All illustrations by Elizabeth T. Vazquez
Armpit fetishism: It's real, yet not really talked about. We live in an age where tossing salad is all over mainstream porn, but there aren't many people who are gonna cop to licking someone's pit to get off. Is an armpit fetish really so different from all the other freaky stuff out there?First, I'll clarify that there is a difference between having a fetish, and just being turned on by something. A fetish in the true sense of the word implies an obsession. As the Kinsey Institute defines it, "fetish specifically refers to a strong sexual preoccupation with an object, material, or body part." Basically, if you prefer armpit sex to regular sex, that's a fetish. If you have traditional sex, but like to lick and smell armpits while it's happening, that's less a fetish and more just a thing that turns you on. Fetishes (or "paraphilias," as they're sometimes called) aren't considered a problem unless they cause distress to the individual or others, though sometimes people just have a hard time understanding how someone could be turned on by something so "weird."
I remember jokingly putting on my OkCupid profile that I had hairy armpits, thinking that would deter a lot of men from messaging me. I never took the site all too seriously, and at the time indeed had hairy pits. So I thought, why not? I figured I'd add this detail about myself so the men posing shirtless in their default pictures would deem me gross, or even worse—some kind of feminist (a.k.a. unfuckable). To my surprise, I had a slew of messages from men who were either "curious" about my armpits, asked me to send pictures, or flat-out stated they loved hairy pits. I found myself in a predicament: If I shaved my armpits, I'd be pleasing men. If I didn't shave my armpits, I'd still be pleasing men. A real damned if I do, damned if I don't sort of scenario. Couldn't I go just one day without being so goddamn desirable?
A few weeks later, I started seeing someone I met through the site. He lived in San Francisco while I was still living in my college town of Davis. The first time I took a train to meet him, we ended up spending the whole weekend together. The night before I had to leave, we were drunk and got to groping. Eventually, we were both naked. He stopped kissing my lips, and moved down towards my neck and breasts. At this point I was expecting some standard nipple sucking, but instead he lifted my right arm and began licking my armpit up and down. He paused and asked me if this was OK. I let him keep going, and he enthusiastically got to licking the other one. Licking, and kissing it. After a few seconds, he asked if he could "stick his dick there." I panicked at first, thinking he wanted to stick it in my butt. When he clarified that he was talking about my armpits, I was relieved. Hell yeah you can stick it there, just not the butt. Anything but the butt.
Fast forward approximately one minute, and my armpit is getting fucked. It felt strange at first, like a really fat finger trying to tickle me. My arm was squeezing his dick, sort of like a chokehold. I must have looked like the world's most pathetic wrestler. Actually, thanks to Urban Dictionary (the source for all true knowledge) I learned that the colloquial term for armpit sex is "bagpiping." So that's what I was-—the bagpiper—playing a silent song at the funeral of my innocence. He, on the other hand, was elated. His eyes lit up when I agreed to let him fuck my armpit. This could very well have been the first time a girl actually let him do it. He was getting his Christmas miracle.He ended up coming all over the bed. After a brief clean up, he lay down next to me and I asked him how it was. He responded that he loved it. My hair was soft and didn't irritate him. He then asked me how it was for me. I jokingly responded that it was the pits, which he did not find funny. I then sincerely responded that it was strange, but at the same time, not so bad. It made me feel… sexy? God, as much as I hate that word and could barely find the strength to type it, I really can't come up with a more appropriate way to describe it. Not to say that I don't normally feel that way. I do. It was just nice—refreshing even—to see a body part being adored on a woman that's not her breasts, ass, or vagina. Doesn't that stuff get boring anyway?
Now, let's cut to a few years later. This year, to be exact. I was having sex with a sort-of friend of mine. Someone I know from mutual friends, and a good rebound from the relationship I had just got out of. While we were doing it, he asked if he could sniff my armpits. He took a huge whiff, and when he was about to come he dug his face deep into my armpit to get more of the smell. He told me that body odor really turned him on, specifically from armpits. I asked him how it started, or if he even knew. He didn't know. I wanted him to explain to me this fascination with armpits, with body odor. He couldn't do it. He just knew that he loved the aroma of sweat. The way an armpit smells is incredibly distinct. He said it engages a sensation inside him, he can't help being extremely aroused. He also told me that he begged his girlfriends in the past to never wear deodorant.
Looking back, I regret asking him "why?" Why do you find this hot? Of course he didn't know. I would never expect a partner to tell me why he finds my breasts attractive. He just does. Most people don't take the time to sit and think, "I love mammaries because___." Also, most people don't refer to breasts as mammaries, which needs to be changed in my opinion. Another reason I shouldn't have asked? Because it seems so obvious. They're right there, when all the stuff is happening—so close to the other body parts that are licked and sucked, and yet they rarely get attention. As weird as it may feel, seem, or sound, armpit fetishists might be onto something.Follow Alison Stevenson on Twitter.