08 August, 2009

What is it with women and shoes?

I know what you’re thinking already. You’re thinking that this is written by a guy so it’s just going to be another blokey diatribe about what funny darn cattle these women are and why can’t they be more interested in football and cars like normal people. It’s nothing of the sort. In fact, I intend to answer the question.

I’ll answer a bit of it anyway. I can’t actually explain the attraction to shoes. This is not because I am a stereotypical male who takes no particular interest in fashion. The truth is, I’d rather go clothes shopping than watch football any day. But shoes remain my big blind spot. I have one pair of reasonably decent shoes, one pair of almost worn out shoes and one pair of completely worn out, why-haven’t-you-thrown-those-away? shoes which I wear for mowing and working around the yard. In my world, that’s plenty. So there is still a bit of blokiness in me in that I don’t get the specific attraction to shoes. The point is that I don’t have to.

Last month, my beloved and I were in Melbourne – a city which, she tells me, has a much wider availability of cute shoes than her home town. So while we were there, we made time to check out some cute shoe shops. I wanted to buy her some if we could find some she liked because.... well, I love her and I want to make her happy.

We were successful in finding some suitably cute shoes. I can’t really tell you what made them better than the others we looked at. They were black, patent leather, and I believe ribbon was involved but the shoes themselves were not particularly special to me. What was special to me was the smile. My beloved has a special voice that comes when she is talking about good food and, as I discovered that day, a special smile that comes from having cute shoes. That smile meant everything to me.

However much we may love someone, it’s so tempting to trivialise or deride a pleasure or pursuit that we don’t understand even if we know it gives a loved-one happiness. Sometimes we do it even because it gives a loved-one happiness. It can end up poisoning relationships and it’s totally unnecessary.

When it comes to physical intimacy, we accept that we can never truly understand what it is that our partner is feeling. But we do know enough to know that it gives them pleasure and it give us pleasure to be giving them that pleasure. It heightens the experience to have each partner’s pleasure linked the other’s. It’s such a shame that so many of us choose not to apply the same attitude to the other things that make our loved-ones happy. If we want our partner to be happy, surely it is a pleasure just to see them happy, regardless of whether we relate to the source of that happiness or not.

I am incredibly lucky to have someone who takes her own pleasure in seeing me happy or excited even when she doesn’t understand what it is I’m excited about. For her, it’s shoes; for me, it’s guitar effects pedals. She has often recalled her own joy at being with me when I bought a Line 6 Echo Park delay pedal (which knocks the Boss DD-5 for six) for half price. She will freely admit that she has no idea what’s so cool about this pedal. In fact, she barely knows what effects pedals are. Knowing what they are or do is irrelevant. She knows enough to know they give me pleasure and that alone is enough for her to share in my pleasure. Her pleasure comes from my joy.

When I go out to see bands, she asks me to call after the show is over, not because she wants to check up on me, but because she wants to hear the excitement in my voice that apparently comes from just having seen a great gig. I wish more people were like this. I wish more people took pleasure from their loved-one’s happiness rather than trying to coerce them into sharing one partner’s interests or abandoning another’s.

So I don’t really know what it is with women and shoes after all. I don’t know what made this particular pair of shoes cuter than the rest. I don’t know and I don’t care. I bought her those shoes just because I wanted to do something nice for her – but then next time I buy her shoes, it will be pure self-interest because I would do anything to see that smile again.

Both involve feet. Both give great pleasure to both partners.


  1. That's so sweet!

    And so true! I love to the see the look on Mr.P's face when I get him something he'll love, especially coz he's the kind of person who doesn't really spend a lot of money buying things (anything!) for himself. I may not understand what he likes about playing Call of Duty on the Wii, but I love to see him excited about it and enjoying.

    There is an episode of Friends, where Joey challenges Phoebe to find a selfless good deed, arguing that no good deed is slefless because it makes you feel good to do something for another and therefore is not entirely selfless coz you know it's gonna feel good. How sad, I have an episode of Friends for all of lifes quandries(sp?)!

  2. I'm (pleasantly) surprised that Friends ever got that deep. I had always considered them second only to Seinfeld in terms of the characters' self-absorption.

    But it's a good point that very few acts are entirely selfless. It's not a bad thing. It's the sweetest form of selfishness.

  3. I suspect that you a a very fortunate ozzie mate. I seem to recall that shoes also figured in the Oxford Study.

    I recovered my favourite walkers three times for the dust bin I think you folks say. My better half is silent in her violent episodes. A Swiss Uboat. The fourth slipped me by and I have had a horror of a time getting used the the new pair I had to buy. I am now in my second year and am moving from calling them the shoes to my shoes. They are called Finn. Made in Germany.

  4. Oh, I am incredibly fortunate and I know it.

    It's perhaps unavoidable that there will always be something we might like to change about our loved ones. But I think people should ask themselves if they'd rather have a tidy house or a happy spouse.

  5. I like shoes, cars and rugby. I hate shopping for shoes. I love shopping for cars [finances permitting]. I have no particular preference when it comes to rugby shopping. Go Springboks.

    And Phoebe eventually found a selfless act. If you think the Friends and Seinfeld are self-absorbed, watch that Larry David show.

  6. Good point. Watched it a few times and really didn't see what the fuss was all about. Just because it's improvised doesn't make it good.

  7. Great post! You're so right: it doesn't have to make sense, it just has to make them smile. My challenge is televised sport, and I shall now try to remember how I feel about shopping before I roll my eyes at the footy.

  8. Let's see after being married for 2 years or so if you enjoy shopping for shoes ~ lol. Often the things that bring us great pleasure when one is dating, are the same things that will drive us nuts when married a bit.

    I must say my husband likes to surprise me with something I've been asking for. When I go out with the girls, I know when I come home, he will have done *something* I've been hoping to get done. Even though I know he will have done *something*, I'm still surprised as to what he has done. And that brings a smile to my face, that after almost 19 years of marriage, he still enjoys surprising me. Me on the other hand, enjoy buying him something he would never buy for himself. Which makes him smile too.