Foot fetishism, foot partialism, foot worship, or podophilia is a pronounced sexual interest in feet. It is the most common form of sexual fetishism for otherwise non-sexual objects or body parts.
Foot fetishism has been defined as a pronounced sexual interest in the feet or footwear. Sigmund Freud considered foot binding as a form of fetishism. For a foot fetishist, points of attraction include the shape and size of the foot and toes (e.g., long toes, short toes, painted toes, high arches, soles etc.), jewelry (toe rings, ankle bracelets, etc.), treatments (such as pedicures or massaging), state of dress (barefoot, flip flops, etc.), odor, and sensory interaction (e.g., smelling the foot, licking, kissing, tickling, etc.).
To estimate the relative frequency of fetishes, researchers at the University of Bologna examined 381 internet discussions of fetish groups, in which at least 5,000 people had been participating. Researchers estimated the prevalences of different fetishes based on the following elements:
- (a) the number of discussion groups devoted to a particular fetish
- (b) the number of individuals participating in the groups; and
- (c) the number of messages exchanged.
It was concluded that the most common fetishes were for body parts or for objects usually associated with body parts (33% and 30% respectively). Among those people preferring body parts, feet and toes were preferred by the greatest number, with 47% of those sampled preferring them. Among those people (mostly males) preferring objects related to body parts, footwear (shoes, boots, etc.) was most preferred (64%).
In August 2006, AOL released a database of the search terms submitted by their subscribers. In ranking only those phrases that included the word "fetish", it was found that the most common search was for feet.[dead link]
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The two divisions of foot fetishism are sexual and non-sexual. Sexual foot fetishism is when one achieves sexual arousal, even to the point of climax, when seeing or touching a foot. This can even be in spite of the look or cleanliness of the foot. The non-sexual form of foot fetishism does not cause sexual arousal, but rather the pleasure is purely due to aesthetics. It has been compared to what one feels when they view an attractive part of a body such as a mouth, a pair of eyes, a nose, or any non-sexual part of the body. They appreciate the overall beauty of a particular foot. This type of fetishist tends to rate the foot from a point of attractiveness without sex being the main motivator.
Health and disease
Some researchers have hypothesized that foot fetishism increases as a response to epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases. In one study, conducted by Dr. A James Giannini at Ohio State University an increased interest in feet as sexual objects was observed during the great gonorrhea epidemic of twelfth-century Europe, and the syphilis epidemics of the 16th and 19th centuries in Europe. In the same study, the frequency of foot-fetish depictions in pornographic literature was measured over a 30 year interval. An exponential increase was noted during the period of the current AIDS epidemic. In these cases, sexual foot play was viewed as a safe-sex alternative. However, the researchers noted that these epidemics overlapped periods of relative female emancipation. Sexual focus on female feet was also hypothesized to have been a reflection of a more dominant posture of the woman in sexual-social relations. (The first surviving mention of foot fetish is by Bertold of Regensburg in 1220.)
Neurologist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran proposed that foot fetishism is caused by the feet and the genitals occupying adjacent areas of the somatosensory cortex, possibly entailing some neural crosstalk between the two.
Notable foot fetishists from the past
- Giacomo Casanova
- George du Maurier
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- Thomas Hardy
- Elvis Presley
- Andy Warhol
- Hickey, Eric W. (2006). Sex Crimes and Paraphilia. Pearson Education. p. 165. ISBN 9780131703506.
- Dobson, R. (25 February 2007). "Heels are the world's No 1 fetish." The Independent
- Cameron Kippen (November 2004). [dead link] "The History of Footwear – Foot Sex". Retrieved 8 June 2007.
- Scorolli C et al.(2007) "Relative prevalence of different fetishes" in: International Journal of Impotence Research advance online publication 15 February 2007; doi:10.1038/sj.ijir.3901547. http://www.nature.com/ijir/journal/v19/n4/abs/3901547a.html retrieved March 2007
- Dobson, Roger (2007) "Heels are the World's No. 1 Fetish." The Independent, http://news.independent.co.uk/sci_tech/article2303022.ece, accessed 29 October 2007
- "Rex Ryan's Apparent Foot Fetish Not Necessarily Unhealthy - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. 2010-12-23. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
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- AOL's Accidental Release of Search Data – The Sexmind of America.aphrodisiology.com, accessed June 2007
- AJ Giannini et al., op. cit.
- Giannini, AJ; Colapietro, G; Slaby, AE; Melemis, SM; Bowman, RK (1998). "Sexualization of the female foot as a response to sexually transmitted epidemics: a preliminary study". Psychological reports 83 (2): 491–8. PMID 9819924.
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- "Feet first". The Times (London). 20 May 2007. Retrieved 2 April 2010.[dead link]
- "Elvis". SFGate. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- "Pumped Up Perfume". Elle. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
- Alastair Sooke (30 July 2007). "Lifting the lid on Warhol's Time Capsules". The Daily Telegraph. London, England. Retrieved 29 November 2008. "Warhol had a serious foot fetish..."