Narcissism & Femininity

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Katharine Hepburn dressed as a man

“Knowing that she is to be subjected to the cold appraisal of the male connoisseur and that her life prospects may depend on how she is seen, a woman learns to appraise herself first.”

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Today I talked with my mother for the first time without letting my own past hurt and personal narcissism get in the way, it became aware to me that my mother had given so much more of herself; physically, emotionally, and mentally while raising us. I also realized that she was stuck in a relationship that required her to expend so much more physical, emotional, and mental support than she in turn received from others. As mother, she was expected to be an emotional support warrior in an atmosphere that provided her little emotional support in return. As woman in this role, it was expected of her. As mother, it was demanded of her. My father did not have these expectations placed upon him. He was expected to be the provider and his demands revolved around bring home the bacon and delivering the goods. So in this role as bread winner, he did not convey the emotional support that is required for a successful marriage.

“…the norms of femininity suppress the body potential of women. We grow up learning that the feminine body is soft, not muscular, passive, incapable, vulnerable. Our parents, teachers and friends suppress our natural urges to run, jump, risk, by cries that we should not act so boldly and move so daringly. . . .Developing a sense of our bodies as beautiful objects to be gazed at and decorated requires suppressing a sense of our bodies as strong, active subjects moving out to meet the worlds’ risks and confront the resistance of matter and motion.” ~Iris Young

With anatomy as destiny, in this way following the dichotomy set by our genital make-up can become very difficult to balance. There is a balance that must be struck that involve both masculinities and femininities. If my father had emotionally supported my mother a little more than he did, my mother may have been much happier in the marriage and perhaps we as a family may have suffered less. The over use of one aspect of your ego, say your masculinity, could cause an unbalanced relationship. For there requires a balancing of the egos, a balancing of both the feminine and masculine aspects received and given in the early stages of the symbolic relationship.

Narcissism, for Freud, is our “primal psychic situation, the original disposition of libido. In the beginning, the

ego’s instincts are directed to itself and it is to some extent capable of deriving satisfaction for them on itself. This condition is known as narcissism and this potentiality for satisfaction is termed auto-erotic.”

Women, far more than men, are likely to remain in this “primal psychic situation,” not surprisingly, since in the Freudian scheme of things, the female psyche is more archaic than the male. The explanatory device Freud uses to account for the greater proneness of women to self-admiration and bodily display is, of course, penis envy. Lacking the penis, young girls regard themselves as physically inferior to boys; feminine preoccupation with the body is an effort to compensate for an unconscious sense of psychical deficiency. In “On Narcissism,” Freud takes note of the fact that feminine narcissism flowers in adolescence, but he makes an uncharacteristically crude effort to account for this:

“With the development of puberty the maturing of the female sexual organs, which up till then have been in a condition of latency, seem to bring about an intensification of the original narcissism.”

Helene Deutsch adds refinement to the favorite Freudian hypothesis. For her, feminine narcissism operate in the psyche as a counterweight to feminine masochism: The “feminine woman…..is characterized by her struggle for a harmonious accord between the narcissistic forces of self-love and the masochistic forces of dangerous and painful giving.” While Deutsch does not express herself in quite this way, her meaning is clear. Narcissistic eros in woman binds masochistic thanatos. Without the antidote of self-love, woman would be helpless before the misfortunes of an inherently masochistic nature that will surely bring upon itself – as if a psychic constitution composed in such large measure of masochism and narcissism were not misfortune enough.

“One of the many things men don’t understand about women is the extent to which our self-esteem depends on how we feel we look at any given moment- and how much we yearn for a compliment, at any age. If I had just won the Nobel Peace Prize but felt my hair looked awful, I would not be glowing with self-assurance when I entered the room.” ~Dinah Shore

Knowing that she is to be subjected to the cold appraisal of the male connoisseur and that her life prospects may depend on how she is seen, a woman learns to appraise herself first. The sexual objectification of women produces a duality in feminine consciousness. The gaze of the Other is internalized so that I myself become at once seer and seen, appraiser and the thing appraised. The adolescent girl, just beginning to grasps the role she is to assume

“Becoming an object and she sees herself as object; she discovers this new aspect of her being with surprise: it seems to her that she has been doubled; instead of coinciding exactly with herself, she now begins to exist outside.”

Narcissism, then, “consists in the setting up of the ego as a double, a stranger.” While the identity of this “stranger” has yet to be established. Beauvoir’s language seems hyperbolic: The stranger who inhabits my consciousness is not really a stranger at all, but myself.

