Thursday, May 28, 2015

Chinese Foot Torture of Antiquity

Throughout the centuries the Chinese have acquired a reputation for torture. Historically it is more than likely the authorised use of torture in China for purposes of confession, or forms of punishment, and execution, were no more than most other civilised countries of the time.

Seventeenth century author, Semedo (cited in Scott, 1995) wrote of a foot torment called Kia Quen where three pieces of wood were connected by a rope. The foot of the victim was placed between the bamboos then systematically squeezed until the heel was compressed into the foot. This form of punishment was reserved for male culprits, whereas females would have their fingers crushed in a torture called Tean Zu.

Bastinado or beating the sole of the foot was meted out to both genders as a punishment and often inflicted with sufficient vigour as to cause death to the victim.

The origins of foot binding remain vague but most authorities believe it was part of Chinese custom since the 11th century. Some hold the opinion foot binding was in existence for a millennium before. The most popular belief, promulgated by early Christian missionaries, was the Empress Taki (11th century) was born with clubfeet, to avoid her humiliation, her father made an edict that all highborn women of China would have their feet bound. Another reason often cited by contemporary Chinese, who have grown up through the Cultural Revolution, was foot binding was a physical means of preventing married women from infidelity by physically restricting their movements. This would seem unlikely since there is no evidence to support restriction of the female gender in higher Chinese culture prior to modern times. It appears historic record would support the father of Empress Taki kept a troupe of erotic dancers with small feet. They used to dance on a floor of lotus leaves (a symbol of the vulva) for his sensual pleasure. This form of erotica became very popular but not all middle class men could afford the upkeep of a dance troupe. Foot binding of family members became established in the middle classes by way of paying respect to the Emperor. The habit plunged hundreds of millions of Chinese men, from highbrow mandarins to lowly peasants into ecstasies of sexual passion for nearly one thousand years.

According to Rossi (1993) for genteel lovers the tiny foot provided endless amusement, with often the smell of the unwashed foot having charms for some, who referred to it as a fragrant bed aroma. Dr Chang Hui Shang considered that the alteration in walking due to the smaller foot caused changes in the female genitalia with sensitive folds developing in the labia. Further heightened sensuousness was experienced by the increased curvature of the sole of the foot, which was referred to as a second vagina. The big toe was proportionately large and tactile. A useful extension. Foot kissing and sucking was a common practice with the whole foot being placed in the mouth. Bound or lotus feet were considered the source of magical eroticism. Without doubt the practice of foot binding was as abhorrent to modern society as any ritualistic abuse. However when it was practiced it was not as a punishment, albeit it was extremely painful, but instead as a coming of age, right of passage. To not have bound feet was a disgrace for a woman and social suicide. It is not always appreciated but some men had their feet bound. It is well reported within studies of anthropology that primitive tribes used painful rituals for entering adulthood. The ability to endure pain as a prerequisite for marriage was admired. The proof of pain may by itself have been the ultimate display that decoration was an unselfish act and that it was done to give pleasure to others (Bohannan P, cited in Love, 1997) Some tribes used the pain of scarifications to induce passion and thus fertility. Foot binding may have originally served a similar purpose.

Love B. 1995 The encyclopaedia of unusual sex practices London: Greenwich Editions.
Rossi WA. 1993 The sexlife of the foot and shoe Florida:Krieger Publishing Co.
Scott GR. 1995 A history of torture London: Senate.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pain and pleasure: The foot torturer's tools

Pain is caused by the release of chemicals such as bradykinnin , substance P and prostaglandins and can be divided into two types somatic and visceral. Somantic pain most often is in the muscles and skin. This is mild by comparison to visceral pain, which radiates from internal organs causing nausea and weakness. Detection of somatic pain is found by stimulation of the free nerve endings that lie near the surface of the skin. Once activated these transmit a signal to the brain, however not all sensation will be perceived as painful and the message maybe thwarted in several ways. Nerves, which transmit sensations of deep pressure, vibration, heat and cold, can override pain signals. Moods also affect the process, for example pain is sharper when the person is anxious. Once pain has been registered for 20-40 minutes the body will begin to produce opiate like chemicals to reduce pain sensations. The release of chemicals can cause anaesthetic europhoria and trance like qualities.

