As a 22 year-old straight cis Midwestern Catholic virgin, finding a way to confidently approach our June/July theme - FETISH - had felt at first both equally anxiously daunting and excitedly challenging. Maybe it's in part due to hush-hush culture, my societal exposure to concept of the word as taboo, and its connections to sex, BDSM, pleasures, and everything, you know, "we're not supposed to talk about". Then again, maybe it's because I have never really related to fetish culture or fetishization as society typically frames it before? And yet again, maybe the anxiety comes from reservations in my own sexual/body confidence (which, with it being summer now, who doesn't catch even the slightest of this feeling)? Maybe it's all three. Whichever way, preparing for this June/July issue allowed for inward reflection and an expansion of comfort zones, with research and education that fed deepened empathy and understanding.
Bodies, races, genders, identities, sex, occupations, and tropes - all are systematically fetishized by an oppressive gaze. A gaze we may not even initially realize holds our influence. A gaze that struck a knee-jerk daunt in me. But our generation is the one that is refusing to let that gaze hold control. Taboos are only taboos because someone who feels they have power deems them so. The FETISH issue is going to be an exploration of that dismantlement of the negative stigmas surrounding sex, BDSM, kinks, taboos, and sex work. With June being Pride month, as well as marking the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, we will also be dissecting the commercialization and fetishization of the LGBTQIA+ community.
We are also going to explore the broader nuances of fetish this issue. It is fixation, obsession - both healthy and unhealthy, and desire along with wanting to be desired. Many of us seek to be desired for who we are, as much as we strive to find the power in our sexuality and the beauty of our bodies. Like I said before, I'm still on this - confidence in what I've got and the power it welds *cue the Lizzo track*. It's excessive devotion. It's the worship of spirited objects. We all - whether we are conscious of it or not - fetishize. It's more than leather and latex. Do you stan? Are you a fan-guy/girl/them? Then you got a fetish.
So, these next two months we're focusing on the positivity of sex, the anxieties, beauty, and journey of coming into your own, the celebration of kinks, quirks, and obsessions. We're bathing in a color scheme of red, black, and metallics, with motifs of belts, harnesses, and chains. We'll be unpacking fetishes of all varieties, from all those listed above to the fashion ones to their roles in different communities to the impact their trendiness has on the environment. Learn about contributing your own work to Couturesque over on our Submit page, and if you are an OG Couturesque-ie or a newcomer - thank you, thank you, thank you. I leave you now with our FETISH issue playlist. Enjoy.
Main image: Kate Moss for Vogue US (June 1994) ph. Juergen Teller