Just as in real life, male characters in novels can be attracted to the women they love by all manner of what are normally called Sexual Fetishes. Involving their stunning breasts. Nice, round tusches. Long legs. Great cheek bones. Ear lobes… The list is endless.
In fact, I once knew a guy whose big fetish was Collar Bones. If a gal had prominent and nicely-shaped collar bones, he’d drop everything and go chasing after her. Even claimed to be able to masturbate himself to a highly fulfilling climax with his beloved’s collar bones (though he never explained how he managed the logistics of this).
So in my new erotic romance novel THE WOMEN WHO MADE ME (just published as an e-book by OC Press), lead character Robert Gardner tells readers how he was attracted to the women in his life by his fetish for their Beautiful Feet. Which fill him with the overpowering desire to Worship them.
No big surprise. My market research using a database of more than 25,000 erotic videos supplied to Internet Porn Sites shows that Foot Worship is the second most popular sexual fetish (right behind Breast Worship). And several entries on Google cite surveys done at the University of Bologna and elsewhere claiming it to be the Number One Fetish.
The real surprise is that Foot Worship appears so seldom in mainstream fiction, where Breast Worship seems to rule. Though it’s said to have been a great personal favorite of such authors as Goethe, Casanova, Thomas Hardy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, James Joyce, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. And was a popular item in the racy Hollywood movies prior to the Production Code clamp-down under tight-ass Joseph Breen beginning in 1934. (See Eric von Stroheim’s 1925 film THE MERRY WIDOW for a full-court-press example.)
Over the decades, psychologists who are into such things have had a lot of say about foot fetishes. Though much of it is quite speculative. Their theories about the reasoning behind foot fetishes seem to fall into the Physiological Imperative or the Metaphorical Imperative categories.
Let’s begin with the Physiological Imperative. Especially relating to the superior sense of smell found in many mammals. Most notably in Cats who live in an exceedingly rich world of aromas beyond anything less sensitive human beings can even contemplate.
Cats have an extra scent gland in their mouths that (together with their sensitive noses) enables them to be aware of a bewildering array of aromas. And these aromas, rather than vocal sounds or body language, are the main way cats communicate with each other.
So each cat spreads his own distinctive aromas among objects in his immediate environment – by rubbing, licking, scratching, and peeing. While gulping down the aromas spread by other cats in the vicinity. Among other things, this is how females signal males that they’re eager for sexual intercourse. And males transmit “don’t mess with me” signals to other males.
On a far less sophisticated level, human males and females use aromas to transmit comparatively simple-minded sexual messages to each other (hence the business success of the multi-billion perfume industry.) And it’s not uncommon for humans to explain why they’re sexually attracted to a love partner through such phrases as “he always smells so good.”
Men with foot fetishes are assumed to be especially sensitive to the distinctive fragrances of women’s feet and find them sexually exciting. Even to the extent of being turned-on by women’s shoes and stockings – as concentrated repositories of foot fragrances. (Dramatized in THE WOMEN WHO MADE ME during the scene in Aunt Martha’s bedroom when Robert drives himself into a sexual frenzy by inhaling the aromas of her nylon stockings and high-heeled pumps while he’s alone in the house.)
The obvious question is whether heightened sensitivity to foot aromas leads to foot fetishes. Or whether it’s the other way around. And the answers to this may lie in the Metaphorical Imperative category.
Just as Cats live in a rich world of Aromas, human beings live in an even richer world of Metaphors because of their highly developed verbal capabilities. And this can affect human responses to various stimuli in a variety of ways.
Case in point. It’s not uncommon for psychologists to cite spirited debates among guys who are into feet about whether exposed Toe Cleavage (because the fully-dressed woman is wearing shoes with low-cut vamps) is Sexier than exposed Toe Tips (because the woman is wearing open-toed shoes). Even to the extent of citing the metaphor of the old debate about Breast Cleavage vs. Bare Nipples.
And some foot worshippers are reported to insist that foot jobs provide far more fulfilling sexual climaxes than hand jobs, blow jobs, or even full vaginal intercourse (which could account for their fascination with high arches).
According to psychologists, such examples are presumed to reflect half-buried memories among foot worshippers of childhood caressings by the feet of their mothers (or nannies, sisters, baby sitters, or other Older Women) that they found sexually stimulating. And which sensitized them to female feet as sources of sexual pleasure. This idea is based on the convenient assumption that even very young males can feel something akin to sexual pleasure under the right circumstances.
Clearly, Freud’s influence has fired the imaginations of many psychologists who like to root around in the human psyche for topics to write learned articles about (not to mention astonish their patients). Foot worship is simply one among many. All you need do is check out some of the more obvious headings in Google.
But is it possible that the relative rarity of Foot Worship sequences in contemporary fiction has something to do with the overwhelming dominance of Breast Worship in American life? Which is so mainstream that most people don’t even regard it as a “fetish” these days. After all, there’s certainly no shortages of impassioned sequences devoted to dramatizations of all manner of other sexual practices usually regarded as “kinky.”
Are too many of today’s fiction writers missing something? Could a good fiction writer normalize Foot Worship, the way Breast Worship has been normalized in our clearly “under-weaned” popular culture? Or will depictions of passionate love for women’s feet forever reside on the guilty outskirts of erotic fiction?
Young Robert Gardner can’t help but fall in love with his stunning and sophisticated Aunt Martha–and her beautiful feet. Soon after his eighteenth birthday all of his dreams and fantasies about her begin to come true as the two embark on an exceedingly romantic, whirlwind love affair. When tragedy strikes, Robert retaliates against the injustices of the world by becoming a corrupt Wall Street shark and ultimately lands in Federal Prison for his horrific money crimes. Will the gorgeous prison psychologist Doctor Svetlana Gusoff be able to save Robert from himself?
The Women Who Made Me is available at OC Press