Transcript: High Style: Cultural Politics and the History of High Heel | Apr 30, 2005

Elizabeth Semmelhack stands on a wooden podium and addresses an unseen audience.
She's in her late thirties, with shoulder-length straight blond hair. She's wearing a black blazer over a white shirt.

She says I KNOW
THAT EVER SINCE I STARTED
RESEARCHING FOOTWEAR, THE TYPE
OF SHOE THAT GAVE ME THE MOST
PAUSE WAS THE HIGH HEEL.
IT SEEMED EXTREMELY NATURAL, I
KNOW THAT WHEN I WOULD -- IF I'M
INVITED TO A WEDDING, I WOULD
LOOK FOR A PAIR OF HIGH HEELS.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Elizabeth Semmelhack. The Bata Shoe Museum. High style: Culture politics and the history of the high heel. The Bata Shoe Museum. January 27, 2005."

Elizabeth continues IF
SOMEONE SAID, WHAT CAN I WEAR TO
MAKE ME LOOK ATTRACTIVE?
I MIGHT SUGGEST HIGH HEELS.
AND I FIND MYSELF SUGGESTING
HIGH HEELS OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
BUT IF YOU STAND BACK AND YOU
LOOK AT THE HIGH HEEL, YOU BEGIN
TO REALISE IT IS A SUPREME ARTIFICE.
THERE'S NOTHING NATURAL ABOUT THIS SHOE.
OTHER CULTURES DON'T HAVE IT AS
AN ITEM OF FASHION, AT LEAST IN
CONTEMPORARY TIMES, AND IT IS,
IT HAS, OVER TIME, ACCRETED A
GREAT DEAL OF MEANING, WHICH I
BELIEVE IS RELATED TO THE FACT
THAT IT IS AN ARTIFICE.
BECAUSE OF THIS, IT'S NOT A
NECESSARY PART OF OUR WARDROBE,
IT'S SOMETHING THAT WE CHOOSE TO WEAR.
AND AS WE CHART THE HISTORY OF
THE HIGH HEEL, YOU CAN SEE THAT
ITS HISTORY SORT OF TAKES US
THROUGH THE HIGH HEEL AS A
SIGNIFIER OF STATUS, THEN IT
BECOMES A SIGNIFIER OF GENDER
AND TODAY IT'S A SIGNIFIER OF
SEXINESS AS WELL AS GENDER, AND
SO I BEGAN IN MY RESEARCH TO TRY
TO CHART THIS COURSE.
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS
TO DO WHEN TRYING TO UNRAVEL THE
MYSTERIES OF ANY GIVEN ARTEFACT
IS, OF COURSE, TO START AT THE
BEGINNING.
AND SO THIS, THIS LECTURE WILL
START AT TRYING TO FIGURE OUT
WHERE THE HIGH HEEL CAME FROM.
AS I MENTIONED, THE HIGH HEEL
SEEMS, OVER TIME, TO HAVE BECOME
PECULIARLY WESTERN AND MANY
PEOPLE HAVE HAD FANTASTIC IDEAS
FOR HOW IT CAME TO BE A WESTERN
FASHION.
SOME HAVE SAID LEONARDO DA VINCI
CREATED THE FIRST HIGH HEEL.
WELL, IT'S NOT TRUE.
SOME PEOPLE SAID THAT CATHERINE
DE MEDICI, WHEN SHE WAS DEBUTED
AT THE FRENCH COURT IN 1533
CREATED THE CRAZE FOR HIGH
HEELS.
STILL NOT TRUE.
SO, WHAT IS THE TRUTH?
WELL, I CAN'T DEFINITELY PROVE
THE TRUTH, BUT I THINK I CAN
POINT US IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAPPENS
TO BE IMPORTANT IN THE HISTORY
OF WESTERN FOOTWEAR, AND IN
FACT, INDEED, IN THE HISTORY OF
WESTERN FASHION, IS THAT
WESTERNERS TEND TO BE CRAZED FOR
THINGS EXOTIC.
WE FIND COSTUMES, TEXTILES AND
FOOTWEAR FROM OTHER CULTURES
IMPACTING WESTERN FASHION QUITE
PROFOUNDLY.
AND THE SAME IS TRUE
SPECIFICALLY AT LOOKING AT
OUTRAGEOUS WESTERN SHOE STYLES.
TO BEGIN WITH IS THE
POULAINE.

An old oil painting appears on screen. It shows a countryside scene of a man with a halo on his head kneeling in front of a deer. He's wearing soft, long, pointy shoes.

Elizabeth continues THE POULAINE
WAS A FORM OF
FOOTWEAR, YOU CAN SEE THE
KNEELING SAINT, HIS VERY, VERY
ELONGATED TOES.
THOSE ARE CONNECTED TO THE
CRUSADES, WHEN CRUSADERS CAME
BACK, THEY BROUGHT WITH THEM
EXAMPLES OF MIDDLE EASTERN
FOOTWEAR.
AND THAT MIDDLE EASTERN
EXAGGERATED TOE WAS THEN
INCORPORATED INTO WESTERN
FASHION AND BECAME A FASHION
CRAZE AND BECAME ALSO A
SIGNIFIER OF STATUS.
THE LENGTH OF ONE'S TOE
ULTIMATELY BECAME REGULATED BY
LAW.
IN MOST EUROPEAN COUNTRIES.
NEXT WE HAVE THE
NALAY,
WHICH WAS A TYPE OF FOOTWEAR
WORN THROUGHOUT THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE.

Another oil painting shows a woman in an ornate pink and red gown with abundant tulle and wearing stilted shoes.

Elizabeth continues THIS IS A EUROPEAN PAINTING, BUT
YOU CAN SEE A WOMAN IN TURKISH
DRESS AND SHE'S STANDING ON
STILTED SHOES.
THE THEORY IS IS THAT STILTED
SHOES SUCH AS THESE INSPIRED THE
CHOPINE.
THE
CHOPINE
WAS A TYPE OF
PLATFORMED FOOTWEAR THAT WAS
WORN BY WOMEN SPECIFICALLY TO
ELEVATE THEIR STATUS, TO ELEVATE
THEIR ATTRACTIVENESS, IT'S
INTERESTING THAT BOTH, QUOTE
UNQUOTE, RESPECTABLE WOMEN AND
PROSTITUTES WORE THESE SHOES TO
STAND OUT.
SOME PEOPLE HAVE ERRONEOUSLY
SUGGESTED THAT THIS PARTICULAR
TYPE OF FOOTWEAR WAS INVENTED TO
ELEVATE THE WEARER OUT OF THE
MUCK OF DAILY STREET LIFE,
HOWEVER NOBODY WOULD STEP INTO,
SAY, MUCK WEARING SOMETHING THAT
WAS COVERED IN SILK, VELVET,
THAT WAS IMPORTED, WITH SILVER
LACE AND SILVER NAILS AND SO
THIS CLEARLY WAS SIMPLY AN
ARTICLE OF CLOTHING THAT WAS
ABOUT STATUS.
AND ALSO SEXUALITY.
FOR THE HIGH HEEL, I ARGUE THAT
IT'S ALSO TO THE EAST THAT WE
SHOULD LOOK.
IN PARTICULAR, I THINK WE NEED
TO LOOK AT THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE,
PERSIA, THE COSSACKS WHO LIVED
AT THE EDGE OF POLAND AND THE,
AND UKRAINE, ALSO THE INDIAN
MOGULS.
ALL OF THESE CULTURES WORE SOME
KIND OF HIGH-HEELED FOOTWEAR IN
THE 16th CENTURY.
AND WHAT'S IMPORTANT ABOUT THAT
PARTICULAR DATE IS THAT THE
FIRST EVIDENCE OF HIGH -- OF A
HEEL, NOT EVEN A HIGH HEEL, BUT
JUST A HEEL, IN WESTERN CULTURE
DATES TO AROUND 1590 TO 1600.
SO ONE PARTICULAR SCHOLAR HAD
SUGGESTED THAT PERHAPS THE HIGH
HEEL WAS INVENTED BY REPAIR
WORK, LAYERS OF LEATHER BEING
ADDED TO THE SOLES OF SHOES
EVENTUALLY CREATING A KIND OF
STACKED LEATHER HEEL.
HOWEVER, REPAIRS LIKE THAT WOULD
HAVE BEEN DONE FOR HUNDREDS OF
YEARS.
YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THE
MOMENT, WHY WAS IT THAT THE HIGH
HEEL BECAME IMPORTANT RIGHT AT
THE END OF THE 16th CENTURY?
AND WHEN I LOOK AT EVIDENCE LIKE
THIS, THIS IS ACTUALLY A 15th
CENTURY PERSIAN SHOE AND I STEP
BACK AND I BEGIN TO LOOK AT THE
POLITICS OF THE TIME, I REALISE,
WELL, THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE WAS
BASICALLY ON EVERYBODY'S MIND IN EUROPE.
IT WAS A HUGE PROBLEM.
IT WAS A SOURCE OF TRADE, BUT IT WAS
ALSO A SOURCE OF POLITICAL
STRESS AND THE PERSIANS, WELL,
THEY WERE ALSO AGAINST THE
OTTOMAN EMPIRE.
AND SO PERSIA BECOMES PART OF
EUROPEAN THINKING, THINGS
PERSIAN BEGIN TO PERMEATE
EUROPEAN CULTURE.
AND I WOULD ARGUE THAT THINGS
LIKE SHOES COULD HAVE BEEN PART
OF THOSE CULTURAL EXCHANGE OF
GOODS.
IN FACT, WE HAVE EVIDENCE OF
SHOES BEING TRADED IN ACTUAL, IN
ACTUAL DIPLOMATIC TRADE
MISSIONS.
THE OTHER THING, TOO, THAT WAS
REALLY, REALLY POPULAR AT THIS
TIME WAS THE PUBLICATION OF
TRADE, UH, PUBLICATIONS, TRADE
JOURNALS.
I MEAN, SORRY, TRAVEL JOURNALS.
AN EXAMPLE BEING NICOLAS DE
NICOLAI'S PUBLICATION FROM 1576,
THIS IS THE 1576 ANTWERP EDITION
AND WHAT HE DID IS HE TRAVELLED
THROUGH THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE AND
DOCUMENTED THE FASHIONS WORN AT
THE TIME.

