The Far Realms of Lust and Longing

From a review of a new book on bizarre sexual fetishes and the “far realms of lust and longing”:

It’s not merely that Jacob finds women’s feet attractive. It’s that, for him, “the feet were the breasts, the legs, the buttocks, the genitals.” Simply hearing the words “size 8” or “size 9” can get him excited. Like a man partial to a particular breast size, Jacob also has his ideal foot shape: a high arch, a wide instep and a staircaselike progression of toes. Once when he was stalled in traffic, the woman in the car next to him had her feet up on the dash — his version of a naked swimsuit model — and he climaxed seconds later.

Later, we learn about a man who’s dealing with his intense attraction to amputees. He participates in internet chat rooms where he can list specific preferences for SAEs (single-arm amputations above the elbow) or DAKs (double-leg amputations above the knee).

Crazy, right? Or is it? The reviewer raises an interesting question:

…”Was a preference for a single arm really all that different from a preference for a certain color hair, a certain tone of skin or shape of face or type of body?” A Greenwich Village psychoanalyst tells Bergner, “Perversion can be defined as the sex that you like and I don’t.”

These stories may seem extreme, but at what point does desire go from acceptable to perverse? Is the man who lusts after petite, vulnerable-looking women any different from the man who lusts after disabled, vulnerable-looking women? What’s O.K.: a different body part, a different age group, a different type of body, a different kind of touch?

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