Friday, June 18, 2010


I was feeling really happy earlier this morning. My life is better than I ever thought it would be. I've got a fun job, I live in a great place, I've got good friends and I've got sexual options. I'm more able to be myself and to have fun than I ever thought would be. It's a good time and my future looks bright.

Then I picked up a copy of "Redbook" that someone from another shift had left at my desk at work. It had an article on "things that are better than sex." They were all pretty bullshit--not that sex is the best things ever, but these were all really petty things--but the one that got me was about shoes.

[paraphrase] "Finding a great new pair of shoes is way better than sex. Every time I put them on I get that 'yes, yes, yes!' feeling."

And that just brought down my whole mood.

Fucking shoes, man. I have, like, five pairs? Sneakers, sandals, dressy boots, hiking boots, steel-toes. I'm good with that. I mean, nothing against people who like shoes for fashion, that's fine, but I find that the basic set fits my personal needs. I don't get sexual ecstasy from any of them. Okay, a little bit from the steel-toes. But even then, it's not literally a "yes, yes, yes!". And sex is literally that.

(Or it's a "no, no, ooh please no Daddy," but as so often in these feminism posts, I have enough trouble explaining regular sex to some people. Bringing "well it's not incest it's Daddy-girl and that's different" and "well it's not rape it's just reluctance role-play" is wayyyy too many cans of worms for someone who'd rather buy shoes. These things coexist for me, though. I tend to speak from a pseudo-vanilla perspective just for the sake of making points on the mainstream, but it's not like my kink turns off. I'm not reading about shoes as someone who'd rather fuck, I'm reading about them as someone who'd rather get held down and fucked by Daddy. Which makes everything just that much weirder.)

The funny thing is, I'm not sure sex is the best thing in the world. I mean, it's up there, but compared to, I dunno, the completion of a long difficult project or the saving of a life or the creation of a perfectly expressive work of art? Oh, but women don't do stuff like that, that's for grown-ups. Women buy shoes.

Fucking shoes, man. It's kind of a slur to talk about women and shoes, isn't it? It's a hurtful stereotype. Oh, not that we wear shoes, but that shoes are this thing for us. The Dreaded PC Police have told me that comparing oppressions is naughty so I won't go into any analogies, but repeatedly hearing "you people all like this particular trivial thing," even when the thing itself is harmless, is offensive.

You know what I really like? Being barefoot. It's not safe in a lot of settings, but when it is, it feels so good. It opens up an entire new dimension to be constantly perceiving the touch of the world. The difference between dirt and pavement, wood and tile, between sunlit and shadowed ground, so trivial in shod life, becomes suddenly significant. Being barefoot opens up an entirely new surface of my body, and it's wonderful.

Still not better than sex though.


  1. I love shoes. I spend a huge amount of money on them. I have far more pairs than I need. I still want more.

    They still aren't better than sex.

  2. Hence my infatuation with my Vibram Five Fingers... which are one of three pairs of shoes that I actually wear.

  3. I've noticed that there seem to be a considerable number of men out there who have shoe obsessions as well. They just like to have a woman wear them rather than to wear the shoes themselves. I wonder if we'd be not stereotyping it as a woman-thing if it were socially acceptable for men to wear fancy and/or sexy shoes.

  4. LabRat - Ooh, I feel very silly expressing shoe-lust in this post of all places... but I kind of want to try those. They sound awesome, even if they do look a little ridiculous.

    Not Me - And if my grandmother had wheels she'd be a bus? (My grandmother does not have wheels, it is not socially normal for men to wear fancy shoes, and the consequent "ifs" are too far out there to matter.)

  5. You know what I also find suprising and difficult to grasp in this shoes idea? It's not about *having: shoes. Wearing them. Using them.
    It's about *buying* them. This one moment of exchanging money for a thing. That's all.
    Maybe the first time you wear the, Then they are old and useless. No fun.

    I love shoes. Specifically, high-heeled shoes. I have 6 pairs. I wear one of them them once a month, average, because they aren't for everyday wear. When I have a regular bdsm-bottom, I wear them more often because it's part of the scene gear I like. Whe I live alone I wear them more often because I like to go around the house in high heels. I also try different shoes in shops without buying them.
    For me, it's all about the process of wearing the high-heeled shoes. The feeling. The image. The art of walking in them, dancing in them. The power I have when I press my heel into someone's soft body. The admiration I see in the eyes of people looking at my legs.
    This is sometimes as good as sex (because it's sexual, or at least sensual). But buying shoes? Parting with money for a thing? I don't get it.

