Introduction Origin and Nature of the Fetish
The athletic supporter, or jockstrap, remains a potent symbol of male athleticism and physical prowess, even as its use among athletes declines. Consisting of waistband, pouch, and leg straps, the tightly-binding garment is designed to support male genitals during strenuous physical activities, a function largely replaced in recent years by compression shorts and spandex underwear. In the 1970's, however, the jockstrap was ubiquitous, a mandatory part of a boy's high school gym uniform in towns across America. Most wore a jock grudgingly and thought little of it. But some boys were different. They found themselves strangely and uncontrollably aroused by their jockstraps. They felt an erotic charge when wearing one. Many even had their first orgasm while masturbating with a jock. These boys had developed a full-blown fetish for jockstraps, a secret desire that would fuel their sex lives well into adulthood.
What powers this obsession? What is the strange appeal of this particular garment? Based on surveys of adult males who have maintained their jockstrap fetish across twenty or more years, three main factors are seen influencing the development of the fetish: the social and personal attributes associated with the athletic supporter, the physical sensation of wearing one and, perhaps most importantly, the psychological stress-reduction that is a by-product of this fetish.
Even before they first strap on a jock, most fetishists have already developed strong associations with this unique piece of sports gear. These associations come from the media, family members, friends, or situational encounters. Often the initial awareness of a jockstrap can cement the subject's later associations with it. One fetishist traces the roots of his interest in athletic supporters back to pre-pubescent childhood. His earliest memory of seeing an image of a supporter occurred at age 10, when he noticed a listing in a Sears catalog. That first encounter shows the powerful male symbolism attached to this item:
"I remember seeing an illustration of a boy older than me, confident and strong, wearing a type of underwear I'd never seen before. It seemed to have a specific purpose, and one that only an older boy would have a need for. It occurred to me that once I started to wear an athletic supporter, I would pass into this new age group, a step closer to manhood."
He goes on to reveal one of the key aspects of the jockstrap's appeal:
"What really turned me on was the fact that this thing was clearly and specifically designed to hold a boy's dick and balls. It called flagrant attention to an area of my body that I'd learned to keep modestly, even shamefully, hidden away."
Another man remembers having found out at age 12 that he would be required to wear an athletic supporter for physical education class when he entered junior high in Fall. His interest in jockstraps grew throughout the Summer.
"Back then, newspapers ran back-to-school ads that had pictures, drawings usually, of athletic supporters. I couldn't wait to get my own supporter. I would scan through the paper every day to see if there was an ad for a jockstrap, and often there was at least one. The fact that this public medium would actually print pictures of what I considered a sexual object just made it all the more erotic. I so looked forward to these ads that I would often get aroused just seeing the newspaper in the morning."
Besides these local ads, the athletic supporter has rarely been featured in the media--certainly nowhere near the exposure of female intimate clothing such as bras. But despite the virtual media blackout of jockstrap discussion, the notion of the jockstrap representing the ultimate in male energy is firmly entrenched in the US cultural psyche. Men who participate in sports are routinely labeled jocks, and such phrases as "he's not worthy to carry his jockstrap" are common in sports columns. Can anyone deny that football players--both in school and professionally--represent the upper echelon of male virility and sexual desirability? For boys struggling to form their own sense of manhood, the notion that an athletic supporter is a proxy for masculine assertiveness can be quite intriguing. And if male authority figures are absent or infrequent in a boy's daily life, then this substitute connection to manliness becomes even more appealing. Thus the most likely candidate for jockstrap eroticism may be a boy with a tenuous, remote relationship with his father--amplified even more if the father is a former or current athlete or sports fan. The need for male bonding goes unsatisfied, while the venue of athleticism is put on a pedestal: the father loves sports figures more than his son. These boys can never measure up to their fathers' expectations because, so they think, they are not enough of a jock. How better to resolve this equation, than to give magical powers to the ultimate symbol of male athleticism, the jockstrap. The strap provides the wearer with the ability to vicariously become a male athlete by donning the athlete's most personal piece of equipment; the wearer can pretend to be close to an athlete, without having actual contact. Wearing a jock, in effect, gets them closer to gaining their father's esteem and closeness.
More than mere symbol, the athletic supporter provides a tactile sensation for wearers that is both unique and curiously erogenous. For the fetishist, the first donning of this sacred garment is usually monumental and life changing. One man describes his first encounter:
"The weekend before I started junior high, my mother came home carrying a paper bag and told me that she had bought my gym outfit, including the athletic supporter. I'd never been more excited. She asked me if I knew how to wear it and I said I'd figure it out, making a joke out of it. That night, after the rest of the family went to bed, I opened the bag and pulled out my prize, a box containing a Bike #10 Youth Model athletic supporter. I pulled the jock out of the box and just couldn't believe I was finally holding a jockstrap in my hands. I was light-headed with a rush of intense pleasure and instantly felt my dick come to life. Soon it was growing painfully hard, springing right through the opening in my pajama bottoms. And all I had done was to hold the jock in my hands."
