High Heels in DK

Last night, I went out with my colleagues who come from all over the world. There was only one person wearing heels. One of the group remarked on it and I looked around and I couldn’t see any heels around me in the streets.

Århus Festuge, stiletto warning sign
© Karin Holt

This would have been highly unusual back home in London. The number of times I have seen women tottering and stumbling behind their male colleagues in the tunnels of the tube was extraordinary. (Admittedly, I didn’t notice the ones who are keeping up). Many of my colleagues wore heels to work. On a night out, a woman looks out of place without heels on.

Meanwhile, in London, women are shouted and beeped at daily by men. Sexual harassment occurs if you are too sexy, not sexy enough or anything in between. Very few human females are invisible: those under the age of around 10 and those over the age of 35, the visibly disabled etc. Though if some men, the sort of men who are into this, find women from outside those ranges especially sexually attractive/disgusting, they will make that clear.

I think there is a link. Where a society requires a certain level of femininity, females are openly harassed to enforce these requirements. Women who are too sexy are harassed to make it clear that they are still beneath those who ride around in unmarked vans feeling shit about their lives, even if they look good enough to fuck. Women who are not sexy enough are harassed to make it clear that they need to look attractive enough to fuck. That is all we are in the minds of those men. Potential fucktoys.

Where on earth would they get that idea?

Look at countries that go the opposite way, where femininity includes covering up, doing what you are told and staying silent. Women are harassed for not being ‘modest’ enough (and forcing men to want to fuck them), whatever they do. Because all we are measured on are the boners we generate.

In Denmark, the markers of femininity are different and the pressure to be the right amount of sexy is more subtle. There is still plenty of sexual objectification but less harassment. There are enforced standards of dress but they are different depending on age.

At my age, there are a set of clear standards. Heels are optional, very high heels are commented upon to put social pressure on the woman to stop wearing them. Make up is optional. Revealing clothing is frowned upon but tight clothing is fine whatever your body shape.

I do not miss heels. I have some but I do not do well on them. I trip, I get blisters, I get knee and back pain. Every now and then, I get a kick out of wearing a nice pair but I must be able to walk in them. I must be able to run in them. Women are more at risk from people they know but the risk from strangers is still there. Along with the very small risk of disasters that necessitate running. Along with the reasonably significant risk of needing to suddenly get out of the way of a vehicle when crossing the road.

I will only wear heels to things where I will mostly be sitting and I actually cannot remember the last time I wore any. Well over a year ago. The thing about heels is that they infantilise you. Your movement is restricted and you need a lot of help and support to go about your daily business. A lot of people like the way they make their body feel and look and a lot of people like seeing them on others. Who am I to criticise?

The lovely Emily McClean likes being taken care of. She likes being damselled and rescued. Each to their own.

But she goes further in her column to say that Danish women are rejecting men by acting as full adults, that they swarm, that they wear grey androgynous sacks and suggests that they have a duty to wear shoes they cannot walk in so that men have a chance to shepherd their dates.

She describes these swarms of people ‘feminists’ as if that says it all. As if ‘feminist’ means a shapeless grey woman who wants to kill every boner.

Let’s all take a moment to listen to Caitlin Moran

“We need to reclaim the word ‘feminism’. We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42% of Brisbane women – I used to think, what do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit get on your nerves? Or were you drunk at the time of the survey?”

As far as I know, Caitlin Moran wears colourful clothes and heels. Lots of feminists, even in Denmark, do. Feminism isn’t about killing boners, it is about being more than simply sexually alluring at all times.

If you are having a deep and loving relationship with someone who likes that in a partner, why not indulge them once in a while? Or if you like that sort of thing, find someone who will indulge you. Even better, get together with someone who shares your interest and go nuts.

But to suggest that all women should offer this kink to every single man? Jesus. Let alone that many people would find it massively offputting and ridiculous that their date has deliberately reduced their mobility to appear more attractive. Can’t we all just agree to do things we are into (and negotiate with loving partners, the sorts of things they like)? Can’t we all just do that from now on?

2 thoughts on “High Heels in DK

  1. I noticed the lack of heels and preference for “fashion sneakers” right away. Even when dressed up, young Danish women tend towards casual footwear. I put this down to convenience. Most of the young women in Aarhus walk (often on cobblestone streets) or bike to get around, which makes heels problematic.

    It’s definitely interesting to think of this trend in the context of the lack of cat calling on the streets and the state of feminism in Denmark.

    I am not a fan of heels either and almost never wear them, so I don’t miss them.

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