Erotic attraction to amputees comes in many ways. It also has a common denominator. No matter what we’re into more particularly, our attraction always involves real people really missing one or more limbs. And people have feelings that should be considered and respected before anything else should come to mind. At least, in a decent world it should.
And we all know the world isn’t always, to what extent are you, or am I?
One of the founders of Overground – a serious web site on devoteeism – once made an appealing distinction with respect to this. In his view, there are amputee fetishists and amputee admirers. He describes fetishists as being sexually attracted solely to an inanimate object or part of the body objectified. With respect to amputee related fetishism, think a single shoe or a prosthesis with the first, and with the second a stump obviously comes to mind. He then describes devotees or admirers as sexually, but not only sexually, attracted to a person with a disability, because the fact that the person is disabled makes him or her extra-special.
Makes sense, eh? My everyday work however taught me to start thinking good as soon as a distinction appeals. Appeal is about instantly making sense, which is often very useful, not the least because it makes life easy. But making sense is not the same as being correct, or expressing sufficient nuance.
I’m not intending to touch politics in this blog, but the Syria crisis happens to make a great example of what I mean to argue here. Shortly after 9/11, G.W. Bush made a statement: “you’re either with us, or you’re against us.” He made it during the days of Bin Laden, and things then already turned out to be a tad more complicated than G.W. made them look. But try applying it to nowaday Syria and you won’t succeed at all. Real life is simply a lot more complex than the appeal of sweeping statements will ever be able to cover.
And swiftly returning again to the subject of this blog: neither are we 100% with the respectful admirers or 100% against the objectifying fetishists. We’re both. In differing percentages, but we’re both. The political correctness of the respectful admirer notwithstanding, the vast majority of people attracted to amputees are men, and I’ve yet to meet the first guy 100% free of objectifying streaks. We all know we don’t mind seeing a good pair of tits, or a great ass, and that’s objectifying. I’m not saying it’s good or bad, but it is objectifying. And if we’re objectifying tits and asses, we’re very likely doing the same with stumps.
And not because we intentionally do, but because we’re men.
This is dangerous grounds of course, but for the sake of argument, let’s enter them.
Most of our behaviour is reigned by a nice layer of civilisation, yet there’s still quite enough sheer evolutionary behaviour driving us. Most of it is directly or indirectly related to sexual behaviour, and the why makes perfect sense. Evolution has given us the drive to propagate our genes, and so, there’s always an evolutionary defined aspect in our looking at the ones we require to propagate our genes: women.
That’s not to say we can always do it just like that – our society is way too civilised for that – in varying degrees of insistence it’s always there. In other words: liking tits and responding sexually to seeing an attractive pair is essentially our evolutionary drive acting up. And while it should never be an excuse, it’s nonetheless a fact. A pretty strong one too, and since it also applies to sexually responding to amputees, there’s a gray area between object fetishism and subject admiration, by evolutionary implication.
It’s also what makes accepting us complicated. The look at it from the other side probably doesn’t need repeating, but picture an understanding amputee nonetheless. One who’s not unwilling to try and go along with our attraction. But she’s a woman, and women have an evolutionary based look at men of their own. While men are essentially looking to maximise the propagation of their genes period, women are facing the drive to propagate theirs combined with the necessity to carry, give birth to and care for its offspring for many years.
True, the latter is just as much the task of the male, there’s more than just a sexist stereotype in women feeling much more responsible for this task than men. And it influences the evolutionary based part of their looking at men. In other words: there’s a huge potential difference between a man’s sexual response to a woman and a woman’s response to that. And it’s irrespective of her number of limbs.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to men and women interacting than evolutionary based behaviour. We’d be like any other animal if not, and let’s never forget that using our highly developed brain for naughty thoughts is a highly pleasurable capacity. The importance of sexual fantasy notwithstanding, the true joy of life is however in letting that capacity be mutually pleasurable. For that, our highly developed brain should also be used to channel these naughty thoughts into a sexual behaviour consented and enjoyed by both. And this is where the percentages step in again.
I have a friend who was married twice and had many girlfriends. Spanning an interesting range of age and personalities, they all had impressive bosoms. He’s also divorced twice, currently single, and very unlikely to ever have a lasting relationship with a woman. He’s the E-cup pendant of the short stump fetishist. He’s also the living proof of an attraction being in the way of making a relationship work.
There’s really nothing wrong with a heavy weakness for large breasts. I’ve actually seen many a girl of his being very charmed by it in the beginning. However, when it turns out to be the only constituting aspect of being together, you should expect the being charmed to soon be over. And not too surprisingly, this goes for the passionately admired perfect amputee as well.
Here too, there’s nothing wrong with a streak of objectifying. Once admired for the person she is, an amputee may well feel completely at ease with her stump being found very sexy. But that once admired for other reasons is a prerequisite. No matter how perfect an amputee she is for you, she’ll never consider it the reason to make you the preferred one. She may find it convenient, perhaps even relieving, to not have to worry about not being desirable. After all, that’s about as deeply rooted in a woman as the evolutionary things discussed earlier, and it may well be a part of it.
So, there’s really nothing wrong with pure desire either. It’s actually an elementary part of mankind’s most intense expressions of pleasure and lust. But the gray area between fetishism and admiring is only gonna work as long as your percentage of objectifying is convincingly outweighed by admiring the person.
There’s also a second point in which I disagree with the Overground point of view. I do not find an amputee extra-special for being disabled. I’m fascinated by her being differently abled, by how she succeeds in handling the loss of a limb, both physically and emotionally. I’m interested in how that makes her think and feel, about herself, about me, and how that’s part of constituting an us, whatever that us may look.
I’ll admit I’m also totally fascinated by an amputee’s actually missing a limb, by the physical absence, by how an amputation feels and how it affects body image. And I am, irrespective of the person who has the amputation. It’s part of my gray area, of my personal percentage of fetishism, if you like. But I will never touch that part of my fascination unless with an amputee I know well enough to not let the laden aspect of it be a negative thing. Frankly, I feel I’m still to touch that part in really all the aspects. But I’ll quietly wait for the occasion to arise.
Life can only be understood looking at the past. And it can only be enjoyed looking at the future. I think it was Danish philosopher Kirkegaard who said this, and I’ll use it to express my wish and good intention at 2016’s kick-off:
That the shades of gray may be shed more light on.
Starting with myself.