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The phenomenon of fetishism was studied by many psychologists and sociologists. In the end of 19th century Sigmund Freud offered a theory of fetishism on psychoanalytic background. Freud introduced fetishism as a form of paraphilia; in this case a part of body, like foot, finger, toe, etc. becomes an object of affection. He described sexual (psychological) fetishism like male’s anxiety, based on fear of castration, when he discovers the absence of penis in female genitals. According to Freud, a part of the body, which grabbed the attention of a little boy after such a discovery, can become a fetish and cause that childish anxiety during all the life. Sexual fetishism is not supposed to occur in females, or it is extremely rare.

The reasons and psychological nature of sexual fetishism are not very well discovered, that is why it is not considered to be a disease or disorder, if it is not accompanied with another mental disturbance. In modern understanding sexual fetishism means not only anxiety about a part of the body. Any things or objects, associated with erotic and sexual rise, like special elements of garments or stimulating items (whips, high-heeled shoes, etc.) can become a sexual fetishes, which are categorized by theorists like form fetishes (their shape and form are the most important) and media fetishes (the material is the most important, like leather or silk). Common examples of sexual fetishism are foot fetishism, pantyhose fetishism, leather fetishism, spandex fetishism, etc.

In last decades term fetishism started being applied to a great multiplicity of behavioral acts, which are far of sexual or economical factors. For example, the addiction of following recent trends and tendencies in social life, fashion and style can be called as fashion fetishism, which is more likely to feature females. Every young lady or a woman has a set of widely advertised cosmetics, up to a dozen of pares of shoes; she likes changing color of her hair and visits beauty saloons and sport-clubs. It is trendy to keep up with cinema novices, to be aware of the latest projects of Keanu Reeves or Eminem, to have a driver’s license, to complete a management course, to be aware about the latest events unfolding in “Sex and the City”, to have snakes in MacDonalds and listen to hip-hop. We all like trying something new and attractive, that means we all are a little bit fashion fetishists.

Popular slogan: “Everyone has a fetish” definitely has some sense. Every single person has something to like and someone to admire. People used to try to absorb and to collect some good spirit, positive emotions and feelings from seeing or communicating with someone special, and little fetishes-reminders, like pictures or autographs, help to keep that anxiety alive for long time. Everyone may see some meaning and importance in little amulets and talismans, which are supposed to bring luck and good fortune. Any of us may like wearing something particular or using things of a special color and shape. There is something special for any individual, which stimulates sexual desire and excites the inner perception the most. Until the tendency of adoring some thing or entity becomes maniacal and obsessive, having a variety of little objects-fetishes is rather normal and natural for anybody.

Karl MarxIn the 19th century the concept of fetishism was studied from economical point of view by Karl Marx, who engaged this term in opening chapter of his main work, Capital to describe a false perception of “commodities” in capitalistic society with complex market systems. The idea of commodity fetishism takes source from the tendency of people to give much more value to the goods and commodities they buy, then to labor of people who produced them. For example, an owner of a luxury car has more advantageous economical position than workers and technicians, who produce such cars. So, the belief according to commodity fetishism is that for an owner of such car his car is more important than people.

In capitalistic societies people organize their life with the help of buying goods and receiving services, they receive money from own work and exchange it for various commodities, produced by others. Mostly producers and customers do not have direct contact, because goods and products are being sold at the market, frequently without direct participation of manufacturers, and the market itself regulates the balance of demand and supply. That is why goods and commodities are the only form of social relations between people in the market: both producers and customers are extremely concerned about the goods, and that is what commodity fetishism is all about. Relations between people grow into relations between things. This theory shows that no one of the sides is very much mindful about own social and political position.

Marx considered commodity fetishism to be one of the principal components of capitalistic economy because it explains the relations in the process of “manufacturing-buying”. He used the terminology of fetish with the purpose of criticizing the ideology of “rationalism” of capitalistic society. Theory of commodity fetishism of Marx can become handy when trying to explain modern fetishism to material objects: everything which is being widely promoted and advertised at our commodity market receives mystic and dominating power over our minds.

FetishismA fetish is a thing or an object, which, according to the beliefs or psychological attitude of a person, has a supernatural influence, power or abilities, or from the other point of view, a thing which has supremacy over people. Fetishism is the condition of belonging to such mental or conscious dependency. In other words, a fetish is an entity, which attracts unusual, anomalous attention of a person, and drastically dominates in the perception of the situation. Thus, fetishism is a tendency to focus on special things and entities and to surrender such one-sided perception of the environment, which decreases the influence of other entities in surrounding system of objects.

Examples of fetishism include any demonstration of pseudo objectivity and tendency to maximize the role and importance of an object (fetish) in observation and sensing of a situation. Fetishism can be taken in many various perspectives: religious, psychological, sexual, economical, sociological, ethnographic, even anthropological and philosophical. Words “fetish” and “fetishism” have Latin origin, and the very concept of fetishism came out to our times from 18th century, initially created and formed by French explorer Charles de Brosses, who introduced this term to describe the early development of religious evolution. Within the time, fetishism, its nature and particular understanding, became an issue of interest and researches of specialists of different fields of science.

The category of anthropological fetishism was introduce by E. B. Tylor and J. F. McLennan, the historians and anthropologists of the 19th century, who have been working over development of the theories of totemism and animism and recognized fetishism as a subdivision of these theories. Anthropological concept of fetishism suggests switching the religious connection between God and people onto the connection between people and religious material symbols. The theory of animism and anthropological fetishism, as a part of it, became a good instrument for social scientists and historians to explain fundamentally the nature and psychological background of religious beliefs.