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The Calliper Fix

by Roger

One of the difficulties calliper devotees face is that there aren't too many people around these days who have to wear them. In most of the world polio has almost been eradicated and its days are numbered in those few pockets in which it still has a hold - India and some parts of south-east Asia. Whilst there are a few other orthopĉdically disabling conditions which can be helped by the wearing of callipers these too are on the decline with better pre-natal screening and the excellent standards of care in childbirth today. No-one in his or her right mind wishes disability on anyone and we can all share in giving thanks for the medical advances in the last thirty years and the hope for a future in which crippling diseases and afflictions are no more.

But for the calliper devotee this poses a problem. On the one hand we are glad that polio and other diseases are being conquered. Yet at the same time this means that there will be less opportunity for sightings - which are the fixes most of us need from time to time to feed our fascinations. A chance sighting of a calliper-clad woman or man is indeed a memorable day today, whereas in the 1950s or 60s it would be quite a common sight. I remember as a child visiting our local city on shopping trips and I could almost guarantee to see someone wearing the appliances of my dreams - callipers with shiny steel supports, heavily built-up shoes, and thighs and calves encased in leather with buckles and straps everywhere! Occasionally there would be someone wearing something different - the lower leg only being braced, or a leather brace support tightly laced from ankle to just below the knee. The more complex the design, and the more laboured the gait, the more exciting it would be to watch. Also, the more modern designs of callipers are more likely to be made from fibre-glass with velcro type fastenings - not half as exciting as the complex steel and leather designs of days gone by. But some users still seem to prefer the older styles, thank goodness, so there is still some hope of seeing the traditional style callipers in use.

So what is the devotee to do about this situation? The choices seem to be these. Firstly, he or she can rely mainly on pictures. At present there is a plentiful supply of wonderful images available on the Internet at the netcom.com wizards site. Also, there is now a brace World Wide Web page on the Internet which also has a few images and some personal histories/biographies. There are very few videos available - and only one as far as I know produced directly for devotees which may no longer be available. Films with brace content seem few. There is also the possibility of doctoring images of non-disabled people to add callipers. What also is needed is more fiction for calliper devotees. There is precious little that I have managed to lay my hands on but what I have read has been good.

A second possibility is to get to know someone who wears callipers and who is prepared to help you deal with your fascination - perhaps by letting you watch him or her put them on or take them off whilst you watch. It sounds bizarre but it is mind-blowing to watch for real. The problem is unless you happen to know someone who is genuinely disabled, and very understanding, the chances of this are slim. A very few very fortunate devotees will have married a partner who wears callipers - but this must be a very rare thing.

A third possibility is to get callipers for one's own use or for others to wear in fantasy. For many closet devotees this is an impossibility - the reaction of otherwise understanding spouses and children would be too much to risk. But more people than one would have expected have indeed 'come out' and as a result have managed to find ways of bringing the wearing of calli pers into their lives and love making. This I am sure is the only long-term answer as keeping the real intensity of the fascination hidden for years and years becomes an almost unbearable strain. But many who have told their partners of their strange fascination have not explained just how powerful a force it is to them for fear of being misunderstood or rejected.

Corresponding with others having similar feelings helps. This can be by letter but these days e-mail makes world-wide friendships possible with exchanges to and from anywhere on the planet possible within minutes for just a few pence. I have established contact with several people this way, and the flow of correspondence back and forth has been a real help. I have yet to make contact with another devotee in the flesh but I'm sure this would be a real help too although in some strange way this prospect is slightly frightening - I've no idea why. Perhaps it is the fear of seeing the reflection of oneself in the other person.

Another odd thing which strikes me is that callipers as a fashion object doesn't seem such an unlikely possibility as it once would have. One has only to look at the knee-high boots with buckles and laces everywhere which were fashionable last winter to see that fashion is not about practicality. It must take ages to do them up each morning yet they are thought of a symbols of sexuality and/or power. The constraint of corsetry is another example. So, maybe the mainstream of fashion will help the devotee to come out - we may no longer have to lurk on street corners for the once a year sighting or access internet FTP sites for a fix - we'll be able to get it by gazing at fashion conscious people everywhere! Thank you Helmut Newton for steadily breaking down the boundaries of acceptability - just push it a little further please.

The question really comes down to the nature of the attraction. Is it the disability or the appliances which are associated with the disability which attracts? In my own case it is hard to be clear. It all started from seeing children my own age with disabilities and the association of pleasurable things with their condition - like extra attention, favoritism etc.. Somehow the link became established so that callipers became associated with pleasure. As childhood moved into adolescence this became a sexual pleasure. Now, with the mal-imprinting in place for nearly forty years, I'm less convinced that the disability as such is so important. The disability appears to be a door to pleasurable experiences rightly or, more probably, wrongly. Because we take pleasure in seeing people wearing the apparatus of physical disability we risk society's condemnation. The stigma which society still attaches to disability and sex makes this a socially unacceptable thing. It is interesting that when viewing calliper photos I am distinctly uneasy looking at pictures which were taken in the street of disabled people going about their business. I am conscious of being a voyeur and wonder what the subject would make of their condition being such a source of fascination to some. Looking at pictures of non-disabled models in callipers is altogether different - here the guilt isn't present.

In summary, I think we have to try to be honest with ourselves, our partners and the disabled community. This isn't easy when so much negativity is linked to our fascination but we have to attempt to break through this and into the light of reason beyond.

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