Jan 03 2012

Shoe company to women: “you’re deformed.”

Finally, a shoe company is using vagina marketing to leverage women’s UAEW (universally acknowledged essential weirdness) into profits! Behold the little insert I found in the box containing my new pair of Merrell hiking shoes.

Red lines afflict all women's legs

This riveting brochure explains that “women move differently than men.” This differentude, implies the brochure, is because of a deformity afflicting the entire sex class: “wider hips and a lower center of gravity.” Or, in clinical terms, “cooties.” According to Merrell this deformity is measured by “something called a Q-Angle.”

The red lines in the illustration show just how naturally fucked up women are in terms of our godawful Q-angle. This congenital fucked uppedness, says the brochure, causes women to “[alter] the natural pattern of movement” which “ultimately results in discomfort and pain.” That’s right. Women can’t even walk right. We can’t manage a “natural pattern of movement.” We’re debilitated by female physiology. We need help.

The rest of insert explains how Merrell shoes address women’s flagrantly abnormal kinesiology with — what else — scientifically designed red spots in the soles.

So you can’t even buy a pair of ugly-ass unisex hiking shoes without being told how different you are from the default standard human? You’re supposed to be grateful to Merrell for pointing out your freakishness, because after they explain what’s wrong with you, they let you know they got your back? “It’s about time,” says the brochure in a conspiratorial women’s magazine tone, “shoes started conforming to women.” That’ll be $89.95, you freak of nature.

Up top, Merrell!

I’m not saying, by the way, that Q-angle really isn’t a thing, because it is. I looked it up in Wheeless’ Textbook of Orthopaedics, and what a gripping read it was. Q-angle is determined by the angle of the patella relative to the tibial tubercle and anterior superior iliac spine. In other words, it describes how knock-kneed you are.

But get this: a 1983 study found that the normal angle for dudes is 14 degrees, and for women, 17 degrees. Plus or minus 3 degrees. So a normal dude can have a 17 degree Q-angle, and a normal woman can have a 14-degree Q-angle. All this “difference” is only a matter of 3 degrees, and some overlap between the sexes is likely, and it’s all normal. When you consider that there are 360 degrees total, 3 degrees hardly seems worth mentioning, which is probably why Merrell doesn’t. Merrell also neglects to mention that the biomechanics of the knee are further influenced by other stuff, such as the length of the patellar tendon, and whether you blew out your ACL when vaulting off a rearing horse.

All I’m saying is, any claim that a mass-produced, off-the-shelf sport shoe with randomly placed red spots can solve “discomfort” associated with normal physiology is just stupid. And in this case, fucking sexist.

The shoes, incidentally, gave me a blister.


Skip to comment form

  1. Daisy Deadhead

    Wow, I didn’t know any of this stuff. I’ve been buying my shoes UNAWARES of the sacred Q-angle cooties. Thanks for the heads up!

    I wore men’s Converse for years, and some shoe salesman (not woman) chastised me for this a few years ago (since I let my daughter buy whatever she wanted, usually Converse also), berating me that WOMEN SHOULD NOT WEAR MEN’S SHOES!!!!!! and told me I was doing OUTRIGHT DAMAGE TO MY CHILD!!!!! (PS: Her footsies are fine)

    I think all of this bullshit is to keep us from the dreaded crime of… CROSS DRESSING! No such thing as “unisex” in a culture totally dedicated to sexing us.

  2. AoT

    Red spots? I’d have expected pink. Just so women know it’s really, really for them.

  3. Kmtberry

    Wow Twisty! I just bought a pair of Merrel hiking boots too! Our lives are strangely reminiscent of one another. Like for instance I spent the eighties playing alt rock and then became a food critic. And now this!

  4. Twisty

    Two hearts beating as one, Kmtberry.

  5. Tigs

    I got these snazzy handmade orthotics because my q-angle’s all screwed up. When the orthotics guy told me, ‘these are going to change your life,’ I was pretty skeptical.
    I was wrong. These things are awesome.

    (Note: this guy makes them by hand for cheaper than most manufactured custom orthotics)

  6. buttercup

    Merrell used to be my shoe of choice, but something changed a few years ago, they just aren’t comfortable to me any more. I always wear men’s shoes anyway. I have big huge wide stompy feet and I’m crippled to boot.

    Currently sporting a pair of extremely bright rainbow colored New Balance running shoes, very squishy and supportive and not made in a sweatshop. My default is birkenstocks, though. Best to ID my radfem non-shaving self to the world so they know not to expect more of me. I even wear hand knit socks with them most of the time.

  7. K.A.

    The discomfort and disfiguring element is essential to its status as a male attractor. Willingness to self-mutilate is a submissive act intended to communicate one’s willingness to be subordinate.

    Why is agreeing to discomfort and pain an aphrodisiac to men? Because misogyny is innate, according to the latest piece on pornography in The Atlantic. Observe:

    He couldn’t stay aroused. Over the course of the tryst, I trotted out every parlor trick and sexual persona I knew. I was coquettish then submissive, vocal then silent, aggressive then downright commandeering; in a moment of exasperation, he asked if we could have anal sex. I asked why, seeing as how any straight man who has had experience with anal sex knows that it’s a big production and usually has a lot of false starts and abrupt stops. He answered, almost without thought, “Because that’s the only thing that will make you uncomfortable.” This was, perhaps, the greatest moment of sexual honesty I’ve ever experienced—and without hesitation, I complied.

    So the author complied, which, in her words “proves an unpleasant fact that does not fit the feminist script on sexuality: pleasure and displeasure wrap around each other like two snakes.”

    It proves that she is a self-loathing idiot with internalized misogyny of such magnitude that she can do a whole article about it without using the word.

  8. BadKitty

    I’m wondering if Merrel’s boots for men contain similar literature telling them how fucked up their Q-angle is? I mean, the male Q-angle is deviant from 50% of the human population! That’s pretty fucked up.

  9. K.A.

    (Original source: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/hard-core/8327/1/)

  10. K.A.

    I totally thought this was going to be another piece on how women’s shoes are disfiguring, so I commented first, read it after. Feel free to delete my other comments, as they no longer apply to this story!

  11. squiggy

    The scariest thing is how walking must have been for the thousands of years when there were no shoes worn! I’m surprised that women weren’t wiped out of walking evolution. Maybe crude wheel-like structures began to emerge instead of feet.

  12. speedbudget

    I am trying to wrap my mind around having a man tell me that only a sexual act which will make me uncomfortable would be satisfying to him and NOT recognizing that he is a hateful misogynist. Do these guys need engraved signs? Jesus Christ on a pogo stick.

  13. yttik

    Last time we went hiking, everyone had their shiny new boots and I had my worn out, sad looking croc knock offs. All the way up the mountain people were like, should you be hiking in those?? Yes, yes I should be. Call it genetics, natural design, call it whatever, but being nearly barefoot and able to grip the ground makes me a lot more comfortable and sure footed. Halfway up the mountain, we had to stop so everybody could treat their wet and blistered hiking boot feet. A few weeks later I got some emails, I guess they actually now make these new high priced “barefoot” jogging and hiking shoes.

    So anyway, not to be difficult, but I’ve never understood why people that want to get back to nature start by strapping on 20 pounds of leather and rubber to each foot? That kind of body armour is for when you’re near civilization. I prefer to tread lightly in nature.

  14. Keri

    Fucked up female Q angles must apply to snowboards as well. Yesterday I purchased a Ride Berzerker which I have been coveting since a test ride last May. The Berzerker is a super cool aggressive all mountain board supposedly made for dudes.

