I was chatting with an art aficionado over at deviantART, and he introduced me to a new fetish - something that seems to be referred to as "lift and carry". It's something I'd seen before, browsing through other people's favorites, but this was the first time I'd had a chance to actually talk to someone who has the fetish.
As an amateur sexologist, I find the mechanisms and diversity of human sexual desire to be fascinating. I'll be the first one to admit that some of those fringe desires seem downright weird to me, but I know this is all subjective, and as a sex-positive activist, one of my goals as an erotic artist is to make people feel more comfortable with their potentially weird desires.
As such, I like to be nonjudgmental, and occasionally enjoy exploring new avenues of erotic expression if it doesn't take me too far outside of my comfort zone. And as far as fetishes go, lift and carry is pretty benign. I don't have any real strong attraction to these particular sorts of poses, but I could certainly see the appeal in them, the same way I am sympathetic to the BDSM scene (in all its diversity), while not necessarily considering myself a true practitioner.
In this case, I think the appeal of the fetish has something to do with helplessness - being carried limp in another person's arms (I had to shoot these "draped" over a chair because my photography is a solitary craft). There's a power dynamic - dominant/submissive, strong/weak, alive/dead. But it could be viewed in sympathetic terms - one person taking care of another. Power imbalances are not intrinsically negative, or abusive. They place a lot of responsibility on the one with more power, but it makes the relationship all the sweeter when that person cares enough about the other not to abuse that dynamic, but to use it instead to protect and guide them. (Of course, power abuse is its own kind of fetish, but I don't believe that should be the default assumption in these cases).
Then again, there could just be some aesthetic appeal to these poses. I, for one, already appreciate the way the body looks when it's all stretched out - back arched, arms above the head. It emphasizes the bone structure - which not everybody likes, but I find appealing (when not taken to unnatural extremes).
Anyway, I have to admit to a curiosity about what it is - in our psychology or whatever - that makes us drawn to certain types of things. People with fetishes can often (although not necessarily always) recall experiences early in their lives related to the subject of their fetish - e.g., watching some old horror movie where the monster lifts the damsel in distress.
But what makes me wonder is whether it's the experience that molds the fetish (imprinting on a person's mind in their formative years), or if it's the dormant fetish that's actually responsible for a person finding themselves drawn to these moments in the first place. Kind of a nature vs. nurture question, I guess.
But if you can have two kids watch the same cartoon where the villain ties some girl to the train tracks, and one of them grows up to have a bondage fetish, and the other one doesn't, that seems to suggest to me that there's something already there in the psychology that's merely being triggered, and not entirely manufactured by the stimulus. As I said, human sexuality is a fascinating thing.