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Woman Blaming

Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence or Bullying

Woman blaming is a common technique used to obscure the workings of male domination. In fact, blaming in and of itself is an inappropriate mode of behavior as it seeks to alleviate responsibility for taking action for and finding creative solutions to a problem in which, hopefully, both sides benefit. It has been most used in relation to men’s violence against women, ie: male criminologists, male lawyers, say that victims cause it by wearing the wrong clothes, or mothers cause it by being too clingy or too distant from their abusive sons, or wives cause it by being more educated than their abusive husbands. All these explanations serve to divert attention from men’s culpability and throw responsibility upon the subordinate sex class. The dominate class of men remains innocent and untouchable thereby. When women can be held responsible even when men’s agency is clear, it is not surprising that woman-blaming is particularly rife in relation to beauty practices, where men apparently play no direct role.

The foot fetishist J.J. Leganeur resorts to woman-blaming to explain foot binding. It was not a matter ofmale domination at all. In fact it was entirely and only to do with women:

It was practiced by women. The mothers usually bound their daughter’s feet . . . Chinese foot binding also has al the sings of a woman behind it. The process of foot binding is so horrifying and unwrapped bound feet are so grotesque that ti would have frightened the hell out of any many. Foot binding was most likely invented or developed by a mother, who hoped that her daughter would marry an emperor or wealthy man.

The radical-feminist theorist Mary Daly explains that this woman-blaming, which disappears the responsibility of men, is one of the criteria for recognizing what she calls sado-rituals, which are enacted upon women cross-culturally for men’s delight. She says foot binding despite the blatant male-centeredness of this ritual, practitioners of the Rites of Right Scholarship allow themselves to write as if women were its originators, controllers, legitimates. She says that women are used in sado-rituals as “token torturers” with the result that ‘hate and distrust’ are perpetuated amongst women. Daly calls the male scholarship which attributes responsibility to women “sado-scholarship,” which is promoted to women in school textbooks, popular magazines and TV programmes, and leads to ‘female self-loathing and distrust of other women’.

The revival of the high-heeled shoe is considered another misogynistic practice that plays to the desire and benefits male culture. High heeled shoes have been consumed by women in compulsory fashion to support women’s careers which depend upon themselves representing men’s sexual ideals. Some feminist and non-feminist alike feel the high heel is nothing more than a torture implement for feet. Several designers have contributed to revitalizing the extreme high heel as a trend in women’s fashion, but the most famous is Manolo Blahnik. His shoes were publicized in television shows such as Absolutely Fabulous and Sex and the City. The extend of his fetishistic interest is clear in the fact that he is prepared to create shoes that cannot be worn.

Despite the fact that J.J. Leganeur is able to defend it, foot binding, if it continued today, would be likely to be recognized by most as a harmful cultural practice. It fulfills all the criteria. It creates stereotyped roles for men and women, it emerges from the subordination of women and is for the benefit of men, it is justified by tradition, and it clearly harms the health of women and girl children. Though there are many similarities between foot binding and the wearing of high-heeled shoes it is unlikely that the later practice would be commonly understood as a harmful cultural practice, even by those who do not recognize that the West has a culture in which cultural practices can exist. This distinction is likely to rest upon the issue of consent. It is clear that, as with female genital mutilation, a practice carried out upon children cannot be consented to. Six and seven year-old-girls have nowhere to go. They are dependent on those who require that they be mutilated. In theory adult women in the West can choose comfortable shoes, as Eleanor Roosevelt did. However, the continued importance of high-heeled shoes in fashion for women reflects the power of what Mary Daly calls the “sadosociety” to require women to self-mutilate. High-heeled shoes, like the other practices of cutting up women’s bodies, breast implants, cosmetic surgery, piercing and cutting, can be understood as forms of self-mutilation by a group, women, and low social status.

On The Heels Of Shame . . . .