An ancient drawing pops up of a man riding a small horse. He's wearing a long silk gown and an ornate turban.

Elizabeth continues SO HERE'S A PERFECT EXAMPLE,
THIS IS A TURKISH MAN WEARING
HIGH-HEELED SHOES, HIGH HEELS
HAD BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH
MASCULINE ATTIRE, SPECIFICALLY
WITH HORSEBACK RIDING IN
MILITARY ACTIVITIES, AS I'VE
MENTIONED.
SO AN IMAGE LIKE THIS WOULD HAVE
BEEN ALSO AVAILABLE IN EUROPE AT
THE END OF THE 1500s.
THIS IS ANOTHER ILLUSTRATION OF
A TURKISH WOMAN AND SHE ALSO IS
WEARING HIGH HEELS.
SO MY ARGUMENT IS BASICALLY THAT
BECAUSE OF THE TOPICALITY OF THE
MIDDLE EAST AT THIS EXACT MOMENT
IN HISTORY WHEN THE HIGH HEEL
DEBUTS IN WESTERN CULTURE,
BECAUSE OF THINGS LIKE TRAVEL
JOURNALS, WHICH ARE BEING MASS
PRODUCED, WIDELY AVAILABLE,
BECAUSE OF THE CULTURAL EXCHANGE
OF ARTEFACTS, BOTH OFFICIALLY
AND AS OBJECTS OF CURIOSITY THAT
ARE BEING PURCHASED BY EUROPEANS
AS THEY TRAVEL AND THEN RETURN
TO EUROPE, THAT ALL OF THESE
THINGS COUPLED TOGETHER CREATE A
REASON FOR THE HIGH HEEL TO
DEBUT IN THE WEST.
AND WHEN IT DOES DEBUT IN THE
WEST, BECAUSE OF ITS CONNECTION
WITH EXOTICA, IT IS EMBRACED
BOTH BY MEN AND WOMEN.
SO MEN EMBRACE THE HIGH HEEL, IT
APPEARS, FIRST.
THE SUGGESTION OF HEELED
FOOTWEAR AND EQUESTRIAN PURSUITS
AND MILITARY BEHAVIOUR WAS
EXCEPTIONALLY STRONG IN THE
MIDDLE EAST AND I THINK THIS
ALSO POINTS TO A MIDDLE EASTERN
MODEL THAT MEN IN EUROPE
EMBRACED THE HIGH HEEL SO
QUICKLY.
SOME SCHOLARS HAVE SUGGESTED
THAT MAYBE THE
CHOPINE
HAD
BEEN MODIFIED TO CREATE THE
FIRST HIGH HEEL.
BUT THE
CHOPINE
WAS A
FEMALE TYPE OF FOOTWEAR AND IT
WAS ROUNDLY RIDICULED.
SHAKESPEARE RIDICULED IT, TRAVEL
DIARIES RIDICULED IT, AND I
WOULD FIND IT VERY EXCEPTIONAL
IF A MASCULINE FASHION WOULD BE
SO EASILY CHANGED FROM FEMALE TO
MALE IN JUST A MATTER OF YEARS.
SO I FEEL, AGAIN, THAT YOUR
MIDDLE EASTERN MODEL IS QUITE STRONG.

Now a realistic oil painting shows two men in ornate 16th century clothes, one of which is writing with a quill. The writer wears knee-length leather boots with short heels.

Elizabeth continues SO HERE YOU CAN SEE, I REALISED
WHEN I FINALLY GOT THIS SLIDE
UP, YOU CAN'T SEE THE HEEL TOO
PERFECTLY, BUT THIS IS A
GENTLEMAN WEARING BOOTS THAT ARE
HEELED, AND THIS IS RIGHT AROUND
1610, SO THIS IS REALLY EARLY IN
THE ADVENT OF THE HIGH HEEL.

Now a picture shows a black leather boot with a short heel.

Elizabeth continues AND HERE'S AN EXAMPLE OF A BOOT
FROM ABOUT 1600 AND YOU CAN SEE
THE HEEL, NOW THE HEEL WAS
EXCEPTIONALLY PRACTICAL.
THE REASON IT WAS USED IN THE
MIDDLE EAST WAS, UNLIKE A FLAT
SOLE, IT KEEPS YOUR FOOT IN THE
STIRRUP, AND SO IT HAS SOME
SEMBLANCE OF PRACTICALLY, WHICH,
OF COURSE, WILL NOT BE THE HIGH
HEEL'S LEGACY.
WOMEN WERE ALSO INTERESTED IN
THE HIGH HEEL, THEY SEEM TO HAVE
ADOPTED IT JUST SLIGHTLY AFTER
MEN, AND THEY WERE VERY
INTERESTED IN THE HIGH HEEL FOR
A NUMBER OF REASONS.
IT'S WAS EXOTICA, BUT ALSO, IT
BEGAN TO CREATE A FICTION, A
FICTION THAT BECAME INCREASINGLY
PORTANT -- IMPORTANT IN THE 16th
CENTURY AND 17th CENTURY, WHICH
WAS, AND ACTUALLY, I THINK WE
STILL SUFFER FROM IT TODAY,
WHICH IS A VERY, VERY DIMINUTIVE
FEMALE FOOT.

Another painting of a similar fashion shows a woman writing with a quill and wearing similar boots.
Then, a picture shows female shoes with short heels and ornate toe boxes.

Elizabeth continues THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF MULES FROM
ABOUT 1660, THEY DATE TO THE
SAME TIME AS THE PAINTING I JUST
SHOWED YOU AND YOU CAN SEE THAT
ONE OF THE BENEFITS OF A HIGH
HEEL, FOR WOMEN, IS THAT THE
TOES IN WOMEN'S FOOTWEAR BECAME
VERY, VERY, VERY TAPERED.
AND OF COURSE THEY WORE VERY
LONG SKIRTS AT THIS TIME, SO THE
HIGH HEEL IS BASICALLY TAKING
THE BULK OF THE FOOT AND HIDING
IT UNDER THE HEM OF THE WOMEN'S
SKIRT, LEAVING JUST THESE TWO
LITTLE POINTS STICKING OUT FROM
UNDERNEATH THE SKIRT AND IT,
THIS BECOMES A VERY STRONG
FASHION STATEMENT AS THE CENTURY
MOVES ON.
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE
ASSOCIATED WITH THE HIGH HEEL
WAS LOUIS XIV.

