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There is scientific proof that foot fetishes are normal
Research dating back to the 1950s explains why the foot fetish makes total sense.
- A fetish is a sexual fixation on a specific object, activity, or body part that becomes absolutely necessary to a person's sexual satisfaction.
- According to recent research, 1 in 7 people have fantasized about feet in a sexual way at least once in their lives.
- Prominent researcher Wilder Penfield, who established the "body image map" in the 1950s, explains that the sensory perception for our feet is located directly adjacent to the sensory perception area for our genitalia - which can explain the sexual fascination many people experience with feet.
A brief introduction to fetishes
Have you ever wondered how fetishes are formed?
Photo by OneSideProFoto on Shutterstock
"Fetish" and "kink" are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are some key differences that are important to discuss when we're talking about the psychology of a specific sexual desire.
A fetish is a sexual fixation on a specific object, activity, or body part that becomes absolutely necessary to a person's sexual satisfaction. A kink is a broad term that is used to describe many different "alternative" sexual interests, preferences, and/or fantasies.
A fetish will oftentimes be psychologically ingrained in our desires - it becomes almost impossible to feel sexual pleasure without including this particular thing in your sex life.
Sometimes a fetish is a kink that has become psychologically essential to sexual gratification. For some, participating in a specific BDSM activity may start as a fantasy and eventually lead to something they need in order to feel arousal, pleasure, and sexual release.
How are fetishes formed?
The idea of how fetishes are formed has been a question of intrigue for a long time. However, there is still very little research available on the subject. Perhaps this is because of the complexities of sexual psychology — after all, sometimes it's difficult to explain why our brain reacts the way it does to certain stimulation.
The most common answer to the question of how fetishes are formed is that a fetish is a learned response. For example, when a neutral item (such as a shoe, for example) is paired with something arousing (a nude photo, for example), the previously neutral item is eventually associated with arousal and sexual excitement, eventually becoming a trigger for arousal.
This theory was proven in 1966, with a study performed by Stanley Rachman, where colored photographic slides of naked women were projected onto a screen for 15 seconds, followed by another image of a pair of black, knee-length women's boots projected for 30 seconds.
Sexual arousal was successfully conditioned in this study, meaning that the participants eventually became aroused when looking at the image of the black boot.
There is another theory surrounding fetishism that suggests there are prerequisite personality traits that enable us to become more or less likely to develop certain fetishes.
According to psychologist Dr. Justin Lehmiller, who is currently a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, the idea that people are "born with" fetishes likely won't be proven - but there is merit to the idea people may be born with a generalized predisposition to developing fetishes.
"Although personality is undoubtedly influenced by environmental factors, several studies have suggested that a number of personality traits are heritable to some degree," Lehmiller explains. "So, to the extent that individuals are born with tendencies towards certain personality traits could explain why some people are more likely to develop fetishes than others."
Explaining foot fetishes
1 in 7 people have had a sexual fantasy about feet.
Photo by Martin Carlsson on Shutterstock
The fetish for feet has been labeled as many things: foot fetishism, foot worship, foot partialism (where you are sexually aroused by a certain body part).
Foot fetishism has also been deemed a paraphilia (a condition where the individual's sexual arousal and satisfaction depend on fantasizing over a specific thing), with people who have a distinct interest in feet noted as having "podophilia", which is described as a pronounced sexual interest in feet (or shoes).
How popular are foot fetishes?
According to Justin Lehmiller, who collected data on this topic for his book "Tell Me What You Want", reported that 1 in 7 people have reported having a foot-related sexual fantasy before. However, he explains the number of people who have a true fetish for feet is likely to be much smaller than that.
It's important to note, according to Lehmiller, that just because someone has fantasized about feet in a sexual capacity, this doesn't mean they have a fetish for feet - simply, they have been sexually aroused by the idea of feet in the past.
Lehmiller even went as far as breaking down the sexual orientation of his participants, explaining that 18% of heterosexual men have fantasized about feet before, compared to a very small 5% of heterosexual women. Twenty-one percent of gay or bisexual identifying men and 11% of lesbian or bisexual women also shared their experiences with foot-related sexual fantasies.
Research from the 1950s explains the correlation between feet and sexual arousal
The "body image map" known as the Penfield Homunculus explains why people can be sexually aroused by feet.
Photo by sergey karabanov on Shutterstock
Dr. Vilayanur Ramachandran, a neurologist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, San Diego, has spent years studying and analyzing the neural mechanisms that cause human behaviors.
Ramachandran explains the results of a study he conducted on the clinical phenomenon known as "the phantom limb", where people who have lost limbs continue to have vivid sensations (pain or otherwise) where the missing limb would be.
Chronic phantom pain is present in about ⅔ of patients who have had a limb removed, and this phenomenon may also explain foot fetishism, as well.
According to Ramachandran, every point on your body has a corresponding point in your brain.
When a person loses a limb, the brain rewires the area of the brain that is connected to that part of your body and can often make it feel as though there is still a limb there - this is the explanation found in studies of phantom missing limb pains.
In one of Ramachandran's studies, many people who had lost a foot also reported that they could experience sexual pleasure from thinking about their missing foot.
While this may sound unorthodox, a groundbreaking study from the late 1950s proves this theory.
Wilder Penfield established the "body image map" (referred to as The Penfield homunculus) which found that sensations in the body directly correlated to stimulations in various parts of our brain. The sensory perception for our feet is located directly adjacent to the sensory perception area for our genitalia - perfectly explaining the normalcy behind foot fetishism.
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How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to go ice fishing on Europa<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="GLGsRX7e" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4790eb8f0515e036b24c4195299df28"> <div id="botr_GLGsRX7e_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/GLGsRX7e-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Water Vapor Above Europa’s Surface Deteced for First Time<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c4abc8473e1b89170cc8941beeb1f2d"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WQ-E1lnSOzc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
A unique exoplanet without clouds or haze was found by astrophysicists from Harvard and Smithsonian.
- Astronomers from Harvard and Smithsonian find a very rare "hot Jupiter" exoplanet without clouds or haze.
- Such planets were formed differently from others and offer unique research opportunities.
- Only one other such exoplanet was found previously.
Munazza Alam – a graduate student at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.
Credit: Jackie Faherty
Jupiter's Colorful Cloud Bands Studied by Spacecraft<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a72dfe5b407b584cf867852c36211dc"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GzUzCesfVuw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Scientists discover burrows of giant predator worms that lived on the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- Scientists in Taiwan find the lair of giant predator worms that inhabited the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- The worm is possibly related to the modern bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).
- The creatures can reach several meters in length and famously ambush their pray.
A three-dimensional model of the feeding behavior of Bobbit worms and the proposed formation of Pennichnus formosae.
Credit: Scientific Reports
Beware the Bobbit Worm!<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1f9918e77851242c91382369581d3aac"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_As1pHhyDHY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The idea behind the law was simple: make it more difficult for online sex traffickers to find victims.