Open Letter To The Landlord
  by Living Color (1988)
Now you can tear a building down
But you can’t erase a memory
These houses may look all run down
But they have a value you can’t see…
This is my neighborhood
This is where I come from
I call this place my home
You call this place a slum
You want to run all the people out
This what you’re all about
Treat poor people just like trash
Turn around and make big cash
Now you can tear a building down
But you can’t erase a memory
These houses may look all run down
But they have a value you can’t see
Last month there was a fire
I saw seven children die
You sent flowers to their family
But your sympathy’s a lie
Cause every building that you burn
Is more blood money that you earn
We are forced to relocate
From the pain that you create
Now you can tear a building down
But you can’t erase a memory
These houses may look all run down
But they have a value you can’t see
We lived here for so many years
Now this house is full of fear
For a profit you will take control
Where will all the older people go?
There used to be when kids could play
Without the scourge of drug’s decay
Now our kids are living dead
They crack and blow their lives away
Now you can tear a building down
But you can’t erase a memory
These houses may look all run down
But they have a value you can’t see
You’ve got to fight
You’ve got a right
To fight for your neighborhood!
Songwriters: Tracie D Morris / Vernon Alphonsus Reid
Open Letter lyrics © Songs Music Publishing

Shame and Guilt; The Primary Structure Of Shame Before Somebody As “Other”

Shame

Shame can be characterized in a preliminary way as a species of psychic distress occasioned by a self or a state of the self-apprehended as inferior, defective, or in some way diminished. For the Sartre of Being and Nothingness, shame requires an audience: shame is in its primary structure shame before somebody: it is “shame of oneself before the Other.” Nobody can be vulgar all alone! To be ashamed is to be in the position of passing judgment on myself as on an ‘Object’, for it is as an ‘Object’ that I appear to the ‘Other.’ Only insofar as I apprehend myself as the ‘Other’s object‘, (ie; through the medium of another consciousness, can I grasp my own object-character). “Hence, shame before the Other is primordial“. I must feel shame before some actual Other before I learn to raise an internalized Other in imagination. Furthermore, shame is by nature recognition. Unless I recognize that I am as I am seen by the other, the other’s judgment cannot cast me down.

“Shame is a soul eating emotion.” ~C.G. Jung

Sartre’s discussion of shame is highly abbreviated: preoccupied with the role of the Other as audience, he has little to say about the mechanisms that can forge an identification of self and Other in an experience of shame. Once an actual Other has revealed my object-character to me, I can become an object for myself, I can come to see myself as I might be seen by another, caught in the shameful act. Hence, I can succeed in being vulgar all alone: In such a situation, the Other before whom I am ashamed is only – myself. A man may feel himself disgraced by something that is unworthy in his own eyes and apart from any judgment but his own.

Here is a fuller characterization of the structure of shame: Shame is the distressed apprehension of the self as inadequate or diminished: it requires if not an actual audience before whom my deficiencies are paraded, then an internalized audience with the capacity to judge me, hence internalized standards of judgment. Further, shame requires the recognition that I am, in some important sense, as I am seen to be.

Shame4Some individuals take issue with the Sartrian idea. Some feel that “recognition” is a feature of every shame experience. They take the Sartrian idea to mean that the distress involved in feeling ashamed is called forth only insofar as I myself identify with the values and perspective of the one whose gaze has shamed me. They set against this claim a number of counterexamples, the most interesting drawn from Scheler: An artist’s model feels shame when she realizes that the artist, with whom she thought she had a purely business relationship, has come to regard her with desire. In this case, the model need not see herself as a woman in the sense of object of sexual interest . . . She does not identify with the audience, she sees rather how she appears to the artist. But surely, what I am, that is, what I am made to be – here, a desirable bodyis not always up to me to determine. Here, how I am and how I appear to the to her converge. The model’s evidence that she is as she is seen to be lies just in the desiring gaze of the artist. The indemnificatory recognition of herself in the artist’s eye has not been chosen, nor is it welcome, nor does it coincide with the idea of herself she would like him to have other, but it is recognition nevertheless. The model falls from innocence in this play of eyes. She has no choice but to see herself as an “object of sexual interest.

“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” ~Brene Brown

The inter-subjectivity of shame, we could conceive shame, not as a reaction to a loss, but as a reaction to a threat, specifically the threat of demeaning treatment one would invite in giving the appearance of someone of lesser worth. For example, the demeaning treatment of a prostitute by her John, or the demeaning treatment of a woman who takes care of her body by fellow females who do not share in her cultural activities, either because of social constraints or non-capacity. But this seems excessively narrow. Surely, shame is sometimes a reaction to real loss, to loss of face, this occasioned by the disclosure to one self or to others of defects in the self that may come suddenly and horribly to light. At any rate, this definition bears clearly upon additional aspects of the shame experience: the cringing withdrawal from others; the cringing within, this felt sometimes as a physical sensation of being pulled inward and downward; the necessity for hiding and concealment. All are typical responses to threat. The painful disclosure of one’s shortcomings, actual or feared, may lead to “a shattering of trust in oneself, even in one’s own body and skill and identity,” and, since whatever is found shameful in oneself may reflect the character of one’s normal social network, “in the trusted boundaries or framework of the society and the world one has known. Hence, shame, an experience of violation of trust in oneself and in the world, may go deeper than guilt for a specific act.

