Feet, and their associated objects, are without doubt the most fetishised of body parts. Known in neuroscience and psychology as 'podophilia' - not to be confused with 'podiphilia' (unless you're into bicycles) - it's so common, that it has made it's way into pop culture without much thought. Consider the films of Quentin Tarantino - not only is the nude foot captured in almost all of his films, the screen time he dedicates to the foot is quite astounding; three of his films feature over two minutes of screen time focused solely on the foot. It's also been reported that 'In all, the bare foot has graced a Tarantino screen for a total of 10 minutes and 24 seconds of movie time.' That is an unusually high figure.
Why do we have a fascination for feet?
Uma Thurman's wonderful toes aside, what IS it about feet that makes them so appealing? Why is it the most prevalent of fetishes? Podophilia is surprisingly common, especially when you consider how many body parts have potential to be fetishised - ALL of them! Research suggests up to half of all body-part related fetishism is focused on the feet. Objects associated with the feet, like shoes, socks and stockings have an even higher rate of fetishising, with the stats showing around 65% of fetishists desiring podophilic objects. Like most strong, innate desires, it is likely to have it's roots in the way our brains are wired during childhood. In fact, it's been noted by neurologists that the brain areas associated with genitalia and feet are adjacent to each other in the brain's body image map, potentially resulting in cross-wiring between the foot and the genital parts.
Aside from the psychology and science of the why's and wherefore's of podophilia, here's the thing about feet: on an average day of walking, the forces on the feet can total 'hundreds of tons'. That's too much Math for me to translate, but the weight of a 'fully loaded cement truck' was given as a comparison. And running can quadruple the effects of the force. Almost a quarter of our bones are in our feet, and they also hold more sweat glands and nerve endings per square centimetre than any other part of the body. They work hard for us and they're sensitive - no wonder they generally love being rubbed! Sometimes things just FEEL amazing, and isn't that motivation enough to play with that body part?
During her title-holding duties as International MsLeather 2015, Tina Maravilla (AKA Sarge) travelled the world holding workshops and skillshares focused on her specialised areas of expertise, including feet. For Tina, feet are an intrinsic part of her desires, in both the kink and sexual realms. 'The one thing I always want people to know is that both men and women can have a foot fetish. It's not just men. Women may call it a shoe fetish, but actually it's a foot fetish. If you're obsessed with looking down at the bottom of your legs, you have a foot fetish. Whether it's shoes, boots, sandals, or the perfect pedicure, it's a foot fetish.' Earlier this year I was lucky enough to participate in one of her intense, joyful, and fascinating skillshares on FootPlay, and my own podophilic tendencies were confirmed. Not only did I discover some brand new, mind-blowing techniques, but more importantly, learnt a lot about the anatomy of the foot, and ways to play with it safely.
Foot Play Safety:
When starting out with foot play there are a few particular safety aspects to be aware of. Primarily, any impact to the top of the foot is a NO-NO ZONE. Many bones are located near the top of the foot, so be sure that ANY hitting, regardless of whether it's with a hand or an implement, is focused only on the sole of the foot. This is one of the few hard and fast rules that apply to safe foot play. 'The top of the foot is an absolute no-go,' confirms Sarge. 'The only time the top of my foot is touched is with ribbon, or rope, or decorative things.' Another thing to consider, before play begins is that toenails are clipped. 'Making sure the toenails are round, and not straight. If you're giving foot jobs I always recommend getting a gel paint rather than regular… The gel rounds over the edge of the nail and makes it smoother.' So not only are gel-coated nails safer, they're also potentially prettier, which is, of course, part of the fetish. In terms of disease transmission the main risks are highest with oral-foot play, and genital/anal-foot play, with bacterial and fungal diseases the easiest to transmit. According to Sarge the most common infection is bacterial vaginosis, transmitted from the foot penetrating the vagina. On the other hand, the anus is 'pretty resilient to most things on the foot,' she says. Adding, 'And you can put a condom on the foot'.
So with an idea on how to be safe, exactly what kind of games can you play?
Dominating the Feet
The sensitive nature of the feet make them a perfect part for sensual focus. There will be an array of implements laying around your home that will make wonderful toys for this action. Overwhelm your partner with sensations ranging from tickles to trickles… Use varying brushes - paint, tooth and scrubbing brushes all work brilliantly - different textiles, and kitchen tools - cutlery is great for hitting, scraping and prodding. And don't forget water - hot or iced or both! Sensual foot play can be an amazing way to encourage a submissive into 'space'* or a beautiful way for a couple to connect. The only real limits for this milder form of play, is your imagination.
Trampling is an act in which one person walks on the body of the other. As a fetish, it goes both ways - those who love being walked on (Tramplees) and those who love the walking (Tramplers). Generally varying degrees of foot pressure are also applied to the genitals of the Tramplee. The example most commonly found is that of the stilettoed Femme Domme standing on dicks, but there are almost as many ways of doing it as there are people getting it done. If you like feet on bodies, particularly ya junk, it's likely you're into some aspect of Trampling.
Originally devised as a method of torture, Bastinado has been embraced by the BDSM community as a standard part of the sadistic and masochistic side of Foot Play. The act of Bastinado includes tying and exposing the sole of the receivers feet, so the giver can use an array of impact tools with thin surface areas - such as crops, whips and canes - to strike the exposed sole.
Serving With the Feet
This service can be as simple as keeping the feet exposed, well-groomed, and healthy. Plus, you can easily justify the time and/or money spent on perfect pedicures when looking at foot play in terms of pure aesthetics.
Yes, feet can also be used to physically stimulate genitals, and are often more dexterous than would be expected; toes can grip and stroke, the top of the foot can place pressure on the perineum, and the arches - when pressed together - can make an incredible fuckhole. As Sarge advised earlier, keep the toenails curved, and gel-coated whenever possible - the general risk with foot jobs is the shaft being scratched.
Funnily enough, Freud believed that the commonality of the foot fetish defined it as a dick-thing. According to him, feet resemble penises (which makes me wonder what the hell his -dick or feet!- looked like), but you can use your foot like the Freudian cock. Use standard safe sex practices; put a condom on it, or a rubber glove. If you intend to give this a go, also remember the magic word when working with size - LUBE! Lots and lots and LOTS of lube. Be prepared for things to get messy, and go slow. If foot fucking is something you really want to achieve, be patient with yourself and your partner.
The incredible thing about any form of worship is the intense positive energy it brings, and the variety of places it spawns from: Dominance or submission; sexual desire; service; love; friendship. It's an intense, eclectic, intimate scene that can incorporate many forms of play into the one activity. With any form of worship, the intention of pure giving is vital, and aesthetics and 'grace' are of utmost importance. You are there to give those feet the feeling of absolute devotion, be it through foot baths, massage, a pedicure, or your kisses. And don't forget about the owner of those feet - engage in lots of eye contact, and adoring words or thoughts.
Kink and fetish encompass so many angles, and often it's hard to know if your particular kink is okay. But rest assured, not only are there are bunch of other people with an interest in feet and their accoutrements, once you get a bit more comfortable with it, there are so many places you can go. And your feet are such a precious piece of body, they'll appreciate some play time. 'We walk on our feet all day,' adds Sarge. 'It's great to give them that positive attention.'
*Note: In a D/s relationship, 'space' or 'subspace' is a very special, almost meditative, place the submissive enters when he/she totally trusts his/her Dominant and totally immerses in an intense scene. The sub may not be capable of making rational decisions about his/her safety and well-being at this point.