October 11th, 2013
Back in June I answered a reader problem at Telegraph’s Wonder Women about a woman whose partner was unable to get an erection unless she wears stockings. As a result they either don’t have sex if she doesn’t wear them, or she puts them on in order to have sex but it’s not necessarily giving her any pleasure. I tried to focus on this in two parts – what significance the stockings hold for them both; and how to rethink ‘sex’ so it isn’t dependent on penis in vagina (PIV) intercourse. You can read her question and my reply here.
My dilemma in answering this question was as follows. It seemed fairly obvious he has some kind of dependency on the stockings for arousal – although to what level and why wasn’t complete clear. However I didn’t want to imply that having a fetish was in itself problematic – or pathologise what is an enjoyable and common pleasure for many. So I asked for feedback, and here’s what people said:
“Is this a fetish? Really? I thought it was just something very common many people enjoyed. I would’ve liked more on what a fetish really is and whether liking stockings is one. Or when you know that liking stockings is a fetish. Or when it becomes a problem. I think you showed fetishes aren’t bad but I think some people might worry that they like something too much but still not be any clearer from your reply if or when that is enough of a problem to seek help. or if they need to seek help or could they sort it on their own”
“I like wearing stockings. I’m a woman. I didn’t feel like you made it in any way clear that was a possibility. I get the woman in the letter might not like them but I would have preferred you to say more (or link to something that made it clear) that this isn’t something that’s always imposed on women by men. Some of us choose it for ourselves. Not all of us sleep with men either”
“How can you write such a long winded response? Just tell her to wear the damn stockings, if it turns him on then where is the need for therapy? Like if she wanted him to wear the stockings I could see an issue, but her not wanting to pull on a pair of stockings for a bit of sex? Unbelievable”
“relationships can fall into such desperate ruts ( excuse the pun) and forget all the fun stuff to such an extent that talking about it becomes too difficult and may sound like criticism. how to start the conversation would be a good piece”
“I like the way you focus on how sex doesn’t have to be penetrative – a lot of people seem to think it does or it doesn’t count”.