Punitive shoes - cruel beauty
March 7, 2004 7:35 AM   Subscribe

Punitive shoes - cruel shoes are nothing new. From 1000 years of lily-footed Chinese concubines to Renaissance Venetian courtesans, footwear has migrated from the sex trade to more popular and mainstream culture. Foot fetishists throughout the centuries have endured painful training and disfigurement for notions of eroticism and sexy feet. For those who want the sex without the pain, there's always some rather delightfully erotic socks.
posted by madamjujujive (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Cruel Shoes (by Steve Martin)

Anna knew she had to have some new shoes today, and Carlo had helped her try on every pair in the store. Carlo spoke wearily, "Well, that's every pair of shoes in the place."

"Oh, you must have one more pair..."

"No, not one more pair... Well, we have the cruel shoes, but no one would want..."

Anna interrupted, "Oh yes, let me see the cruel shoes!"

Carlo looked incredulous. "No, Anna, you don't understand, you see, the cruel shoes are..."

"Get them!"

Carlo disappeared into the back room for a moment, then returned with an ordinary shoebox. He opened the lid and removed a hideous pair of black and white pumps. But these were not an ordinary pair of black and white pumps; both were left feet, one had a right angled turn with separate compartments that pointed the toes in impossible directions. The other shoe was six inches long and was curved inward like a rocking chair with a vise and razor blades to hold the foot in place.

Carlo spoke hesitantly, "... Now you see why... they're not fit for humans..."

"Put them on me."


"Put them on me!"

Carlo knew all arguments were useless. He knelt down before her and forced the feet into the shoes.

The screams were incredible.

Anna crawled over to the mirror and held her bloody feet up where she could see.

"I like them."

She paid Carlo and crawled out of the store into the street.

Later that day, Carlo was overheard saying to a new customer, "Well, that's every shoe in the place. Unless, of course, you'd like to try the cruel shoes."
posted by sharksandwich at 8:22 AM on March 7, 2004

Oh...the sock link is divine!
posted by dejah420 at 9:34 AM on March 7, 2004

sharksandwich stole my comment!
posted by jpoulos at 9:45 AM on March 7, 2004

I have thought to myself, if North America had been colonized by the Chinese instead of Europeans, we'd be upset about exposed feet in public instead of exposed breasts.
posted by bobo123 at 10:03 AM on March 7, 2004

Well, I don't know about fetishing them, but I probably own more socks than Jane Average. This makes up for the fact that I own substantially less hosiery than Jane.

Thanks for that sock link. I just bought 4 pairs! The kilt socks look like just the thing for under winter dresses with boots.
posted by ilsa at 11:03 AM on March 7, 2004

Or, rather, we'd be prudish about breast AND feet.

I wonder if there are any scientific studies about the factors which trigger foot fetishes. Or is it genetic? Maybe in a few cases, but as a mass cultural phenomenon?

Fetish shoes sure don't push my buttons. I prefer women in sensible shoes who can walk around without danger of tipping over and breaking their noses.

True dominatrices, I'd think, would wear practical shoes so as to better kick ass. Platform shoes which are simply about increasing height don't need to render the wearer helpless. These 'cruel shoes' seem to me to be more about infantilizing women, dominance preferences notwithstanding. Just my opinion.

David Foster Wallace had a funny riff of about an utterly infantilized women, a severe alcoholic with the hyphenated name of "Hoffman-Jeep", whom two of his male characters carried around like a "sexual papoose"...

Oh well. Different strokes....
posted by troutfishing at 11:21 AM on March 7, 2004

The first time I heard the phrase "cruel shoes" was from a dance partner at an eighth-grade cotillion...
posted by wendell at 12:51 PM on March 7, 2004

oh it's no fun at all if you don't have at least one pair of cruel shoes...

... and I don't mean the ones that pinch a little, I mean the kind that you literally can't walk in, but you keep, because they just look so *damn* hot.
posted by pixeldiva at 3:09 PM on March 7, 2004

Y'know, looking at what passes for everyday stylish pumps these days, with the heel like a hatpin and the toe pointed like a hatchet (such that some women contemplate surgery to make their feet fit the shoes), and these "punitive shoes" don't seem so bizarre by comparison.
posted by adamrice at 4:16 PM on March 7, 2004

True re: modern pointy-toed fashion shoes. Although the fact is that your toes aren't supposed to extend into the extremely pointed area. A person with medium-to-wide feet, like me, can happily wear the things if the toebox is wide enough and just angles sharply once it passes the toes.

But even a "proper" fit has no proven effect on the wearer's ability to navigate a cobblestone street in stiletto heels....
posted by Pyth at 7:26 PM on March 8, 2004

I wonder if there are any scientific studies about the factors which trigger foot fetishes.

Can't seem to find a link, but I remember reading somewhere that the areas of the brain that receive sensations from the feet are right next to the areas that receive sensations from the genitals. There's speculation that in some people, the signal paths can get crossed, with predictably perverse results.
posted by fuzz at 9:35 AM on March 9, 2004

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