Shame, then, involves the distressed apprehension of oneself as a lesser creature. Guilt, by contrast, refers not to the subject’s nature but to her actions. Typically, it is called forth by the active violation of principles which a person values and by which she feels herself bound. Shame is felt over shortcomings, guilt over wrongdoings. Shame is called forth by the apprehension of some serious flaw in the self, guilt by the consciousness that one has committed a transgression. The widely held notion that shame is a response to external and guilt to internal sanctions is incorrect. Shame and guilt are alike in that each involves a condemnation of the self by itself for some failure to measure up; it is the measures that differ. While useful conceptual distinction can be drawn between shame and guilt, the boundaries between them tend to blur in actual experience. Psychological studies have shown that most people are hard put to state the difference between shame and guilt, nor can they easily classify their experiences under one heading or the other. This is hardly surprising, since each must call forth the other with great frequency. The violation of a cherished moral principle is likely to be taken by anyone without satanic ambitions as the sign of some shameful weakness in the personality.

If the primordial structure of shame is such that one is ashamed of oneself before the Other, who is the Other before one feels ashamed before? The identity of this Other, whoever it turns out to be, will be hugely over determined, for women in a sexist society are subjected to demeaning treatment by a variety of Others; they bring to the classroom a complex experience of subordination and an elaborate repertoire of stereotyped gestures appropriate to their station. One wonders too whether there is any relationship between women’s shame – both the shame that is directly linked to embodiment and the shame that is not – to the persistence of religious traditions that have historically associated female sexuality with pollution and contagion. But whatever the character of this over determined, it remains the case that female subjectivity is not constructed entirely elsewhere and then brought ready-made to the classroom of life. The classroom of life is also the site of its constitution. So, who this Other is that is so feared by many females? This notorious ‘Other’ is a composite portrait of other individuals, earlier individuals who had, in fact, subjected them but not their male counterparts to consistent shaming behavior.

A Great Quote That Should Empower Any Woman

Mary Cassatt

“….by virtue of our socialization into patterns of nurturance, women are well situated to repair the emotional damage men inflict on one another. Women’s care giving is said to function as a “safety valve” that allows the release of emotional tensions generated by a fundamentally inhumane system. Without such release, these tensions might explode the set of economic and political relationships wherein they are now uneasily contained. Hence, women are importantly involved in preventing the destabilization of a system in which some men oppress other men and men generally oppress women generally.”

How much more persuasive is this powerful feminine gift?

Photo: Mary Cassatt “Mother and Child” (1884-1894) Oil on canvas
Quotation by Sandra Lee Bartky, “Femininity and Domination; Studies in the Phenomenology of Oppression” New York, Routledge 1990.

 

Beauty; Self-Mutilation by Proxy

 

“It is interesting that women’s self-injury provokes social concern in ways that the injury of women by others or by themselves to accommodate the norms of fashion and beauty do not.”

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Practices of self-mutilation that do not fit the rules of beauty in which young women mutilate themselves in private, are seen as a reason for concern and socially undesirable. What was once the private mutilation that women carried out in the privacy of their rooms as a result of abuse and low social status, became, in the 1990s, the basis of an industry of cutting and piercing, and a staple of men’s pornographic diet on websites such as Body Modification Ezine. Cutting and piercing, if carried out in studios by “artists,” have now acquired the status of new everyday beauty practices I shall argue here that there is a connection between private mutilation and those mutilations that are now part of the beauty industry and pronochic. All of these practices are the stigmata of low social status. Women and other oppressed groups, such as some say men, are cutting up in private and in public, in socially acceptable ways such as cosmetic surgery and in ways that are not yet accepted, such as branding. They are carving into their bodies the hatred of a woman – and gay-hating society.

