The Image of Fetish

The effect of trauma on the young was a sexual dysfunction of sorts, and Freud applied the term Fetish to describe the condition the boys would suffer in their sex life (1).According to Freud, a young boy, experiencing a range of shame-like and fear emotions, would, upon learning the news of his mother’s absent penis, focus on some object while attempting to turn his gaze away from his mother, the source of his distress, and thereby avoid the news that his mother had just given him. In so doing, the object of the young boy’s attention, that object upon which the boy focused to avoid looking at his mother, would then become the object of the young boy’s subsequent sexual fetish (1). Meaning that later in life the young man or adult man would not achieve sexual satisfaction without the image of his obsession being somehow made a part of his sexual arousal or even the act itself (1). Without the object or fetish object, the man would not be able to achieve sexual orgasm (1).Today, most of us would agree, and Livett’s article demonstrates, Freud was wrong in applying his definition to just the male gender. Today, Livett writes, Daredevil, X-Men2, The Matrix: Reloaded – this year’s rubber-filled collection of Hollywood blockbusters are light on dialogue but heavy on fetish (1). We probably won’t hear the argument against that statement, and it clarifies fetishism as a cross-gender trait in modern society. Livett focuses on the work of Amanda Fernbach’s Fantasies of Fetishism to help demonstrate the cross-gender tendency toward fetishism (1). Fernbach, Livett writes, {…} significantly advances the study of fetishism as cultural symptomology (1). Livett supports that conclusion with more Hollywood examples, including Dracula and Terminator2 (1).Still, if we focus only on Freud’s interpretation of the term, we can find evidence in contemporary photography that supports Freud’s ideas of fetishism.

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