Frymire: Shoes and Chauvinism

Some call them a male chauvinist invention. Next to mascara, I call them a girl’s best friend.

High heels elongate the legs, define the calves, and arch the back (not to mention pressure the ball of the foot and pinch the toes). Hence, women — and some men — claim that the purpose of heels is to torture women. True, to an extent. After a few hours, a girl’s feet can start to cramp and her back to ache, but find the right pair of pumps and she can dance all night. (Might I suggest Dr. Scholl’s wedges or Jessica Simpson platforms? Seriously, so comfortable and most definitely fashionable.)

As Viola Hastings from “She’s the Man” so subtly states, “Heels are a male invention designed to make a woman’s butt look smaller and to make it harder for [her] to run away.” I am not so sure about the first part of that statement, but truth be told running in heels is quite difficult. Suffice it to say, high heels are not the most practical apparel. Neither is a three-piece suit during July in Alabama. Women still rock their heels. Men still strut their suits.

Some argue that high heels are objects meant to sexualize women. In a manner, they are right. High heels are a type of shoe solely designated for women – but then again would you really want men trotting around in tan patent pumps? I certainly wouldn’t. Still, high heels have the potential to make women sexual objects. People connote stilettos with sexuality. Hooker heels, anyone? Nevertheless, the image projected depends on how the woman presents herself in heels. She can channel a call girl, catwalk model, or cocktail party professional with just a pair of kicks.

That clicking sound heels make down the hall signifies confidence and a professional career woman. The sashay in pumps down the stairs signifies sass and sultriness. Heels give a variety of attitude to women. They create a mood and a feeling. A closet full of shoes is a dress-up box for a grown-up girl. Pick the pair for the occasion. Red patent pumps for a night out. Black kitten heels for a day at work. Silver sling backs for the Christmas cocktail party. The options are endless.

The best purchase I ever made? A pair of black Jessica Simpson pumps. Patent leather platform and heel. Velvet toe and side. Four inches high. Talk about some shoes. They accompany me to every dance, ceremony, and party, and sometimes, they receive more compliments than I do. When I throw on my heels, not a thought of male chauvinism enters my mind. I put on my pumps because I want to wear high heels. I like the way they make me feel, and I love the way they make my legs look. So you better bet I will keep wearing them. If I thought that the only purpose of heels was for male viewing pleasure, I would have ditched mine long ago. I know that shoes are a girl’s best friend. They are her magic wand, remaking any outfit and creating a mood for any and every occasion.

The purpose of the perfect pair of pumps is the choice of the woman wearing them – to accentuate confidence, authority, sensuality, professionalism, or fashion. A girl should wear heels because she likes them. She should pull out her pumps for herself, not for other people. Pumps, stilettos, boots, or flats. Pick your pair for the occasion…so long as they are in style, of course.
Margaret Frymire is a junior history and English double major from Louisville, Ky. She can be reached at

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