    Dude commentary endured during the purchasing process:
    Me: Do you have a Berzerker because I want one real bad?
    Dude: Wow, you must really like to ride.

    No Dude, I like to sit in the lodge with my thumb up my ass wishing I wasn’t born with this deformed female body.

    Me: I’ve been on a TMS board for about 6 years
    Dude: No offense, I’m kinda surprised to see a woman with that board.

    No, no offense Mr. Shiny New Board Buzkill guy. Just kindly shut the fuck up, apply my discount, and give me my new board.

  15. Rashwanton

    I bought a new pair of Vibrams yesterday. They are Euro-sized, and I wear a size 39. I’d been wearing a 39W (The W means “Woman”) but when I went in to buy my pair yesterday, they told me they were out of my size. I said, “I see you have size 39M (The M means “Men). What is the difference between W and M?”

    “Oh,” I was told, “There are quite a few differences. The toes are longer in the men’s shoe, and the women’s shoes come in red, not black.”

    Um… right. I had to fight with the salesperson to get her to allow me to try on the BLACK M shoes. They fit better than the W shoes ever did.


  16. Ugsome

    How the hell are the adaptations required to grow and bear a new life understood as signs of physical *weakness*? Mary Magdalene on a pogo stick, indeed.

  17. Katherine

    This was, perhaps, the greatest moment of sexual honesty I’ve ever experienced—and without hesitation,..

    Y’know, I expected this to be followed by:

    “… I told him to f*ck right off and get out of my flat/house/abode.”

    That it wasn’t is FUBAR.

  18. nails

    The average difference being small does not mean it is inconsequential.

    Calling it some deviation from “natural” is total bullshit, but I am also fairly sure that women have a lot more ACL injuries than men do, and it is attributed mainly to the difference in q angle. Of course not all women have a q angle that is larger than the average for men and not all men have shallower q angles, etc etc. It is a risk factor for specific injuries, but so are all kinds of non-sex related things.

    It is clearly a manifestation of patriarchy for these differences (comprised of averages) to be highlighted so often as proof of women being inferior when men have problems like x linked genetic disorders and decreased life expectancy (among other things) to worry about.

  19. G

    The q-angle really does matter for some of us. A very long time ago (20+ years), I was able to stop spraining my ankles when running and to actually properly cut an edge with my skis by simply inserting $1 slanted heel lifts in my sneakers and ski-boots, after reading the advice from a woman skier. Physical differences aren’t better or worse and I was very gla to have that knowledge. But it didn’t come with loaded gender references, it was discussed as a function of how humans stand upright and how wide hips might be related to ethnic groups and child-bearing. As a very wide-hipped woman, the advice was extremely useful and gratefully accepted.

  20. Lovepug

    I’m more concerned with the wonky Q Angle of your average dude’s patriarchy poisoned brain that alters the ability for them to rationally conceptualize those identified as female gender as full human beings. There needs to be a product to correct that. Maybe a special hat they can pick up at REI.

    Like right now I’d want such a hat for my supervisor who keeps referring to the two new coworkers who have just been hired and who are both likely over 30 as “the new girls.”

  21. Comrade Svilova

    From that terrible Atlantic article:

    A warring dynamic based on power and subjugation has always existed between men and women, and the egalitarian view of sex, with its utopian pretensions, offers little insight into the typical male psyche.

    Yeah, that’s a gem of a worldview. It’s not even correct, let alone interesting and embiggening.

  22. Sarah

    This seems like as good a place as any to put this:


    An article on women’s hair as it appears to men. I especially like this:

    Long, wavy hair is both sexy and fam-friendly

    “There she is, my future wife. Her hair is so sexy. I want to run my fingers through it.”

    and this:

    Spiky pixie cuts look like you’re missing your better half.

    “Maybe if you are dating Ryan Cabrera and you’re going for the match-y, couple-y thing. Otherwise…no.”

    As if these women are pieces of fruit to be picked or passed over based on personal preference.

  23. Jezebella

    I’d like that author to cite her sources for the “has always existed” portion of that quote. Seeing as how humans have been around for tens of thousands of years, and recorded history only goes back a measly 4500 or so, and most of that is meager. Hmph.

    The “but it’s always been like this” argument never fails to send me into orbit.

  24. yttik

    Women do tend to have more knee injuries than men, but we don’t know if it’s related to their Q factor at all. People need to remember that women are often perched on ridiculous heels, and carrying kids and awkward loads and leaping over tall buildings and things.

    When you read some of these studies, they’re absolutely ridiculous and by that I mean, written by men.

  25. Running Blamer

    There used to be some information floating around that attributed the higher incidence of ACL injuries in women to women having more developed quads, and the difference in how quickly girls and boys add muscle shortly after the growth spurt associated with puberty.


    The fact that so many adolescent and teenage girls are just starting their patriarchy-mandated crash diet cycle around that time can’t help…

    In any case, I think Asics beat Merrell to it. they developed a shoe to help women deal with their pesky hormones a while back:

    Here is a nice little snarky takedown:

    Love the part at the end with the CA-required warning about materials in the shoes that could cause birth defects.

  26. Jonathan


    “I totally thought this was going to be another piece on how women’s shoes are disfiguring, so I commented first, read it after. Feel free to delete my other comments, as they no longer apply to this story!”

    I think Merrell’s “women move differently than men” ad campaign is an attempt to hide all those stiletto-related foot disfigurements under the worn-out lie of the sex caste’s physical inferiority to men in all ways imaginable.

    After all, Merrell is owned by Wolverine Worldwide, which also owns Hush Puppies, which makes some painful-looking high heels. Kudos to Wolverine for making a lot of non-torture-based women’s footwear, but they’re also pulling a misogyny-based CYA when it comes to the damage that their heels are causing.

  27. Ginjoint

    Jonathan, GTFO.

  28. ruskii

    I wondered about that. I bought a pair of Merrell sneakers a few years ago for a family vacation to Disney World (which we do very .. intensely), and I absolutely loved them. Didn’t know if I bought the Q stuff, but they did make the brutal theme park campaigns much less painful for my feet, and I lived in them for forever. But then I bought Merrell sandals, because it’s too hot to wear the other shoes outside for most of the year here and I walk everywhere, and they didn’t say anything about Qs, and I like them even more.

  29. Jamila

    I was just reading about how there was only one kind of soap in the mid-1850’s. If you went into a store to buy soap, the seller would could cut a block off of the larger block of soap. You used only one kind of soap for washing pots and pans, washing your clothes, and washing your body. Now we have thousands of different kinds of soaps. Even minor differences between items are exploited to appeal to a market where new niches are being created everyday. If each niche needs a specialized item to appeal to their tastes, that’s a lot of markets to sell to. The blame for the proliferation of unnecessary goods can be laid at the feet of our consumerist culture.

  30. josquin

    I just hate that “woman do/are/blah blah differently than men” statement, said in that head-tilted confidential tone of voice, on ANY product. It always sounds so condescending, as if we, as an exotic variant of the human species, should be very very grateful that the marketing people are noticing our exotic sub-status and throwing us some crumbs. The only time I want it used is when setting up a medical drug study trial so that more women will be included in the study. Or better yet, ONLY women.

  31. K.A.

    Footwear accommodating differences in walking physiology is not the problem — in fact, I welcome that. If women walk differently than men, that is their “natural pattern of movement” — not a deviation from a natural pattern of movement, as they imply. That the inherent wrongness of femaleness is put forth everywhere, even in messages as innocuous as ads for “don’t let your soles bleed”-devices, makes my soul bleed.

  32. Comrade PhysioProf

    Danskos are completely ungendered, with only one last shape and one sizing scheme. They are also the most comfortable shoes known to humankind.

