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Surge Desk

Michelle Ryan and a Brief History of the Foot Fetish

Dec 22, 2010 – 3:48 PM
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David Knowles

David Knowles Writer

In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, "how many, many feet you meet!"

A series of videos said to feature Michelle Ryan, the wife of New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, has brought to light a little-discussed aspect of human sexuality: Many people have a thing for feet.

For those who do not share this particular fetish, there was a whole lot of head-scratching today as some of the videos in which Ryan is believed to be the center of podophilic attention made the rounds on the Internet.

In one of the clips, a woman wearing New York Jets green who may or may not be Mrs. Ryan offers a handy rundown on why some men find female feet so arousing.
  • They're soft
  • They're petite
  • They have an alluring smell

Of course, by definition fetishism is not something that a majority of people have in common, but in Surge Desk's tireless quest to make sense of the day's news, we've come across the following factoids regarding the sexualized love of feet.

Podophilia is the world's leading fetish
A 2007 study conducted at the University of Bologna found that feet and toes were the human body parts most fetishized, according to a report in The Independent. Those surveyed in the study, which specifically dealt with fetishes, said that feet were even more of a turn-on than breasts or buttocks.

Foot fetishes have been around for a while
Sigmund Freud is credited with being the first person to fully discuss and define the foot fetish. According to The University of Windsor journal The Lance:

Freud defined fetishism as the displacement of sexual desire onto inanimate objects or body parts which was caused be the person's struggle with the confrontation of the castration complex (when a child's sexual activities are stopped by his father who he fears castration from because the young male child is considered to be in love with his mother). Freud also described the fetish as occurring through exposure over time to an object (feet) while being sexually aroused. This form of conditioning is still theorized as the reason why people have foot fetishes today.

Freud himself termed the practice of Chinese foot binding a foot fetish.

The foot fetish as safe sex
Not everyone share's Freud's view on the rise of podophilia, however. Researchers at Ohio State University noted a distinct uptick in foot fetishism during the European syphilis outbreaks of the 16th and 19th centuries. In addition, a commensurate rise in foot attraction appears to have taken place during the AIDS epidemic.

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