Fuck-me shoes, alternatively fuck-me boots, is a slang term for women's high-heeled shoes that exaggerate a sexual image. The term can be applied to any women's shoes that are worn with the intention of arousing others. It is sometimes used to imply condemnation against the women who choose to wear them or in a misogynistic fashion toward the women who wear them.
The term is similar in meaning to kinky boots, although typically kinky boots refer more specifically to boots suited to a particular fetish.
Term and usage
The phrase possibly originated in the United States, where two similar terms are used: "'fuck-you shoes' implying a disregard for convention or propriety, or 'fuck-off shoes' where 'fuck-off' means both outsize and aggressive". Tight trousers were called "come fuck-me's" as listed in a 1972 British dictionary of slang, while a 1974 book is cited as making a reference to a person wearing "a pair of fabulous 1940s-Joan Crawford-fuck-me's". The song "We are the Dead" from David Bowie's 1974 Diamond Dogs album mentions "fuck-me pumps."
Prominent feminist Germaine Greer brought what had been an "obscure" term to more mainstream notoriety when she used it in 1995. Greer used the term in referring to British journalist Suzanne Moore's alleged "hair bird's-nested all over the place, fuck-me shoes and three fat inches of cleavage". Greer made the remark in response to a column Moore had written about Greer in The Guardian, where Moore had mistakenly repeated an incorrect rumor that Greer had a hysterectomy as a voluntary decision to have herself sterilized.
Greer was also quoted during the 1990s as criticizing a number of women writers that she termed "lifestyle feminists" who were, in her view, espousing feminism at nothing more than a superficial level. Moore's response was that her fashion choices were dictated by her own tastes and not to please men: "as someone who grew up with punk and Madonna, I take it for granted that women dress to please themselves and not men..."
Moore has said her footwear is "not worn just for the benefit of men", implying that the intention is twofold, to please both her and observers, although she also says "Most of the pleasure [of buying shoes] involves a private fantasy that begins with me and ends at my feet. Men don't get a look in".
The incident, and the term, received coverage in British media and beyond, and the term has become associated with Greer in popular culture. Greer had been denouncing stiletto shoes as symbols of women's subordination as early as 1971. She continues to use the phrase "fuck me shoes" in public speaking when discussing gender and clothing styles society deems appropriate.
The expression was further popularized when British jazz singer Amy Winehouse released the single "Pumps" (originally titled "Fuck Me Pumps" on her 2003 album Frank), a song about gold diggers.
In January 2011, in a forum with teenaged students in Cartagena, Colombia, Greer noticed the popularity of silicone breast implants in the audience. She asked students why they thought women tennis players wore skirts, and asked why a young woman would choose to wear stiletto shoes: "So you think the shoes are her fetish? ... I call them fuck-me shoes", she said, "because you can't walk in them but you can wear them in bed."
The underlying conflict arises from the question of what is considered an appropriate way for women to present their bodies in public spaces. Some feminists have come to view criticisms of fashion choices to be what they term "slut-shaming", an action they view as misogynist, even when coming from other women. The development of the SlutWalk protest demonstrations against dress codes is influenced by this position.
When punk fashion was on the rise during the late 1970s, young women consciously played with the symbolism inherent in their accessorizing, mixing choices that created a jarring visual clash; leather was combined with lace, steel spikes with velvet, stiletto heels with heavy ankle chains. The result was to exaggerate a look of sexual aggression, turning "'fuck me' shoes into signifiers of 'fuck you'". The punk influenced youth counterculture continues with this trend, part of the wider trend of fetish fashion.
- Egan, Danielle (2012). "Sexuality, youth and the perils of endangered innocence: how history can help us get past the panic". Gender and Education.
- Thorne, Tony (2009). Dictionary of Contemporary Slang. A&C Black. p. N.p. ISBN 978-1-4081-0220-6.
- Sheidlower, Jesse (2009). The F-Word. Oxford University Press. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-19-539311-8.
- Thackray, Rachelle (February 21, 1999). "Germaine Greer smacks her sisters". The Independent. Archived from the original on July 19, 2012. Retrieved 2014-02-14.
- Caudwell, Jayne (2006). Sport, Sexualities And Queer/theory. Taylor & Francis. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-415-36761-5.
- Benstock, Sheri; Ferriss, Suzanne (2001). Footnotes: On Shoes. Rutgers University Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-8135-2871-7.
- Calcutt, Andrew (2001). Brit Cult: An A to Z of British Pop Culture. Contemporary Books. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-8092-9324-7.
- Edwards, Tim (2009). Fashion in Focus: Concepts, Practices and Politics. Taylor & Francis. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-415-44793-5.
- Wood, Gaby (January 29, 2011). "Hay Festival Cartagena: Passionate Germaine Greer's still a class act". The Telegraph (UK). Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved 2014-02-14.