LOVE LIVES

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The Faces of Love and Sex

The Love World

The Sexual Stage

Sex and The senses

Common Sex Positions

Variations - Standard and Exotic

Other Entry Ports

Rhythm and Release

Love Songs

Love Machines and Love Potions

Fantastics

Sexual insight and Destiny:  Finding New Fulfillment Afterword

Love Machines And Love Potions

When the way to the Love experience is blocked, individuals may find it necessary to use certain sexual detours in order to find a passageway into the love world. One of the more common of such detours is fetishism. The fetishistic object-whether it is a shoe, stocking, underwear, or a glove -creates a distancing of the individual from the genital center of love. The emphasis is no longer directly on the partner but rather on a part of the partner-not a natural part but an artificial one. The fetish draws the attention away from the genitals themselves and fixes it instead on a peripheral object. This peripheralization shows itself in the fact that many fetishes are objects that are worn on the extremities of the body- gloves, stockings and shoes. Underwear is, of course, more closely connected with the genitals, but significantly it is used to cover them up. Most fetishistic objects share the quality of being a cover for one part or another of the human body. Moreover, many of them are made of fur or leather, taken from the skins - the external coverings - of animals. Objects chosen as fetishes are sometimes red-an emotional color - but more often are black. A neutral color, black causes an additional flattening out of generalization.

Because the fetishist fears intimate contact with the genitals and finds it difficult to deal with the physicality of the sexual experience, the chosen object allows for sexual arousal without concentrating on the genital area of the partner. There is a strong element of intellectualization in fetishism-once again a removal of the sex experience from the physical to the mental plane. The objects are sometimes used in conjunction with masturbation , making it possible for the fetishist to enter a fantasy world. But usually the fetishist will request that the partner wear the shoes or gloves during sexual intercourse . There is a paradox here, of course: The objects serve to distance the person from the sexual act, but that distancing in turn makes it possible for the person to engage in sex without fear, thus facilitating direct entry into the love world.

In the past it was believed that fetishists were almost universally male, but recent studies have shown the existence of fetishism among women, too. A distinction should be made between the true fetishist, who always or usually requires the fetishistic object in order to achieve sexual insight and destiny, and the occasional use of such objects by individual who do not need their presence but find that they simply add a little excitement. Thus the man who buys his wife a red lace slip for her birthday and asks her to keep it on while he makes love with her is indulging in mildly fetishistic behavior for the purposes of variety rather than need, and such occasional inventiveness may add piquancy to the pleasures of love.

Fetishism is in some ways related to the instrumentalization and invention utilized in sadomasochistic practices. Those involved in sadomasochism always attempt to construct a fantasy or storybook situation -frequently involving chains, whips, ropes, and bondage- in order to initiate sexual arousal. However, in most cases such practices do not really accomplish that end. In her recent study of sexuality Rosemarie Santini claims that the male sadists she interviews were usually impotent. She states that there was little actual sexual activity reported as occurring during S&M encounters and that the acting out of the fantasy situation appeared to be more important than rhythm release. Clearly, then, the way into the love world has become so thoroughly blocked for many sadists that even the extreme trappings of the S&M experience are not sufficient to stimulate sexual arousal.

The sadist, the masochist, and the true fetishist practice extreme .the love world theme. But the occasional use of mechanical devices for sexual stimulation is as old as history and has been a relatively common occurrence in innumerable societies. As Mantegazza wrote in the late nineteenth century: "Man, not content with the natural pleasure of the sexual embrace, has endeavored to increase it with many and varied artifices, in which his imagination has outdone itself." But these devices are not used merely to increase erotic pleasure; often they serve a psychological function as well, acting as necessary portals into the love world. Sometimes they are used as substitutes for close natural contact, while at other times they are used in addition to such contact. When most couples use these artifices , the objective is to increase pleasure through an emphasis on the physical elements, such as touch, pressure, and the temperature qualities related to touch. Visual elements of shape and color are also sometimes involved.