There are many reasons why a man might want to know what a women is feeling. One of the more popular ones is having a better chance of having sex. More appreciated still is having loving sex, as a part of an intimate loving committed relationship built on empathy. There are many ways to get better and better at doing that. One way is to better understand a woman’s relationship to her shoes.
The first step to understanding a woman’s relationship to her shoes is to better appreciate your relationship to your own shoes. (Warning, if your primary interest is having a relationship with a woman’s shoes that situation will not be addressed in this article).
As a child, I used to hate buying what was then referred to as dress shoes. I use to love buying sneakers, sometimes called tennis shoes. I didn’t play tennis, but I loved sneaking around. Dress shoes not only made too much noise when trying to sneak around the house, dress shoes also needed to be polished and could get scuffed while playing. They were part of the reason going to church and school sucked. Getting home, kicking off the confining dress shoes and slipping onto my “play shoes” was great. My favorite brand name for sneakers was “PF Flyers.” I never knew where the “PF” came from. I knew where the rest of the brand name did.
Like many things in life I learned as a child, what felt good was believed to be bad for you, and what felt bad was actually good for you. In the case of these shoe choices, sneakers didn’t have enough sole support. As a post World War II baby boomer, I learned that flat feet kept strong men out of military service. Combat boots were not yet available for kids, so shoes with stiff leather support was in order to keep feet fit until then.
I will never forget the dawn of the running shoe and my first pair of Adidas. They were a cross country running shoe with a leather upper and a rubber sole that covered the ball of my foot, and then tapered to a thin strip along the inner edge of my foot. I was too fat and lazy to run cross country like many of my friends. The shoes my friends wore to compete in were like mine, except they had long sharp spikes for better traction in the mud and to intimidate a competitor who had an interest in passing by.
Seeing my friends gasping for breath, with blood streaming down their ankles as they crossed the finish line, made me wish I wasn’t so lazy. With my cross country shoes, I was pretty good in a sprint. They worked great for informal games of touch foot ball and no protective apparel tackle football. I had never made the transition from playing baseball, soccer, football or anything else wearing spikes or cleats. That is I never got serious enough about my any sport to advance to foot wear that was hard to just walk in.
One of my friends in High School liked his practice cross country shoes so much that he wore them to classes walked the hallways in them. He was the object of ridicule for being so clueless when it came to foot fashion. He didn’t care. He couldn’t have imagined the casual running shoe craze to come. A craze that is still running.
I got into running shoes more after having some difficulty with hiking shoes. Actually the hiking shoes worked fine. The problem was with the cardio-vascular system that was attached to the feet in them. This cardio-vascular system couldn’t keep up with my younger brother, who wanted to go mountain climbing.
After a humbling climb, I vowed to start running to get into some kind of shape for the next outing. I mapped out a four mile course on streets near where I was living and got off to a good start, until I started to have trouble with my right ankle rolling over. It was then that I learned that the Brooks shoe company made a shoe that prevented this from happening. Thus began my love affair with running shoes. I just couldn’t wait for my running shoe soles to show a little wear, so I could be off to the athletic shoe store or catalog to lust after the latest cushioning and stabilizing systems and oh the glorious colors and ingenious ways to incorporate brand logos into shoe design.
I didn’t want to be hampered by costs in pursuing my passion for having the “happy feet” experience of buying running shoes, so I saved money by wearing my worn out running shoes to work. I walked on the edge of corporate casual in doing so, but I just didn’t care.
I considered getting some fancy custom made orthotics, but my budget confined me to the kind you could buy in a drug store, that was until I developed Parkinson’s Disease. It was my wife who first told me that my right toe was turning inward as I walked. As the disease progressed and I began to shuffle and stumble I turned to a podiatrist who specialized in helping runners. He told me, that not only was my right foot turning in a lot, but so was my left. In addition to the $50 co-pays for diagnostic and fitting appointments, for $450 more I could finally get my custom made orthotics.
So I got them. My feet got worse. I membered from my days working as a social worker with children with physical disabilities that bracing and things like orthotics that inhibit movement you don’t want can make maters worse, as muscles of resistance grow stronger by being given something to resist against, while opposing muscles grow weaker from lack of use.
I ditched the orthotics and did exercises to loosen my hips, and to loosen my legs, to better go in the way they were supposed to go. I began to believe that with less between the nerve endings on my feet and the ground, the better my body had feedback on which way to move to be better balanced. I don’t run the way I used too, (which was never very fast, but good enough to have completed four marathons), but I still can run.
I have read thinks about runners who can go for miles in bare feet. Our species’ survival may have hinged on the ability to go long and hard, with nothing but skin. Skin, that is not so good at marching to war or moving along ever increasing miles of asphalt and concrete men have poured upon the Planet. I’ve never seen a running track, made of grass with an invitation to lose your shoes. That would be bad for the lucrative shoe business.
My new passion is looking for treasure in the stock liquidation stores that carry running shoes. I recently scored some high end Nikes, dirt cheap. They provide me with the cushioning and stability this old man needs.
I wish I had more room in this article to share on the feeling of slipping on cowboy boots, hiking shoes with eco-friendly soles, loafers, moccasins and my yearning to try retro-sneakers and combat boots, but this article was supposed to be on walking a mile in the shoes of women, towards developing empathy.
So spend a few minutes thinking about your own soulful experiences with foot wear and then turn your attention and imagination to the feet of a woman you love or otherwise care about. One of your first consideration might be to feet that get stuffed into high heel shoes. You don’t have to put on a pair of high heels in your size on to understand the price paid in discomfort for walking this walk. You might have trouble imagining what it is like to get good enough at this balancing act to be able to appear to be dancing effortlessly from such an ankle wrench height. It may be helpful to remember that some women got their start as girls dancing ballet style in slippers with very hard toes to conform with a form of feminine grace and poise.
Some women wear heels to appear taller, to accentuate the rolling of their hips as they walk or because they fear that sensible shoes may signal that they aren’t interested in meeting a man to explore a romantic relationship with.
I used to work at a large agency that employees mostly women. The ones who wore high heels were in administration. They would announce their presence by the sound of heel clicks coming down the hall.
I think most women wear high heels because other women are. It is difficult to imagine any other reason for enduring such sole torture.
On the dark side, in the shades of gray, is the effect of the pornography industry in stretching a connection between high heels and low morales when it comes to loveless sex. It is in response to ongoing rampant sexual abuse of women, by men, that women are encouraged to think about how the pressure per square inch exerted by a woman’s weight over a high heel can inflict enough pain to an attacker to buy time to get out those heels and run if sexually assaulted.
If after reading this article you feel inclined to offer a woman you are close to a foot rub, that might not be such a bad idea.
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