  33. Ginjoint

    Jamila, have you ever been shopping for, say, headache or cold medicine and noticed how differently-labeled boxes from the same brand have the exact same ingredients? For example, boxes labeled Excedrin Migraine, Extra-Strength Excedrin, and Excedrin Menstrual Complete all contain the following, and only the following: 250 mg acetaminophen, 250 mg aspirin, and 65 mg caffeine. It’s the same damn product, just packaged in a box geared toward, as you brought up, a different niche. (Even the caffeine is labeled as a “pain reliever aid” with the first two, but as a diuretic with the Menstrual Complete.Those tricky dicks, what won’t they think of?) Then of course each is available in tablet, caplet, or geltab,so the consumer is confronted with a wall chock full o’ Excedrin, and grabs accordingly, I guess. Anyway. Sorry for going off on that tangent, but your post reminded me of that.

    BadKitty, I echo your curiosity re: the mens’ Merrells. At their site, a search for “Q angle” brings up 8 results, 7 of which are for women’s shoes or boots. When I clicked on the lone men’s result, however, there was no mention of the riddle-wrapped in a mystery-inside an enigma Q-angle.

  34. Ginjoint

    Crap, that was longer than I realized. Ah well.

  35. tinfoil hattie

    Hear, hear, Physio. I was just going to say that!

  36. cosmetologist

    There was a great slideshow last month on boingboing that was a simple demonstration of how normal distributions fail to explain the low number of women in computer science. All distributions might not really be that simple, but that’s some serious overlap on Q-angles making the difference somewhat meaningless, and all about selling lady-shoes.

    Here’s the slideshow:

  37. Twisty

    PhysioProf can’t ever shut the fuck up about his goddam Danskos. What I want to know is, how does strapping a hunk of wood to your foot in any way promote personal contentment?

  38. Shelby

    Deformed laydee Q-angle goes with my festering vagina, my irrational, unmathematical, unable to read maps, laydee brain and my stretch marked ageing non-porn-compliant figure.

  39. Jezebella

    I am also a Dansko fan, and I have no idea why strapping a hunk of wood to my feet worked, but indeed, it did, and I never want to wear any of my other shoes, for reals. Git you some Danskos, Twisty. You’ll see.

  40. tielserrath

    Ginjoint –
    I nearly fell off my chair laughing when a patient told ne they had switched to ‘panadol head and neck’ for their neck pain, and it was better than ordinary panadol.

    Since both contain exactly 500mg paracetamol per tablet, I have to assume the placebo effect of good marketing (and of spending an extra $4 a box) is impressive.

  41. Ellie

    I know I’m talking to the choir, but it’s just a marketing ploy. They don’t REALLY believe this shit is true — just that it will sell. Capitalism did spring out of patriarchy.

    I am more into the minimalist stuff these days. I tried the Merrell Glove, but my feet are too wide. I wear shoes made at softstar.com and invisibleshoes.com.

  42. Flora Poste

    “…it’s just a marketing ploy. They don’t REALLY believe this shit is true — just that it will sell”

    Every time I go on holiday and rent a bicycle I find that the lads handing out the bicycles sincerely believe that women need special women’s bicycles. If I point out that I’m not wearing a dress (until the 80s the only difference between bicycle sexes was that the cross bar on a women’s bicycle was left out to allow for frock wearing) they tell me women need wide, padded seats for our wide hips and extra fat. I’ve never stuck around to make the obvious point that (assuming all women have fatter arses than all men) fatter arses need less padding, not more.

    If anything, their belief that women shouldn’t or can’t ride men’s bikes is bad for business. It means they have to provide more of both kinds in case they run out of men’s or women’s.

    The idea of women as non-standard or deformed is attractive to them for other reasons.

  43. Comrade PhysioProf

    DANKSOS, FTMFW!!!11!!11!! hahahahahahah

  44. tinfoil hattie

    There is so much wrong with us. Our vaginas stink. Our feet are wrong. We have facial hair. We can’t have orgasms without a patented blend of botanical oils heightening our sensitivity to touch for deep, pleasurable sensations and sexual satisfaction. Degree anti-perspirant had to attach jingle bells to our wrists, to help us realize how much we move. Our breasts need lifting and smoothing. We can’t shit without eating laxative-enhanced yogurt and keeping a video diary of our toileting for Jamie Lee Curtis. And on, and on.

    Dudes, however, just need beer.

    And Danskos: I practically sleep in ’em.

  45. speedbudget

    I do love Danskos, and they were practically forced on me by my foot-and-ankle specialist orthopedic surgeon sister. I do like them, but it really bothers me that they don’t have styles to accommodate my ridiculously high arch in my left foot.

    Oh, God. I’m deformed. Merrell, save me!

  46. yttik

    You know you have a good pair of shoes when you crawl into bed and realize you forgot to take them off. That comment about “practically sleeping in them” means that literally you might forget you have them on.

  47. Feminema

    [Off topic]: I’m writing because I’m a big fan — such a big fan, in fact, that I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award (see information here: http://feminema.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/versatile-blogger-award/). And I’m promising myself to comment more on your brilliant site, which I read religiously!


  48. Mary_Flashlight

    Well, obviously my feet are WRONG. As a woman who wears men’s shoes daily (you try finding a pair of women’s size 10 1/2 Wide, versus finding a pair of men’s size 9 regular), my Q-Angle must be shot to hell. With a Q-Angle like that, how have I ever managed to get married (twice!) AND have 2 children (please, think of the children!)? And be a runner?

    (FYI, I can’t wear Danskos. Their last does not fit my feet. Neither do ANY Nike shoes. Or Merrills.)

    I also have very very short hair right now, which my Nigel loves because a) I like it, and b) he doesn’t breathe my hair in at night anymore. And I gave up shaving my legs. Somehow I am still a woman. Whoulda thunk it?

    In conclusion, I’m not actually against items made especially for men or especially for women (thankful for my bras for instance – many large busted women are actually more comfortable when wearing a bra while actually, you know, moving), but I get a bit tired of products that assume there needs to be a sex-and/or-gender differentiation when there doesn’t.

  49. josquin

    Tinfoil Hattie: you forgot that one never-fail pathway to female orgasm: a goddam piece of chocolate. One taste of the stuff apparently drops us to the floor in swooning feminine ecstasy. All while wearing that goddam coy feminine head-tilted smile which we know and love from product advertising the world over.

  50. Hattie

    I like Keens for my big spready feet. And I have never understood the passion for chocolate. Perhaps I lack imagination.

  51. buttercup

    Bir-Ken-Stock! Bir-Ken-Stock! Rah Rah Rah!

  52. wondering

    If Danskos are so fucking ungendered, why do they differentiate between men’s and women’s styles on their website (with cutsey male and female names even!) and why do they only offer sandals to women?

  53. wondering

    Flora Poste: Actually, I like having a larger seat for my fat ass. But then again, I actually do have a fat ass. Also, I don’t cycle as often as I once did and I find that a bit more padding on a longer ride(ie: 100 k or so) keeps the ass pain away. But FYI, they also make special men’s seats with a weird cut-out that is supposed to take the pressure off male genitals. Apparently, serious male cyclists may end up with fertility problems (or just plain ol’ED) with the “normal” seats. Don’t know if that is true, but I’m told by those who use them that they are more comfortable. In other words, three types of seats: women’s (wider), men’s (cut-out), and ungendered (the “normal” seat).

  54. buttercup

    Wondering, browsing danskos on my favorite shoe selling site shows plenty of non-sandal styles.

