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Footsy
February 17, 2012 10:12 PM   Subscribe

The authors reviewed historical literature and hypothesized a relationship between epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases and foot fetishism.
posted by latkes (48 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
NCBI ROFL
posted by b1tr0t at 10:26 PM on February 17, 2012


It's an interesting idea, but I don't know how you can adequately address the topic without looking at Chinese footbinding. An entire culture with a foot fetish so strong, women crippled themselves to have feet shaped like their "lips". And there were special sexy red shoes for bed!
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 10:28 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The foot binding is male fetish. So are red shoes.
posted by Mblue at 11:12 PM on February 17, 2012


I think footbinding was an entirely different situation that could 'technically' be branded as a fetish. For most people it was strictly about the ability to get married into a wealthy family.
posted by Malice at 11:56 PM on February 17, 2012


Correlation != causation, etc.
posted by sophist at 11:59 PM on February 17, 2012


I suspect this is data mining gone horribly wrong. Digital humanities my ass.
posted by LarryC at 11:59 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


No correlation with silky hose or shapely high-heeled shoes?
posted by Afroblanco at 12:26 AM on February 18, 2012


Foot fetishism is apparently a baffling and irresistible mystery to many T&A guys. I've heard all sorts of theories that are wildly divergent; it's about getting triggered by mom's shoes as a kid (very Freudian), it's about female power, it's actually about lack of female power or excessive modesty in dress, it's because the "foot" part of the brain something something close to the sex part of the brain (which, really, wtf?) Etc. Etc.

I'm pretty content to just let it remain a mystery.
posted by stockpuppet at 1:09 AM on February 18, 2012


In other news, Quentin Tarantino is single-handedly responsible for 50% of new syphilis cases in the United States since 1994.
posted by mordacil at 1:18 AM on February 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


So are red shoes.

I don't know any guy that gives a fuck about red shoes. Based on the internet, I know these guys are out there but I think women are possibly into shoes of their own accord with no influence from male foot fetishists.
posted by Hoopo at 1:35 AM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Huh. It's my hypothesis (well, idests, if I'm honest) that the mad upswing in piercings/tattoos/body modifications was a subconscious response to the incidence of AIDS. I could enlarge on this in some detail but it rapidly becomes tedious, I fear.
posted by Decani at 2:44 AM on February 18, 2012


Foot fetishism is apparently a baffling and irresistible mystery to many T&A guys.

I've known a lot of people with different fetishes, and have photographed models who stories have put those to shame. I don't get a lot of them, but i understand people have things that turn them on. One thing that a friend of mine who puts a random picture of her feet up on flickr once in a blue moon, and all of a sudden she gets all these nasty comments on them. What confuses me is that my pictures of naked women don't even get that. I'll get the people who only have favorites add them to their spank bank, but never comments on them.
posted by usagizero at 3:05 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The human foot is a very complicated structure. Healthy, shapely feet are a requirement for a large biped to do things like walk long distances, run from sabre-tooth tigers and stalk delicious antelopes... some guys (and gals) are going to have their reproductive urge honed in on that.

I wonder if anyone has examined the role of sexual desire in evolution? Are peacocks the way they are because peahens have a feather fetish, or do the peahens get the feather fetish as the peacocks developed longer feathers?
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:16 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if anyone has examined the role of sexual desire in evolution

Darwin covered it pretty thoroughly with "sexual selection" in Origin of Species and Descent of Man which obviously nobody reads. It also has made a reappearance as a major study area in the last decade or so with Geoffrey Miller being one of the more prominent authors.
posted by AndrewKemendo at 4:40 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


don't know any guy that gives a fuck about red shoes.

What about Elvis Costello?
posted by jonmc at 4:52 AM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


What about Powell and Pressburger?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:59 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


One thing that a friend of mine who puts a random picture of her feet up on flickr once in a blue moon, and all of a sudden she gets all these nasty comments on them.

