The Sexual Fetish in Today’s Society front cover

The Sexual Fetish in Today’s Society front cover

by Hugh Jones
Published in 1965 by Brandon House

This early representative of the pseudo-sociological exposé is a tough one to review for a couple of reasons.  First, unlike many books of this genre that followed, this book does a fairly good job of selling the notion that it is reporting the unvarnished truth. Second, it somehow manages to straddle the imaginary exploitation line of simultaneously condemning and glamorizing the people it mentions.

The first clue that the “facts” we’re about to be introduced to may not be on the up and up, is that the foreword was penned by the imminent pseudo-psychiatrist Dr. Leathem.  The appearance of a byline featuring the extraordinarily prolific Dr. Leathem is fair warning that you’re leaving the hallowed halls of the academia to peer through the glory hole in the men’s room stall.

Jones begins by explaining what a fetish is.  Surprisingly, rather than suggest that having a fetish is in and of itself clear evidence that one is pathological, Jones takes the position (notably progressive for its time) that a having a fetish may or may not require psychiatric intervention.

Each chapter is devoted to a particular fetish and the book is devoted to the most common fetishes.  Oddly, even though this book covers 15 or so fetish categories it is notably thin on lurid details, kinky or otherwise.

The standout chapter in this one is the one devoted to a tight jeans fetish.  I’ve read about lots of fetishes (including some that make even me – and likely Jones too if he were familiar with them – cringe) and have never encountered a fetish for tight pants.   Don’t get me wrong, there’s likely no bigger booster of hip huggers worn on the right hips than myself, I just never contemplated them as fetish wear per se.

That isn’t why I found this chapter so interesting though.  Rather what made it fun to read was that rather than relay accounts from the perspective of a man that enjoyed tight pants, Jones wrote this chapter from the perspective of girls who enjoy the attention they get as a result of wearing them.  As the story goes, a certain manufacturer sends out samples of the newest styles to select clubs of girls around the country.  The girls then sit around and discuss the merits of the pants and report their thoughts back to the manufacturer.  I suspect that the dynamic was supposed to mimic Beatles fan clubs and the like.  It’s priceless at any rate.

At the end of the book, Jones includes a selected bibliography that lists most of the famous psychological books about fetishes.   This was a nice touch that helps sell the notion that the book is reporting the facts.  Unfortunately, I’m still not buying it.

Given the year when this book was published, it’s not too surprising that the book plays coy.  Publishers had to be careful to keep their material above board lest they face jail time.  Still, this book plays it too safe and fails to either educate or titillate.

If you want vivid, heart pounding erotica, this is not the book for you.  But as an early time capsule of erotica disguised as educational material, The Sexual Fetish in Today’s Society is a winner.