  55. tinfoil hattie

    Danskos do “gender” themselves But we do not have to comply! We can resist! No pink Danskos! No pink Damskos!

    @josquin – aaaah, yes. Chocolate. Beyween that and swiffer poroducts, I am just an orgasmatron.

  56. tinfoil hattie

    Sorry for typos.

  57. KittyWrangler

    Chocolate: I think it’s a cruel joke that chocolate is supposed to make the ladies want to have sex, when in fact it makes people have to poo.

    I fall for the “comfortable ballet flats,” every time. Some lady is pictured riding a bike, doing cartwheels in a field, grinning like an idiot with no socks and some simple flats that could work for home or office. I know– KNOW IN MY BRAIN’S HEART– that the shoes will make my feet bleed and I think, “well maybe I just haven’t found the right pair. Maybe this one is different.” The last pair I bought, I ended up weeping (half from the pain, yes, but half from wondering why I did this, again). I’ll save up for some Dansko’s.

    I made an off-hand comment at a shoe store to my mom along the lines of, “at least it’s not like the fifties, right?” and she pointed out that not only were heels much, much lower, but you’re supposed to wear dainty shoes nowadays with no hosiery, therefore blisters. Can’t win I guess.

  58. IBlameRonPaul

    You know you have a good pair of shoes when you crawl into bed and realize you forgot to take them off. That comment about “practically sleeping in them” means that literally you might forget you have them on.

    Doc Martens 100 percent for me. Also genderless (though they do make Mary Janes, and I think they might have revived some of the floral styles from the 90s, but hey, anyone is free to wear them!).

    The best scam going in terms of gendered marketing, though, has to be deodorant. There is no difference between a man’s deodorant and a woman’s deodorant except for the scent and perhaps the amount of it in each type – I’ve tested them. This “Ph Balanced for her” tagline is nothing more than an excuse to offer women 25 percent less product for 25 percent more price.

    On that note, there are very few women’s deodorants that offer a strong scent to mask sweat and odor yet are still anti-perspirant free (so you don’t ruin your shirts). This is why I’ve stuck with Old Spice – it gets the job done, period.

  59. wohom

    I have red lines afflicting me, too. All the time, red lines, afflicting.

    But as far as “q angle,” this has indeed given me trouble as a runner. Interestingly, I am doing some physical therapy right now to straighten it out a bit, as my knees have become quite painful, and I immediately wondered whether these exercises had been designed and tested on men. One of the exercises seems almost impossible for me to do. I don’t have really wide hips, quite narrow for a woman, but I do have the tilt in my pelvis that women typically have, and I have hunch that the posture that these exercises want me to achieve may be designed for a narrower, untilted–that is, man’s–pelvis.

  60. KittyWrangler

    Sorry about all that punctuation in my last comment.

    @iblameronpaul The cherry on top of the 25 percent less for 25 percent more price is that they make the containers smaller by making them look like they have a lady’s “waist.” The weirdly cannibalistic consumable products sold to women that look like women’s bodies remind me in a strange way of barbeque signs with happy pigs on them. The weirdest, to me, has to be the Venus razor that is shaped like a vulva, but instead of a vaginal opening has a razor blade surrounded by “soothing spa” gel that oozes when it becomes wet. That, and “Skinny Cow” products.

  61. Comrade PhysioProf

    If Danskos are so fucking ungendered, why do they differentiate between men’s and women’s styles on their website (with cutsey male and female names even!) and why do they only offer sandals to women?

    Their advertising is gendered, but my understanding is that the shoes are not: they use the same last for “men’s” an “women’s” shoes, and they use the ungendered “Continental” sizing scheme. The ones I’m wearing right now are “women’s” leopard print patent leather 42s, and they fit exactly the same as my “unisex” black suede 42s. (Although the patent leather took a fucketonne longer to break in than the suede.)

  62. IBlameRonPaul


    Yes, the Venus razors – paying more money for lower-quality blades (and fewer of them to a pack) in order to achieve a sufficiently pornulated look. Huzzah!

    If you wish to shave your sensitive areas (and this should always be done on your terms, if and when it should so please you, not a Nigel or any other), it’s actually best to go with the five-blade “men’s” razor. No joke. The blades are sharper and last longer. When I was a teen, everyone was shaving with the Gillette “Pink Daisy” razors. Those worked about as well as the generic, dollar-store versions of the men’s faux-Gillettes, but you got to pay a buck fifty more for the privilege of the brand name, and – of course! – the pink. Gendered grooming product scams are nothing new, and if my experience is any indication, will persist throughout time. You know what I blame.

    Then, there’s the “women’s vitamins” scam. Nowadays, these have a bit of government ingenuity behind them – they’re actually pre-natal vitamins, developed under the George W. Bush-era CDC Doctrine Governing Fair Use of the Sex Class guidelines, which state that a woman of child-bearing age should consider herself “pre-pregnant” at all times. This is bull-hockey. (I won’t even get into the rage I feel at the existence of such guidelines, as an adamantly queer, adamantly childfree woman – but let’s just say it makes choosing a gyno who sees us as “human,” and not “baby vessel” is a great challenge, among other things.) Choose the vitamins you need, for your specific nutritional needs, not for your gender. Personally, I take children’s iron pills, because that’s what I’m deficient in, and as the adult, ostrich egg-size pills gag me, I find the small, fruity tablets quite pleasant to take (when I remember).

    Also remember: If you eat a nutritious Western diet, a privilege in and of itself, you will also have the privilege of excreting the most expensive, vitamin-rich urine in the world.

  63. allhellsloose

    I got some Merrill walking boots in the New Year’s sale (60% off) and I like them. I wanted to put them at the end of the bed, they were so comfortable. The shoes didn’t come with this nonsense though. But I live in the Uk. It spells woo to me.

    Don’t believe a word!

  64. Sylvie

    Merrill’s sandals for me – I’ve bunions and arthritic big toes (and knees, hips and fingers). Can negotiate cobbled streets pain free.

  65. Anne

    You must be in my psychic friends network because I was just reading a thing talking about the recession and underemployment that read something like, “people need two of those low-paying jobs to survive and their wives need at least one.” Humans and their wives. I think this was on HuffPo.

  66. Kea

    This reminds me of what some coaches say to female downhill skiers. We needed to improve our efficiency by making ourselves ‘straighter’, which meant thinking about ‘opening our thighs’ …

  67. tinfoil hattie

    The ones I’m wearing right now are “women’s” leopard print patent leather 42

    TWIN! I have the same ones. AREN’T THEY THE MOST AWESOME EVER? Funny, though – size 40 was too big, but 40 is what my canvas Danskos are.

    Doc Martens. I need to revisit those, too. I used to have some.

  68. Lidon

    I have wide enough hips and I’ve still hiked, danced, dog-walked, etc. in a variety of men’s and women’s shoes and somehow, I have not fallen apart! Go figure! Fuckin’ weird I tell ya!! I guess I have yet to grasp my inherent repulsive deformity, however, with greater onslaughts from advertising, there is still hope! The premise that women’s bodies are somehow inherently more susceptible to injury than men’s is so flawed I really wouldn’t know where to begin.

    We can’t shit without eating laxative-enhanced yogurt…

    Eww. What happened to good ol’ fashioned prunes?

    This post reminds me of an ad I saw a while ago about cars with seats specially made for women because we’re so different from “everybody” else. IBTP IBTP IBTP

  69. Jezebella

    Buttercup: Amen! Birkenstock for summer, Dansko for winter, is how I roll. Birks are the shit. And, if I’m not mistaken, also more or less non-gendered in terms of construction.

  70. goblinbee

    Why did Ginjoint tell Jonathan to GTFO?

