Fetishism is a fixation on an object or body part (that is not primarily sexual in nature) and the compulsive need for its use in order to obtain sexual gratification. The fetish object is almost invariably used during masturbation and may also be incorporated into sexual activity with a partner in order to produce sexual excitation.
Fetishists usually collect the object of their favour, and may go to great lengths, including theft, to acquire just the "right" addition for their collection. Inanimate object fetish can be divided into form and media fetish.
Form fetish is where the object and its shape are important e.g. high heeled shoes.
Media fetish describes when the material is the main attraction e.g. leather or fur.
Animate object fetish involves parts of the body i.e. feet, legs and buttocks, ankles, toes etc.
Inanimate objects can be anything non animate the person finds an association with sexual excitation.
Valerie Steele (1996) believes it is almost impossible to draw a clear line between foot and shoe fetishism but other authorities would take a different opinion. Freud (1927) was convinced all women were clothes fetishist, and believed clothes were worn to provocatively shield the erotic body. Most authorities acknowledge there is a difference between shoe fetishism (retifism) and someone who innocently collects shoes. This behaviour is neither thought to be pathological fetishism nor normal fetishising. It usually involves females but not exclusively. This area of human behaviour is much neglected within the literature. Fetishism is not thought to be a typical female trait (Richards, 1996).
Freud S 1927 In Standard Edition Vol 21 London: Hogarth Press 1961 1490-157
Richards K R 1996 Ladies of fashion:pleasure, perversion or paraphilia Inter Journal Physchoanalysis 77 337-351.
Steele V 1996 Fetish: fashion, sex and power New York: Oxford University Press