A fetish fascination, sexist slavery, health hazard, or neo-feminist fashion choice? Are heels demeaning, empowering, fetishising? Should dress codes include height of footwear rules, or just stick with professional, casual, formal etc? Why are high heels such a simultaneous symbol of oppression, femininity, power and domination?
Nicola Thorp, 27, arrived on her first day at PwC in December in flat shoes but says she was told she had to wear shoes with a “2in to 4in heel”. When she said the demand was discriminatory she was sent home without pay after refusing to go out and buy a pair of heels. (The Guardian)
“It’s sexist to insist that women wear make-up to work” – Nicola Thorp
“Forcing women to wear high heels at work is medieval – and no better than calling us witches” – The Daily Telegraph
“High heels aren’t glamorous, they are physically damaging and requiring women to wear them is sick” – The Daily Telegraph
Last year Cannes Film Festival turned away women not in heels!
140,000 signed a petition against sexist dress codes at work.
Does a gendered dress code still exist?
If dress codes were agender and uniform, how would that affect trans people? It’s often been suggested that if a future world were less sexist, binary and clothes were not considered gendered, how would trans people express themselves, or “pass”?
Does the wearing of high heels reinforce a gendered hierarchical oppression or can they be reclaimed?
Can high heels be reclaimed as empowerment not oppression?
“I love wearing high heels. I am a cis, mostly hetero feminist woman, and I love this dated, potentially oppressive symbol of heteronormative traditional femininity. Because I like performing femininity (glitter, lipstick, and high, high heels). As a feminist and a student of Women and Gender Studies, I often pondered why painful footwear (and the more painful, the better) should hold me in its thrall.” – Everyday Feminism
“Some say high-heeled look reduces women to sex objects. It’s time to change the old-fashioned view and reclaim it as a symbol of empowerment.” – megarip