Jan 162017

Matt Murdock/Daredevil injured and shirtless, being tended to by a woman

Once you start to explore the history and deeper ideas of sexuality, you inevitably come across the topic of the fetish, and the particularly gendered origin of the concept. For a long time, it was assumed that women simply did not have fetishes, and that they were a particularly male malady, much like masochism, tied into Freudian ideas of compensation of female castration. When women exhibited behaviour that could be seen as fetishistic, like kleptomania, it was explained away as something else.

More recent, feminist thought about sexuality has suggested that female fetishism does exist, but it hides in plain sight. One of the ideas of female fetishism is attraction to injured or wounded men.

A 2008 Livejournal post on “The Female Gaze” includes a comment which refers to the wounded man fetish:

This ties in, I think, with what I’ve heard called “wounded man fetish”, one of the few fetishes found almost exclusively in women. (Don’t bother Googling for it; as usual, female sexuality is not on the internet’s radar.) It’s when a woman is aroused by a man who is injured, ill, or otherwise in need of help. Again, the key component is vulnerability.

This, in turn, leads us back to fandom and the classic fanfic genre of hurt-comfort. Take a tough character, beat the hell out of them physically or emotionally, and force them to rely on a less-tough character for help and support, which they would not normally do. Women have been writing variations on that one for 40 years now. 160 if we count Rochester going blind in JANE EYRE. Again, vulnerability.

(“wounded man fetish” produces on a single page of Google results.)

Chest and face of wounded man

More recently, there have been certain niches on the Internet for this type of interest. For example there’s the Whumped tumblr, which consists almost entirely of still and animated images of injured men, mostly pulled for television shows and films. The men are almost invariably handsome and fit, suggesting their physical capability and desirability, in contrast to their wounded state. The WhumpLists tumblr lists the injuries suffered by men in TV series in detail:

Daredevil Whump

Character: Matt Murdock

I’m only going to list significant whump because he gets hit almost every episode- I know, awful right? :))

1×1- loses eyesight in a flashback

1×2- unconscious, cut up/bleeding, stabbed, passing out, broken ribs, a few flashbacks, the list goes on.

1×6- not really whump, but Foggy and Karen are super worried about Matt being hurt.

1×9 & 1×10- beat up, cut really badly, near death (~SPOILER~ bonus- foggy finds him, they argue, just so much whump)

2×1 & 2×2- shot in the head enough said, temporarily loses his hearing which leads to him also losing his shit (BONUS- Foggy being an awesome friend)

2×8- shot by arrow, passes out

Other niches include the vast bodies of slash fanfiction, largely produced and read by heterosexual women, which revolve around male-male erotic relationships. Some of these stories fall under the category of Hurt-comfort, in which injury provides a pretext for physical vulnerability and intimacy. Physical vulnerability in men is usually only acceptable in certain contexts, particularly sports or war, in which the masculinity is reaffirmed. Whump is kind of like hurt-comfort without the comfort, though the reader may provide the comfort part of the equation in their own minds. A slightly darker interpretation is that this is a manifestation of women’s anger at men, with the violence inflicted by a disavowed third party. Like other fantasies, this resolves a dilemma, specifically the conflict between expressing un-feminine anger and fulfilling the female-gendered role of nurturer and caretaker.

We know that the Irving and Paula Klaw started their bondage picture and film business when they noticed that men were visiting their film-still shop and selecting only the bondage and fetishistic images. Nowadays, anybody can set up a Tumblr or Pinterest board to collect images relating to their particular interest. We may see more unknown kinks, emerging from the fertile medium of the Internet. This is an area that’s somewhat above my pay-grade.







 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.