  6. I hate buying shoes. I hate the process. I hate the result. I hate it all. Years of repeatedly breaking my feet have shaped them into some weird non-foot shape which means that 99% of shoes don't fit me and when I finally give up and take home the pair that hurt the least, after wearing them for a few weeks, they spontaneously evolve new ways to be painful (e.g., wearing high heels for two days in a row tends to cause three of my toes to go numb.) I go through life in a pair of specially selected running shoes with orthopedic inserts.

    That said, I still really enjoy window shopping for shoes. Like, REALLY. I just picture the future boyfriend I shall one day have who will wear all the pretty shoes for me. My shoe collection will be both beautiful and epic, then. The fact that shoes ARE still a thing for me, even though by all rights they shouldn't be is as little worrisome!

    And for the record, I'm trying to think of things that are better than sex and I can think of lots of things that are better than any one strict act but not much that's better than the whole lead-up/foreplay/act/afterglow package when done well. Then again, any thing I can think of that might be (e.g., that feeling of finally getting to fall asleep when you're really exhausted? That's almost better than sex) can be incorporated into one of those steps.


  7. Okay, first of all I agree with this entire post...

    ... but I as well have a serious case of shoe-lust for some Vibram Five Fingers. Not only are they are close to being barefoot as you can safely get in public but the name also sounds like a most interesting sex toy ;-P


  8. Yeah, I don't understand it about shoes either. I tend to assume they're not comfortable, and they're so expensive, too. Blouses are cheap. Shoes cost real money... </anecdata>

  9. I was just looking at my shoe collection:
    a pair of Sorrels - because there is nothing better are keeping your feet warm and dry in the winter.
    A pair of work/hiking/riding boots, because I do stuff like that.
    A pair of dress shoes, because sometimes I have to wear a suit and noose.
    a pair of light hikers that are my daily treads
    a pair of Bass kinda boat shoe things
    A pair of cleats for soccer
    2 pairs of sandals, one of which should be thrown out but I still wear
    a pair of river shoes
    holy fuck! I'm a woman


  11. +1 for the Vibrams... I wear them pretty much every day, and one of the main reasons I like them is the sense of touch on my feet... walking is fun when wearing them(: I can't stand wearing shoes in general, but I've never had any issues with these.

  12. My liege has Vibrams and work boots. I think he might also have some sandals but I'm pretty sure that the Vibrams have replaced them in function.

    I have a pair of flats and a pair of sneakers. Oh, and snow boots, somewhere, I do live in New England. I would like to get some nice leather tall boots some day.

    I have some friends who are total Shoe People? I stare at their link-trading and contemplate that we are clearly not from the same universe.

  13. Fortunately for me, Los Alamos is THE place in America to be if you want to wear something functional and cool that also happens to look weird/silly. People will either not care period because you blend in, or come over to question you interestedly about the function.

    And yes, I wear them for the extra sense of touch, more than the very real fact that it means I have no or less discomfort in my feet, knees, and hips. It's AWESOME.

  14. Finding shoes a) in size 12, b) in a AA or narrow B width, c) that are flats, because I don't do heels, and d) that I like, is happy-making. But better than sex? Hell, no.


  15. Cute shoes that feel great? Okay, I won't say it's always better than sex always, but unlike with some past partners, everytime I put them on I know it's going to feel good

  16. This reminds me, somewhat distantly, of the Better Than Cuddling Cake: There are cakes out there that claim to be better than sex, and we feel a great surge of pity for the makers of said cakes. This cake has infinitely more realistic goals, and therefore accomplishes them.

  17. Amen to this post! I loathe the ubiquitous "women love shoes better than sex" trope pushed by mags and marketers. Most of my shoes are athletic shoes (I *will* plunk down a wad of cash for good shoes to run in) and $5 plastic flipflops and I would rather have sex any hour of any day than buy shoes. When I do buy shoes, I tend to do it online b/c I really do NOT enjoy the whole shopping errand. If can place a web hour in 10 min in my pj's without having to get dressed/go anywhere/talk to anyone, more's the better!

    However. In my usual binary/extreme way, I adore really impractical skyhigh stiletto heels...sandals, boots, or pumps. I wear them outside the house a couple of times a year tops for formal/fancy/party occasions and more frequently for bedroom games (my bf likes them too). But ordering, occasional short term wear, don't enjoy the "buying" experience.

    Reading women's mags always makes me feel oinky, so your Redbook moment sounds all too familiar :/

  18. I am a shoe person, but shoes are not better than sex. And when I'm really, really drooling over a pair of shoes, it's usually because I'm imagining getting held down and fucked in them.

