For starters, there’s no way to say it that doesn’t ring false in my ears. I don’t like saying, “I have a foot fetish,” because, to me, it sounds too much like, “I have a goiter,” or “I have a thyroid condition.” It’s not an affliction. I also don’t care to call myself a fetishist because, to me, the word is too close to words like cellist or flautist. It’s nothing I learned or practiced, and it’s not just something I do. The most apparently simple version, a statement to the effect that “I like feet,” is not only almost pathetically non-commital, it also, for me, is like saying, “I like chocolate,” or, “I like classical music”– when it’s that good, you kind of assume everybody does. And anyway, it misses the point; I like Sundays in the park well enough, but they hardly drive me to a powerful, gushing orgasm.
What I can say is that, for as long as I’ve had any personal consciousness of note and certainly long before my attraction was of a sexual nature, I can remember feeling a very particular and very special way toward the feet of my female peers, and at a deeply compelling level.
I have many pre-sexual memories connected with what is now an essential part of my sexual identity, everything from the first eligible pair I remember laying eyes on, when I must have been no older than 5, to early requests (made with complete innocence) to various playmates, within a few years or so of that. I suppose this much is to say that, for better or worse, it has always been with me as a fundamental part not just of what would become my sexuality, but of the very consciousness through which I experience the world. From the formative days of my development, apropos of not a single nucleating or catalyzing event, I have always responded to the feet of the opposite sex with significant interest and, ultimately, a secret, private fascination.
As puberty dawned this manifested in the form of the nearly continual search beneath the desks of my female classmates for dangling shoes or glimpses of socks, and of plaintive, half-formed wishes to interact with them that had not yet begun to approach the level of true desire. By that time, of course, I had become acquainted with society’s unusually fraught and anxiety-ridden relationship with the lower extremeties, characterized most often by something that can be summed up in the words, “Eew!” and “Yuk!” When the subconscious dots joined together and I began to realize that my special feelings were in fact a powerful source of arousal and thrill, I think it was then that the first feelings of shame began to set in. And it wasn’t that anyone had ever shamed me, it was just that I inferred the natural extension of the general disgust at the subject of my affections when confronted by my singular adoration of it.
In the private world of my mind, though, I was free to appreciate and adore, to ogle and to dream. I imagined a variety of little scenarios and took my inadvertent kicks where I could find them. In short, I subsisted, alone and isolated, unable to realize even the vaguest approach to experiencing the things I wished for so continually. In that, I guess, my experience was not unusual for my age, except that while most people at that point take tacitly for granted that they will eventually have sex and only when and with whom remain to be seen, I felt utterly baffled as to how anything remotely like the sex I wanted would come about.
This circumstance saw me through most of early adolescence, but it wasn’t long thereafter that I, through the fortuitous possession of a 56k internet connection, discovered what a world unto itself the fetish was. For one thing, I learned the actual word, learned that it had a name and that it was a known quantity in one way or another, and I learned that there was a surreptitious, not to say clandestine, group of enthusiasts and pornographers who seemed to know all about it.
I can’t say for certain if it was because the images, short videos, and Shockwave-based pages took so incredibly long to load, or if because of my bookish and imaginative nature I was drawn to something essential about the literary form, but in addition to the images of foot worship and the glorified images of foot models for which I waited patiently, I found myself more and more preoccupied with a certain amount of erotic writing, and it wasn’t long before I stumbled upon what would provide me with a thrill that was absolutely existential in nature, and which would strike me on a deeper level than I had previously understood to be possible.
Like most fetishists my affection for the feet of beautiful women extends beyond a distant appreciation of their visual aesthetic, and to read empassioned descriptions of the smell of their stink was more than just thrilling, it was validation, even vindication, and so too were the depictions of the acts, attitudes, and atmospheres which formed the context for that sensual experience. Whether forced, tricked, enslaved, punished, or indebted, all of the scenarios involved a level of what falls under the umbrella of female domination, and this was something I also understood and recognized immediately, from before I knew it had a name.