An oil painting shows Louis 14 posing in rich clothing and an opulent ermine cape.

Elizabeth continues AS I MENTIONED, THE FIRST PHASE
OF HIGH HEEL HISTORY, THE HIGH
HEEL IS ALL ABOUT STATUS.
THIS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT THE
AVERAGE PERSON CAN RUN AROUND IN.
ONE OF THE BEST THINGS THAT HIGH
HEELS CAN OFFER YOU IS THAT IT
CAN CLEARLY SAY WHAT IT IS YOU
DON'T HAVE TO DO.
HIGH HEELS ARE IMPRACTICAL IF
YOU ARE SOWING SEEDS.
HIGH HEELS ARE IMPRACTICAL IF
YOU'RE MILKING A COW.
HIGH HEELS ARE VERY PRACTICAL FOR
EXCLAIMING STATUS IF YOU ARE
ATTENDING COURT, SAY.
SO LOUIS XIV, AND AGAIN, PEOPLE
HAVE COMMENTED THAT IT WAS
BECAUSE OF HIS SHORT STATURE, IT
WAS BECAUSE HE LOVED HIS LEGS,
THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS IS
THAT NOBODY HAD HIGHER STATUS
THAN HE DID AND HIS HIGH HEELS
HELPED TO PROCLAIM THAT.
IN FACT, IT WAS A DETAIL OF THE
HIGH HEELS THAT PROCLAIMED THAT
IN PARTICULAR.
YOU'LL NOTICE, MAYBE IT'S A
LITTLE DIFFICULT TO SEE IN THIS
SLIDE, BUT HIS HEELS WERE BRIGHT RED.

A close up of the painting shows the brightly coloured heels worn by Louis 14.

Elizabeth continues BRIGHT RED HIGH HEELS HAD JUST
BEEN COMING INTO FASHION AND HE
MADE THEM A, A FASHION THAT HAD
POLITICAL PRIVILEGE ATTACHED TO IT.
WHAT HE DID WAS HE REGULATED
COURT WEAR AND HE STIPULATED
THAT ONLY THOSE WHO HAD ACCESS
TO HIS COURT WERE ALLOWED, BY
LAW, TO WEAR RED HIGH HEELS.
SO WHAT BETTER WAY OF WALKING
THROUGH PARIS IN HIGH -- TO
PROCLAIM WHAT YOUR POLITICAL
STATUS IS, THAN BY WEARING RED
HIGH HEELS?
AND BOTH MEN AND WOMEN PARTOOK
OF THIS.
GENDER DIFFERENCES, AS I'VE SORT
OF BEEN MOVING TOWARDS NOW,
BEGIN TO SHOW UP NEAR THE END OF
THE 17th CENTURY.
MEN'S FOOTWEAR TENDS TO HAVE
VERY LARGE, CHUNKY HIGH HEELS
AND THE TOES, EVEN IF THEY
TAPER, TEND TO BE TRUNCATED WITH
A VERY SHARP, BLUNT END TO THEM.

A coloured drawing from the time shows a servant helping a rich woman put on high-heeled shoes.

Elizabeth continues SO THERE'S A BIT OF WHAT WE
MIGHT CONSIDER TO BE MASCULINE
APPEAL TO THESE VERY STURDY HIGH HEELS.
WOMEN'S HIGH HEELS CONTINUED ON
THAT, THAT TRAIL TOWARDS
CREATING A VERY, VERY DIMINUTIVE
FEMININE FOOT.
THE HIGH HEEL BECOMES
EXCEPTIONALLY HIGH AND THE TOES
BECOME EXTREMELY, EXTREMELY
POINTY IN THAT EFFORT TO CREATE
THE ILLUSION OFTEN OF A SMALL
FOOT.

Now a picture shows heeled shoes with completely square tips.

Elizabeth continues THAT'S AN EXAMPLE OF A MAN'S
HIGH HEEL FROM RIGHT AROUND 1700.
AND THAT'S AN EXAMPLE OF A WOMAN'S.

Another picture shows a heeled shoe with an ornate and pointy tip.

Elizabeth continues NOW I JUST WANNA STOP BRIEFLY
BECAUSE NO ONE CAN GIVE A
LECTURE ON SHOES, REALLY,
WITHOUT MENTIONING CINDERELLA.
AND WE KNOW THAT CINDERELLA
DEBUTED IN THE FRENCH COURT, THE
STORY DEBUTED IN THE FRENCH
COURT AROUND 1700, JUST SLIGHTLY
BEFORE 1700.
AND WHAT I FIND REALLY
INTERESTING ABOUT THAT
PARTICULAR STORY IS THAT IT
CRYSTALLISES A LOT OF THE
IDEALISATIONS OF THE FEMALE
GENDER IN THE BODY OF CINDERELLA.
HERE IS SOMEBODY WHO IS LOVELY,
SHE IS THE EMBODIMENT OF
LOVELINESS.
BUT BECAUSE OF BAD FORTUNE,
SHE'S BEEN FORCED INTO SERVITUDE.
YET SHE HANDLES THE SERVITUDE
WITH GREAT HUMILITY.
AND UNCOMPLAININGLY, SHE TAKES
CARE OF HER STEPMOTHER AND TWO
STEPSISTERS.
IT IS, HOWEVER, HER SMALL FEET
THAT ARE THE EVIDENCE OF HER
INBORN NOBILITY AND IT TAKES
FASHION, IN THIS CASE, GIVEN BY
THE FAIRY GODMOTHER, TO MAKE
OTHERS SEE HER INTRINSIC VALUE.
AND ALL OF THAT INTRINSIC VALUE
IS ULTIMATELY BORNE OUT BY HER
BEING ABLE TO FIT INTO A PAIR OF
GLASS SLIPPERS.
THE GLASS SLIPPERS, THIS IS NOT
LEATHER, YOU CAN'T FORCE YOUR
FEET INTO GLASS, GLASS WON'T
EXPAND OR UNEXPAND, IT SIMPLY IS
A HARD SUBSTANCE.
AND YET HER FOOT FITS PERFECTLY.
THE CLEARNESS OF THE GLASS ALSO
SUGGESTS THAT SHE'S ABLE TO, YOU
CAN SEE THAT THE FIT IS
ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.
AND THIS CONNECTION BETWEEN HER
SMALL FOOT, FASHION HELPING TO
REVEAL THIS, IS SOMETHING THAT
17th CENTURY AUDIENCES WOULD
HAVE LISTENED TO AND IDENTIFIED WITH.
ONE OF THE ROLES OF FASHION IS
TO SHOW ONE'S INNER BEAUTY.
HOWEVER, WE CAN'T FORGET THE
STEPSISTERS.
THEY TRY, THROUGH DEVIOUS
AGENCY, TO FIT INTO HER SHOES.
THEY HACK OFF THE FRONTS OF
THEIR FEET, THEY HACK OFF THEIR
HEELS, THEY TRY ACTUALLY QUITE
DESPERATE MEASURES TO PERPETRATE
FRAUD TO CONVINCE THE PRINCE
THAT THEY ARE THE ONES WHO ARE
NOW NOBLE, BUT IT'S THIS CONCERN
ABOUT DEVIOUS AGENCY IN FASHION
THAT BECOMES OF EXTREME
IMPORTANCE AS WE HEAD
INTO THE 18th CENTURY.
AND HIGH HEELS BECOME PIVOTAL TO
THE GENDER DIFFERENCES THAT ARE
GOING TO BE ARTICULATED IN THE
AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT.
ONE OF THE SHIFTS THAT HAPPENS
DURING THE 18th CENTURY IS THAT
MEN BECOME MUCH MORE INTERESTED
IN APPEARING RATIONAL.
18th CENTURY ENLIGHTENMENT
THINKING WAS ABOUT CONSTRUCTING
THE MODEL THAT THOSE WHO ARE
RATIONAL HAD THE RIGHT TO
DOMINION OVER THE IRRATIONAL.
MAN OVER NATURE.
WELL, WHERE DO WOMEN FIT INTO
THIS EQUATION?
WELL, WOMEN WERE SEEN AS
IRRATIONAL, THEREFORE CLOSER TO
NATURE AND HIGH HEELS AND
FASHION HELPED TO PROVE THE POINT.
MEN BEGIN TO PULL AWAY FROM,
QUOTE UNQUOTE, THE
IRRATIONALITIES OF FASHION IN
THE 18th CENTURY.

