Jackie A. Castro, LMFT
Jackie Interviewed in TUSH Magazine
Updated: May 21, 2019
What exactly is the difference between a fetish and a sexual preference?
There is a big difference. If someone has a preference for something, it implies that they like many things but have a greater 'liking' for one thing over the other. Sexually speaking, someone might 'prefer' having sex doggy style but they would be satisfied with other positions.
On the other hand, fetish is something very specific that would be categorized more as a need, rather than a desire. A sexual fetish is something very deep and very specific. Those who have a real fetish, can not achieve sexual satisfaction unless they are engaging in the fetish physically or mentally.
In plain language, people who have a fetish, sexualize something as opposed to someone. That something may be an object, an act or a behavior. The fetish can involve the use of nonliving objects such as panties, a cigarette or an angora sweater. The fetish can also be a fixation on a certain area of the body such as feet, the buttocks or armpits.
What about foot fetish, is this a very common fetish? Why do you think feet are so popular?
Yes, foot fetish is probably the most recognized fetish in the world. In this day and age, I'd venture to say that almost everyone is at least familiar with this fetish. Prior to more recent scientific studies, Sigmund Freud suggested that fetishism is a learned behavior that results when a normal sexual stimulus is paired with a fetish item. In terms of understanding the etiology of a foot fetish, take this example:
A male toddler crawls on the floor, and inadvertently, his penis rubs against his mother's shoe. The resulting pleasure is then associated with the shoe, and a foot fetish can very well develop.
Is foot fetish something culturally based, are there investigations if certain cultural backgrounds or social milieu tend to more into foot fetish?
I am personally not familiar with any studies. With that said, I have personally worked with foot fetishists of all ages, races and nationalities. I have not personally encountered any cultural predilections when it comes to foot fetishists. I think the answer there is pretty self explanatory. We all have feet. They are a visible part of the human anatomy. Sexual desire is not generally associate with culture. Rather desire is linked to early stimuli and personal preference.
Guilt and shame are unfortunately, universal when talking about human sexuality. In my practice, I help people work through the shame that is often a bi-product of being 'sexually different". So many ethnicities and religions have unyielding rules when it comes to defining sexuality. Those who are different, are subjected to ridicule. Fetish is born out of both environmental experiences and genetic mapping. It's the same as those who are born LGBTQ. We live in a world that's harsh and judgmental. People are taught to be rigid about anything that's contrary to the 'standards' imposed by misinformed parents, teachers and society in general.
From what I have noticed it seems to be mostly men that are foot fetishists, is that right?
Yes, my work corroborates that observation. I've interviewed and worked with thousands of men who have foot fetishes, but I've yet to come across a female foot fetishist. It's not surprising though because men and women naturally approach sex differently. Men are traditionally more visual and utilize visual images for arousal. They are labeled as 'breast or butt men". Women on the other hand, are all about emotional connections.
I actually acknowledge this difference in my book Sex, Fetish and Him. You can get the idea by the title. While I am aware that anyone can have a fetish, for the sake of simplicity, I wrote the book using pronouns that assume 'female partner' and 'male fetishist'. I wrote it that way, because traditionally, I've experience it that way. It's not to say that women don't' have fetishes but it's not as much about body parts or objects as much as relational preferences such as Dominant/submissive; Daddy/pet, etc.
What does the foot fetishist attire about feet: Is it the shape, small, haptical impression of a foot?
All the above and more. Foot fetish is one of the most complex fetishes because of all the variations. No two foot fetishists are alike. I based my book, Fetish and You around the idea that every person has unique predilections.
It's not good enough to describe yourself as a 'foot fetishist'. If you are communicating to a life partner or even professional Dominatrix, you have to be specific. These specifics include but are not limited to: bare feet or shoes? Bare feet that are clean or dirty? Toe Nails polished or clear? Nails shaped round or square? Red, pink or green? You get the idea.
In my books I talk about the benefits of being able to first identify your needs and then being able to clearly communicate them to your partner. It's important not to leave out the details. Only you know if you are turned on by long or short toe nails. It's important for everyone to communicate but fetish requires extra fore thought in order to be fulfilled.
So how does a foot fetishist live out his desire. Are some satisfied just by watching feet or does some kind of sexual action have to be involved?
Again, that is something unique to every fetishist. Because of the associated guilt and social stigma, many fetishists do not have the opportunity to indulge their fetish. Some choose to keep their fetish as a solitary activity, while others choose to introduce foot fetish play into their relationship. Still others, compartmentalize and indulge in professional sessions with paid Dominatrixes who specialize in foot fetish.
My book, Fetish and You, offers a Five Point Fetish Plan designed to help the fetishist over-come their personal discomfort with fetish. The book takes an interactive approach that helps each reader decide what's best for them. Everyone is different in terms of their life situations. While I personally believe that true intimacy is established by being open rather than secretive, I acknowledge and respect someone who makes a decision to enjoy the beauty of a foot simply by looking at images online.
An important and unique aspect of having a foot fetish, has to do with the accessibility of feet in society. Feet are everywhere and a foot fetish has to be respectful. Always remember that sex and sexual activity is between two consenting adults. Therefore, it's not OK to sexualize exposed feet in public places It's not OK because you are getting aroused by someone who is totally unaware non-consenting.
I remember working with a college student who had a foot fetish. He found the summer months to be agonizing. Why? Because all the girls wore scandals. He couldn't help but look and then he couldn't help but get aroused. His grades suffered and so did his self esteem. He felt bad for 'looking' but at the same time he felt powerless over his fetish. He said it was equivalent to a 'breast man' sitting in a room full of topless women. What a dilemma!! Luckily he was able to attend weekly therapy sessions with me and found a way to normalize and manage his extreme feelings attached to his foot fetish.
Some people on Instagram prefer to remain anonymous by not showing their faces. How important is it for a foot fetishist to see the face of the person?
I have a feeling the answer to that question is self-explanatory by the number of likes these 'faceless' feet photos accrue!. Once again, fetish is individual preference. While some foot fetishists might need to see the entire body, others are satisfied by seeing the feet alone.
Instagram foot fetish is often combined with so-called financial domination. Is that something new since fetishes are displayed on social media?
Financial domination is something separate and apart from foot fetish and has been around way before the advent of social media. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I surmise that the financial aspect comes more from the women who are displaying their feet. I sense some exploitation happening here. They found a vulnerable market and wish to take advantage. At the same time, these models are providing a service. If they are interacting with their followers and perhaps sending them messages, they be deserving of some kind of financial reward.
Do the mainstream platforms like Instagram, Facebook, etc play a crucial role or do people more engage on platforms like Reddit where is less censorship and a better possibility to hide themselves?
I can only guess about this. Traditionally, I know that those with a foot fetish like to remain as anonymous as possible. With that there are ways to be maintain anonymity on Facebook and Instagram as well.
I think we live in a world where more and more people are aware of fetish and it's definitely less taboo. In the past, fetishists felt like they were alone and they would literally 'go to the grave' with their secret. Today there are many outlets for the fetishist and he knows that society is obviously open to all kinds of new sexual flavors (including feet) as viable sexual options.
My books, Fetish and You and Sex Fetish and Him are available in paperback and e-book.