Why is foot fetishism so popular among gay men? And how do people incorporate their passion for feet into their sex lives?
By David Hudson
Are you into feet? One the the great things about the internet is the way in which it connects people with niche interests.
Through sharing online, people are able to explore their sexuality and gender with others around the world.
In fact, the net reveals what many may have considered ‘niche’ are actually not so. This could be applied to foot fetishism.
Scroll through Grindr, Scruff or any other popular gay hook-up app, and you’ll soon discover someone with a passion for feet or footwear.
The world’s most common fetish?
‘I regularly meet people who report being “into feet”, alongside other things like trainers, socks, etc,’ says psychotherapist and clinical sexologist Dominic Davies, founder of the UK-based Pink Therapy network of therapists.
‘I would say it’s a fairly common interest.
‘People can be into feet for many different reasons,’ he continues. ‘It should be borne in mind that sexual interests vary massively across, time and place. There are cultural contexts to take account of. In some cultures, feet are considered unclean and should not be touched, one must sit with one’s feet facing away from others.
‘In our cultural contexts, some people find being at someone’s feet and worshipping them quite a submissive or humiliating act so it may occur in BDSM [bondage, discipline and sadomasochism].
‘But aside from that our feet have many nerve endings, they have both sensitivity and sensuality; so the receiver of foot worship may derive a great deal of pleasure from having them licked or sucked or nibbled.
‘Nerves on the feet respond to touch’
Davies’ view is backed up by a London-based, club promoter, Andy. He runs a monthly fetish night devoted to foot fetishism called Feet on Friday, and another called Sneax on Saturday.
‘Nerves on the feet respond to touch’ he says. ‘The part of the brain where they end up is a similar part to the brain where people’s erogenous zones are kept. So there’s a bit of relationship between the two.
‘It’s a bit like why some people like having their nipples played with. There’s a physical reason.
‘And for a psychological reason, for a long time in the 80s and early 90s, before the days of PrEP, it was seen to be an activity that lots of people enjoyed that was very safe. Just a sensual thing to do. I think that’s also part of it.’
His night, Feet on Fridays, attracts 70-80 guys each month. Andy says it’s a very mixed crowd with a wide range of foot-related interests, beyond just toe sucking.
‘It is really super diverse. The thing about the foot fetish thing is that you get people who are into so many different things. You get people who are into clean feet, or who like sweaty feet. Men who like hairy feet. People who like smooth feet. Then you get the guys who are into socks and footwear, whether it be boots or trainers or smart shoes.
‘Then you get people who are into doing things with feet, like tickling or guys into trampling.
‘Everyone has their own sort of things that they’re into, and I think that a lot of people are into more than one thing. But it’s just a very diverse spectrum of feet related things. There is one guy there who’s into giving pedicures.’
Mark (@crushmyguts), a 37-year-old gay man, is one such foot worshipper. He has a particularly interest in being squashed and trampled under another guy’s feet. He says he first became aware of it during secondary school.
‘Those adolescent years, when boys are becoming men, all of a sudden I found myself curiously interested in what those men had on their feet! I was certainly into it in time for my first school crush.’
Mark says when he spots a guy he’s attracted to, the first thing he look at is his footwear.
‘What peaks my interest? Nikes more often than not, but sneakers generally. Solid rough boots can do it for me too.
‘Once the footwear is off, I’m usually more attracted to white sports socks, and if they have nice feet, then I’m up for them naked as well.
‘Some guys just find it too unusual’
When it comes to incorporating his attraction to feet into his sex life, Mark says, ‘I’ll be honest, it does pretty much dominate my play, and in a dominant way too. I like to go under my guy’s hot sneakers, boots, socks and sexy feet – literally have him walk over me, trample me.’
Are most guys he meets happy to indulge his interest?
‘To varying degrees. Some guys just find it too unusual. It freaks them out. Others will be like, “here’s my feet”, maybe get me to massage them for a bit, possibly even step on me for a few minutes, then it’s back to something more vanilla, back into their comfort zone.
‘And of course relationships and play often involve indulging your partner – on both sides – with some common ground in the middle.
Turned on by certain types of feet
Other guys who talked to Gay Star News expressed a strong interest in certain types of feet.
‘I am attracted by chubby men feet, the feet need to be chunky,’ said one.
‘One thing that drives me crazy is tanned and hairy feet with delicate soles,’ said Vinicius Ribeiro (who shares some of his feet-related interests via his Instagram @mr_boytoy). ‘But the aesthetic part is not the main thing. What really appeals to me is the whole package. I prefer executive daddies with black socks or sweaty bad boys.’
Another found long toes a particular turn-on. Several mentioned the submissive-dominant aspect of foot worship.
More common in men than women
According to Davies, it’s not surprising that many guys in dating apps express an interest in feet.
‘In Justin Lehmiller’s survey of 4,175 Americans’ sex fantasies from his book Tell Me What You Want, he found the following results with respect to whether people reported having ever had a sexual fantasy in which feet or toes played a prominent role: 4.7% of heterosexual women, 18.4% of heterosexual men, 10.9% of non-heterosexual women, and 20.9% of non-heterosexual men.
‘For non-binary individuals, it was 18.7%. So these fantasies are most common among men and non-binary folk.’
Why do we develop fetishes?
Why foot fetishism is more popular with men remains unknown. However, Davies also has plenty of thoughts about why we develop fetishes generally.
‘Sexologist John Bancroft proposed that there are two periods in our life when we’re especially likely to develop fetishes. Around the age of eight or nine we might have some kind of intense emotional experience – probably non-sexual. It could be excitement, or fear or anything pretty intense.
‘And whilst in that hyper-aroused state, we have a powerful sensory experience that unconsciously hooks the two things together.
‘An example I often cite is a little boy being taken for a spin in his Dad’s new car: the smell of leather, the warmth of the sun, Dad’s excited mood and a special bonding just between father and son.
‘Years later, he wonders where his interest in leather comes from, and his first recollection takes him back to this innocent and yet highly charged emotional experience.
‘The second active period is usually puberty when curiosity and experimentation and burgeoning sexuality can give some peak experiences. I’m sure there are other ideas around too, but in my clinical experience of exploring these things, I’ve found a remarkable correlation with his theory, even though correlation doesn’t equal causation!’
Most of the guys who spoke to us for this article were unable to trace their interest back to specific events of childhood, with the exception of Ribeiro.
‘I remember always liking to play with feet since I was very young … my cousins spent the night at home and we slept together. We usually lay in opposite positions and their feet were close to my face, and this turned me on.’
Damaging or harmful?
If all involved are enjoying themselves, fetishes can add an extra dimension to sexual pleasure. But is there a point where fetishism can become unhealthy or damaging?
Only, says Davies, if it crosses lines of consent. Or if you feel it getting out of control. In that instance, he recommends talking to a kink-based sex therapist.
But if you find yourself attracted to feet but have never had the courage to mention it to a sexual partner, rest assured you’re far from alone. You may be surprised by how many other people are into the same thing. As the saying goes … if the shoe fits!
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