This is part two in a series on foot fetishes and the sexualization of feet.
Part Two: How Common is a foot fetish?
An object or body part which, real or fantasized presence, is psychologically necessary for an individual to achieve sexual arousal or climax.
The fetishized object is feet, or an accessory to feet, i.e., shoes, socks, nylons . . . (Technically, a foot fetish is called a Partialism, while a shoe fetish is called Retifism.)
In part one of this series I attempted to characterize and define foot fetishes. It turned out to be considerably more complicated than I expected. Although the psychiatric definition hasn’t changed much over the last century, perceptions of foot fetishes have evolved dramatically. Once thought of as a perversion of degenerate men, and a mark of low character, they are now considered by most, to be within the realm of “normal” human sexuality.
Personally, I don’t give a shit what society deems as sexually normal.
People judge poorly anything they don’t understand, and are generally unsatisfied with their own sex lives. It’s a good rule not to take guidance from unhappy people, and I find no value in judging anyone, sexual or otherwise–unless they hurt someone intentionally and without consent.
However, while I’m happy to see examples of society becoming less uptight about sex and sexuality, it’s important a distinction between attraction to feet, and a foot fetish is reasonably clear. All people may have an evolutionary and neurological predisposition to sexualize feet, but a foot fetish requires an event, or trigger in childhood for its development. Without a psychological catalyst, an individual may really, really, like feet, but wouldn’t become exclusively dependent on them for arousal.
Podophilia is a psychosexual disorder. (part three)
This is not meant as judgement. I am not trying to infer there is anything wrong with having a foot fetish, but not acknowledging the psychological component necessary for its development, creates an environment where studying podophilia objectively becomes impossible.
As of yet, there have been no large-sample, unbiased studies conducted on fetishism, foot or otherwise. The information that has been documented comes from individual case studies, and small clinical surveys, of diagnosed paraphiliacs, (primarily non-incarcerated sex offenders, psych-ward residents and private practice patients).
Considering how rare it is for a foot fetishist to need or seek psychiatric therapy, this is a problem. If the only people used to study podophilia are non-typical, the data collected is non-representative of the average podophiliac.
There have been, however some fascinating cases and theories presented on the causes of fetishes in this research, and the shrinks managed to determine a few characteristics of podophilia which have held up despite more than 100 years of scrutiny.
Foot fetishism is primarily a male disorder, and although feet (then shoes) are the most fetishized of objects, podophilia cases are rare.
How rare? No one really knows…
There are no legitimate statistics on the prevalence of foot fetishism. None!
Of course, this doesn’t stop people from spouting off information as if it were fact. . .
In countless articles and academic writings there are statistics, or conclusive statements, written on the prevalence of podophilia. Unfortunately, after I traced each back to its original source, the majority turned out to be guesses or flat-out fabrications. Once I eliminated those, everything left was culled from one of only three sources. These sources sampled anonymous internet users as subjects, creating obvious methodology problems. While none of the sources can be considered valid scientific studies, an argument can be made that collectively, they add weight to the assumptions put forward by experts. Keep in mind though, any presented “facts” on foot fetishes should be viewed with skepticism.
BELOW ARE THE MOST COMMON CLAIMS ON THE PREVALENCE OF FOOT FETISHES, AND THE SOURCES OF EACH.
Source: Remember in August 2006 when AOL proudly released three months of 657,426 users’ private internet search records (without redacting anything)? — yeah me either… :) Before publishing the file, AOL assigned a number to each individual user, which allowed their complete search history to be seen, (like creepy user 927), and in some cases revealed real identities. Although AOL pulled the file down three days later, after it had been mirrored, it is to-date considered one of the dumbest business decisions ever made.
It’s from this data the above statistic is based–when the term “fetish” was put into the search box along side another word, 86% of the time that other word was foot. :|
“Feet are the 3rd most sexualized non-genital body part behind chests and butts.”
“Foot fetishes are so common, they should not be considered a deviance.”
This is a pop-psychology book written by two computational neuroscientists, in their own words. They developed a computer software program to identify and gather sexual search data from online public catalogs. After analyzing a year’s worth of terms entered into dogpile, the software detected: 2 million users conducted 400 million searches, and approximately 13% (55 million) were porn related. The authors then organized the porn searches into categories–only 20 interests accounted for 80% of all searches, (most of the data they collected has never been released, including a complete of what those interests were). After reading the book, and analyzing interviews/blog posts from Ogi Ogas, I was able to piece together a partial list.
- Youth (13.5%)
- Gay (4.7%)
- MILFs (4.3%)
- Breasts (4%)
- Cheating wives (3.4%)
- Vaginas (2.8%)
- Penises (2.4%)
- Blocked by the book
17. Transsexual 20. Granny 23. Celebrity 29. Asian 51. Massage 61. Virgin 79. Cheerleaders
Feet: .175% — There were around 96,000 sexual searches for feet. Statistically, this put feet behind chests and butts, for the most-searched, sexualized, non-genital body part.
The authors were also given access to several websites’ private records, i.e., Porn-hub, OK-Cupid, Sssh.com, and used the above mentioned AOL data to fill “gaps” in their research.
According to Ogas they looked through,
“A billion anonymous Web searches, a million websites, erotic videos, stories, personal ads, and digitized romance novels.”