  71. Bushfire

    Also remember: If you eat a nutritious Western diet, a privilege in and of itself, you will also have the privilege of excreting the most expensive, vitamin-rich urine in the world.

    Next time I pee I’m gonna admire the stream of expensive, privileged secretion.

  72. Ginjoint

    The last I heard, IBTP was a dude-free zone. If that’s no longer the case, I owe someone an apology. But I believe it’s still the case, and if Jonathan had bothered to read the Guidelines, why, he’d know that.

    Anywho, this blog caused me to spend far too much time online today sorting through Danskos and Doc Martens. I haven’t worn Docs in several years, but they fit my wide-ass feet and I’m in the mood for a new pair of steel-toed shoes. Just because, you know?

  73. wondering

    @buttercup : In re-reading my post, I see I wasn’t clear. What I meant was I prefer to wear men’s shoes (I like plainness, am allergic to heels, and need more width than typical women’s shoes.) I am disappointed that Danskos doesn’t offer men’s sandals, which I would probably like better than the women’s sandals they offer.

  74. tinfoil hattie

    Birkenstocks. Wore ’em for 36 out of 40 weeks of pregnancy. Awesome. Office manager HATED them because they weren’t “professional.” I just laughed at her in between trips to the toilet to puke my guts out for those same 36 weeks.

    “Hi, John!”

  75. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    One of my ex-bosses hated my footwear too. Having hyper-sensitive eczema-prone skin, I can’t wear pantyhose (wouldn’t want to anyway). She made me get a note from the dermatologist. My solution was Birks for spring/summer and Doc Martens for winter. She still sneered at me for being “unfeminine”. TFB.

  76. random_anomaly

    IBlameRonPaul: Another difference between “men’s” and “women’s” deodorant is that – in the U.S. at least – the men’s ones have both anti-perspirant and regular deodorant, whereas the women’s ones are only available in anti-perspirant.
    You know, because women aren’t supposed to sweat.

  77. Becca

    My walking abilities are second to none, I am 35 and have never once experienced bother with my “Q angle”. In fact I didn’t even know I had one, so thanks for enlightening me!

    “Q angle” sounds like the usual sort of sorcery used to sell other useless products to women, like cosmetics with “peptides” for example.

    Being a UK dwelling country lass I do most of my walking in a pair of wellington boots that my son has now outgrown. I believe they cost less than £10.00 if memory serves me. My ability to enjoy regular soujourn’s into the countryside remains unimpaired by this lack of branded footwear.

    I certainly don’t need the patriarchy to tell me what I need to be wearing on my feet. Q angle, honestly? They can feck off!

  78. Killerchick

    My understanding from looking back over the man-free thread and reading Jill’s guidelines is that those dudely commenters who introduce themselves in the “Speaking as a man, I think that…” vein, or claim to be offering “a unique male perspective”, are the ones who are banned. Blamers who engage in sound blaming with a male moniker, or who happen to be biologically male while offering nuggets of philosophic wisdom that do not proceed from the “dudely perspective”, are not automatically banned.

  79. buttercup

    Avon makes a delightful old fashioned liquid deodorant that really works, if you can stomach shopping at Avon.

  80. Twisty

    PhysioProf:”DANKSOS, FTMFW!!!11!!11!! hahahahahahah”

    You should just marry your fucking danskos.

  81. Twisty

    Ginjoint, you are correct, no dudes are allowed.

    Also, some dudes are allowed.

    I grandfathered’em in from before the no-dudes rule, because they had already shown themselves capable of refraining, mostly, from mansplanatory assholicness. Jonathon, if it’s the same Jonathon I’m thinking of, is such a one.

    Also, I can always bend the rules according to my whim, which I think is stated somewhere in the Guidelines for Commenters. The Guidelines for Commenters, by the way, is so convolute and wack, I don’t know how anybody makes sense of it.

    I would prefer to be the one administering the GTFOs, though. When a commenter has done nothing more dudely than post with a dudely name, I sometimes let it go, on a case-by-case basis. I like to be flexible or I get claustophobic.

  82. lizor

    Isn’t it nice that some corporations are looking out for our frailties and structural inferiorities, while others are selling us crippling and ridiculous looking contraptions for our feet under the guise of helping us to full fill our obligations to look porkable?

    The Q angle “issue” is actually an issue if you need a knee replacement. Prosthetic knee joints are designed for the male body, so perform very poorly when implanted in women with a more pronounced angle between the upper and lower leg bones. Quelle surprise!

    The Dayton Boot Company, a relatively small company started in British Columbia make rocking’ great boots. (you can order on line) I bought a pair of sidekicks in 1989 and had them resoled a few years back. They are still my favourite boots.

  83. josquin

    Sorry to butt in on the thread, but I simply had to come here to note the mistake I made by reading the following quote from Stephen Hawking and the subsequent comments:
    LONDON (Reuters) – The biggest mystery in the universe perplexing one of the world’s best known scientists is — women.
    When New Scientist magazine asked “Brief History of Time” author Stephen Hawking what he thinks about most, the Cambridge University professor renowned for unravelling some of the most complex questions in modern physics answered: “Women. They are a complete mystery.”
    -And then I read all the comments following this degrading and stupid remark, and of course they were all men chiming in with jokey agreement. Each comment was stupider and more insulting than the previous one.
    Sorry for breaking rules with this post, but I just get so tired of it. I needed to come here to vent.

  84. Ginjoint

    Well, just so it’s not confusing or anything. (I so want to insert a smiley emoticon here, but I don’t have the stones to do it. Maybe trailing off with an ethereal ellipsis instead?)

    So I do owe Jonathan an apology. Jonathan, I’m sorry. And Twisty, I’m sorry too. I was startled (and annoyed) by seeing a male screen name in a place where I tend to let my internet guard (we all have it) down, and snapped. Defense mechanism like a facial tic, I’m telling you. Won’t happen again.

    Lastly, only since gendered deodorant was brought up in comments: I very recently found an awesome deodorant made by a woman-owned company – three Irish sisters from the South Side of Chicago. They do not gender their products in any way, which is refreshing and just plain lovely. The stuff’s called Life Stinks, and it’s aluminum-free. The first, re-usable can is 27 bucks, but that lasts for months and months, and the refills are much less. If you’re interested: http://www.duggansisters.com. Back to shoes – baby needs a new pair of wingtips. Now I’ve been encouraged to just go ahead and look in the men’s sections, which will make this SO much easier.

  85. kmtberry

    I notice that many of us Blamers write of having big, spready feet. I know I do. Did this perhaps precondition us to reject Patriarchy? Because I remember very clearly feeling somewhat pre-rejected BY the Patriarchy on accountant my (huge, unladylike) feet, as early as age 10. Any system that required me to jam my big flat feet into narrow, painful, Torture devices seemed to me, questionable, at the very least.

    Oh no, now I get it! Identifying as FEMINIST probably CAUSED our feet to balloon into hideous manfeet! HA Ha Ha Ha

  86. humanbein

    Here’s a word of praise for my deodorant of choice, Yodora. It is a simple anti-bacterial compound that kills the bacteria that causes sweat to stink. It doesn’t stop you from perspiring, it simply makes it smell like a body fluid that is uncontaminated with bacteria excretions. It is applied once a week and works fine under the arms, but once when I applied to another area, I discovered that disturbing the bacterial balance down there is, as we all know, a terrifically bad idea. I ended up seeking medical help, and the cute remarks from my MD ended our relationship forever.

    There are similar products in Europe, including one called Byly that I used when I lived in Italy. It isn’t quite as good as Yodora.

