Foot fetish is considered the most common fetish. Hands and feet are tactile and supplied with thousands of nerves, which makes them very useful for finding things in the dark. The sensory nerve supply to feet originates in the same part of the brain as the nerves which go to the pelvic area and in some people (not all) there is neural print through, which means touching the sole of their feet would be the same as tickling their fancy. Some people have an attraction to parts of the body and or clothing which includes feet, stockings/pantyhose/socks, or shoes. Rarely are all involved but whatever the fetish is it will play an important role in pre-coital behaviour. These partialisms are usually innocuous and considered normal. No one yet knows how people develop fetishes although preferred sexual behaviours are most certainly in part at least governed by biological factors but likely to be the product of history, environment and nature. Men are more likely to have a fetish and no one is entirely sure why this is so. Sigmund Freud first described fetishism as compensation behaviour when performance anxiety arose in males. He called this the Castration Theory and how it could be overcame in the presence of fetishistic objects like shoes, feet or pantyhose. Performance anxiety is a male fear and this may explain why fetishism is almost always a male behaviour. The anxiety neurosis can manifest in a continuum of behaviour with intensity and range which varies from a partial liking of the object to a complete sexual obsession with it. Abnormal fetishism is called paraphilia and describes established anti-social behaviour. Fetishistic objects may be either inanimate (e.g. a shoe); or animate (e.g. a foot). Inanimate object fetish is sub-divided into form and media. Form fetish refers to the shape of the object e.g. lady’s shoe; and media fetish relates to the material the item is made from e.g. leather or fur or rubber. Animate fetish describes parts of the (female) body such as feet, legs and ankles. Fetishists require some specific attraction in the object which may include colours, shape and or smell. Without these features then no attraction will take place. In the majority of cases, low level fetishism poses no danger to others and individuals usually pursue their use of the fetish object in private or with other consenting adults. Retifists (shoe fetishists) collect women's shoes (sometimes by stealing them) to have sex with the shoe. Retifists usually have exquisite taste for elegant styles with specific form and media determining their preferences. Pedal lovemaking is usually combined with elaborate games which involve trampling (walking over a person) or seeing woman wearing high heels stomping on the balloons; crush fetishists who revel in using their feet to crush things including small animals; messy fetishists who get kicks from wet shoes e.g. golden showers or patent leather shoes. There are enormous variations which include tickling, bondage, licking and shrimping (i.e. toe sucking). It is quite impossible to know how many foot and shoe fetishists there are simply because fetishists usually keep their preferences a closely guarded secret. As a group they maintain a close network where they function comfortably within a culture of clubs, websites and magazines to support special interests. On the World Wide Web there are well over a million websites which deal with foot fetishism alone. Fetishists are found in every level of society with the number of low to mid level fetishists in Australia enough to fill the Subiaco Oval.
A significant spike in interest in foot sex arose during the 80s after the identification of HIV. Similar patterns have been recorded in history when plagues of sexually transmitted disease arose. This would support foot sex is associated with safe sex practice.