Francis W. Porretto answers the question I’ve been asked several times: “What’s the deal with women’s shoes?”
It’s got nothing to do with Freud. The shoe is the quintessential outward expression of female sexuality, at both its highs and its lows. Note the trend in shoe purchases by any woman of ordinary means, married or unmarried: the more interested in (and amenable to) sex she is, the more shoes she’ll purchase per unit time, and the more overtly sexual they’ll be. When she’s “on the prowl,” she’ll go for the highest heels, the most daring cuts, and the most eye-catching materials. Once she’s mated, her shoe choices on any day will signal her man to what extent she’ll be receptive to his amorous advances. As she ages and her interest in sex wanes, she’ll take to wearing ever less sexy shoes, regardless of what her Significant Other might have to say about it.
Not having been on anyone’s romantic radar for any significant period of time in the last quarter-century, I can offer no personal data either to support or to refute this notion.
Apparently much of the shoe chatter this weekend was provoked by Ann Althouse’s analysis of a Katie Roiphe piece in Slate. Having only recently finished Roiphe’s essay collection In Praise of Messy Lives, I am persuaded that Roiphe likely went through all that tsuris in Slate to justify a purchase of her own; and having examined at great length the obligatory author photo on the flyleaf, I think it was a fine thing indeed that she did.