A crush fetish is a fetish and a paraphilia in which one is sexually aroused when someone crushes objects, food, and sometimes small animals (frequently insects) with their body, usually under their foot, or when crushed oneself. The term soft crush refers to the more common fetish surrounding videos involving inanimate objects (such as food) or small invertebrates (e.g. insects, snails, worms, arachnids) being crushed, while the term hard crush refers to such videos involving larger animals with vertebrae, and arguably more pain-susceptible animals (e.g. reptiles, birds, mammals). The preference could be barefoot, high-heels, flip flops, socks, and so on, depending on the fetishist. Most soft crush fetishists prefer to distinguish themselves from hard crush fetishists, believing that crush films with larger animals give the entire group a bad label.
There are currently no known laws forbidding the crushing of objects and insects, but the production or trade of crush erotica involving live vertebrates is condemned by animal rights activists and is illegal in many countries, including the United States and Great Britain. In the United States, interstate commerce in [hard] crush videos has been illegal since 2010, and many other countries also have banned them.
Jeff Vilencia is one known director of crush films, such as Smush! Vilencia, along with many other fetishists, has loved to see invertebrates crushed since a young age; he claims that when he was 2–3 years old, he repeatedly attempted to get people to step on him.
The legality of crush films and the actual practice of crushing varies by region; however, many have been posted on web sites and are available for download via the Internet, making the control of their distribution difficult.
In 1999, the United States Congress enacted a statute affecting the legality of crush films which criminalized the creation, sale, and possession of depictions of animal cruelty, though with an exception for "any depiction that has serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value." In 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit invalidated the ban on the sale and possession of such films (if not otherwise obscene) as a violation of the Constitution's guarantee for freedom of speech. The United States Supreme Court affirmed the Third Circuit's decision in United States v. Stevens, finding the law unconstitutional because the law was so broad and vague that it included any portrayal of an animal in or being harmed such as by hunting or disease. On November 28, 2010, bill H.R. 5566, which prohibits interstate commerce in animal crush films, was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and on December 9, the bill was signed by President Obama becoming the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010.
In 2016, a man on YouTube under the name "bootsmade4crushing" uploaded videos of himself crushing inanimate objects with his expensive boots. However, he handled a secret second channel under the name "Boots666" through his Tumblr blog that linked to unlisted videos where he crushed live animals. Both his channels and Tumblr blog have been removed since being exposed.
Prosecution is rare, often the models are difficult to visually identify just from images of their often clothed lower bodies. The first arrest was made in 2002, 2 years after the New York police raided the home of Thomas Capriola.
Although the majority of films are thought to originate in the United States, the first arrest in the UK was made in 2002 of Craig Chapman, Christine Besford, Sarah Cooke, and Theraza Smallwood. The industry is estimated to generate thousands of pounds' worth of sales.
Although not illegal under Chinese animal cruelty laws, in 2006, Wang-Jue (simplified Chinese: 王 珏; traditional Chinese: 王 玨; pinyin: Wáng-Jué), a Chinese nurse appearing in an Internet crush video stomping a helpless kitten with her stilettos, gave herself up to authorities after bloggers and some print media started a campaign to trace back the recording. In the beginning, she was labeled as the kitten killer of Hangzhou, because it was believed she was from there; but some internauts recognized an island in northern Heilongjiang province. Upon discovery of her identity, Wang Jue received death threats from many angry animal lovers.
Wang posted an apology on the Luobei city government official website. She said she was recently divorced and did not know what to do with her life. The cameraman, a provincial TV employee, and she lost their jobs when internauts discovered their identities.
In 2010, a case was publicized involving a young female, from Sichuan under the alias name Huang siu siu (黄小小), torturing and crushing rabbits. The group that financially sponsor the making of these videos was later revealed to be called "Crushfetish" who pay young girls to crush fish, insects, rabbits and other small animals. The girl was paid 100 yuan for each attempt, and she has been participating since 2007. Police said the group makes videos to sell overseas, and the company has allegedly made 279 animal abuse videos with a subscription fee. Because of the concurrent hosting of the 2010 Asian Games, the animal videos were only limited to hosting just a few hours a day on some websites.
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