Absolute shock and horror was my reaction when I stumbled upon the DSM-5 description of a fetishistic disorder. Most of what I read matched my personal experience and in my early teens, when my main focus of life was simply fitting in, I was certainly not ready for a mental disorder that might require intervention from a professional. My very innocent early-life experience with rainwear had morphed into slightly less innocent activities during my puberty, but it was only some playful experimenting for personal enjoyment. Self-diagnosing any disease or disorder based on what you read on the internet, and cannot interpret correctly, is not smart. Luckily I managed through those years with just a portion of shame and self-doubt till I got a bit older and wiser to put things in perspective.
In this article I want to discuss what a fetish is, where it comes from, and how to get rid of it. I could easily fill several pages with psychological analysis, but rather boil it down to the absolute core as I feel out of depth going into too much detail.
What is a fetish?
There are several different descriptions of what is a fetish going round, and they all have a different goal. Where one is used to establish a possible mental disorder, the other might just be a self-identification to get in contact with likeminded people on a social network. Normally a fetish is defined by sexual excitement coming in response to an object or body part that is not typically sexual. A further differentiation can be made between a fetish and a kink, where with a fetish the focus on the object or body part is needed to reach fulfillment, while with a kink it is just an extra stimulation with which you could do without as well.
The best comparison I came across is with alcohol. There are casual drinkers, heavy drinkers, and alcoholics. They all participate in the same behavior, the consumption of alcohol, but they differ in how important it is to them and how it affects them. For me this comparison works well and alleviates me from the DSM-5 description of a fetishistic disorder as it does not encompass a problematic behavior that has a negative impact on my life.
Over time I have gone back and forth to calling it a fetish or not. I feel most comfortable calling my interest in rainwear a passion, hence the name of this site, as that feels much broader than a fetish which most people would associate with just sex. Rainwear brings much more than just the arousal and intense heights, it is also something that can create a state of complete relaxation when fully geared up or innocent joy of being outdoors when it rains and jumping in puddles.
I now feel rainwear is a addition to my life, but I can function without as well. That would make it more of a kink than a fetish. Rainwear can have an impact on my state of wellbeing, as I get enjoyment out of wearing it, but it does not have control over me. The sight or smell of gear in shops, or gear worn by someone else, will get my attention, but to really trigger fantasies or direct arousal a lot more will be needed. To avoid issues related to this I am always hesitant to tell people around me about my passion for rainwear. Besides that it is none of their business, I would be afraid it might stop people from innocently wearing rainwear around me or interpret me wearing some as less innocent than it is.
For the rest of the article I will refer to a kink or passion as a fetish as well, to keep things simple.
Where does a fetish come from?
There are several popular theories where a fetish can come from, with the most suitable one the Pavlovian theory. In an experiment the Russian physiologist Pavlov rang a bell before feeding dogs, creating a link between the sound of the bell and the food as reward. After a while the dogs started salivating when the bell was rung, even without food being present. A similar thing can happen to humans. If you repeatedly follow a certain image, feeling, smell, or sound up with a reward, you can create a link between these two. The initial introduction of that trigger can be completely accidental, like a raincoat or pair of rubber boots next to you while you reach an orgasm which would be the reward.
In my personal case I think the origins of my fetish for rainwear lie in pleasant, but innocent, early-childhood memories. While I do have some memories of wearing rainwear or playing with a small rubber boot in the sink, there is nothing that sticks out as a real impactful moment though. What I do recognize is that my current love for rainwear is at least partly caused by the repeated pairing of rainwear with pleasurable feelings.
A second theory that might give an interesting point of view is the brain-overlap theory. Here it is argued that certain parts of the brain that are connected to specific emotions or control certain body parts can get linked if they are located alongside in the brain. Compare it to lose wiring where the area in the brain that controls the genitals gets linked to the area that control your feet resulting in a foot fetish.
While it might sound kind of outlandish, I do think there might be connections in emotions that are associated with sexual arousal and certain materials or activities. The feelings of shame and discomfort surrounding sex might get intertwined with the feelings of shame and discomfort of wearing rainwear. This seems to be a regularly recurring theme with people who have a fetish for rubber Mackintosh raincoats where they point back to their early childhood when they were made to completely rubber up in a Mac to go to school. They were not just forced to wear their Mac, they often had to button up, put the collar up, and sometimes even put on a matching sou’wester. The feelings of shame they felt at a young age later got mixed up with feelings of shame for arousal or sexual activities.
Is a fetish hereditary?
There are indications that the development of a fetish is partly hereditary. Research looking at the personality of people with certain fetishes often sees common traits and also biological differences can very well play a role as some people, for example, have a higher threshold for pain or pleasure requiring rougher play to reach an orgasm. The best quote I could find about this is that nature loads the gun and nurture pulls the trigger. Nature does not simply give you a specific fetish, but it makes certain people more susceptible for it. Nurture has to do the rest. With regards to rainwear it is harder to make a hereditary argument; maybe it requires extra sensitivity to sounds, smell, or the touch of rainwear against the skin, but that would be making a leap to connect it to hereditary factors.
Can you cure a fetish?
A fetish is a part of who you are as a person, you cannot simply remove it. It would be a better question how you can accept and enjoy it. Self-acceptance begins when you realize that a desire is neither unusual nor gross. As long as all parties involved are of legal age and consenting, there is nothing wrong with exploring and enjoying sex the way you want. Trying to suppress your desires can actually become harmful as they may lead to frustration and stress.
Interestingly enough it seems like that while you cannot cure a fetish, you can extend it with other fetishes in a similar way as Pavlov got his dogs to start drooling when he rang a bell. In a way I think I might be the victim of this as well. Very popular accessories in the rainwear community are rubber gloves and gasmasks, and over time I have started associating these items with all the joy rainwear can bring as well. That does not mean you can simply add anything to your list of fetishes though, as it should have a deep connection with something within you. One of the things I enjoy about rainwear is the relaxing state I can find myself in when I am completely dressed in gear and let my mind go on blank. All I hear is the soft crackling of the material with every move and all I am feeling is the smooth fabric against my skin. It just feels so comfortable and warm, like I am floating around. Adding rubber gloves makes this feeling slightly more intense, while adding a gasmask is a true accelerator with the noticeable sounds of my breathing added in the mix and the rubber pressed against my face. So while I normally would have no special interest in gas masks or thick rubber gloves, they have now become closely linked to the feelings of relaxation and enjoyment I already had with rainwear.
A fetish is a very personal part of you and unfortunately there is a huge taboo on the subject. If it were not for this site, where I can relatively anonymously write about this subject, I would probably never share so much personal experiences or even explore it in so much detail. And that would be a shame, as all the time I spend on this site has helped me tremendously with my own acceptance of my passion for rainwear. It took me quite some years, but I slowly moved from feelings of shame and self-doubt to proudly gearing up in rainwear when it rains and enjoying all different emotions that rainwear gives me. Instead of a burden I now see it as something that makes me unique and ads to my life.
- SexandPsychology on why some people have a fetish
- Shape.com on your how fetish enters your brain
- Healthline on what causes sexual fetishes
- Gloria Brame on if you can cure a fetish
- Glamour.com on if kinks are hereditary
- Theeyeopener on the science behind kink
- Psychcentral on treating issues with non-traditional sexuality