Closet cases.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:14 AM on February 18, 2012


Hoopo: "I don't know any guy that gives a fuck about red shoes."

What about David Duchovny?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:47 AM on February 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I suspect this is data mining gone horribly wrong. Digital humanities my ass.

Because as everyone knows, one dodgy study invalidates an entire field.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:55 AM on February 18, 2012


Metafilter: it rapidly becomes tedious, I fear.
posted by sneebler at 7:16 AM on February 18, 2012


I've always thought of foot fetishes as a concept that, at its root, has been co-created by women interested in the confidence and sex-appeal that shoes declared to be sexy can bring them and men interested in confident sex-appeal-oriented women. Our weirdly correlation oriented brains, that are programmed to search for sexual fetishes anyway, then do the rest.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:34 AM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm glad that the correlation != causation trope, of which no researcher or statician is apparently ever aware of, quickly made its due apparence in this thread. I've also noticed that the authors of disagreeable studies are especially ignorant of this highly obscure correlation-not-causation insight. MeFi's own?



(...not that I'm defending this particular rather random looking connection.)
posted by Pyrogenesis at 8:04 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


A study in making the correlation imply causation.
posted by deathpanels at 8:05 AM on February 18, 2012


This would be so much better if it were fruit on a 16 yr. old's face.
posted by Fizz at 8:44 AM on February 18, 2012


Hoopo: "I don't know any guy that gives a fuck about red shoes."

What about Bird?

Mandatory hipster reference.
posted by tspae at 8:47 AM on February 18, 2012


Why don't you see many women that have foot fetish? I know lots of women that find a man's ass or chest or abs or thighs attractive (although usually not to the point of fetishism), but I've never run into a single female foot fetishist and I run in pretty kinky circles.

In the kink world, foot fetishism is almost exclusively the domain of male submissives. I've seen dominant men who have shoe/pantyhose fetishes, but very rarely the feet themselves.
posted by desjardins at 9:05 AM on February 18, 2012


I think it's a mistake to combine foot fetishism with ... for lack of a better term, "women in attractive shoes" fetishism.
posted by glhaynes at 9:11 AM on February 18, 2012


Why?
posted by latkes at 9:13 AM on February 18, 2012


Boot fetishism is very common as well, especially thigh-highs. I wonder if that figured into the study at all.
posted by desjardins at 9:14 AM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


While it's hard for me to imagine a person who thinks feet are "icky" [and there seem to be plenty of those] having a strong thing for women in attractive shoes, I can ... easily imagine a person who doesn't fetishize feet but that still really likes women's shoes (on women) and women in them. I think Blasdelb said it well earlier — it'd certainly be a cultural/costume/confidence/a-bunch-of-other-things kind of thing.

Which is not to say, of course, that maybe 99.9% of people who are "into" shoes are also foot fetishists. I really have no idea.
posted by glhaynes at 9:33 AM on February 18, 2012


(In which case I suppose it probably would make sense in most contexts to combine them.)
posted by glhaynes at 9:37 AM on February 18, 2012


To the irritation of my wife, I am the opposite of a foot fetishist. Well, maybe not. Maybe the opposite is someone who is repulsed by feet. If so, I am in the dead center between the opposites: I don't notice feet. For me, people stop existing at the ankle. My wife can buy lovely, sexy new shoes, and I simply won't notice, and I'm always surprised when people say things like "You could tell he was rich by the shoes he had on." You noticed his SHOES?

My foot-apathy aside, I would bet all these theories are too complicated. I always feel like lathering up and using Occam's razor when I hear a sentence start "Maybe he has that fetish because...." followed by a just-so story about the guy's childhood.