    And if you're curious about the Vibram Fivefingers, well, they're a bit of an investment, but I've heard glorious things about them -- enough to make me consider buying a pair even though I think they look terrifying. Being able to feel the textures of the ground underneath you and still have your feet protected from the elements sounds pretty awesome.

  19. I like new boots or sneakers--I love the feeling of them--but I have very wide, flate feet, so buying dress shoes, especially heels, makes me want to break something. My favorite 'shoes' are a pair of Birks I've had since my freshman year of college, and the best thing about having my own house with a huge yard is being able to walk around barefoot all summer without getting broken glass through my foot.

    As for the rest of it--you know what, I really don't have much of a sex drive. I like sex just fine, but it's not usually a huge part of my thought process. And those articles bug the fuck out of me, honestly. They just always come across as self-justification, like all those women who do have a big sex drive are just deluding themselves when they'd rather be shoe-shopping. People are different from each other. Why is that so hard to grasp.

  20. My reaction to all these "I am woman, see me spend money" woman mag tripe is that exhilarating feeling of freedom that not giving a damn brings.

    It's a little tautologigal, because I'm happy about not caring about stuff I don't want to care about (does that make any kind of sense?), but it's still a good feeling.

    I like having comfortable, good-looking shoes, but really, seven pairs (winter, summer, rest of year, nice, hiking, house, gym) is plenty.

    And "better than sex" -- it might be true for the person in question and would be perfectly fine in a personal account, but the way it's presented, it's just boring, attention-grabbing hyperbole.


  21. I don't understand women's shoe-lust as it is portrayed in popular culture. Apparently it's all about acquisition (buying the shoes is the big rush, not having them) and the shoes should be wildly impractical and probably in such insane colours that they'll only go with one outfit. Which means you'll need to buy more shoes, yay!

    Mind you, I'm a cheap bastard, I hate wearing heels and I take a women's 12 wide, so that's probably affected my relationship to footwear in a pretty huge way.

    Anyway. I feel like it's stupid to compare shoes to sex, not because sex is so obviously better but because (for me, anyway) the two things are satisfying in two utterly different ways. Sex feels intensely pleasurable and indulgent but only lasts a shortish time (and getting it never a sure thing because it depends on having a willing partner). Getting a sturdy pair of high-quality, badass-looking boots makes me feel mildly pleased every time I wear them because they're practical, comfortable and make me feel attractive - and I can shove my feet in 'em anytime I want without having a discussion about consent first. It's a longer, more dependable, but lower-watt kind of happy.

  22. You're missing out on the rather important dependency: Women aren't supposed to enjoy sex, they're just sitting through it, so of course the marginal pleasure of acquisition is better.

    That being said, there's a fine distinction between it being better than sex, period, or getting a new pair of shoes better than having sex - the distinction being which you'd choose if you could only choose one pleasure for your entire life, and which you'd choose if you were picking one pleasure for a day.

    If such an exchange made sense, would you agree to "lose" one sexual encounter for, say, a pair of Vibram Five-Fingers?

    (If my girlfriend agreed in good spirits, I'd give up a session or two for a nice old-fashioned Amish-made corner butler's desk with lots of legroom and all the hidey-holes and drawers.)

  23. I'd give up one run-of-the-mill fuck for one really amazing well-made pair of shoes I get to keep forever. Like, say, a crappy one night stand, or one of those nights with a regular partner where it feels nice, maybe, but isn't quite clicking and becoming awesome. But if it were the choice between really amazing sex and some nice shoes, fuck it, give me the human connection and orgasms.

  24. Yes! What Beatrice said.

  25. Maybe it's kind of OT but I think sex is better than creating a work of art - after it's done. I am a writer and the problem is, after the whole shit's in the bag, I feel devastated. As with everything in life, it's all about mourning for the loss of what you had. No giddyap and happy feet in that. For me, anyway.

    I like shoes, nice, beautiful, feet loving shoes. But how can anyone, anywhere in any state of mind be so alienated from their body that they think that simple commercialism is as good as something that gives real corporeal hormonal pleasure? I'm hoping it's just a stupid stereotypical way to speak (meant to make single gals feel better about themselves?) and not anything real. But it's still a harmful misconception. Like women's desires are so alien that anything - buying things or getting them as presents - fits the bill for their needs.

    Isn't that what the whole PUA and beta-omega (;)) guys are advocating? That women just trade their goods for other goods.

    Yeah, I'll trade my goods for some of yours. But shoes don't work for me.