From Fetish to Function

Okay, okay, okay, I hear ‘ya! When I have blogged (see May 2 post) about the term “fetish” in the strict definition of the word, I get feedback that is appropriately saying that I am too clinical in the use of the term, and that it is a generalized word to use when referring to those of us who like to wear leather — for whatever reason.

And yes, my partner could take me to my gear closet, pointing out what some may consider to be an inordinate amount of leather, and say to me, “be honest with yourself: you have a leather fetish. As long as you can afford it and it makes you happy, enjoy.” The commenters are correct, and thanks for the feedback.

Back in the 1980s, when I was acquiring much of my leather gear, I was also beginning to go out to leather-oriented events, bars, and other gatherings of the Leather Tribe. There I was, decked out in full leather, from Muir Cap to boots and all in between. I felt a thrill. And yeah, a certain member below the waist was frequently excited. The leather felt great, and I felt sexy in it. I felt the sexual energy of a mob of leather-clad men equally decked out in full leather.

After I met my partner, when he was a bit more sociable, we frequently would go to the Baltimore Eagle and DC Eagle on a Saturday night. I’d leather up completely, and so would he. We would hop on my Harley and be bad leather-clad biker dudes for the night. We enjoyed it. It was thrilling to be surrounded by other leathermen, especially to watch their envy as we roared up to park the Harley out front in the designated “motorcycle only” parking.

We would attend Mid-Atlantic Leather and a few other local leather-oriented events. While we did not go with other men we met at these places for more clandestine or private activities, we knew what was going on and felt the sexual urges that gay men normally have. We quickly took care of those passions as soon as we got home behind closed doors.

Then, things changed. It happens when you get older and settled into a monogamous relationship. My man turned me on, but I found those turn-ons to occur at times when I wasn’t in leather. My man wore leather less often, yet doing so wasn’t necessary to get me excited. Thus, leather became less and less something we had on during sex. And these days, hardly ever at all.

Further, my partner had several surgeries which made it difficult for him to walk. He could no longer ride as my passenger on my Harley. We stopped being interested in going out for several reasons:

  • leather bars morphed to being a “y’all come” bar, where fewer patrons wore leather, or even boots. The number of guys in shorts and sneakers at these places made them less interesting to me.
  • My partner didn’t want others to see him limping or in pain.
  • My stamina for being able to stay awake late into the night has never been good, and has decreased as I have aged. That bed at 9:00pm looks awfully tempting.
  • Since we couldn’t take the bike to get to a leather bar, the whole process of getting into our truck, driving all the way into town, hunting for a parking space, and then hanging out with sneaker-clad dudes became more arduous than it was worth.

Yes, then, I admit that I had a leather fetish, but now that fetish events, however classified, and fetish venues, however they have changed, are not places we choose to go any more.

Therefore, the leather investment I have made is used to provide protection and warmth for riding my motorcycle, which is still a passion I enjoy. While I may not choose to attend leather fetish events or bars, I am not ready to give up the gear I have acquired which can still be used for a functional purpose while riding my Harley.

That’s really that… from fetish to function.

Life is short: wear your leather!

4 thoughts on “From Fetish to Function

  1. There’s nothing at all wrong with growing out of the bar scenes, leather events and such. I’m 45, a handyman to several elderly neighbors, partnered with a great man and love going to bed at about 9:00 and getting up around 5. I too used to love going to leather bars and such (such being into the BDSM scene too) but the fascination has waned through the years; I have found there are no real leather bars anymore in my vicinity, gawkers, and the real danger of being assaulted. I have become more of a homebody, and there’s nothing wrong with that, I enjoy my quiet suburban life…with a closet full of leather gear. I don’t quite know what I’m trying to say but basically, it’s ok and you don’t have to explain anything to anybody.
    From fetish to function, I can see it in a way, although I can’t claim it until I can find a function for my leather harness that I can’t part with.

  2. i read a blog post a few months back that made the distinction between “sexual arousal” and “system arousal” and applied that distinction to fetishes. to quote from them:

    “In my mind, a fetishist has always been someone who feels sexual arousal with regard to an object (shoe, corset, whatever) or body part that’s not generally considered to be sexual (elbow, hair, etc.). I’ve never in my life become sexually aroused by a shoe. And yet… I love shoes. I like to find the perfect shoes, purchase them, collect them, display them, ogle them on myself, ogle them on other people, choose the perfect ones to wear, wear them, walk in them. The feeling on my foot, the sound when I walk, the look with a given outfit – there’s some strangely intense satisfaction in that entire spectrum for me.

    But have I ever wanked with a shoe? No. The thought would never even occur to me.

    As a result I’ve considered myself a “sort-of fetishist,” like not really the real thing but a little more than your average shoes-look-nice kind of girl. But with this idea of “system arousal,” now all of a sudden I get it. System arousal, according to Midori, is more of a holistic sort of arousal – a general excitement, as opposed to a genitally or erotically specific one. And that, I definitely do experience.”

    (full post here )

    Having read that, it’s clear to me that my interest in boots/rope/leather/uniforms/etc. is maybe 90% system arousal and only 10% sexual arousal (and i think the sexual arousal comes largely from the context and not the objects themselves). So, that makes me a fetishist of a sort, but not in the classic definition.

  3. I think it’s probably also the case that if one does something every day, that something becomes everyday — or, at least, less sexualised than it used to be when it was brought out for “special occasions” only.

  4. Like ephraim with shoes, it's the same for me with boots. I love wearing boots of all types, and I own several dozen pair, and I ogle them and ogle them on others, but they do not cause sexual arousal. They never have, and I've been wearing them since I was age 12.

    Does that mean that boots are not a fetish for me? I don't think so.

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