Saturday, 12 January 2013

Climbing the High Heel

Sitting at a chocolate cafe right near the Sydney Opera House last night, I couldn't avoid noting the stream of best dressed women heading towards that famous institution. It was a hot Friday night, so as one can expect the view was a rather pleasant one. Unless, of course, one took note - the way I did - of the ridiculously high heeled shoes most of these women were wearing. They were walking on stilts, many of them struggling to take their steps, others having an even worse time when they happened to land in between pavers.
I know I ain't no night animal. Since my son was born I hardly get to see what the world looks like in the dark. Maybe I'm out of touch, but I could not avoid focusing on the tragedy at hand, the pathetic caravan of the self inflicted.
I then raised the matter before my wife. Her reply was, as usual, interesting. What else can a woman do to make herself look tall, slim and long legged when "everywhere she looks she is told she needs to have legs like Yvonne Strahovski?"
I was a bit buffled by that reply. I have been exposed to a lot of Yvonne Strahovski over the past year, I fully acknowledge her great looks, yet I never seem to have taken any particular note of her legs. It therefore seems likely women see things different to men. Adding to my confusion is the fact I was never the type to mingle with the stereotype that is likely to wear high heels of the extreme type in the first place: these are exactly the type of women who would dismiss me as a nerd and wouldn't spare me a second glance. I learned to accept and even embrace that over the course of my bachelor years.
More importantly, though, my wife's input to the question raises the question of what do man look for in a woman? Do man really care about the high heels? Am I two faced for dismissing high heels but then choosing to befriend Strahovski's character in Mass Effect 2? More broadly, the question comes down to this - when given the choice between two otherwise identical women, do men in general and I in particular prefer the made up one over the natural one? On that simple question lies an entire multibillion dollar industry.
I can give you the answer I tend to normally give, that I prefer the natural look, but then again that would be a lie; not because I don't prefer the natural, but because I cannot deny my eye - the way I suspect most men's eyes work - does occasionally lock on that made up woman. I cannot tell how far does this attraction goes, though; I would like to think it is minimal. I know fully well that even the best looking women go to the toilet and wake up in the morning looking like hell; by now I also know what age can add to the equation. All the makeup and the high heels in the world cannot make superficial eye catching beauty last.
In my view, the makeup and the high heels in particular are therefore more about submission than beauty. Do I want "my" women to be submissive? No, definitely not, and I think my record speaks for itself. Do other men prefer their women to be submissive? Almost certainly so, probably because in one way or another they are afraid of the feminine.
I have now gone through a complete circle: women end up needing to wear high heels in order to patch up the insecurities of men. What a lovely world we live in!

6/2/13 update:
I hit upon this news of scientific research into women wearing high heels (see here for Hebrew original, here for the Google Translate English version, or here for the actual research paper). Apparently, high heels work to make women more attractive by working on us the way porn does to make us think those who wear them are extra feminine by virtue of the way they walk.


wile.e.coyote said...

I think a lot on this issue; well I think that if I’m thinking at all, most of my thoughts are about the woman parts and the cloths that cover them.
Woman that are bothered to walk over these long wooden sticks send the impression that they are in need for attention.
One can think that if they are in need for attention, they are easy going

Woman that stand on these high heels looks great, I think it was big philosopher Odeta had said that these heels change your way of standing, you stand high, your chest needs to be pulled up and your legs looks stretch and long

Moshe Reuveni said...

We seem to be in agreement about a great many things. I, too, seem to pay much more attention to the women parts hidden behind clothes rather than the legs. It also seems that high heels send a message of submission that we receive through mechanisms established by evolution.
Plus you've also enlightened me about stance: you probably do have to push your chest up to compensate for these shoes. However...
I will repeat my rant:
I would be very disappointed with myself if I was to find myself wearing those things. The fact society does not ask me to do so because I'm a member of the exempt 50% of human society is irrelevant. Yet it is clear that one half is pushing the other half to suffer for the benefit of the first half. "Unfair" is the least I can say about it. I'm also worried about the damage it does to "my" half: how do we interpret our place in the world if the world has us putting women on impossible stilts?

Moshe Reuveni said...

Wile, check my update to the post. Apparently, science now has a saying on the matter.