For nostalgia’s sake I read over some of them again just a few weeks ago. You won’t find the website anymore (it’s long since defunct and I had to access it through the magic of the Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine”), but it was all there exactly as it was. And, to my sadly unsurprised disappointment, I found that, yes, in almost all cases the writing was incredibly poor. Very much the cheap camcorder equivalent of erotica. And I remember being aware of this at the time, to the point where I even hid a Word file in the depths of the filesystem of the family computer and spent considerable time rewriting and expanding one story in particular, which I thought deserved a better treatment than the one it had been given.
I also saw and remembered, with no fondness at all, the extent to which fetishes and kinks that I do not share, particularly one for incest and an even less savory one for youth, were represented in the haphazard mixed bag of the site’s design. That too, came back to me– the prevailing feeling of something finally knowing what I was talking about and still, on occasion, having no idea what I meant. I suppose this is always the burden of pornographic consumption, that if you and your own tastes (sometimes, even morals) are not the progenitors of the content then you are subject to the caprices of the sexual constructions of others, which, especially in the context of kink, can be alienating in a way that is just short of disturbing.
It was from this position, about a year later, that I confronted the unwarranted, unsolicited exposure of my burgeoning sexual consciousness to the scrutiny of others. An internet watchdog program had been installed without my knowledge on the computer I was using and it had snitched on me, both to my mother and to her husband at the time (not my father), who was an abusive prick, and they took it upon themselves to confront me about it. While my mother did her best in her ignorance and confusion, the asshole, unburdened by any care for myself or my wellbeing, told me in no uncertain terms that I was a pervert and that the material I was viewing was sick.
I’ll make the point very clear that I was not victimized by this. It didn’t hurt my feelings. I knuckled down against the pathetic brute the same way I did later when I was punching and headbutting him on the occasions when he tried to beat me up. It was, however, a shock to my system in that 1) it reinforced my assumption that the world beyond my mind would not be generous in its estimation of my persuasions, and 2) it stripped away the veil of privacy in which I had conducted my explorations, and I was thrust beneath the interrogation lamp to account and take responsibility for what I had not wrought. I felt, with harsh light thrown upon me, like a cockroach that refuses to scatter.
I had been psychologically and personally invaded, and within that even my agency and its ability to discern things in a complex way had been denied. One of the more troubling things about the whole confrontation was that, in fact, I had recognized a certain amount of perversion and sickness in the significant amount of ground I had covered, and it was never made clear exactly what I was being accused of. In short, as secure as I was in what I had responded to, and as unwilling as I was to have that sullied by the ignorant vituperations of a bully, there was a level of truth in their condemnation that I was inclined to concede. But that was a line I was never allowed or invited to draw. I was never given the chance to define and own and establish, embryonic as it was, what it was that I was willing to be insulted for.
It’s taken me a long time to work my way out of that pervasive feeling of dissociation and alienation. I never felt ashamed, just completely misunderstood and mischaracterized, and I saw that misapprehension of the truth in the culture around me, the idea that being different somehow makes you a weirdo, or even a creep.
I wouldn’t say it caused me much strife or turmoil in my younger days. It simply put the that entire category of experience and feeling in a kind of shell, one that was vivid and significant on the inside but which I did not, under any circumstances, divulge to the outside world. I knew my feelings and thoughts on the subject were precious, and they had to be guarded from people who would not, and maybe could not, understand. I had a reverence for the things I loved, they had a majesty and grandeur to them, and the Philistines would trash it while they sneered.
When it came time for me to actually start dating young women, beginning my freshman year of high school, I was gratefully unburdened by any reticence in interacting with girls. I was lucky in that I felt categorically at ease in their company, as I always have, and in the specific case of the girl to whom I gave my virginity I was very lucky indeed; whether or not she was aware of the real effect that it had on me I’ll never know, but on the night in question we were headed to a party in the back seat of a friend’s car and, like a dream, she kicked off her shoes, placed her feet in my lap, and teased me for the entire trip, and then when we got out of the car she winked at me and told me I owed her a foot massage (which of course I gratefully obliged). That was the first crack in the ice that had formed around my sexuality and, while I didn’t admit to it then and wouldn’t until I had my first real girlfriend about two years later the experience gave me a subconscious sense of hope.
From there, as the years went on, I had a number of relationships with women who were sympathetic and indulgent of my needs, and who enabled me to have hundreds of positive fetish experiences despite being universally unmoved by the act from their perspective. While I was still “in the closet” in that I would be more or less appalled to have my secret known, I was open in a private context and getting, in essence, what I needed at the time.