An 18th century oil painting shows a man posing in clean and formal clothes in the wilderness.

Elizabeth continues THE THREE-PIECE SUIT THAT MEN
WEAR TODAY HAS ITS NASCENCY HERE.
THIS IS WHAT MEN ARE STARTING TO WEAR,
IT BECOMES A UNIFORM, IT
ACTUALLY IS SUGGESTIVE OF A KIND
OF COUNTRY SQUIRE, ACTIVE,
MASCULINE LIFESTYLE.
COLOURS BECOME MORE SUBDUED AND
GUESS WHAT, THE HIGH HEEL
DISAPPEARS.
MEN REDUCE THE SIZE, OR THE HEEL
IS REDUCED TO ABOUT THIS HIGH,

She gestures less than an inch and continues
FOR COURT WEAR, THE HEEL IS
STILL OFTEN COVERED WITH VERY
COLOURFUL LEATHER TO BRING YOUR
ATTENTION TO IT.
BUT ULTIMATELY, MEN HAVE
REJECTED THE HIGH HEEL.
WOMEN, ON THE OTHER HAND, EMBRACE
EXCEPTIONALLY ROCOCO FASHION.
MADAME POMPADOUR IS A PERFECT
EXAMPLE AND LOOK AT THE SIZE OF
HER HEEL.

A whimsical oil painting shows Madame Pompadour in an over-the-top blue silk gown and wearing minuscule yet tall high-heeled shoes.

Elizabeth continues NOW HIGH HEELS BECOME, AT THIS
POINT, MEN HAVE ABANDONED THEM,
SO WE'VE SEEN THAT THE HIGH HEEL
WAS FIRST AN INDICATOR OF STATUS.
NOW, AT THE BEGINNING OF THE
18th CENTURY, YOU CAN SEE THAT
THE HIGH HEEL IS BECOMING AN
INDICATOR OF GENDER.
SO FEMALES NOW ARE THE ONLY ONES
WHO ARE GOING TO BE WEARING THE
HIGH HEEL.

A picture shows ancient heeled shoes made of a silver fabric.

Elizabeth continues AND THE HIGH HEEL, THIS IS NOT
THE HIGHEST HEEL WE HAVE, THIS
IS JUST A GOOD SLIDE THAT I HAD.
BUT THE HIGH HEEL, LIKE OTHER
ASPECTS OF FEMININE FASHION,
BECOME RIDICULED.
AT THIS TIME, THIS IS GETTING TO
BE ABOUT, THESE DATE TO 1760,
SAYINGS, COMICS, THERE IS A
GREAT CONCERN ABOUT WOMEN AND
WHERE THEY FIT INTO THIS NEW
RATIONAL UNIVERSE AND A DITTY
THAT WAS POPULAR AT THE TIME WAS
"MOUNT ON FRENCH HEELS WHEN YOU
GO TO THE BALL 'TIS THE
FASHION TO TOTTER AND SHOW YOU CAN FALL."
AND THIS IDEA OF THE
DESTABILISED WOMAN, THE
IRRATIONAL WOMAN, THE FRIVOLOUS
WOMAN CONSUMED WITH FASHION IS
SOMETHING THAT, I WOULD ARGUE,
IS A ARISTOCRATIC LEGACY THAT
CONTINUES TO INFLUENCE US TODAY.
SO THE HIGH HEEL GOT TO QUITE A
HIGH ASCENDANCY AS THE 1760s,
1770s AND 1780s MARCHED ON.
HOWEVER, RIGHT BEFORE THE FRENCH
REVOLUTION, HIGH HEELS BECAME SUSPECT.
THEY WERE NOW FEMININE, BUT THEY
WERE ALSO ASSOCIATED WITH
ARISTOCRATIC PRIVILEGE.
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION IS JUST
AROUND THE CORNER, CHANGE IS IN
THE AIR AND THE MIDDLE CLASS
AESTHETIC THAT IS GOING TO, THAT
IS RISING, THE MIDDLE CLASS THAT
IS NOW GOING TO TAKE OVER,
BEGINS TO BE FELT BY THE
ARISTOCRACY.
AND IN RESPONSE, ALMOST AS IF
THEY ATTEMPTING TO JUST NOT
STICK OUT AS MUCH, THE HEELS ON
WOMEN'S SHOES REDUCES.
THIS IS THE SIZE OF THE HEEL
THAT MARIE ANTOINETTE WORE TO
THE GUILLOTINE.

A picture shows cloth shoes with very short heels.

Elizabeth continues BUT UNFORTUNATELY FOR THE
ARISTOCRACY, LOWERING THEIR
HEELS IS NOT ENOUGH TO SAVE
THEIR HEADS.
AND SO THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
HAPPENED AND ONCE THAT HAPPENED,
MANY ASPECTS OF ARISTOCRATIC
CULTURE WERE THROWN AWAY.
BUCKLES, HIGH HEELS, POWDERED
HAIR AND WHAT WAS IN ITS PLACE
WERE THINGS THAT SORT OF
SUGGESTED A NEW DEMOCRATIC AGE,
GRECIAN OUTFITS, YOU CAN SEE
THIS WOMAN IN NEO-CLASSICAL GARBED.

An oil painting shows a woman with short hair and a Greek style white gown talking to a man in a garden.

Elizabeth continues OF COURSE, THIS WAS A BURGEONING
DEMOCRACY, WHAT COULD BE MORE
CLASSICAL THAN THAT?
AND SO FASHION REFLECTED THIS
INTEREST IN THE CLASSICAL AGE.
ALSO HERCULANEUM AND POMPEII HAD
RECENTLY BEEN EXCAVATED, THERE
ARE MANY CULTURAL REASONS WHY
THE HIGH HEEL WAS NO LONGER OF
INTEREST OR FASHIONABLE.
HOWEVER, THE HIGH HEEL, AT THIS
POINT, THIS IS RIGHT AT 1800.
THE HIGH HEEL HAD NOW BEEN IN
FASHION FOR 200 YEARS.
THAT'S A REALLY LONG TIME.
BUT FOR THE NEXT 50 YEARS,
NOBODY DARED WEAR A HIGH HEEL.
MEN, WOMEN, CHILDREN, NOBODY,
NOBODY WORE HIGH HEELS.
FLATS WERE THE RAGE.
IN FACT, MANY PEOPLE, WHEN THEY
COME DOWN INTO STORAGE, WILL
LOOK AT SHOES LIKE THIS AND SAY,
ARE THOSE BALLET SLIPPERS?

A picture shows soft cloth shoes with no heels and long laces.

Elizabeth continues AND I'LL SAY, WELL, THAT'S AN
INTERESTING OBSERVATION.
BALLET, OF COURSE, STARTED IN
THE FRENCH COURT AND BALLET
DANCERS WORE HIGH HEELS AS COURT
MEMBERS.
HOWEVER, BALLET DIDN'T DIE ONCE
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION HAPPENED,
BALLET DANCERS SWITCHED INTO THE
FASHIONS OF THE MOMENT.
AND IT JUST SO HAPPENED THAT
THIS STYLE OF FOOTWEAR WORKED SO
WELL THAT EVEN ONCE IT WENT OUT
OF FASHION, BALLERINAS KEPT IT
AND SO THIS IS THE, THE ORIGIN
OF THE BALLET SHOE.
BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT THIS LECTURE
IS ABOUT.
NOW FOR 50 YEARS, HIGH HEELS
COULD NOT BE SEEN AT ALL.
BY 1850, HOWEVER, THEY WERE
STARTING TO CREEP BACK INTO
WOMEN'S FASHION.
AND THEY WERE DOING SO IN A VERY
SELF-CONSCIOUSLY NOSTALGIC WAY.
THE FIRST HEELS TO COME OUT WERE
CALLED THE "LOUIS HEEL."
MANY PEOPLE THINK THAT THE LOUIS
HEEL IS -- WAS NAMED THE LOUIS
HEEL DURING THE REIGN OF LOUIS XV.
IT WASN'T.
IT WAS NAMED IN 1860 AND --
1850, 1860, BY PEOPLE WHO WANTED
TO EMULATE THE ARISTOCRACY.
AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAD
HAPPENED WAS THE BOURGEOISIE WAS
NOW FIRMLY ENSCONCED.

