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Paraphila is an umbrella term used to cover the family of philias. In sexology, it is sometimes more widely used to cover atypical sexual interests or deviances. While the word paraphilia may seem alien, the philias it encompasses may seem slightly familiar. Think fetishes and unusual desires and you're on the right track!

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Happiness is a warm (unloaded) gun

Attending summer camp as a teenager, I engaged in a spot of gun play (no, not that kind) on the riflery range. For those unfamiliar with the experience, there is indeed a rush to be had....sometimes a good one, sometimes bad. Perhaps it's the power of controlling a vehicle of death or the reverberations of your gun's firepower echoing through your body - whatever the case, it certainly gets the adrenalin going. Of course, if you have an encounter with a chipmunk who decides he wants to play behind your target, like me, your blood-stained bullseye is enough to put you off ever wanting that gun-powered rush ever again.

A brief look at any Western news programme confirms that there is a taboo-laden love for firearms. In the US, where gun ownership is a contentious issue, while some call for a gun ban, groups like the NRA are calling for greater ownership. While some prefer a gun ban to improve society, others believe that society makes gunpower a necessity. When dealing with such a moral divide, there's always bound to be a fetish lurking in the mist. For gun fetishists, there is not only excitement but sexual fulfillment to be found in a warm gun.

For the gun fetishist, the attraction is much deeper and far more complex. Visually, its phallic shape allows for the mind to wander. Some gun fetishists take advantage of this aspect, utilising the weapon as a dildo. Deviant Desires author Katherine Gates adds: "Interestingly, most of these are bisexual women who only play with guns with other women. They might hup on the outside of the weapon, or wrap the end of the barrel with foam to protect their mouth or vagina from the sharp sights. Most are satisfied with unloaded guns. Others load the weapon with duds (not blanks, which actually have primer in them and explode.) Some use real ammunition and trust their abilities and knowledge of their weapons to keep the play safe." This sort of BDSM edgeplay is rare and certainly falls outside the criteria of 'safe, sane and consensual'. Writing about this sort of play, Gates writes:" I personally think it's a bit nuts, but then again so is scuba diving with angry sharks and bungee jumpng off tall buildings. I guess if you really know what you're doing, you'll reduce the risk enough to bring it back into the realm of sanity if not safety. "

As sensual beings, it is not merely enough to feel or experience the gun's heat, the mere scent of the gun, the taste of gun powder after discharge or involving the gun in activities may arouse. Gun lover Katherine Gates writes: "when I clean and shoot my guns I do experience a sudden feeling of aliveness, my senses get sharper and more focused, and I sometimes become physically excited. Like many fetishists, I have a very particualr idea about what weapons are hot and which are not (I prefer black matte rifles and Beretta .9 mms.)"

So, what is the attraction? The gun symbolises dominance in today's society so it could be seen as an extension of BDSM. In gunplay, the bottom (submissive) is led to believe that that their personal safety and even their life is in danger when no such risk exists. Bottoms describe how easily fear sets in when a weapon is pointed at them - despite being aware that the gun is not loaded. This isn't so much for fear of error by the top (dominant), but by the brain associating this object with danger.

For others, the attraction to women bearing weapons may find its root in sexual inequalities. Alex-in-Wonderland's site, devoted to his love affair with women bearing arms, includes images and clips that attract him. On the site, he explains his interest: "Ever since junior high school I've been fascinated by female action heroes. Attractive women who are strong and smart, and don't take any shit from their idiot male counterparts... I've spent many years searching for the ultimate "femme fatale" experience." In an essay examining his attraction for women with guns, he suggests that it is seeing a sexual role reversal is a large part of the attraction. He writes: "the women usually win because they are the heroic leads in these films. This is how I like to see women portrayed - as strong spirited, intelligent, and independent people who don't take any shit from anyone and can hold their own in a fight. Also, being a male and not having a lot of love and respect for my gender, I like seeing men portrayed as idiotic losers and pathetic weasels who are ultimately taken out by the women in the film. It's something different...we rarely get to see that most powerful and terrifying feminine attribute, Woman the Destroyer... In a male dominated society, it's also nice to see women "getting back at The Man" by defeating their sexist oppressors at their own game for a change."

While man's love affair with a hot, smoking gun has existed for years, perhaps the current political climate and tensions in the Middle East have increased its position as a fetishised object. In an essay entitled "Perversion and Terror" author Supervert wrote shortly after the events of 9-11: "If indeed the culprits behind the attack on America are religious fundamentalists, there is nothing they want less than to see you carry on with unwholesome practices and freaky obsessions....There is nothing so bothersome to religious fundamentalists than a public display of sexual weirdness. Its weirdness offends their narrow morality, and its openness rubs their nose in the fact that you live in a free country. So you want to fight terrorism? Indulge yourself. Get kinky. "

While I've no plans to apply for a gun permit anytime soon, I think Supervert's phrase "Indulge yourself. Get kinky" should be acknowledged by one and all. Each of us has our kinks, so why do the majority repress them? Sexual power is a mighty weapon, however it will never wield as much anger and aggression as when its left denied.

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