And for a while I thought that’s all there was. I thought the best I could hope for was to accept the generosity of acceptance. But for a few months now, nearly 15 years after discovering the abundance of my fantasy, I’ve enjoyed something more. I’ve finally begun living the kinky sex life I always imagined.
I knew there was something special about her from some of the earliest of our interactions, when she hinted at a vibrant sexual consciousness, and throughout our courting I was attracted, most of all, to her erotic curiosity. I knew good things were in store when, one day, after weeks of trying to guess my fetish and after a half dozen little conversations that were in the ballpark, she finally guessed right and her response was someting I never could have expected: I dropped my confession just as an unavoidable distraction arose and as we bookmarked things in order to deal with it, she whispered, with a gleam in her eyes, “FEET?! Oh man, I’m gonna have to know more about that.”
She’s asked me a number of excellent questions as we’ve gone along together, and I’ll try here to recapture my answer to one of them. A few days after she was clued in we were playing a question and answer game over text, and she said, “My turn. What is it about the feet?”
I’ve tried to rationalize it over the years, tried to make sense of it in spite of its apparent defiance of reason, and the philosopher/psychologist in me has tried to find the core symbolism and deeper meanings of it all. This is what I’ve come to:
I started out by saying that I’ve always known I liked them, that it’s something I’m drawn to like a woman’s breasts or hips or vagina, and then I went on to say that it gets a little weirder than that. I told her that I like being made to worship them, to kiss, and lick, and suck them, and that I like having them pushed in my face. And I suppose, symbolically, it’s that worshipping what is literally the lowest, least glorified part of them speaks to the regard that I have for the rest of them.
I went on to tell her that, as I have indicated before, perhaps the most salient aspect of the fetish is one for the smell and, perhaps because of that, for dirty socks. With that, I think of it as a symbol of purity within a context of filth. A woman’s shoes walk through a world of dirt and piss and nastiness of a thousand kinds, but inside her feet are purely her, essentially her, and that essence is soaked up in her socks, and therefore the stronger the better.
The last thing I mentioned on this particular occasion was that I like being subjected to a woman’s feet for extended periods of time without, necessarily, any reference to the sexual aspect of the act, and that is, simply enough and as funny as it may sound, a state of meditation. I find a particular, innate sense of calm and reassurance in having her cover and wipe and cradle and push on my face with them, and there’s nothing else that brings me to quite the same state of consciousness. Beyond that there’s a sense of communion with what I’ve described above, and ultimately I suppose that that confluence of reverence, relish, and self abdication is what I mean by submission.
But beyond the fetish itself, what of the rest of it? I have other quirks and kinks, other interests and preoccupations, but they all center around a dominant female role. What is it, ultimately, about women? And what is it about their power?
In short, you either get it or you don’t. You either know, in your core, that the feminine human spirit is something precious and magnificent and you’re called to respond to it accordingly, or you lumber along, oblivious, and unable to hear the greatest music in the world. For me, as someone who believes in nothing supernatural, who is irreligious in all regards, and for whom the transcendent is found only in reality, women are the closest approximation of the divine. Adoring and serving and caring for them is the closest I get to a religious experience, and the harmony and flow of that, I’m sure, is as good or better than any of the alternatives.
I don’t know that any of what I’ve put forward here serves adequately as an explanation, something that follows through pure deduction and which could persuade someone who can’t relate to at least something about it a priori, but if I’m honest I also don’t know that I care. I am no evangelist for my own unique joie de vivre, and I could care less about convincing anyone. My only wish in the writing of this article has been to elucidate what for some is a mystery, and to enunciate what for others is as natural as breathing.
If there was anything I could say to someone who is in the position that I was in all those long years ago, it would be that, indeed, it does get better with time, and that it’s worth it to trust yourself and to trust in the validity of your feelings and experience. The world, or perhaps I should say the special people in it, have a soft spot for things felt and shared in earnest, and if you can just get in touch with that core of honesty and find a way to be okay with it then the rest will come when it ought to and it will be better than you can imagine.
There’s nothing wrong with me or the way I like to have sex. And it feels good to finally be able to say that.