Body Modification Ezine

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This epidemic, like the epidemic of eating disorders with which it is clearly linked, affects young women in particular. It has been analyzed by feminist practitioners and writers as an issue that seems very clearly to be linked to the condition of women, though male commentators, have tended to ignore this aspect. Feminist analysis suggest that self-harm is connected with low social status and childhood or adulthood experiences of physical and sexual abuse. I have suggested elsewhere that practices in which women, and some men, request others to cut up their bodies, as in cosmetic surgery, transsexual surgery, amputee identity disorder and other forms of SM, should be understood as self-mutilation by proxy. The proxy, such as the surgeon, the piercer in a piercing studio, the sadist, takes the role that in self-mutilation is more normally taken by the mutilator themselves, and in private. The proxy gains financial benefit, sexual excitement, or both, from carrying out the mutilation. Cutting up is mostly done to women but certain categories of men are also cut up and they well be considered here. As the practices of self-mutilation by proxy become more and more extreme, it becomes increasingly necessary to subject them to political analysis and establish where limits may be drawn to prevent surgeons from aiding and abetting such self harm.

Subdermal-implant-on-arm
Subdermal implants on arm.

Self-mutilation is overwhelmingly a behavior of girls and young women. Its most common form is cutting with razors, or other sharp implements, of the forearm, though other areas of the body can be injured. It is related to childhood abuse and studies abound linking childhood sexual and physical abuse and emotional neglect to the later development of self-injuring behavior. It is a common behavior. It has been estimated that 2 million young women in the USA regularly self-mutilated. The behavior is usually carried out in private. Feminists analysis of women’s self-injury suggests that it is engaged in to relieve the painful feelings associated with trauma, violations and silencing in a culture that fails to provide adequate opportunities for women’s development, healing and expression. The overwhelming majority of women in the ranks of self-injurers suggest that self-injury is associated with women’s low status. Girls and women who have no outlet for the rage and pain they experience from male violence and abuse and from the other injuries of a male-dominant culture, attack their own bodies. Often they are emotionally disassociated from their bodies, having learnt this technique to survive abuse. Self-mutilation breaches the barriers they have created and allows them to “feel.” An increasing frequency of self-mutilation by young women fits into a context of increasing mental and physical health problems in teenage girls. In 2014, for instance, the Health and Social Care Information Centre provided statistics to show that teenage girls of 15-19 years old were the most likely group, after middle-aged men, to be admitted to hospitals in the UK for extreme stress in the previous year.

Health and Social Care Information Centre

Anorexia Victim

It is interesting that women’s self-injury provokes social concern in ways that the injury of women by others or by themselves to accommodate the norms of fashion and beauty do not. Self-injury damages women’s bodies in ways that men do not necessarily require for their sexual satisfaction and may even find off-putting. Women self-injurers are women trying to take control of and objectify their own bodies in ways that transgress cultural norms. It is has become culturally tolerable for women to objectify and destroy their own bodies in ways that do not serve Western aesthetics. Though some feminist analyses of self-injury almost seem to laud this behavior as a form of positive resistance to patriarchy. Some feminists feel that self-injury undermines women’s freedom, limits their possibilities and may blaze a trail toward suicide attempts.

Body Mutilation - Tongue splittine
Tongue Splitting

In the 1990s self-injury perpetrated by proxies became fashionable through the piercing, cutting and tattooing industry. The private self-mutilation born of despair and self-directed rage at abuse and oppression was exploited by piercing entrepreneurs. Piercing studios were set up in cities throughout the Western world offering various forms of self-injury to make a profit for the perpetrators. The forms of injury provided by these studios and independent operators ranged from bellybutton piercing to the extremes of spearing straight through the torso as carried out by the California ex-advertising executive Fakir Musafar. The practices stemmed from two main sources, punk fashion and gay male SM. Commercial self-mutilation mainstreams the gay SM that once was seen as outré and transgress by its exponents, and extends the practice to other social groups. It can be seen as the ‘mainstreaming-of-deviancy’ one author argues. The piercing of nipples and genitals arose in the homosexual SM culture of the West Coast and from the piercing shop The Gauntlet in particular. The Gauntlet by 1995 was a chain of three shops about as controversial as Elizabeth Arden salons. Rumbling through the biker culture and punk as piercing gradually shed its outlaw image and was mass marketed to the impressionable by music videos, rock stars

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Tribal Fashion

and models. Gay male fashion designers placed pierced models on their catwalks, and helped to inscribe a practice that had symbolized gayness, onto the bodies of conventional young women and some young men. The practices were enveloped in new age philosophy, said to be ‘tribal’ in their reflection of the practices of African and other non-Western peoples, and carried out by ‘modern primitives.’ The idea that the practices were transgressive quickly became unsustainable. German researchers, for instance, reported in 2006 that 41 per cent of the women aged 14-24 years in their study had body modifications, piercing or tattooing. A 2010 UK study reported that 29 per cent of people aged 16-44 had a tattoo, and 23 per cent regretted it.