    I have a couple of pairs of Merrels that are super easy to kick off and step into at the airport. They have a very cushy sole, too.

    I just wish that someone, somewhere, would do a study about the differences that still exist between people who grew up and experienced sex before pornography was free and ubiquitous all over the internet and the people today who have come into sexual maturity with a sexuality completely defined by pornography. Within 20 or 30 years, most of the people who came to sexual maturity with a minimal amount of porn to color their expectations of sex will be dead, and everyone alive will know nothing but a pornographic idea of sexuality.

    I agree about the logical argument called reference to authority, specifically the one that I call “‘Twas ever thus!” It chaps the hide, and makes me instantly counter “So it should never be again!” The idea that you can justify any behavior, no matter how cruel and horrible, by using the argument that this is how it has always been contains the inescapable inference that we can never be better, which I reject.

  87. quixote

    humanbein: pretending we can never be better is not only cruel and lazy, but also stupid. Haven’t these people noticed that we no longer scavenge on the savannah? Or that the divine right of kings looks ludicrous and quaint now?

  88. quixote

    I’m old enough to be (mostly) pre-porn, but the problem for me (and most people like me) is that I’m not having sex with people young enough to be post-porn. What I hear about the young’uns is just that, hearsay, which doesn’t really tell me how similar or different the felt experiences are.

    Then, on the scale of patriarchal craziness, how does pornulated dehumanization compare with Victorian uptightness dehumanization with, say, Papua New Guinean chattel dehumanization, and so on and on and on and on ad infinitum et nauseam.

    And yet, from whatever background, some people manage to get away from the craziness toward kindness and humanity whenever the pressures deforming everything are lifted. So, who knows, maybe there’s hope?

  89. yttik

    “young enough to be post-porn.”

    There’s no such thing, yet. The young-uns are so marinated in porn, they aren’t even aware it’s porn anymore.

    “I notice that many of us Blamers write of having big, spready feet”

    Ha! Aren’t all women’s feet allegedly too big? I’m pretty sure the majority of women still try to cram their feet into shoes two sizes too small so nobody will think they have “unladylike” feet. I guess having that extremely deformed Q factor has caused us to all grow giant mutant hobbit feet?

  90. wondering

    @lizor: Actually, studies show that a standard knee joint works better for women than a gendered knee joint.

    Here are the results from one of the studies:


    Summary: These women all received total knee implants, with a gendered knee on one side and a “standard” knee on the other.

    Patient satisfaction with the implants was similar (8.3 points for the standard implants and 8.1 points for the gender-specific implants). A rating of 6 to 8 meant “satisfied,” and a rating of 9 to 10 meant “fully satisfied.” Important findings included:

    The majority of women in the study (71 [women] or 84 percent) had no preference between the two implants, eight women (9 percent) preferred the standard prosthesis, and six (7 percent) preferred the gender-specific prosthesis.

  91. bitch with opinions

    Just one question on girly “unnatural” Q-angles, Dr. Science:

    What’s the Q-angle of my foot up your ass?

  92. wondering

    Correcting myself – not “better”, but as good as, given the narrow spread for the results and the majority claiming to recognize no difference.

  93. Anne

    Speaking of porn, as people always do around here, you know how people are always saying Europeans, particularly the French, are more sexually advanced/mature/open-minded than Americans because they have gratuitous naked lady bit in their floor wax commercials? See how open minded and sophisticated they are about a mere blurry distant glimpse of some naked man-flesh http://gawker.com/5873211/rule-1-for-kids-clothing-catalogs-no-naked-men (NSFW-ish)
    Telling, isn’t it?

  94. quixote

    Anne, interesting re the French. I would have expected as much.

    When I said “post-porn” I didn’t mean post-porn. We should be so lucky. I meant post-the-time-when-porn-began-to-saturate-all-media.

  95. Oaktown Girl

    I learned about the Q-angle back in the mid-90’s while studying anatomy in massage therapy school. Happily, I can report that even though the class was taught by a dude, the Q-angle was not presented as some sort of female deformity. And specifically in my “Anatomy of Movement” class, we most certainly were not taught that the female’s Q-angle ““[alter]s the natural pattern of movement”, and that women are unable to move “naturally” (i.e. like a man).

    It never occurred to me that there would be any other way to teach about the Q-angle. Now I’m wondering how many students out there might be being fed the kind of bullshit Merrell shoes is shoveling.

    On a personal note, the only time I even notice my female Q-angle is when I’m sleeping on my side. In that position it’s far more comfortable for me to have a pillow between my knees.

  96. Ugsome

    What’s the Q-angle of my foot up your ass?
    bitch with opinions FTW!

    Anne, quixote, I live in France and can definitely confirm the double standard regarding nakeyness in the media. I am nonetheless tickled that a naked dude made it onto the front page of La Redoute.

  97. Sarah

    Oaktown Girl, I sleep the same way – and it’s because my male physical therapist told me to. He said he does it, too, and that it is helpful for a lot of people’s backs, hips, etc., regardless of gender. ANYway, that’s mostly unrelated to the discussion here… but it’s frightening to think how much medical research is focused first on men, and then adapted to women as an afterthought, or not at all.

  98. Sylvie

    Apologies for the off topic but something just heard on radio has prompted me to ask for views – Matthew Parris (former English MP) opined that the female vice of protecting personal space on public transport by shrinking into themselves is equal to the vice of men who open their legs as wide as possible. (“Vice” was his choice of words). Eh?

  99. ivyleaves

    Twisty, just found the perfect shoe for you!!!!


  100. Discombobulated

    A lone dissenting voice (I think?) on the Danskos: I had a pair and they hurt my feet like mad. I think there was too much of an arch. I finally got rid of them.

    As for the Guidelines for Commenters, I love that page.

    I also took the Guidelines to basically sum up as: “Your comment should be either hilarious or wise.”

    Does this comment meet either criterion? Hmm. Pushing “Blame” anyway.

  101. Oaktown Girl

    Sarah – I worked in a physical therapy center for a long time, and we placed pillows between the knees of all patients when they were side lying, regardless of gender, for exactly those reasons you mentioned. I only specified my “female” Q-angle because my hips are wider than most mens’, so side lying is the only time I consciously notice my Q-angle. Without the pillow, I actually feel discomfort at my hip joints, and most men don’t typically experience that problem.

    Sylvie – He said, “vice”? I hope that’s the most head-exploding thing I have to hear today, because I need a break.

  102. KittyWrangler

    @Oaktown Girl – I learned about Q-angle during P.E. class at an all-girl’s middle school and it was taught by a female teacher as an aberration that women have that causes more injury and wear in the joints. I think the takeaway lesson was to run with our legs slightly farther apart more like a man. Since we were mostly pre-puberty anyway it made even less sense.
    Q-angle came up again during a week-long forensics class (a fun break from the usual biology class) at that same girl’s school in high school. It is apparently used to identify skeletal remains as male or female, among other sexual identifiers. We were presented with a “case” to solve which involved some imaginary lady who had been murdered and whose remains were only recently found. I guess they were preparing us for a lifetime of CSI: Sexy Victims and the like.

  103. Bushfire

    Sylvie, your answer is that anything women do can be a vice if the patriarchy says so.

  104. tinfoil hattie

    My feet first got “big and spready” when I stopped wearing heels, i.e., the first time I got pregnant. They spread out into those ugly, non-feminine Birks, and have been happy ever since.

    My sister always had big feet, and she was so embarrassed about them that she called them “ham slabs.” At age 12 or 13. Amazing how well we teach girls to hate themselves.

    “Hi, John!”

  105. Twisty

    Tinfoil Hattie, who is John and why do you keep saying “hi” to him?