A painting shows women in ornate frilled gowns with matching fans and intricate hairdos.

Elizabeth continues THEY HAD SUCCEEDED.
BUT HOW DO YOU DISPLAY YOUR WEALTH?
WELL, FASHION IS ONE OF THE MOST
IMPORTANT WAYS OF SHOWING
WEALTH, BUT MEN, BOURGEOIS MEN
DID NOT WANT TO RETURN TO THE
PEACOCK WAYS OF THE ARISTOCRACY.
THERE WAS TOO MUCH LADEN WITH
IDEAS OF FEMINIST, EFFEMINACY,
LACK OF RATIONALITY, SO THE
MAN'S BUSINESS SUIT REMAIN THE
SAME, ALMOST PURITAN-LIKE IN ITS
LACK OF EMBELLISHMENT AND COLOUR.
BUT ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO SHOW YOUR
WEALTH WAS TO GO OUT IN THE
EVENING WITH A WOMAN ON YOUR ARM
WHO WAS DECKED FROM HEAD TO TOE
IN AMAZING FASHION.
AND IF IT REFERENCED ALL OF THAT
DECADENCE OF THE CENTURY
PREVIOUS, ALL THE BETTER.
SO 18th CENTURY AESTHETICS BEGIN
TO INFUSE WOMEN'S FASHIONS QUITE
DRAMATICALLY.

A picture shows bright purple silk short boots with short heels.

Elizabeth continues THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF AN EARLY
ADELAIDE KIND OF BOOT THAT WAS
MADE FASHIONABLE RIGHT AT THE
BEGINNING OF THE REINTRODUCTION
OF THE HIGH HEEL AND YOU CAN SEE
THAT THE HEEL'S REALLY QUITE LOW.
IT WAS ALSO, ITS REINTRODUCTION
WAS NOTED BY THE FASHIONABLE,
LOVED IT, AND BY THE BURGEONING
WOMEN'S RIGHTS MOVEMENT.
HATED IT.
THE WOMEN'S RIGHTS MOVEMENT,
DRESS REFORMISTS, WERE VERY
CONCERNED THAT THE HIGH HEEL,
BECAUSE IN MANY WAYS IT RELATED
TO ARISTOCRATIC CULTURE, WAS
GOING TO BE USED AS A WAY OF
DESTABILISING WOMEN.
AND IT'S INTERESTING TO NOTE
THAT JUST AS MANY, MANY WOMEN,
BOTH THOSE ENGAGED IN THE DRESS
REFORM MOVEMENT, INTERESTED IN
WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND THOSE SIMPLY
WIVES OF WEALTHY MEN WERE
ITCHING TO GET OUT OF THE HOME.
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAD BEEN
A, A MARK OF FEMININE LIFE IN
THE 19th CENTURY WAS THAT FOR
THOSE 50 YEARS THAT WOMEN DIDN'T
WEAR HIGH HEELS, THEY ALSO
DIDN'T VENTURE MUCH OUT OF THE
HOME.
AND THEIR FOOTWEAR ACTUALLY
PROVES IT.
THEIR FOOTWEAR IS MADE OUT OF
ALMOST GLOVE-LIKE LEATHER ON THE
SOLE.
YOU WOULD NEVER WALK, SAY, THE
STREETS IN A PAIR OF SHOES LIKE
THAT, BUT A RESPECTABLE WOMAN'S
ROLE WAS NOT TO WALK THE STREETS
AND IN FACT, THERE WERE NO, YOU
KNOW, BOULEVARDS YET TO WALK ON.
IT WAS A MUCH MORE SORT OF
WOMEN, RESPECTABLE WOMEN STAYED
AT HOME.
HOWEVER, WOMEN HAD CERTAINLY
ALWAYS BEEN IN THE PUBLIC
SPHERE, BUT THE WOMEN WHO, IN
THE EARLY PART OF THE 19th
CENTURY, HAD BEEN IN THE PUBLIC
SPHERE HAD TENDED TO BE LOWER
CLASS WOMEN.
AND IT WAS DEEMED THAT THEY WERE
IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE BECAUSE OF
ECONOMIC NEED.
THERE WERE SHOPKEEPERS AND THERE
WERE WOMEN WHO WERE DOMESTICS,
WHO HAD TO HAVE SOCIAL
INTERCOURSE OUTSIDE OF THE HOME.
BUT ALL OF THEIR ACTIVITY WITHIN
THE PUBLIC SPHERE WAS TAINTED
WITH SUGGESTIONS OF SEXUAL
IMPROPRIETY.
THERE WERE CONCERNS THAT WOMEN
IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE WOULD HAVE
LOOSE MORALS.
AND SO, AT THIS MOMENT WHEN YOU
TURN TO THE SECOND HALF OF THE
19th CENTURY, YOU NOW HAVE THESE
TWO SORT OF ALMOST CONFLICTING
DESIRES OF WOMEN, RESPECTABLE
WOMEN, WANTING TO GO OUT OF
DOORS, TO BE SEEN, HOUSEMAN'S
RECONSTRUCTION OF PARIS HAS
HAPPENED, THE BOULEVARDS OF NEW
YORK, CENTRAL PARK, THE
BOULEVARDS ARE BEING CREATED,
THERE'S THIS OPPORTUNITY, WINDOW
SHOPPING, GOING TO CAFES, THESE
ARE NEW OPPORTUNITIES THAT WOMEN
OF THE UPPER CLASSES AND MIDDLE
CLASSES CAN NOW PARTAKE IN.
SO THEY MAY BE SUGGESTING, I
WANNA GO OUT.
AND THEIR HUSBANDS ARE THINKING,
AND IF THEY GO OUT IN INCREDIBLE
FASHION, THIS IS A GREAT WAY OF
SHOWING THE KIND OF WEALTH THAT
OUR FAMILY HAS.
MAY NOT HAVE BEEN AS ARTICULATED
IN THEIR MINDS AS THIS, BUT YOU
HAVE THESE CONFLICTS THAT ARE
BORNE OUT BY CULTURE.

An old comic drawing pops up. Under the title "Civilisation!" it shows a black man in what appears to be tribal clothing, next to a white woman wearing similar clothing. Both hold a walking stick and wear ornate feathered headpieces.

Elizabeth continues FASHION AT THIS TIME WAS ALSO,
BECAME A LOCUS, A LIGHTNING ROD
FOR DISCUSSIONS OF WOMEN'S
IRRATIONALITY.
SO AGAIN, IF YOU THINK ABOUT THE
TIME, YOU HAVE MORE WOMEN
WANTING TO ENGAGE THE PUBLIC
SPHERE, YOU HAVE MORE WOMEN
ACTIVELY ARTICULATING THEIR
DESIRES TO HAVE ENFRANCHISEMENT
AND YOU HAVE ARISTOCRATIC
FASHIONS WHICH CAN BE USED TO
PROVE WOMEN'S INNATE
IRRATIONALITY OR THEIR CLOSENESS
TO NATURE OR THE PRIMITIVE,
WHICH IS WHAT THIS SUGGESTS.
THERE ALSO WAS A REVIVAL RIGHT
AT THE END OF THE SECOND HALF OF
THE 19th CENTURY OF ANOTHER 18th
CENTURY CONCEPT, WHICH WAS THE
CONCEPT OF THE COURTESAN.
THE COURTESAN BECOMES INCREDIBLY
IMPORTANT, THINK OF -- THINK OF
ZOLA, THINK OF BAUDELAIRE, THINK
OF MANET.
ALL THE PAINTERS, ALL THE
THINKERS, THE COURTESAN IS NOW A
SUBJECT.

