Sigmund Freud famously asked, “what do women want? For many women, the answer appears to be shoes. Women who are interested in fashion do exhibit a particular enthusiasm for shoes, especially high heels. If there is a bit of Imelda Marcos in many women, there seems to be a little bit of shoe fetishist in many men. Shoe Obsession is not a new phenomenon, but it is one that has been growing in significance since the beginning of the twenty-first century, when extraordinary designer shoes with extremely high heels become central to fashion.
Women have long realized that dazzling shoes not only complement the outfit – they are the whole part. From Cinderella to Carrie, we have all fallen ahead over heels for the “right pair” and to hell with cost and comfort!
High heels eroticize the body, tilting the pelvis back and pushing the bosom and bottom out. They arc the foot and put the legs in a state of tension resembling the one of sexual arousal. High heels change not only the wearer’s stance, but also her walk making her totter, wiggle, or sway. High heeled shoes, especially those with tapered heels and pointed toes, also make a woman’s feet look smaller.
Consider the Cinderella story, of which there are a number of historical variants, some with a fur shoe instead of a glass slipper. In one version, the stepsisters cut off their toes and heels in a vain attempt to squeeze their feet into the tiny shoes, but are betrayed by a trail of blood.
Fashion and fetishism are connected, but women’s passion for shoes does not mean that they are sexual fetishists – at least not in the same way that man can be. After studying erotic fantasies and sexual behavior for many years, the psychiatrist Robert Stoller concluded that “fetishizing is the norm for males, not for females.” My own research on fashion and fetishism led me to the same conclusion. This is not to say that women do not find certain parts of the body or items of clothing to be sexy – they certainly do – but they do not seem to “lust” after them in the same way men do.
Higher the heel, the greater is the shoe’s association with ( a fantasy of ) female sexuality. psychiatrists believe that sexual fetishism in the male is associated with castration anxiety; other psychiatrists see it as being associated, more generally, with anxiety about sexual act.
In any case fetishism appears to be closely associated with phallic symbolism, and involves in partial phallic endowment of women. The fetish object, often a body part (such as long hair or feet)or an item of clothing (such a shoe) acts as a “magic Charm” that enables the fetishist to achieve sexual satisfaction.
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