“We combined all this sexual data with findings from neuroscience, animal studies, clinical psychology, biology, neurological damage, and sex research, as well as, with ideas from our own field of computational neuroscience, to reveal a new portrait of human desire.” Ogi Ogas
Here-in lies one of my biggest problems with accepting this book as legitimate science.
These guys are academics, tackling a subject (sexual desire), they’re not qualified to assess. Neither has a background in psychology or sexology, yet they attempt to use human sexuality as a platform to advance their theories on the brain and mind.
“Nobody in our field had taken a shot at sexual desire—and most of our colleagues thought we were insane to do it,” Ogas says. “But the same neural principles that apply to our higher cognitive functions apply to sexual behavior, too.” (the daily beast)
In their theory, sexual desires and cues are all rooted in our basic evolutionary need to reproduce; often for men and selectively for women. I’m not arguing the validity of that statement. Previous evidence suggests it is a reasonably accurate assessment. The problem is they approach any erotic need, not motivated by procreation, as a defect caused by faulty wiring in the brain. This is, at the very least, an over-simplistic approach to defining human sexual desire.
Along with the above issues the authors conclude that lust, not curiosity, is the motivation behind the searches, (also little distinction was made between fantasy and real-life desires).
I can’t imagine what someone could infer about me, by my porn internet searches . . .
It wouldn’t be pretty. I look at some seriously wicked stuff sometimes. :)
Ogas and Goddam collected some fascinating information–equally titillating as it is intriguing to read through. It’s disappointing they used it to write a book filled with shallow generalizations, and dubious claims.
“47% of body-part fetishes are for feet, and 64% of non-body part fetishes are foot related (i.e. shoes, socks, stockings).”
Source: “Relative prevalence of different fetishes” Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Italy published in the International Journal of Impotence Research (2007).
This is the most valid study conducted on the prevalence of podophilia. The researchers make an honest effort to adhere to a scientific parameter, acknowledge the inherent flaws in methodology, and are careful not to draw unsupported conclusions. Their data on foot fetishism was collected in a similar way to the above mentioned sources, but rather than producing faulty statistics from “click” analysis, they attempt to get closer to the online community that revolves around podophilia (and other fetishes).
Using a computer program to comb through ‘Yahoo! Groups’ 2004 publicly available information, researchers identified 2,938 online social groups whose name or description used the word fetish. They omitted groups which did not fit their studies inclusion criteria– the majority (2,161) could not be established, with confidence, to be of a sexual nature. Other groups were eliminated for various reasons: 372 were too general in their discussion of ‘sex’ or ‘fetishism’, 18 had no message records and 6 had no members . . .
leaving 381 usable groups.
The researchers sorted these groups into three general, sexual preference categories: body (37%), objects (47%), and behaviors (16%). Once they had established these parent categories, the groups were further subdivided into more specific categories.
Relative prevalence of different fetishes
1. A part or feature of the body, (e.g., feet or overweight individuals)–including body modifications (e.g., tattoos). 37%* – 30%**
3. An object not usually associated with the body (e.g., dirty dishes or candles). 6%* – 6%**
4. An event involving only inanimate objects (no examples found). 0%* – 3%**
5. A person’s own behavior (e.g., biting fingernails). 0%* – 7%**
6. A behavior of other persons (e.g., smoking or fighting). 13.5%* – 17%**
7. A behavior or situation requiring an interaction with others (e.g., domination or humiliation role play). 2.2%* – 8%**
*273 groups (70%), were placed in one sub-category. The first statistic listed represents the sexual preferences of these one-category groups.
**83 groups (22%), were placed into two categories, and 23 groups (6%) were classified in more than two. These multiple category group preferences are represented by the second statistic listed.
To estimate the relative frequency, of the different preference categories, researchers analyzed three things: how many groups, the total number of participants in each, and the number of messages they logged.
From this, they determined approximately 47% of the “part of the body” category (#1), was centered on feet. That’s pretty straight forward, but the second statistic of 64% for foot related objects is misleading.
Technically they found 32% of sexual preferences were for footwear (#2 objects associated with the body category). The remaining 32% (of the 64%), comes from a category that combines objects worn on the legs (i.e., stockings), with objects worn on the butt (i.e., mini-skirts). How much of this statistic can be attributed to foot related accessories is not clear, but it’s certainly not the entire 32%.
“The most recent statistics say, about 1.14% of the population has a liking for feet, which is roughly more than 68 million people worldwide. About 1.5 million of these foot fetishists reside in the United States.”
“70% of foot fetishists are male.”
source: no clue
I tried not to waste time and words debunking statistics when I was unable to locate sources (this post is long enough lol). The above statements, however, are written so frequently I wanted to mention them. They are not referenced or mentioned in any study, (or pseudo-study), and even when I attempted to manipulate the data, I was unable to match these findings. They seem reasonably inline with what is known about foot fetishes. Although the 1.5 million is too low; podophilia (along with the majority of other asexual behaviors) has been documented within the United States more than anywhere else. It appears this number was reached by including countries where people sexualize feet as part of their culture (part 5 of this series). . .so not, necessarily fetishism.
If anyone knows where these statistics originated, please, let me know. :)
So that’s that . . .
all of what is known about the prevalence of foot fetishes. :(
Let’s move on…
Kisses and Luv
Next up Part 3–The history of psychology’s theories on fetishism…