I like feet. Some are bemused by the level of attention I give their trotters, while others are delighted to have their toes and soles sniffed and kissed. Admittedly, I feel pretty good about that. Others however, despite my adoration, have admitted feeling self-conscious about rubbing their feet all over my face. That foot guy was a perv. If that foot guy was a perv, I guess I am too. While research on the topic is, as Pitagora suggests, scarce, a study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research found that among those professing to having a fetish, feet were the most common preferences for body parts or features and objects usually associated with the body.
Fully 47 percent of Fetish groups subscribers in the sample the study looked at were into feet. That may be but it doesn't really strike a chord with me personally—at least not on a conscious level. I chiefly credit my foot fetish to the events of an uncharacteristically long, hot English summer in my middle adolescence.
Two other boys and I spent many summer days with three girls we knew from school. We sunbathed, we hung out at a local swimming pool, we went walking in some nearby woods—where the girls placed plucked daisies between their toes on more than one occasion. Despite lots of yearning from the boys—particularly me—the activity within our coed sextet remained entirely platonic.
The most titillating thing that happened from my perspective was that the girl who I was interested in ended up leaving a pair of sneakers at my house. Resigned to the fact that sniffing her well-ripened British Knights would be as physically close as I ever got to her, I ended up huffing them whenever I was alone.
The effect that it had on my person was so intense and profound that I feared that my erection would never subside. In my mind the shoes were a sort of fetish-inducing double whammy; there was the smell of her plus the idea that I was beneath her, figuratively, at her feet. She came over to get them before school started but in that week or week and a half that those kicks lived at my house, I acquired an enduring and expanding fetish now in its 27th year. Pitagora explains that for many, sexual fetishes originate during childhood when experiencing something visual or tactile results in a sexual imprint.
Put another way, the seeds of my foot fetish may have been sown much earlier and it was the events of that summer that really made them apparent. She notes that children are more likely to engage in feet tickling than adults and are lower to the ground and therefore more likely to see bare feet more than taller people. I ask Pitagora about what accounts for the subdivisions among foot fetishists: the sniffers, the toe-suckers, the sole lickers, the foot-jobbers, the people who like to be penetrated—vaginally, anally, orally—by a foot, people into stockings, folks who are into shoes and many other foot-related fetishes besides.
What is more generalizable, she says, is the proximity of feet and genitalia on the brain homunculus—the sensory map of the brain. The homunculus shows the parts of the body with the most sensory receptors, feet being one of those body parts with a massive amount of sensory receptors.
Feet just so happen to be mapped very close to genitalia on the brain, so it also makes sense that there would be relatively frequent associations. Pitagora uses the example of people who enjoy foot massages and would consider them a romantic activity, but are not foot fetishists. Feet, she says, have a lot of potential to make a person feel good. For that reason, it might be harder for non-male partners like my friend to get on board with.
Pitagora disagrees with my assertion that a liking for feet—like a penchant for the music of Rush—is primarily gendered in that way. Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of Tonic delivered to your inbox. Sep 7 , pm.