Moderate anxiety increases the response to pain but paradoxically high levels of fear, including terror, decrease the response to pain. This may explain the why tormentors would use techniques to extremes.

Captors saw no need to pamper wrong doers and were determined to make their lives unbearable as possible to sap their resistance. The victims were often kept trussed up for weeks, usually naked and in extreme cold and damp conditions before confessions were secured.

The Star Chamber was formed by Henry VII (1485-1509) and the name came from the magnificent room in the palace of Westminster where, the chief justices, pontiffs and members of Privy Council met. Their remit was to pass sentence on those too powerful to be dealt with by an ordinary court or to decide on cases too complex to be understood by the uneducated juries of the day. Frequently the King would preside and pronounce judgment. The Star Chamber was entirely separate from the common law courts of the day. At first the intention was honourable but it soon deteriorated into a means for meeting out punishment.

Under Chancellor Wolsey's leadership (1515-29), the Court of Star Chamber became a political weapon, bringing actions against opponents to the decrees and edicts of Henry VIII. Wolsey also encouraged petitioners to use the Court of the Star Chamber as a court of original jurisdiction, not as a last resort after the common law courts had failed. Depositions were taken from witnesses, but no jury was employed in the proceedings. Although its sentences included a wide variety of corporal punishments, including Peine Forte et Dure, those convicted were never sentenced to death.

The court remained active through the reigns of James I and Charles I. The Star Chamber became a byword for unfair judicial proceedings but its supreme powers were not questioned until 1628 and it was finally abolished by the Long Parliament in 1641.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Foot Torture: Not the Spanish Inquisition ?

In 1231, Pope Gregory IX instituted the Papal inquisition for the apprehension and trial of heretics. This was later extended to include witches, diviners, blasphemers, and other sacrilegious persons. The Pope's original intent for the Inquisition was a court of exception to inquire into and glean the beliefs of those differing from Catholic teaching, and to instruct them in the orthodox doctrine. It was hoped that heretics would see the falsity of their opinion and would return to the Roman Catholic Church. In the event of persistence then to protect the Catholic community from infestation on non-believer suspects were handed to civil authorities for punishment. Unfortunately the tribunals were almost entirely free from any authority, including that of the Pope hence it was impossible to eradicate abuse.

In 1478, Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) issued a papal bull allowing a second variety of the Inquisition, known as the Spanish Inquisition. This was at the specific request of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, of Spain. The regents wanted to unite their countrymen and chose Catholicism. The function of the Spanish Inquisition was to root out non-believers thus purifying the people of Spain. The Inquisitions were administered by both civil and church authorities who gave the Inquisition ultimate power. Run by secular governments much of their activities concerned the legitimacy of "conversos". Most were Jews who had converted either under duress or out of social convenience, and were suspected of secretly practicing the Jewish faith.

Throughout the 15th & 16th centuries the Spanish Inquisition brought about "a reign of terror throughout Europe" which was responsible for the impoverishment, torture, exile, and death of countless people.

In 1483 Tomas de Torquemada became the inquisitor-general for most of Spain. He was responsible for establishing the rules of inquisitorial procedure and creating branches of the Inquisition in various cities. He remained the leader of the Spanish Inquisition for fifteen years and was responsible for the execution of thousands of Spaniards. Accused heretics were identified by the general population and brought before the tribunal. They were given a chance to confess their heresy against the Catholic Church and were also encouraged to indict other heretics. If they admitted their wrongs and turned in other aggressors against the church they were either released or sentenced to a prison penalty. If they would not admit their heresy or indict others the accused were publicly introduced in a large ceremony before they were publicly killed or sentenced to a life in prison.