What we know is that seemingly ransom stuff somehow gloms on to people's sexualities. Wouldn't it at least be worth consideringthat that's the end of the story? There's still a lot to study. WHY does random stuff glom onto people's sexualities? As someone interested in fetishes, who has spent some time reading available literature, I rarely find any convincing Freudian or similar "it's because, in his childhood..." explanations. They always seem like bogus pattern matching exercises to me. In any case, they are usually untestable and unfalsifiable.
posted by grumblebee at 9:53 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Why don't you see many women that have foot fetish? I know lots of women that find a man's ass or chest or abs or thighs attractive (although usually not to the point of fetishism), but I've never run into a single female foot fetishist and I run in pretty kinky circles."

I would suggest that just because there is not an equivalent phenomenon of attractive men's feet doesn't mean that women are immune to foot fetishism for at least a couple of reasons. Would you really assert that a woman who has put the time, effort, and discerning taste into acquiring a meaningful collection of shoes to highlight their own percieved attractiveness of their feet arn't motivated by the same fetish phenomenon? Anecdotally, I also know a roughly similar proportion of lesbians who are really into other women's feet as straight men.

"In the kink world, foot fetishism is almost exclusively the domain of male submissives. I've seen dominant men who have shoe/pantyhose fetishes, but very rarely the feet themselves."

I think that the root fetish for feet might be exactly the same in these two populations, only in dominants attracted to women it becomes combined with things women must spend time, effort, and discerning taste on acquiring and displaying to please them, which has sexy elements of domination. Whereas in submissives attracted to women, the root fetish for feet becomes combined with the cultural baggage associated with the feet themselves and can be used as a way to conspicuously display submission in a sexy way. I guess my hypothesis is that the feet look sexy in the same way, their sexiness is just internalized differently, and thus is described differently.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:01 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


What confuses me is that my pictures of naked women don't even get that.

My own theory goes like this and explains your confusion: Very large parts of arousal and sex are variations of power play and defiance of taboos. It's possible that people get some kind of circuit imprint at some point that makes them lock in to feet or stomping kittens or fireman helmets, or maybe they just discover one thing first, but I think most fetishists are really just interested in general kink (defying taboos) and end up specializing.

So, to address why the foot fetishists will come around to say filthy things, the act of saying filthy things also pushes those taboo-defiance buttons already tweaked by foot-arousal being outside of the norm, while being aroused by a regular naked woman is not outside of the norm and so doesn't tend to lead someone into that taboo-defying territory. Like, "Feet! Yeah, that's taboo. Let me taboo harder!"
posted by cmoj at 10:02 AM on February 18, 2012


Also, sometimes women have beautiful feet and beautiful woman things are hot.
posted by cmoj at 10:03 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


For me, people stop existing at the ankle.

You are Rob Liefeld and I claim my five pounds.
posted by fings at 10:04 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Would you really assert that a woman who has put the time, effort, and discerning taste into acquiring a meaningful collection of shoes to highlight their own percieved attractiveness of their feet arn't motivated by the same fetish phenomenon?

The textbook definition of a fetish is that the person needs the thing or activity in order to become aroused. I do not think most women who buy fancy shoes are doing it for the purposes of sexually arousing themselves, no.

WHY does random stuff glom onto people's sexualities?

I agree it's kind of a pointless discussion, akin to asking why people are gay or transsexual. What difference does it make? Are we trying to prevent fetishism? I can point to my childhood feelings of helplessness as the reason I seek out control now, but there's no way of knowing if I would feel the same if I'd had a healthy, happy home. OTOH, I do know people who liked being tied up (for example) at an early, even pre-pubescent age, but we still don't know why.
posted by desjardins at 10:10 AM on February 18, 2012


    Blasdelb: "Would you really assert that a woman who has put the time, effort, and discerning taste into acquiring a meaningful collection of shoes to highlight their own percieved attractiveness of their feet arn't motivated by the same fetish phenomenon?"
    desjardins: "The textbook definition of a fetish is that the person needs the thing or activity in order to become aroused. I do not think most women who buy fancy shoes are doing it for the purposes of sexually arousing themselves, no."
I am always shocked by the number of women who describe feeling attractive as an absolute requirement for arousal. I guess it ends up being weirdly recursive to describe a requirement that ones own feet be attractive as a foot fetish, but I'm not sure that it is entirely inaccurate. Of course there are other reasons to buy shoes that one perceives as attractive, but I think a strong case could be made that for many it is at least the same phenomenon of perceiving feet as attractive.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:31 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


No correlation with silky hose or shapely high-heeled shoes?

