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

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One thought on “The Slavery of Stilettos

  1. I very much agree with you, and the enthusiastic participation by women in things that harm women’s bodies for the sake of making them more marriageable (and it does seem to mostly come down to that) is something we really need to keep talking about. It’s usually the role of the mother to persuade the girl that these things are necessary, and usually the first high heels a girl will wear, are her mother’s shoes. We repeat, we normalise, we say it can’t be done differently. We present the tools to the next generation and tell them what they must do to themselves to be acceptable.

    Liked by 1 person

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