One form of torment was called the Spanish Chair and described a heavy iron chair in which the victim was secured by straps around his neck, arms and upper legs. Integral with the end of the chair was a pair of iron socks, in which the bare feet of the heretic were secured. A glowing brazier was placed at the feet and to prevent the extremities from heating up too quickly, the skin surface of each foot was basted with lard or oil.

French criminals suffered a similar torture especially in Brittany, where a pan containing the white-hot coals was moved slowly towards their feet until a confession had been extracted. In Italy King Ferdinand VII had a portable chair made of iron and accompanying pan underneath the seat. The Inquisition was eventually "abolished" in 1834 by King Bonaparte in 1834.

Pope Paul III established the Roman Inquisition or Congregation of the Inquisition in 1542 after alarm was spread at the increasing numbers of Protestants. In its first twelve years, the activities of the Roman Inquisition were relatively modest and were restricted almost exclusively to Italy.

When Cardinal Carafa became Pope Paul IV in 1555, he immediately urged a vigorous pursuit of "suspects." One of the main areas of interest was subversive literature and first Index of Forbidden Books was compiled in 1559. Succeeding popes tempered the zeal of the Roman Inquisition, but it was this institution that later put Galileo on trial.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cross dressing and shoes

Cross Dressing Foot fetishists are not necessarily sexually motivated and may just enjoy wearing women's shoes (Wise et al 1991). Terms like feeling sexy, appearing attractive to others, and exuding power in stature are popular reasons for the habit. Some men love the sound high heeled shoes make and others revel in the different materials they are made from. Most wearers insist it is the comfort of the style which draws them to women's shoes and not the idea of the shoe as a sex toy. Wise et al, (1991) described clothing and other objects (fetish) as objects which could be used repeatedly and expediently without any relational costs or commitments.

Wise TN, Fagan PJ, Schmidt CW, Ponticas Y, Costa PY. 1991 Personality and sexual functioning of transvestitic fetishists and other paraphilics Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 179:11 694-698.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sado-masochism and high heels

The high laced boots of the Victorian grande cocotte represent both a symbol of love and a symbol of aggression to the sado-masochist. In bondage, high heels act to restrain movement forming a part of the fantasy of enslaving which some people find erotic. Often the very appearance of restriction is exciting to the fetishist.

The impressions of an ankle harness for instance can to the discerning eye appear as if the beautiful is trapped and at the mercy of the merciless. Immobile fantasies are a prime turn on for acrotomophiles.

Tickling and tickling pursuit is a form of power and dominance.

Submissive foot lovers prefer psychological domination or comfortable bondage to pain. In establishments such as leather bars, there are submissive bootblacks, available to polish patron's shoes and boots. Forms of sadism run the gambit from the fairly common carefully controlled play-acting with a willing partner to the very rare open assault which may involve torture, rape and sometimes murder.

In play acting mild forms of pain such as spanking and biting are not intended to hurt or mame but to add to the eroticism. Masochistic behaviour can also range from mild to extreme. Mild forms include bondage where tight lacing excites. Much of the attraction of masochistic behaviour is not discomfort of constraint but the promise of release.

In both sadism and masochism the release of adrenaline is thought to play a key role in the cycle of orgasm. In the vast majority of cases restraint and punishment represents symbolic enactments that are done consensually, under carefully controlled conditions by trusted partners. At the other end of the spectrum genuinely painful activities such as whippings, semi strangulation, being trampled upon and self mutilation carry with its practice health risks. Most sado-masochistic acts in their extreme forms can be physically and psychologically dangerous, the majority of people engaging in these behaviours do so with the understanding of the risks and stay within carefully predetermined limits.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Shoe Fetish (Retifism)

Shoe fetishism i.e. retifism, is similar in principal to foot fetishism but with the shoe the total focal point for arousal. Some retifists need only the shoe to be satisfied. Others will incorporate shoes within their coital habits and to a high level shoe fetishist, complete satisfaction is only possible when a shoe is involved.

