Fetishist or enthusiast? Musings on perceptions of corsetry and identity #Identity#BDSM#fashion#hobbies Posted Oct 20 2016 Guest post by Marianne Faulkner This post originally appeared on The Daily Waist. Dark Garden corset featured in a 1999 Detour magazine editorial. One of the perks of working at Dark Garden Corsetry (there are many) is the library in our break room. Recently, I availed myself to Valerie Steele's "Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power," a circa 1996 tome on the intersection of — you guessed it — fashion and fetish. Just a few pages in, this excerpt caught my attention: After the publication of Fashion and Eroticism, in which I described certain nineteenth-century figures as corset and tight-lacing "fetishists," one man wrote to me to say, "We prefer to be called enthusiasts." This term, however, is rather vague, and euphemisms cannot gloss over the fact that the entire subject is controversial. Other enthusiasts, moreover, proudly use the term fetishist, which has the advantage of immediate recognition value. Nevertheless, words such as fetishism need to be placed within mental quotation marks, since this medicalizing language inevitably carries more or less pejorative connotations. As a friend of mine put it, "I can't accept 'fetishism' because I would risk being called a fetishist myself – and I hate the imputation … of sexual perversity." —Valerie Steele, Fetish: Fashion, Sex & Power Related Post Why I love altering my shape with corsetting I’m very proud of the shape I’ve been able to achieve over the years. But, unless I’m going to a special event where I feel... Read more What interests me here is the dichotomy. The letter-writer eschews the word "fetishist" because of the associated stigma. Others instead enjoy the term for the same reason — flying their freak flag high and proud. I can see both points. BDSM and lingerie are pretty common on the fetish spectrum, though the degree of interest can vary widely! So essentially, both interests are pretty normal, if such a thing as normal even exists. On the other hand, naturally there's an entire fetish community and subculture. Using the word fetishist is inclusive as well as exclusive. Of course, not all corset wearers are fetishists! Some really are simple "enthusiasts." The fetishistic/sexual element is not even a factor in their decision to wear or collect corsets. Like most articles of fetish clothing, corsets also exist outside of that context, both currently and historically. This is especially true with corsets increasing in popularity over the past several years. As corsets become… well, not commonplace … but less rare — the array of styles in which they're made widens. How do you identify as a corset wearer? Enthusiast, waist-trainer, fetishist, maker, hobbyist, tightlacer? What connotations does the word fetish have to you? Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Guest post written by Marianne Faulkner Corsetrix Marianne Faulkner is known for her line Pop Antique, as mentored by Dark Garden, involvement in the Oxford Conference of Corsetry, and writings for The Lingerie Addict, and The Daily Waist. Her non-corset interests include intersectionality, cocktails, sustainability, and cats. She'd also love to talk about corsets with you in person at their How to Lace a Corset workshop. She'll be hosting that event on October 15th at 5pm, at Dark Garden Unique Corsetry, 321 Linden St., San Francisco, CA 94102. This workshop is totally free, but an RSVP on Facebook is appreciated! http://darkgarden.com PREVIOUS Pumpkin spice up yo' life with these fall pumpkin recipes NEXT Two really important words: GLITTER GROUT Show/Hide comments [ 1 ] Interesting; as a historical reenactor, my immediate association with corset wearing is either historical reenactment or steampunk. The fetish possibilities only cross my mind if they're brought up. I like corsets or at least built in boning in the bodice for garb from eras when that would be appropriate or my steampunk outfits because that's what makes me feel like I'm in garb. That said, the connotation of "fetish" in my mind is just that it's something that's a sexual kink for the person in question as opposed to something they find enjoyable in some other way. Reply Join the conversation Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.