  106. Embee

    Q-Angle: While preparing for a rigorous athletic event, my knees and hips started bother me. This was largely because I’ve been a competitive athlete since I was 9 (gymnastics, cross country, rowing and now triathlons) and at 36 I have little cartilege. Also because I had to have my knee screwed back together when I was 14 and the growth plate fused early, causing my left leg to stop growing before my right. So my (male) orthopaedic surgeon sagely advised me that my problem was my irksome Q-angle, and sent me straightaway to a (female) physical therapist for help. Wise lady took one look at me and said “Your hips are narrower than most mens'”, confirmed as much by taking measurements of said angle, and successfully treated me by addressing the rather obvious cause of the problem.

    Pre and Post Porn: I can count on one hand the number of porn films I have seen (all with ex husband, and all 70’s era denigration without the more horrific stuff I hear of now). It took me years to deprogram myself from that kind of intercourse (ex was a porn-style fucker). I am hearing frequent reports from frineds and family about the problem porn is causing in relationships/marriages. Dudes want to do degrading stuff and their wives–who played along for awhile–have had enough and will not perform. Of course, the dudes are up in arms about the bait-and-switch.

  107. yttik

    You have to wonder about how many knee injuries in women are simply from wearing heels and other assorted tortuous women’s shoes, but also women are taught to keep their feet primly together, their legs closed. Standing in this position puts you off balance, your weight is not distributed evenly. It’s a good way to strain a knee.

    Coaching girls in MS, one of the hardest things to do is to get them to spread their feet in a wide stance. I’ll look out on the field and every girl is in a ballet position like they’re on the runway or something. It has nothing to do with alleged Q angles and everything to do with the patriarchy convincing them that women should never spread their legs.

  108. Embee

    Yttik – agreed! Not to mention lower back problems. Before Twisty took the wind out of my sails, I was prone to wearing 4 inch heels every damn day. I had convinced myself that, by bringing myself to a height of 6’1″ I was showing those dudes the couldn’t tower over me. Mostly, though, I just hurt. Switched to flats and my lower back improved in days. Scary.

  109. cin17

    Discombobulated, you are not alone. My feet don’t understand the appeal of the torturous Danskos. The pursuit of the perfect shoe, for me at least, is never-ending.

    I bought a pair of Merrell’s this past weekend and had even saved the little Q-form booklet. And lo and behold, Twisty posts about it. Freaky.

  110. Paradise

    When Merrell shoes cease being manufactured out of oppressed and tortured beings, I will consider acquiring a pair. Until that time, the crushing deformity of my female feet will have to suffer inside smelly thrift store bargains.

  111. IBlameRonPaul

    My feet got big and spready when I stopped pointe at age 17, but only to a point, and then they stopped. In my late teens and early 20s, a regular-width women’s 6.5 US or 4 UK fit perfectly. These days, I need to go up a whole size because my real size is too narrow, and that’s not a great solution because the shoe is way too long and gives me blisters. I know my feet haven’t changed much once I quit pointe, because my old shoes in the smaller sizes still fit exactly as they used to.

    The toeboxes on women’s shoes are getting narrower and narrower. If you’ve ever tried to shop for a wide size, you might have noticed (as I have) that the only shoes available for you are extra-hideous, and look like they belong at a nunnery. I won’t wear them. On the other hand, I’m not deforming my feet for fashion. Over the past 10 years, as the pornulation of girls has extended down to 10-year-olds, I’ve been buying children’s shoes. I can wear a children’s 4 no problem, and the toe boxes always have ample room. Even better: Although they are somewhat pornulated and feminine, they are actually designed for movement and standing up without pain. I suppose the shoe manufacturers are drawing the line at hobbling 10-year-old girls – for now.

    Fun fact about Doc Martens: These, too, have gone downhill. They are as expensive as ever, but alas, no longer made in the UK. The production has been sent to the third-world, and it shows. My Docs from the late 90s look brand-new, and Docs I bought only a few years ago – but which lack the now-famous “Made in the UK” imprint on the sole – have soles that are cracked in half! If you want to buy Docs, buy them from eBay, and make sure they say “Made in the UK” on the sole. Otherwise, you’re wasting your money, and probably, supporting child labor.

  112. Val

    Hate hate HATE it that the shoes which are currently the most comfortable for my poor flat much put-upon feet come from the Dark Side of Nike.
    I’ve tried practically every brand EXCEPT Danskos – custom orthotics, injections into my heel spurs, everything up to the point of the arch-breaking surgery my podiatrist recommended last year. Six weeks in an orthopedic boot, no driving (R foot was worse), no RIDING?!? I don’t think so!
    What has helped me the most is going minimalist (I have a pair of Vibrams that I wear around the house) & doing every arch-strengthening exercise I can find.

  113. tinfoil hattie

    Twisty, he’s a dude who told me that he follows my posts on several feminist blogs, and cuts and pastes some of them as proof of what a terrible person I am. I’m just being friendly!

    “Hi, John!”

  114. Bushfire

    Wow, Tinfoil Hattie, that John dude sounds like a real douche. John, if you’re here, fuck off and get a life.

    I always wear New Balance running shoes because they come in super-wide. I do have a pair of Merril’s though, and they’ve been with me everywhere, including in the St Lawrence river. They came out unscathed.

  115. tinfoil hattie

    LOL, Bushfire!

  116. Frumious B.

    About lasts: Men and women actually do have differently shaped feet – women’s feet tend to taper more towards the heel. There is a reason why the lasts are different. As with all statements about men and women, it is true for populations. Just as men are taller than women, and yet! and yet! there can be found individual women who are taller than individual men! And select groups of women who are taller than select groups of men! without negating the statement made about the population! There may be individual blamers whose feet developed like an genetically xx person’s feet who nonetheless find that shoes for men fit better. Those of us whose feet follow our gendered population’s are grateful for lasts made for women (and I bet those men whose feet are very tapered would be grateful for them, too, were those men to try shopping in the women’s shoe department). I’m also very grateful that different manufacturers use different lasts so I can try as many different shoes until one fits my feet.

  117. GMM

    The first time I wore really high heels (maybe three inches) was when I was 14 at a cousin’s wedding. I had to take them of by the end of the night, I could barely walk from the pain. I actually thought I just got a defective pair. Then I got into punk rock and wore Doc Martens all the time. When I tried to wear high heels again, got the same result. Finally realized it wasn’t some factory defect causing the problem.

  118. Twisty

    I’m not arguing that men and women have identically-shaped feet, or that shoe companies should not make products suitable for women. I’m not really even talking about shoes at all, although all the personal revelations about everyone’s individual feet have been quite gripping. I’m arguing that gender marketing of the sort mentioned in the post perpetuates the misogynist narrative that women are aliens.

  119. Twisty

    “[H]e’s a dude who told me that he follows my posts on several feminist blogs […]”

    I assert that shout-outs to shitheads constitute troll-feeding, and would ask the blamer to refrain, at least on this blog. It’s sort of disconcerting.

  120. Crucial D

    Val, have you tried Earth shoes?

  121. Twisty

    It always comes down to fashion tips, doesn’t it?

  122. Orange

    Friend of mine twisted her ankle falling off her Dansko clogs. I recommended Merrell Primo Chill Slides and she was converted. Alas, Merrell redesigns everything every couple years, so the Primo Chill Slides and those Merrell sandals I love are no longer sold, and their replacement models often don’t fit my fit nearly as well. The Israeli shoe brand Naot makes sandals that work for my feet, though. So I live in old Merrells and the occasional new Naots.