Flugel (1930) described the phenomenon where clothes could not only rouse sexual interest but in them self symbolised the sex organs. Because the shoe became an erogenous zone then lovemaking incorporated all that would take place around genitalia with kissing, licking, biting and caressing all common place. To the retifist the shoe resembles female genitalia with even the aroma of the shoe a powerful aphrodisiac. The heel represents the phallus and is an aspect often favoured for frottage and masturbation.

Brame, Brame & Jacobs (1996) believe many foot fetishists are uncomfortable with tastes which appear extreme or kinky. Most foot lovers were repelled by D & S or acts considered unclean, such as sniffing socks or licking shoes. This may be a manifestation of their internal conflict i.e. if foot fetishism was shameful then other kinky desires were even less acceptable.

As a group gay men seem to be the most at ease with foot /shoe fetishism. The belief is since homosexuals men have already come to terms with a momentous social challenge in their sexuality then acceptance of stimuli is no major drama.

Retifists usually collect women's shoes and have exquisite taste for elegant style. Their preference covers the seven basic shoe styles described by Rossi (1993) and materials such as leather and furs often influence their choice. Retifists will personalise their collection by giving names to their favourite shoes. Possession of shoes is important to the retifist and in cases of paraphilia; men may steal the shoes they are attracted to. Kiernan (1917, reported in Rossi, 1990) first described the term kleptolagnia which was used when theft took place when associated with sexual excitement. "Hephephilia" is a term used when there is an uncontrollable urge to steal the objects of specific focus. Many hephephiliacs are ordinary people with no criminal intention other than a compulsion to possess the object of their desire due to a repressed or complicated sex life. Theft from shops is common as is robbery from private property. Many retifists keep copious records of their activities all of which adds to their excitement. Shoe snatching, including foot assaults, have been reported around the world. When these cases do come to court however the behaviour is often dismissed as a trivial deviation. Most medical authorities agree such behaviour signifies power and indicates domination. Richard von Krafft-Ebing considered the majority of shoe fetishists were masochists. Wedeck (1963) described this behaviour as someone who would steal shoes from their victim and tear, slash or burn them to attain a sexual climax. Retifists report higher use of sex services because they find difficulty in trying to convince their partners to comply with their fantasies. The term "bootman" is commonly used within the sex industry to describe retifists. In the majority of cases, shoe fetishism poses no danger to others and individuals pursue their use of the fetish object in private, usually through masturbation.

To the submissive foot fetishist the idea of kissing the masters’ feet relishes his physical, psychological and even social inferiority to the dominant.

Famous retifists include: Publius Ovidius Naso (or Ovid), Omar Kayyam, Retif de La Bretonne, Leo Tolstoy, Feodor Dostoevski, and Oled Cassini.

Brame GG, Brame WD & Jacobs J (1996) Different loving: the world of sexual dominance and submission London: Arrow.
Flugel JC 1930 The psychology of clothes London: International Universities Press.
Rossi WA 1990 Foot and shoe fetishism : part one Journal of Current Podiatric Medicine 39:9 9-23.
Rossi WA 1990 Foot and shoe fetishism : part two Journal of Current Podiatric Medicine 39:10 16-20.
Wedeck H E (ed) 1963 Pictorial History of Morals New York Philosophihical Library.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Profile of a foot fetishist

Published research indicates fetishists have poorly developed social skills, are quite isolated in their lives and have a diminished capacity for establishing intimacy. Rossi (1990) reported the majority of male fetishists were married, living perfectly conventional lives with their spouse, who in turn was fully aware of partner's behaviours and preferences. In most instances the author reported the fetish did not interfere with normal sexual relations. Clearly there seems to be a dichotomy of thought. Perhaps the former description meets the profile of level 3 & 4 Fetishism and Rossi's description Level I & 2. However there remains a dearth of informed opinion within the scientific literature. Hence no hard and fast conclusions can be made.