An expressionist painting shows a naked woman posing on a bed. The woman is, however, wearing heeled shoes.

Elizabeth continues BUT THE REASON THE COURTESAN IS
A SUBJECT, IN MY MIND, IS THAT
THERE IS THIS TENSION BEING
CREATED BY RESPECTABLE WOMEN IN
THE PUBLIC SPHERE, WHAT ARE THEY
GOING TO DO?
WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN, THEY'RE
ACTUALLY ASKING FOR, VERY
VOCALLY, THE RIGHT TO VOTE, THE
RIGHT TO PLAY SPORTS, ALL SORTS
OF THINGS, BUT WHERE IS THE FINE
LINE, WHAT IS THE BALANCE
BETWEEN THEM USING FASHION FOR
DEVIOUS AGENCY, THEM USING
FASHION AS FRIVOLOUS EVIDENCE OF
THEIR IRRATIONALITY AND WHAT IS
THEIR POTENTIAL USE OF FASHION
FOR SEXUAL IMPROPRIETY?
ONE OF THE THINGS I FIND
INTERESTING ABOUT THIS PAINTING
IS THAT IT WAS THE MOST
SCANDALOUS PAINTING OF 1865.
IT CREATED A HUGE SCANDAL.
NEWSPAPER ARTICLES, THRONGS OF
PEOPLE, THE PAINTING THAT WON
THE SALON THAT YEAR WAS ALSO OF
A NAKED WOMAN.
BUT SHE WAS RESTING SUPINE, NOT GAZING
AT THE VIEWER AND SHE WAS
TOTALLY NAKED.
AND THAT'S WHY I -- OR SHE WAS
TOTALLY NUDE, AND THAT'S WHY I
PICKED THIS PAINTING.
THE SHOES IN THIS PAINTING KEEP
OLYMPIA FROM BEING AN
ALLEGORICAL NUDE.
THE SHOES ARE CONTEMPORARY, A MAN
GOING TO THE SALON WITH HIS
WIFE, HIS WIFE PROBABLY HAD AN
EXACT PAIR OF SHOES LIKE THAT AT HOME.
AND HERE WAS THIS PROSTITUTE,
OLYMPIA WAS A KNOWN PROSTITUTE
AT THE TIME, GLARING OUT AT YOU,
SUGGESTING SOME KIND OF AGENCY,
NAKED, NOT NUDE, AND THIS, I
THINK, IS THE MOMENT THAT THE
CONFLICTS, THAT ALL OF THESE
THINGS THAT HAD BEEN SORT OF
BREWING IN THE, IN THE LATE 19th
CENTURY, SECOND HALF OF THE 19th
CENTURY, SORT OF CAME TO A FORE.
THE OTHER THING THAT'S, I THINK,
REALLY INTERESTING AND IMPORTANT
ABOUT OLYMPIA IS THE
SEXUALISATION OF THE HIGH HEEL.
I'VE SO FAR CHARTED HIGH HEELS
DEBUT AS STATUS SYMBOLS.
THEY THEN BECOME SIGNIFIERS OF
GENDER AND NOW THEY'RE EMERGING
AS SIGNIFIERS OF SEX.
SHE'S WEARING SHOES FOR A NUMBER
OF REASONS.
THE SHOES MAKE HER NAKED, NOT
NUDE.
NAKED SUGGESTS SHE'S SEXUALLY
AVAILABLE.
AND AT THE SAME TIME THAT MANET
IS PAINTING PORNOGRAPHY IN, UH,
PHOTOGRAPHY IS BECOMING
EXCEPTIONALLY IMPORTANT.
AND ALL OF THESE PHOTOGRAPHS OF
NAKED WOMEN ARE, VERY
FREQUENTLY, SHOWN WITH THEIR
SHOES ON.
THE SHOES, I THINK, SUGGEST THAT
THE VIEWER HAS A KIND OF X-RAY
VISION.
YOU HAVE THIS FEELING LIKE, I
SEE SHOES EVERY DAY!
IN FACT, I SEE SHOES LIKE THAT
ON WOMEN AND THAT'S MAYBE WHAT
THEY LOOK LIKE UNDER THE DRESS.
THE OTHER THING, TOO, ABOUT
SHOES IS THAT REMEMBER, WE SEE
WOMEN IN PANTS ALL THE TIME.
BUT IN THE 18th CENTURY, 17th
CENTURY, FROM THE BEGINNING OF
TIME, IT SEEMS, THE 19th
CENTURY, WOMEN SEEM TO BE
ABSOLUTELY UNBIFURCATED FROM THE
WAIST DOWN.
YOU HAVE THIS, THIS MONOLITHIC
MASS BELOW THE WAIST.
AND THE ONLY THING TO LET PEOPLE
KNOW THAT, WELL, ACTUALLY IT IS
AN ARTICULATED LOWER HALF THERE
WERE THESE TWO LITTLE SHOES
STICKING OUT AT THE END.
SO SHOES, AS VALERIE STEELE HAS
SAID, ARE THE, OR THE LEGS ARE
THE, YOU KNOW, SHOES, FEET, ARE
THE GATEWAY TO THE GENITALS.
AND SO YOU HAVE THIS CONNECTION
BETWEEN, OH, THERE'S A LITTLE
BIT OF THE PUBLIC SPHERE IN THIS
PRIVATE VIEWING.
AND I THINK THEY UP THE FEELING
OF VOYEURISM IN A PICTURE.
AND THIS IS WHY I FEEL VERY
STRONGLY THAT SHOES IN
PORNOGRAPHY, WHICH IS NOW A
GIVEN, IN FACT, TO DO RESEARCH
FOR THIS PROJECT, I BOUGHT PLAYBOY
THIS MONTH.

[Laughter]

Elizabeth continues AND THE
CENTREFOLD WAS ALL DRAPED OUT IN
NOTHING BUT A PAIR OF STILETTOS.
AND I BET, BEFORE THIS LECTURE,
HOPEFULLY, YOU WOULD HAVE
THOUGHT, OF COURSE, THAT'S
NATURAL.
WHAT THE HECK IS NATURAL ABOUT
WEARING HIGH HEELS, OR ANY KIND
OF FOOTWEAR, WHILE LYING SUPINE,
AWAITING SOME KIND OF SEXUAL
ACTIVITY?
THERE'S NOTHING!
BUT IMAGINE PEOPLE SEEING THIS
PICTURE FOR THE FIRST TIME.
MAYBE THE MEN WHO HAD WOMEN ON
THEIR ARMS HAD LOOKED AT THIS
NEW PORNOGRAPHY.
HO-HO, THIS LOOKS JUST LIKE THIS
NEW PORNOGRAPHY.
THAT WAS PORNOGRAPHY MADE ART.
THAT IS WHAT MADE THIS PAINTING
SO IN-YOUR-FACE, SO SHOCKING FOR
ITS TIME PERIOD, WAS BECAUSE
THIS WAS NOT THE ALLEGORICAL
NUDE, THIS WAS NOT THE PERFECTED
CINDERELLA OF THE PAST.
THIS WAS A CONTEMPORARY WOMAN
SEEMINGLY IN CHARGE OF HER OWN
SEXUAL COMMODIFICATION.
AND SOMEBODY WHO REFERENCED
CONTEMPORARY PORNOGRAPHY.
SO HERE WE HAVE THE EMERGENCE OF
THE SEXUALISATION OF THE HIGH
HEEL.
THIS IS JUST AN EXAMPLE OF A
KIND OF BOUDOIR SLIPPERS THAT
THE WIVES OF THE MEN WHO WERE
GOING TO THE SALON MIGHT HAVE
WORN AT HOME.

A picture shows heeled slippers with long laces.