    Now, my husband and son have just as much difficulty finding shoes that feel good on their feet. Do you suppose they have caught a case of Ladyfeet from me? Clearly they are not fitting the male norm in footwear either.

  123. buttercupia

    Alas, the incredibly lovely Dansko vegan clog I ordered the other day does not fit. Back they go. Apparently women with large feet are not permitted high insteps as well. Shame, they were a great looking pair of shoes.

  124. Comrade PhysioProf

    Friend of mine twisted her ankle falling off her Dansko clogs.

    Yeah, the one downside to Danskos is that they do have poor lateral stability. But for standing around for hours, they are the fucken bomb. This is why cooks, nurses, doctors, teachers, and other people who stand while working love them.

  125. IBlameRonPaul

    I’m arguing that gender marketing of the sort mentioned in the post perpetuates the misogynist narrative that women are aliens.

    Definitely. Thank you for bringing things back on topic. I touched on this idea in my previous posts where I brought up some other types of products with ridiculous gender-based marketing, and the misogyny surrounding it. I can definitely see how the discussion is getting off-topic. However, I did contribute a post about shoes because I saw a relationship between gender-based marketing and the increasing ridiculousness of shoes for women and girls.

    Personally, I found your Q-angle research that proved that we’re not that different from men after all very interesting – I actually have a smaller Q-angle than many men, as I have an upside-down triangle build, with very broad shoulders, and I taper from there. After reading your post and some comments upthread, I began thinking about how much healthier our feet would be if the social standard didn’t enforce shoes not meant to fit human beings as the only acceptable footwear for women. In other words, if we weren’t the “freak gender,” perhaps it would be ok for us, like it’s ok for men, to choose shoes that are comfortable and healthy instead of built to destroy our bones, joints, and muscles.

    Sometimes, I shy away from discussing body shape or type, because it gets very personal. That makes total sense – it’s personal because every single one of us knows we’re the sex class, the freak show, the deformed ones put on this earth for men’s sexual gratification, and our bodies are always up for evaluation and critique. (Including lesbians.) I’ve seen criticism of various types of fashion on various left-wing blogs, and seldom is that critique written in such a way that it doesn’t slam one particular build as “not womanly” or “not attractive” in whatever arbitrary way we define “womanly” and “attractive” in Western culture. We are all very different women, and I think we should celebrate our differences in a positive way. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Merrell is in lock-step with the prevailing sentiments, providing yet more messaging that women are always unacceptable, no matter what.

    Whether I’m reading content implying that because I don’t have the build of Marilyn Monroe, I am “not a real woman,” or content implying that my Q-angle is always the “non-standard,” i.e. “non-male” measurement, no matter how false both of those statements actually are, I’m feeling anger and disappointment. It seems that we all feel that anger and disappointment. IBTP.

  126. tinfoil hattie

    I’m sorry about that, Twisty. I subscribe to the philosophy that stalkers should be exposed, I got tired of his crap, and I want him to leave me alone. He only reads this blog for purposes of harassing me. I won’t be intimidated away from here by him.

    But I won’t do it here anymore. Your blog, your rules.

  127. Frumious B.

    Twisty, you were not arguing that men and women have identically shaped feet. You didn’t even mention feet. I responded to two comments made by a different blamer* about lasts, specifically “ungendered lasts.”* I actually wonder just how ungendered (unsexed?) the lasts are since men and women as a population have differently shaped feet. Are the lasts shaped for more tapered feet, less tapered feet, or some in-between taper factor which happens to cover portions of both the male and female population? I have no inside knowledge, but I would be unsurprised to learn that the lasts in question are designed for men.

    (details not expounded on b/c really, it’s beside the point, and I don’t want to start an ad hominem flame war.)

  128. cin17

    Twisty, you are absolutely right. The Q-form marketing angle is yet more proof that patriarchy is insane. When a manufacturer of women’s shoes needs to let their women customers know that the women’s shoes they make are made for women. Not three-toed sloths, or penguins, or even the default male, but that anatomical oddity known as woman.

  129. lizor

    @ Wondering, thanks for the link. I wish that they had explained what is meant by “female” knee joints. As many have pointed out in this thread, gendering musculo-skeletal, is based on populations and generalizations. I did note that the article said that problems with the “female” knees were associated with them being too small.

    My comment was base on the experience of a close friend who got mowed down by a dude in an SUV and has had to have a full knee replacement as a result. She was told that because of the angle of her femur/tibia, (which is fairly pronounced) that finding a good fake joint would be difficult as they were designed for men’s knees. This is what her surgeon told her. She’s not having a great recovery.

    We are in Canada. Our healthcare system does not access new products at the same speed the privatized system in the US does (it’s one of the complaints of those who would like to dismantle the public health care we have such as it is), so no one ever told her there were other options.

    However, I con’t quite understand the standardization of such a device when everyone’s knee are slightly different, whether you have an innie or an outie in your drawers.

    I also had to wonder why a person would allow a surgeon to implant two different joints in each of one’s legs. That would be akin to wearing one stiletto and one earth shoe.

    @ yttik, you are so right on about girls and women being indoctrinated into walking, sitting and moving in uncomfortable and inefficient, unhealthy ways. I used to teach pilates and the more “enhanced” a client’s appearance, the more fucked up and restricted were their bodies – or more accurately, the way they moved their bodies. Women with implants, across the board seem to be afraid to breathe.

  130. Anne

    There’s regular normal Foot Locker and then there’s Lady Foot Locker.
    josquin – That quote from Stephen Hawking bummed me out, as much for the trite unfunniness of that joke as for its sexism. Airline peanuts! Amirite?

  131. mearl

    Note to Stephen Hawking: Women are not a mystery to women. Arse.

    I’m tall and have size 12 feet, which made/makes buying clothes and shoes an ongoing struggle. However, it kept me out of heels for my entire life with the exception of a few occasions.

    What concerns me lately is that when I give in and wear heels for a few hours (to a gala or something), my ENTIRE BODY hurts for days afterward. Feet, shins, calf muscles, lower back, spine, neck, quads, hams, glutes. It’s just not worth it to me anymore. I’m gettin’ Docs (made in the UK, thanks for the tip, IBlameRonPaul).

    Yet the reports I hear from my patriarchy-adherent female buddies or co-workers who have worn heels on a regular basis since teenagerdom inform me that they can’t DANCE in flats, they can’t WALK in flats, and they’re so used to heels that they PREFER them. They feel WEIRD in flats. I actually know some women who tell me it’s now more difficult to wear flats than heels.

    I tell them straight up that their feet are growing into the shape of heels and that they’re fucking up their entire physiology, the same way that if you leave a baby in a Jolly Jumper too many hours while it is growing and developing, the baby will become a toddler with feet that can’t stand flat on the floor, but are permanently pointed downward from all the hanging in the air. This Jolly Jumper story was an egregious case of child abuse and neglect known to me personally (well, through friends of friends – the people were regular customers at their store). The kid had to get leg braces and extensive physiotherapy and surgery done to correct the damage.

    Not surprisingly, I constantly compare the images (and sights) of women teetering around on their tiptoes in stilettos to the image of the Jolly Jumper baby and its downward-pointed feet.

  132. Twisty

    “if you leave a baby in a Jolly Jumper too many hours while it is growing and developing, the baby will become a toddler with feet that can’t stand flat on the floor, but are permanently pointed downward from all the hanging in the air.”

    Great Scott!

  133. Nolabelfits

    You are supposed to hang the jolly jumper at a height so that the baby can touch the floor with feet flat. Who hangs those things so the kid is suspended in the air?

  134. mearl

    The sorts of people who shouldn’t have had a baby, I’m guessing.

Comments have been disabled.