Not all foot lovers (or podophiles) are shoe fetishists, or vice versa and seldom will they be attracted to both. The majority of fetishists are completely unaware of the beginnings of their pedal love affair . Foot fetishists tend to keep their inclination concealed for fear of social ridicule or other apprehensions. They maintain a close network of fellow fetishists wherein they function comfortably. Clubs and now websites have sprung up catering for these special interests. Foot fetishists can be found in every sphere of society, and this includes many famous and influential people including: Casanova, von Goethe, Charles Pierre Baudelaire, George du Maurier, Thomas Hardy, F Scott Fitzgerald, and Quentin Tarantino. < br>

Estimating the number of foot fetishists is complicated because many are latent or closeted. Most authorities agree men are more likely to be sexually aroused by a pedal fetish but no one is entirely sure why this is so. When incidence is compared to other paraphiliac behaviour such as exhibitionism, cross dressing, and sadomasochism, the population has a similar demographic (von Krafft-Ebing, 1965).

There is no reliable data on the number of foot fetishists but estimates indicate something in the region of between one quarter to three quarters of one per cent of the adult male population (aged over 17). Translated into Australian, that would mean there were approx 50k in the country with 4.5k in WA. Enough to fill a medium sized stadium at a final to overflow and those waiting at the gate would represent the number of male foot fetishists in the state of WA.

Fetishists view the foot as others seek aesthetic pleasure from some other erogenous form. Points of attraction include the size of the foot, curve of the arch and instep, the length and straightness of the toes, the texture and complexion of the skin, contours of the heel and ankle, the softness of the sole, and if possible, even the foot odour. Each segment is an exquisite part to kiss, bite, caress, lick and fondle. Even the toes are used to simulate fellatio (Stekel, 1964). The fetishists attraction to the foot (or shoe) is because it has exactly the characteristics considered most attractive and elegant in the female personality. Unless these features match completely then no attraction will take place (Ellis, 1936).

The fetish is usually meticulous about cleanliness although there have been reports in the scientific literature about dirty feet being of particular attraction, especially in homosexual foot fetishists. Foot odour is a powerful sexual arousal factor for podophiliacs. Aigremont reported in Rossi (1990) the smell of feet was to the fetishist the same as the smell of the genitals to others and the olfactory stimulus added to the sexual excitement. Foot lovers like to be stimulated visually and will gaze at pictures of feet. By in large foot lovers enjoy relatively gentle aesthetically pleasing scenes that concentrate on soft caresses, kissing or licking and worship. They revel in the sensuality of the object of their desires.

The fetishist experiences intense sexual excitement and arousal from direct pedal lovemaking which is either used as precoital behaviour or a substitute for coitus itself. Most shoe and foot fetishists are relieved to learn their partner will usually accommodate foot loving into normal intimacies. This is probably because foot fetishism is usually considered non-pathological and a variation of normal intimacy.

The foot is a very tactile organ which gives sensual pleasure to both partners. Foot tickling can itself provide a pleasant foreplay as well as an erotic response. The devoted foot fetishist will voyeur feet in the same way others seek the opportunity to view people dressed in tight clothing. They are naturally attracted to feet dressed in open design footwear such a high heel sandals. The focus of their attention is on the behaviour of the owner especially in the way the person uses their feet in non verbal ways.

Ellis H 1936 The Psychology of Sex (Vol I & II) New York: Random House.
Rossi WA 1990 Foot and shoe fetishism : part one Journal of Current Podiatric Medicine 39:9 9-23.
Rossi WA 1990 Foot and shoe fetishism : part two Journal of Current Podiatric Medicine 39:10 16-20.
Stekel W 1964 Sexual aberrations New York: Grove Press.
von Krafft-Ebing R 1965 Psychopathia sexualis New York: Putman's Sons.