Commodity Fetishism

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”. Commodity FetishismHe 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.

Fetishism has been explored by 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, bandages, 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, breast 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 and to respect. 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.

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