Ticklish allsorts

Pub date September 30, 2009


Dear Andrea:

I have had a fetish for ticklish women all my life. (I used to like tickling my sisters, even, although I guess that sounds kind of weird now that I think of it in this context. But I swear it wasn’t "like that" at the time.) But especially since I’ve been having sex with women, I’ve liked tickling them. Mostly they don’t want me too, so I don’t, but I end up frustrated because tickling really turns me on. There are videos on the Internet and I do watch those, but I want a real-life girlfriend to tickle! I broke up with my last girlfriend (not because of tickling) and am wondering if it’s possible to find a new one who does like it. How would you bring something like that up on a date? And how did I get this way, anyway?


Tickle-Me Jason

Dear Jason:

Did you like what I did with your name there? Not that that was your real name, Brandon. I’d never do that.

Anyway, nobody knows. Earlier sex researchers spent a lot of time and cycles on the problem and nobody has ever come up with anything more convincing than the original, mad scientist Richard von Kraft-Ebing, who connected constitutional criminality, low foreheads, early masturbation, and the presence of a fetishizeable object or behavior and blamed them for the later development of paraphilic behavior. Absurd as they sound a century-and-a-half later, these theories were all anybody had to go on for a long time, and seem to linger (along with Freud’s) even now, since almost everyone who does have an unusual set of turn-ons looks to childhood to find a probably nonexistent cause. My own sexuality may have been permanently twisted by early exposure to a National Lampoon spoof of Kraft-Ebbing’s masterwork, Psychopathia Sexualis called, I believe, Psychopathia Cheesealis. It involved, like the original, stern governesses and harsh Prussian child-rearing techniques, and also a good deal of gorgonzola and Emmenthaler. But surely this is neither here nor there.

We don’t know how fetishes develop, and we can’t, since the category itself is such a catch-all. One man’s fetish is another’s passing fancy; one therapist’s paraphilia is another’s healthy sexual experimentation. Me, I make a distinction between objects and behaviors that enhance sexual experiences and those that must be present in order for the person to function at all, or which replace a sexual partner entirely and in all instances. Lick a boot? Great. Lick only boots but never people? Maybe we should talk about that. But I don’t know why a boots-only sexuality develops, and neither does anyone else.

Some fetishes are clearly spontaneously generated and read like some sort of synaptic cross-wiring. Others are just as clearly societally generated and sanctioned , like the Victorian ankle fixation or the old-time Japanese obsession with the nape of the neck (or the current Japanese obsessions with school girls and tentacles, for that matter). Some people are born with their fixations (you may be one of these) and others add and subtract them with the passing of fad-seasons. Some things that seem like fetishes aren’t, really, when you look closer — for example, a lot of role-playing types get turned on by the accoutrements of role (uniforms, leather and chains), but wouldn’t get off on those bits and bobs outside of a "scene" context. And capital-F "Fetish" is another scene (almost) entirely, where people wear fetishy stuff because it looks groovy.

But let’s get serious. Unless you are aroused by their ticklishness, unaffected by whether or not you or a surrogate get to tickle them, you don’t have a fetish for ticklish women so much as you have a fetish for tickling women, and frankly, that one is not one of my favorites. While tickling can be deployed as just another source for extreme sensation during a fully consensual power exchange, to put it awfully stuffily, it also can be and often is misused. You see this most often with funny uncle scenarios, of course, where an adult uses tickling as an excuse both to touch and to humiliate a child and nobody thinks anything is amiss since, of course, it’s all in good fun. I’ve heard a number of women say that their sexually abusive relatives or family friends also tickled them. And some ticklers of grown-ups pull the same shit on their victims: "What’s the matter? It’s just a game. Don’t be a crybaby." It all comes down, of course, to whether or not you stop. You would never be so cruel as to keep tickling past the point of fun for the ticklee, right, and certainly not after being begged to cease? Right? If not, we have nothing further to discuss.

You may find a willing ticklee among the more usual devotees of flogging, play-piercing, and the like. You are unlikely to find someone who likes only tickling, but as I said at the top, if you only like one thing and can’t have sex without it, you may need to talk to someone anyway.



See Andrea’s other column at carnalnation.com.