looked down at the floor to avoid being called on. There, he saw his classmates’ feet.

On to society:

What you find sexually titillating probably depends as much on where you live and when you live there as it does on whether an amputee librarian taught you how to use the Dewey decimal system. Hairless genitals are the thing right now, whether you call them a taste or a fetish; but in the first part of the twentieth century, an earthy abundance of pubic hair was preferred. Foot fetishes increase during sexually transmitted disease epidemics, Ohio State researchers found in 1998; the Brits have raincoat fetishes; and the Japanese, for whatever reason, have a predilection for used schoolgirl underpants. In Israel, according to a survey by PornMD, porn surfers search prostate most of all; in the ­Palestinian territories, family; and in Syria—go figure—aunt.