This man then remembers unfolding the supporter and holding it up in front of him, inspecting the cotton pouch and especially the one-inch leg straps that started at the waistband and traveled down to the bottom of the pouch.
"The moment I'd been waiting for, the moment I'd fantasized about so often, had finally arrived. I pulled off my pajamas and stood holding the supporter in front of my legs. I slipped my left leg through the opening and felt the strap slide up my leg, then stepped through the other opening. As I pulled the jockstrap up, I felt an intense rush of pleasure, growing stronger and stronger until I finally positioned the pouch over my erect penis and felt the two leg straps tug into place under my butt cheeks. I was now wearing a jockstrap! The tip of my rock-hard penis extended above the 3-inch waistband as I turned to see myself in the mirrored closet door. What I saw was a man, a virile athlete, strapped and ready to compete. And then, for the very first time, I felt a tingling, rippling sensation in my loins and soon shot a load of cum into the air, splattering onto the mirror. It was the most erotic moment of my life."
Without question, the athletic supporter provides a unique tactile sensation: the jock tugs on one's privates and digs into the lower realm of one's butt cheeks, while leaving the rest of the ass free and clear. No other form of underwear so firmly grips the male sex organs--the jock's cradling of the balls and cock is constant and insistent, focusing the wearer's attention to this highly erogenous part of his body. And then there's the straps. The defining element of the jock, the straps add the icing to the erotic cake. Alluring in multiple ways simultaneously, the two straps of an athletic supporter provide visual, sensual, and psychological pleasure to both wearer and observer. Unlike traditional underwear, which encloses both front and back sides, the jock fully exposes the wearer's rear. For a boy long used to having underwear cover him completely, the first experience of wearing a jockstrap can feel quite liberating. For a boy who has eroticized his anal region, this exposure can be a sensual pleasure unto itself. And for a boy experiencing guilt and shame about same-sex longings, the binding straps can act to reinforce self-punishing impulses. Of course for any onlooker, the straps help to emphasize strong, well-conditioned thighs and frame an appealing ass.
The curiously taboo nature of the jockstrap--never mentioned in conversation, never advertised, never seen in public--only increases its mystique, as if graven images of this icon were strictly forbidden. The discomfort parents and even coaches have with uttering its name (usually supporter, rarely jockstrap) lends a further sense of unspeakable wonder. Because of the silent treatment given this item, accurate information about the jockstrap is hard to come by, prompting boys to fill in gaps on their own, often in service of their own psycho-dynamic needs. Thus false notions of the jockstrap's true function can arise, including the somewhat common impression that a jock is primarily worn to hold down erections--making it either a modesty device or, in the extreme, a sexual impulse suppressor.
The fact that the jockstrap both calls attention to and conceals the male anatomy lies at the heart of its strong appeal. For a boy raised in a repressive home environment, with nudity perhaps considered shameful and sex certainly never discussed, an item which so flagrantly refers to the male sex organs is bound to catch his interest. While regular underwear similarly focuses on the male midsection, it is the jockstrap alone which screams out its function of gripping tight the cock and balls.
Thus the jockstrap reduces two key psychological stresses: the fear of castration and the fear of homosexuality. Castration anxiety is common among boys with strong, and perhaps oppressive, mothers who resent and attack their son's masculinity because of their own conflicted relationship with men. Boys growing up with such mothers may feel insecure in their manhood, and may unconsciously wish that they didn't possess the undesirable organs. For them, the jockstrap provides a convenient solution: it hides and suppresses the male organ, making their groin appear free and clear of the offending protuberances. The psychological stress of having male sex organs is thus reduced by the cloth cloaking provided by the supporter, while at the same time the hyper-maleness of the jock allows the boy surreptitious access to his masculinity.
Likewise, for a boy either consciously or unconsciously confronting his homosexuality, the jockstrap again functions as a psychological stress-reducer. For these boys, the restrictive nature of the supporter is a blessing: the jockstrap controls and conceals their penis in situations where they would most fear having an unwanted erection exposed--in the locker room and on the playing field, when they're surrounded by other boys and having physical contact with them. The jock also prevents any viewing of another boy's sex organs, so a latent homosexual boy can stare longingly at a supporter's pouch without having to acknowledge that he is drawn to what lies beneath.
Fetish in adulthood
What happens to the jockstrap fetishist when he enters adulthood? Ironically, the fetish itself allows an individual to progress into adulthood without confronting the issues that the obsessive behavior has been successfully concealing. The athletic supporter, then, is a crutch which allows the boy to reach manhood while suppressing conflicting sexual desires. For the adult male who has spent the majority of his life obsessed with the athletic supporter, there is little likelihood that such behavior will diminish. Such men will continue to masturbate to images of jockstraps, involve the jock in their sexual relations, and inevitably find themselves aroused by any and all reference to the athletic supporter. A fetish so firmly entrenched is not readily abandoned.