The Slavery of Stilettos

This article is written with utmost love and respect for all my friends, no matter what you wear on your feet!

My granny used to think my feet would spread if I didn’t wear a nice court shoe. How far did she think they were going to go? In the end she couldn’t wear flat shoes or go barefoot at all due to foreshortening of the calf muscle from a lifetime of wearing heels. Even her slippers had heels. How different is this to foot binding? Only by degree.

The stiletto shoe epitomises sado-masocism. It oppresses and imprisons the wearer, disabling them, causing pain and restricting movement. It forces them to walk daintily on their toes, as if afraid to put their foot down, tipping their body weight forward to unsteady them. How easily could you run from an attacker (or an abusive partner) or stand your ground in self-defence? Yet at the same time it displays aggression; a potential weapon, a spike to stamp down with; increasing the wearer’s height, and in those who have mastered it, a confident swagger. It is a form of power dress and of enslavement simultaneously, not unlike a studded collar on a dog. Think I’m overreacting? Try putting men in them for a week.

The corset was designed to constrict a woman’s breathing and movement, causing them weakness and fainting spells. It also compressed the abdominal organs. Foot binding in China prevented girls’ feet from growing and horribly disfigured and permanently disabled them. Fortunately recent generations have stopped the practice. FGM not only robs a woman of pleasure but can make childbirth much more difficult and potentially fatal. All these abuses were perpetuated by the women themselves on their own children, and change was strongly resisted by the older generations. In the words of Steve Biko, the greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. The instruments may change but the intention is the same. Those who challenge the status quo are mocked as militant. Sometimes the more subtle the abuse, the more insidious and persistent it remains, whilst we believe we are making a free choice. Think on.

© Janey Colbourne 2016

Speak Out Loud (trigger warning: rape and abuse survivors)

I want your touch
Yet I cannot bear it
Betrayal is bitter
And love runs cold

You smile at me
And my heart warms
Then remembers
A stone hard shell

My own love
Opened up to you
All those years
What did they mean?

The deepest wound
Yet you deny
It can’t be healed
By lies

To fear a lover
Daring not to speak
But lie there silent

Twisted tarnished
An act of love
Made hate
In the deepest way

Never the same again
That moment
In my mind
Your face

Your rage
As you lay on me
In every sense

Feeling dead
Tears choked back
My body
Not my own

Like a dog
Your territory marked
Then with disdain
Cast me aside

Yet still you think
I have a problem
A frigid distance
Why so cold?

I could not call it
By its name
For many years
Still cannot speak
Out loud

© Janey Colbourne 2016