Elizabeth continues NOW THIS PROBLEM OF, OKAY, HOW
DO WE ACTUALLY TELL WHO'S A
PROSTITUTE, WHO'S NOT A
PROSTITUTE, WHO'S RESPECTABLE,
WHO'S NOT RESPECTABLE, WE'RE
ENCOURAGING WOMEN TO WEAR
EXCESSIVE FASHION, COURTESANS
HAVE HISTORICALLY WORN EXCESSIVE
FASHION, IT, IT BECOMES VERY
CONFUSING AND IT BECOMES A THEME
IN LATE 19th CENTURY THINKING.
THIS IS ACTUALLY A CARTOON THAT
SAYS, IS SHE A WHORE OR IS SHE
NOT?

A cartoon drawing shows two women wearing similar clothing and headpieces, staring at each other.

Elizabeth continues OR WHICH ONE'S THE WHORE AND
WHICH ONE IS NOT?
AND YOU SEE THAT THERE'S THIS
CONCERN ABOUT WOMEN IN THE
PUBLIC SPHERE.
NOW AS, QUOTE UNQUOTE,
RESPECTABLE WOMEN BEGAN TO MARCH
DOWN THE SIDEWALKS OF PARIS AND
NEW YORK AND LONDON AND PARTAKE
IN CAFE LIFE, THIS IDEA OF
SEXUAL IMPROPRIETY CONTINUED TO
HAUNT THEM.
THERE WERE LOTS OF CONCERNS I'VE
ALREADY SUGGESTED AS TO HOW ONE
CAN TELL, THIS IS ANOTHER COMIC
FROM THE SAME PERIOD, BUT I
THOUGHT IT'S INTERESTING TO NOTE
THAT THEY'RE LIFTING UP THEIR
DRESSES SO THAT YOU CAN SEE
THEIR SHOES.

Another drawing shows two women talking outdoors as they slightly lift their dresses. Men standing in the background stare at them.

Elizabeth continues THE SHOES, VERY MUCH IN THIS
IMAGE, I THINK, BEING VERY
SEXUALLY SUGGESTIVE.
AND IT SAYS, "WHAT DO YOU THINK
OF THE LATEST FASHIONS, FANNY?"
"OH, MY DEAR, I FIND THEM
EXCELLENT, AFFAIRS ARE GOING
MUCH BETTER NOW."
(Laughing)
IT'S A ACTUALLY VERY
INTERESTING, I HAD MY HAIR DONE
TODAY AND THE WOMAN WHO DID MY
HAIR HAPPENED TO BE A STRIPPER.
I DIDN'T KNOW THAT AND SHE SAID
THAT THE HIGHER HEELS THAT SHE
WORE, THE MORE TIPS SHE GOT.
SO IT HAPPENS AT THE END OF THE 19th CENTURY THAT IF, IF I'M RIGHT,
THAT MANET'S PAINTING IS SORT OF
A SIGNIFIER OF THE SEXUALISATION
OF THE HIGH HEEL, MY THEORY IS
BORNE OUT BY THE CREATION OF
FETISH SHOES, WHICH APPEAR FOR
THE FIRST TIME AT THE END OF THE
19th CENTURY.

A picture shows a black shoe with white frills, a pointy tip, and a very tall heel.

Elizabeth continues SO YOU CAN ACTUALLY SEE THIS
PROGRESSION TO WHERE SHOES ARE
NOW FINDING REAL SIGNIFICANCE
WITHIN THE SEXUAL ARENA AND
FETISH WEAR, LIKE, LIKE THIS
PIECE HERE, WHICH IS IN ROMA,
FRANCE, IS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE
OF THE KIND OF FETISH HIGH HEEL
THAT BECOMES VERY, VERY
IMPORTANT AND POPULAR AT THE
TURN OF THE CENTURY.
NOW GETTING BACK TO THINGS THAT
WERE NOT CONSIDERED SEXY, AS
WOMEN BECAME INCREASINGLY VOCAL
IN THEIR DEMAND FOR PARTICULARLY
THE RIGHT TO VOTE, ONE OF THE
COMMENTS THAT WAS USED TO
COUNTER THEIR REQUESTS WAS THAT
IF YOU GIVE WOMEN THE RIGHT TO
VOTE, THEY WILL SIMPLY BECOME
MEN.
AND THERE WERE LOTS AND LOTS AND
LOTS OF COMICS, LOTS OF
EDITORIALS ABOUT HOW WOMEN WITH
THE RIGHT TO VOTE ARE NO LONGER WOMEN.

A very old black and white picture shows a woman riding a scooter. She's wearing tall boots with low heels, and a black dress.

Elizabeth continues AND SUFFRAGETTES AND OTHER
ACTIVISTS BEGAN TO REALISE THAT
FASHION WAS GOING TO WORK FOR
THEM, INSTEAD OF AGAINST THEM,
IF THEY COULD USE IT IN THE
RIGHT WAY.
SO SUFFRAGETTES BEGAN TO PUT OUT
CALLS THAT WHEN THEY WERE GOING
TO DO MARCHES, THAT THEY SHOULD
WEAR THEIR BEST CLOTHES.
AND INVARIABLY THEY MARCHED ON
THE STREETS, ASKING FOR THE
RIGHT TO VOTE IN HIGH HEELS.
BECAUSE HIGH HEELS WERE NOW A
PERFECT SIGNIFIER OF FEMININITY.
AND IT WAS A WONDERFUL WAY OF
COUNTERING ANY CLAIMS TO THEIR
LACK OF FEMININITY.
THEY MARCHED ON THE STREET OR
ENGAGED IN PREVIOUSLY MEN'S
KINDS OF ACTIVITIES, LIKE SPEED,
BY WEARING HIGH HEELS.
THEY EVEN PLAYED TENNIS IN HIGH-
HEELED SNEAKERS.

A picture shows white heeled tennis shoes.

Elizabeth continues HOWEVER, NOT ALL HEELED SHOES
WERE ULTIMATELY CONSIDERED SEXY.
AND THIS BECOMES A HUGE ISSUE
FOR THE NEW WOMAN AFTER WORLD
WAR I.
THE NEW WOMAN CONSIDERED HERSELF
TO BE IN OPPOSITION TO THE,
QUOTE UNQUOTE, FIGHTING
FEMINISTS OF THE PRE-WORLD WAR
MOMENT.
AND IN ORDER TO DIFFERENTIATE
THEMSELVES FROM THOSE PRE-WAR
FIGHTING FEMINISTS, THEY TURNED,
AGAIN, TO THE HIGH HEEL.
TO QUOTE A WRITER FROM THE TIME,
SHE, IN DESCRIBING THE WOMAN OF
THE POST, SORRY, THE PRE-WORLD
WAR I ERA, SHE WROTE, THE OLD
SCHOOL FIGHTING FEMINISTS WHO
WORE FLAT HEELS AND HAD VERY
LITTLE FEMININE CHARM.
SO FEMININE CHARM AND HIGH HEELS
SOMEHOW CONNECTED AT THIS POINT.
AND THE FLAPPERS, WHICH IS VERY
MUCH A YOUTH MOVEMENT, BECOME
CONCERNED WITH PUSHING -- IT'S
A, IT'S A POST-FEMINIST MOMENT.
AND THEY BEGIN TO SORT OF PROVE
THAT THEY AREN'T THOSE DESEXED
FIGHTING FEMINISTS, THEY ARE, IN
FACT, VERY SEXUALLY ACTIVE, SO
MUCH SO THAT IT WAS QUITE SCANDALOUS.

A drawing shows a slim woman wearing a short white skirt and black heeled shoes.

Elizabeth continues THEY ROLLED DOWN THEIR STOCKINGS
AND ROUGED THEIR KNEES TO
SUGGEST THAT THEY HAD RECENTLY
BEEN IN A SOMEWHAT COMPROMISING
SEXUAL POSITION.
THEY WORE EXCESSIVELY HIGH HEELS
AND, AT THE SAME TIME, HOWEVER,
REFERENCED MALE FASHION.
IT WAS AN INTERESTING SORT OF
JUXTAPOSITION BETWEEN FASHION --
FEMALE SEXUALITY AND MASCULINE
PRIVILEGE THAT WAS BEING BORNE
OUT BY FLAPPER STYLE.
BUT ULTIMATELY, THE MOST
SHOCKING ASPECTS OF FLAPPER
STYLE, IN PARTICULAR THE HIGH
HEEL, BECOMES NORMATIVE FOR,
QUOTE UNQUOTE, NORMAL WOMEN AT
THE END OF THE 1920s.