Did you look at the chart? The trend is due up through the entirety of the 90s! That entire decade was sheer hell for a shoe, er, aficionado. I mean, bleah, gag me with a Doc Marten!
posted by darksasami at 11:53 AM on February 18, 2012



When I read that "every general pornographic magazine had a swimsuit and lingerie issue in which to showcase bare feet" I knew they had misunderstood the presence of bare feet in these magazines.

Also, it isn't pictures of a sexualized foot, per se, but of a foot, i.e. it was sufficient that the foot was visible in the photo even if it wasn't the focus of the photo. In the 80s Penthouse used to regularly feature women in sunglasses, but that wasn't because readers had a sunglasses fetish.

The paper (from 1998) is terrible for another reason: it is an increase in foot photos, not percentage of photos in the magazine that were of feet. The number of photos per magazine overall was also much greater in the late 80s (small inserts, etc.) A Playboy from 1979 has about half as many pics as one from today. (Go check, it'll be fun.)

The link to AIDS is weak because other possibilities have likely more influence on what went into mags: changing demography for porno mags (older), Howard Stern/shock jocks and the normalization of porn, wealth, etc.

It's obvious that different porn targets different people and demos, but it is more illuminating to think about it as actually targeting the exact same individuals over their life cycle. So the 80s had high school lockerroom cheerleader porn, which gave way to Spring Break porn, and then on to MILF porn. I'm terrified to see what comes next.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 12:37 PM on February 18, 2012


Let me clarify that last sentence: I think what comes next is child porn.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 12:37 PM on February 18, 2012


Very, very interesting.

One way of interrogating this idea is to look at people we know have an STD an see how they feel about feet.

The only writer I could think of off the top of my head who certainly had syphilis, for example, was Gustave Flaubert, whom we know had syphilis because he wrote to Maxime DuCamp describing his attempt to get an Egyptian prostitute to have sex with him who wanted to feel his penis first to reassure herself there were no sores on it, whereas in fact Flaubert did have a syphlitic chancre at the time, and had to try to achieve penetration without allowing her to handle him.

When I Googled 'flaubert foot fetish' this was the first hit, and the snippet read, in part: "Foot fetishist Gustave Flaubert preferred his mistress's slippers to her body."
posted by jamjam at 12:49 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eh, feet are weird.

Is it strange that I read the post link and wondered how athlete's foot could be considered a STD?
posted by BlueHorse at 2:02 PM on February 18, 2012


Pffft. I was into feet before they were mainstream.
posted by Splunge at 2:22 PM on February 18, 2012


Wait...you mean this isn't satirizing studies that advocate FGM and MGM as a means to control STDs? And you guys are taking this seriously?

Weird.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:06 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Wait...you mean this isn't satirizing studies that advocate FGM and MGM as a means to control STDs? And you guys are taking this seriously?"

No, most of us clearly arn't reading the patently absurd link and just rolling with the thread. It seems to be the MetaFilter way.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:10 PM on February 18, 2012


Honestly, it would be more surprising if random stuff did not glom on to people's sexualities, because that would imply that the evoutionary processes that led to human sexuality had the foresight to favor a particular mating strategy above and beyond "maximize genetic diversity". Or perhaps that genetic diversity (assured by our weird kinks) isn't as important as we thought it was.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:44 PM on February 18, 2012


THE SHOES-AAH
posted by subbes at 11:29 AM on February 19, 2012


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