Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fetishization: A Dirty Word?

This week, Arianna Huffington writes intelligently about our current obsession with social media, quoting Thoreau:

"We are in great haste," wrote Thoreau in 1854, "to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate." And today, we are in great haste to celebrate something going viral, but seem completely unconcerned whether the thing that went viral added one iota of anything good -- including even just simple amusement -- to our lives."

And while I think Huffington makes a strong point, I don't like her use of the term fetishization to suggest a negative or meaningless obsession.  Fetishes are fascinating, creative and beautiful.  They speak to our human vulnerability and the ways in which we thirst for sexual attachment in the everyday and imaginary worlds.  I remember discovering a fetish via Violet Blue in which folks enjoy placing damp tissues across one another's bodies.  And I thought, "My gosh, how incredibly lovely!  What a sweet, sexy, inventive thing to do."

So you won't find me using fetish and fetishization as negative terms.  Unless, you know, we're talking about a "killing people fetish," which requires actual, um, ...killing. 

Yes, let's avoid that one.

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