Through the years, when I’ve been asked questions about fetishes, I presume readers are referring to clothing, man-made objects or certain body parts that have purported sexual power or influence. Fetishes are thought to have the ability to stimulate and promote arousal. They can even be something nonsexual that arouses sexual desire or is necessary for one to reach full satisfaction.
Fetishes take many forms: casts and leg braces, chastity belts, clowns, corsets, erotic photography (especially when combined with bondage and discipline/sadomasochism), feet, furries, glasses, masking, nails/talons/claws, orthodontic braces, plushies, robots, scuba/wetsuits, smoking, sneezing, hair, hypnosis, superheroes, leather, statues/mannequins/dolls. The possibilities are unlimited.
Partialism, sometimes disability-related, refers to specific body parts, such as head, body hair, legs, feet, neck, fingernails, moles, breasts, or specific shapes rather than to the person as an individual.This possibly explains foot binding in China in pre-modern times, extensive corset use in the West in the 19th century, and contemporary breast implants.
Some fetishes deal with disability devices and orthopedic equipment, such as abasiophilia, amputee fetishism, anesthesia fetishism, and medical fetishism. Abasiophilia is a psychosexual attraction to people who use orthopedic appliances such as leg braces, casts, spinal braces or wheelchairs. Only a small minority of people who engage in a sexual relationship with people who have disabilities think of this behavior as a fetish. According to abasiophiles, this attraction to disability can be very strong.
Amputee fetishism is just that — attraction to people with amputated limbs. Acrotomophilia is an intense desire for one’s partner to be an amputee; acrotomophiles are known as “devotees.” Apotemnophilia is an intense desire to be an amputee; apotemnophiles are also known as “wannabes.” Often wannabes act out their fantasies to be disabled through limb-binding or the use of loose clothing.
There are some comical stories about fetishes. Like the time I received a question from a woman with spina bifida whose partner wanted her to dress up in black fishnet stockings — with holes and fancy garters — stuffed with blown-up red, white, and blue balloons and “prance” around in her walker while trying to keep the hose and garters up! Or the guy with a fetish about paralyzed women who wanted them to dress up in scuba gear. He didn’t want to have sexual contact, just wanted to watch them dress up in the gear and sit around in their chairs while being viewed on a webcam.
Then there was “Slapper.” Slapper left a trail of women with disabilities — some who I knew — with red, blotched buttocks from having been spanked with plastic spatulas. Many of the women told me they could take a pretty good slap because they had limited sensation, but it ceased to be worth it because that was Slapper’s sole focus.
Mr. “6” was another man with an unusual fetish. He courted women who were wheelchair users with size 6M shoes. Not size 6N or size 5W. They had to be size 6M. He had them put on heels, wheel around, and then have sex in their chair while it was tipped backward. The problem was that this was the only we he could get aroused and have sex.
There are also serious stories about fetishes and disabilities. I worked with a couple where the hubby was an acrotomophiliac. He and his wife met on a website, started e-mailing, chatting on the phone, met in person, fell in love and married. She was small, a bilateral arm amputee. He was large, strong, handsome and gregarious. Women were drawn to him. This couple had to work on keeping balance in the relationship as he had a tendency to focus on her disability versus who she was as a whole woman.
References to fetishism are common in popular culture. In Boxing Helena a man kidnaps a woman and amputates her limbs. This film was not a favorite among acrotomophiles. Bitter Moon is about a couple who are into multiple fetishes. When he sustains an injury and ends up using a wheelchair, the relationship changes, suspiciously so. Then there’s “Large Marge” (breasts) — a Simpsons episode.
A website about devotees of women with disabilities can be found at: devguide.org/brace.shtml. A UK-based disability fetish blog is www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ouch/200601/the_beautiful_monopede.shtml. For a comprehensive site dedicated to the topic of disability and fetishes (with an excellent reference section), go to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attraction_to_disability.