This is a term which we sexologists use, and which can sometimes be difficult to understand. In fact, when we use it in training or therapy, we almost always end up having to explain ourselves. So, today, we are going to try to explain what it is and why we use it?
Why not call them fetishes?
Although at first it may sound like sexology-speak, talking about ‘erotic peculiarities’ helps us to understand, work with and embrace desires and practices from a cultural perspective. But what are we actually talking about? The short answer would be that they are what is commonly known as ‘fetishes’ and, although they encompass more than fetishes, comparing them to that term helps us understand.
By using ‘erotic peculiarities’ the judgements and connections inherent in other concepts disappear. This is particularly good for those people who have particular desires and attend a consultation (or don’t) because they feel bad for having such desires. Working from the standpoint of peculiarity aids understanding.
But let’s break it down so that everything is clear. In order to talk about ‘erotic peculiarities’ we first have to understand two terms which are very linked to this concept: identity and orientation. Two things which also tend to be confused.
The difference between identity and orientation
Just as identity is who we are and orientation is who we want, erotic peculiarities refer to how we desire and what turns us on. It is that which makes us truly unique, which creates our peculiarity as individuals.
Peculiarities are the result of each person’s particular sexual biography. As Bloch said, they are pure individualized craft. How we desire and how we express our desires originates from there. From our own journey. Unique and inimitable.
Breaking away from the norm and living outside the box
Put another way, erotic peculiarities are all those things that, throughout history, have been added to the long list of what has (wrongly) been labelled “aberrations”, “sexual perversions” or “fetishes”.
Society has protected itself from them by calling them illnesses and treating them as something to cure or forbid. Due to lack of understanding or fear of straying away from the norm, they have always been crushed and persecuted.
They are the accumulation of all of those desires kept hidden away for fear of how the world might view, judge, or punish them. All which we have denied ourselves or haven’t even dared ponder.
It was never easy (and clearly continues not to be), to have people point their finger or judge and repress you for what you are and how you desire. In a society lacking in sexual education, and outside of the domain of sexology, these peculiarities have been perceived as illnesses, corruptions, anomalies, deviations, or disorders.
Living and expressing our desires
It is both important and essential to remember that each and every one of us lives and expresses these peculiarities in different ways and to different degrees, in such a way that they could be perceived as the sum total of the diversity and variety existing within every person according to how they construct their life and their role in it. Because such construction is not set in stone, it mutates, changes, grows, and develops from birth all the way to the day we die.
What does this all mean? That we all have erotic peculiarities, and we express them and experience them in different ways throughout our life. With the right measure of sex education, we can get to know them and discover which one we identify with, or what traces of one or another we may have.
But the true key lies not understanding them, but in understanding ourselves. Understanding what our own desire is like with the theoretical tools and ideas that we have at our disposal for the task.
Discovering how we desire is how we will define ourselves and what it is that makes us all completely unique.
Melanie Quintana Molero, sexologist and journalist.
Director of Somos Peculiares, a sexual education platform.
If, after reading this, you are still worried about the topic, we can talk about your particular case in a session where you can tell us more about what’s going on and how you’re dealing with it. Don’t hesitate to get in contact; our sexologists can help you through your journey