Excessive Tattooing - Full body

As many forms of body modification become normalized and available at the local chemist or studio, those seeking to be outcasts must engage in more extreme procedures, and so body modification becomes more and more dangerous and destructive to the body. The outer reaches of body modification in the forms of castration and limb amputation also need to be considered.

Self-Amputation in Two Non-Psychotic – US National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health

“A small number of self-amputees have been controversially diagnosed as body identity integrity disorder (BIID), a condition that characterizes individuals, who are convinced that they were meant to have a physical defect, for example, an amputated leg, and who feel trapped in their able bodies. BIID‘s principles are similar to gender identity disorder in that the patient, instead of having gender dysphoria, has a body integrity dysphoria, which disappears once the “corrective“ amputation has been performed.”

The researchers conclude that a positive answer to routine psychiatric screening questions about self-harming ideation should serve as a springboard for the mental health professional to explore self-amputation ideation. Special attention should be given to the patients who report feelings of guilt, those who are distressed by their behavior, and those who deliberately self-harm.

Let’s Talk About Sex; Some Brief Notes on Foot and Shoe Fetishes

 

Foot fetishSexologists, the ‘scientists’ of sex, agree that foot and shoe fetishism is the commonest kind. The sexologist Havelock Ellis, considered by some to be the most significant ‘prophet of sex’ in the twentieth century, identified men’s foot and shoe ‘erotic symbolism,’ as he called fetishism, as the ‘most frequent’ form of fetishism. Fetishism is mainly a behavior of men, though the sexologists rarely make this plain. They explain that fetishists choose some part of a woman or article of apparel as the focus of their sexual excitement rather than a whole woman. There are various explanation for why this should be. Some say that the male child first experiences arousal whilst aware of this body part or item of clothing and thus associates it with sex all his life. This does not explain why women are so rarely fetishists. Another form of explanation relates fetishism to the fear of castration in which case the fetish stands in for the penis. This might explain why fetishism is male, but only for those who want to place any credence in psychoanalysis.

Ellis, like other male commentators on fetishism, routinely uses engendered language that conceals the fact that fetishism is male. There are clues, such as when he says, “It Best foot pornwould seem that even for the normal lover the foot is one of the most attractive parts of the body.” Women readers will understand that they are not ‘normal lovers,’ since they are unlikely to have found their partners’ feet the most attractive part of them. When he says, “In a small but not inconsiderable minority of persons, however, the foot or the boot becomes the most attractive part of a woman”, we realize that by “persons” he means men. In “some morbid cases” he tells us, “the woman herself is regarded as a comparatively unimportant appendage to ther feet or her boots. Ellis says that fetishism is quite normal, since “fetichism [sic] and the other forms of erotic symbolism are but the development and the isolation of the crystallization which normally arise on the basis of sexual selection (oedipal stage of development). Women, by this reckoning, must be abnormal. Rossi, too, says that foot fetishism, is normal because “The human species prefers itself a little bent out of natural shape.” It hardly needs saying that there does not seem to have been a great demand by women for men to be bent out of shape.

Sexy Feet2Ellis goes so far as to attach very positive value to fetishism by suggesting that it is a practice of superior lovers (men). Thus he says of fetishes: “While the average insensitive person may fail to perceive them at all, for the more alert and imaginative lovers they are a fascinating part of the highly charged crystallization of passion.” The implication is that men without the ability to fixate on women’s feet are “insensitive.” Ellis’ enthusiasm for fetishism is likely to relate to his own practice of urolagnia, or love of watching/listening to women urinate. This seems to have been very important and may even have supplanted what he, along with other sexologists, tells us is normal sex (example: sexual intercourse). He includes urolagnia in erotic symbolism, says it is “not extremely uncommon” and attributes it to men, like himself, who are superior intellectuals, “it has been noted in men of high intellectual distinction. It is, he says, “within normal limits of variation of sexual emotion.” Though he tells us that it occurs in women as well as men,” there is not much evidence of this. In gay male sexual culture it is quite common with a considerable pornography and practice of what are called “water sports,” but amongst lesbians and heterosexual women it would seem to be very unusual.