A picture shows black and white heeled shoes with a striped pattern and a thin strap.

Elizabeth continues THAT'S JUST A GREAT PAIR OF SHOES.
LOOKS LIKE THEY'RE FROM THAT PICTURE.
(Laughing)
ALSO THERE IS THIS REALLY STRONG
CONTINUATION IN PORNOGRAPHY OF
SHOWING WOMEN IN ONLY THEIR HIGH
HEELS.
AND SO I HOPE I'M NOT OFFENDING
ANYBODY BY SHOWING THIS PICTURE,
BUT YOU CAN SEE THAT SOMEHOW, AT
THIS POINT, THE HIGH HEEL IN
THIS SITUATION HAS BECOME
NATURALISED.
YOU DON'T EVEN QUESTION THAT
SHE'S COMPLETELY NAKED EXCEPT
FOR WEARING A NECKLACE AND SOME
SHOES.
NOW ONE OF THE THINGS THAT IS
INTERESTING TO CONSIDER IS WHAT
HAPPENS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE
CENTURY.
IN THE 1930s, WOMEN CONTINUE TO
WEAR HIGH HEELS, BUT A NEW FORM
OF FOOTWEAR, THE PLATFORM, WAS
COMING INTO FASHION.
THIS IS ACTUALLY VOGUE
MAGAZINE IMAGE AND YOU CAN SEE,
THE WOMAN HAS ON LUCITE
PLATFORMS.

A picture shows a woman wearing a translucent dress and tall transparent platforms.

Elizabeth continues NOW WOMEN, THESE WERE, THESE
WERE PROMOTED IN FASHION, THESE
WERE PROMOTED IN CINEMA, BUT
THEY WERE NEVER PROMOTED IN
EROTICA.

Another picture shows a woman in a white dress wearing platform sandals.

Elizabeth continues YOU CAN FIND SOME PINUPS OF
GIRLS AT THE BEACH WEARING SOME
PLATFORMS.
BUT PLATFORMS BEGAN THEIR LIFE
AS A KIND OF BEACHWEAR AND THEN
MORPHED INTO AN IMPORTANT
FASHION STATEMENT.
AND I FIND THAT REALLY
INTERESTING, THAT, THAT WOMEN
ARE WEARING PLATFORMS, FASHION'S
PROMOTING PLATFORMS, HOLLYWOOD'S
PROMOTING PLATFORMS, BUT EROTICA
SURE ISN'T PROMOTING PLATFORMS.
IN FACT, THIS IDEA OF THE
SEXUALISATION OF THE HIGH HEEL
IS NOW SO FIRMLY ESTABLISHED
THAT EVEN THE PLATFORM ISN'T
ABLE TO SORT OF WIGGLE ITS WAY IN.
THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT THE HIGH HEEL
THAT NOW REALLY DOES SYMBOLISE
SEXUALITY.
AND -- OR MAYBE MORE
IMPORTANTLY, DESIRABILITY.
VARGAS STARTED OUT ILLUSTRATING
FOR THE
ESQUIRE
MAGAZINE,
HE ACTUALLY DIDN'T START OUT
THERE, BUT HE WAS IN THE LATE
'30s AND EARLY '40s ILLUSTRATING
FOR THE
ESQUIRE
MAGAZINE,
WHICH WAS A MEN'S ONLY MAGAZINE.
THEN HIS IMAGES BECAME IMPORTANT
PINUPS FOR WORLD WAR II
SOLDIERS.
AND ANOTHER POINT OF INTEREST IS
TO CONTRAST WORLD WAR II
PROPAGANDA.
WHAT WAS USED, WHAT KINDS OF
IMAGES OF WOMEN WERE USED TO
MOTIVATE THE MEN, FROM WHAT
KINDS OF IMAGES WERE USED TO
MOTIVATE THE WOMEN?
WELL, VARGAS GIRL CLEARLY
INDICATES WHAT KIND OF IMAGE WAS
BEING USED TO MOTIVATE THE MEN,
THIS IS THE KIND OF IMAGE THAT
WAS DONE ON NOSE ART, BOMBER
PLANES WERE PAINTED WITH VARGAS
GIRLS.
WHEREAS WOMEN AT HOME, THE ONLY
THING THAT RESEMBLES A STILETTO
IS THE DRILL BIT.

A pin-up style painting shows a frowning woman drilling a hole into a machine.

Elizabeth continues EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT THIS
PICTURE IS ABOUT NOT, ABOUT THE
IRRATIONALITY OF FASHION, IT'S
ABOUT PRACTICALITY.
IT'S ABOUT DOING A JOB AND I
JUST HAPPEN TO HAVE THIS IMAGE
HERE, BUT THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF
W, OF WORLD WAR II POSTERS THAT
SHOW WOMEN IN LACE-UP OXFORDS
AND SADDLE SHOES, WORKING HARD,
DOING THEIR WORK AND I FIND IT
INTERESTING THAT THIS IMAGE
WASN'T PAINTED ON THE FRONTS OF
FIGHTERS JETS.
SO THIS WAS MEANT TO MOTIVATE
ONE GROUP, THE WOMEN AND THE
OTHER WAS MEANT TO MOTIVATE THE
MEN.
SO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE BOYS
RETURN?

A picture shows platform shoes made of a material resembling knitted rope.

Elizabeth continues OH, THAT'S THE KIND OF PLATFORM
WOMEN WERE WEARING DURING THE...
WHEN THE BOYS WERE AWAY, THEY
WERE WEARING PLATFORMS.
SO WHEN THE BOYS GET BACK,
FASHION CHANGES.
AND ONCE AGAIN, THE 18th
CENTURY, TURN OF THE 19th
CENTURY IS REVISITED IN FASHION.
CORSETED SHAPES COME IN AND THE
HIGH HEEL IS BACK.

A detail of a black and white picture shows a woman wearing a medium length black skirt and white heeled shoes very similar to modern day heels.

Elizabeth continues AND THE HIGH HEEL BRINGS THE
WOMEN WHO HAD MOST RECENTLY BEEN
RIVETING AND BUILDING
AMMUNITIONS BACK INTO ALIGNMENT,
OR MAYBE EVEN FOR THE FIRST
TIME, INTO ALIGNMENT WITH THOSE
FANTASIES THAT HAD BEEN USED TO
SUSTAIN MEN'S SPIRITS OVERSEAS.
SO YOU END UP HAVING SORT OF THE
VARGASISATION OF WOMEN IN THE
'50s, BUT IT'S A KIND OF
DOMESTICATED VARGAS GIRL.
IN FACT, IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE
THAT IN 1950, DISNEY RELEASES
CINDERELLA.

A picture shows a pair of black stilettos.

Elizabeth continues THERE'S YOUR CLASSIC STILETTO.
THIS IS ACTUALLY THE FIRST TIME
THE STILETTO IS INVENTED AND ONE
OF THE THINGS THAT'S INTERESTING
IS IF YOU GO THROUGH AND YOU
LOOK AT PINUPS FROM THE PRE-
WORLD WAR II ERA, MANY, MANY,
MANY PINUPS ARE WEARING
STILETTOS.
BUT THE STILETTO HADN'T BEEN
INVENTED YET.
IT WAS A FANTASY.

A pin-up poster in pastel tones shows a woman wearing blue stilettos.

Elizabeth continues IT WASN'T UNTIL AFTER WORLD WAR
II THAT WORLD WAR II TECHNOLOGY
AND THE EXTRUSION OF VERY, VERY
THIN PIECES OF METAL WERE ALLOW
ALLOWED THE, THE SHOE TO
SUSTAIN THE WEIGHT OF A, OF A
WOMAN WITHOUT CRACKING AT SUCH A
HIGH, SOARING HEIGHT.
THE OTHER THING, TOO, THAT
BEGINS TO HAPPEN IN THE '50s IS
THAT THIS IMAGE OF THE
IRRATIONAL DESTABILISED WOMAN
COMES BACK WITH A VENGEANCE.
MANY, MANY, MANY POPULAR CULTURE
IMAGES OF WOMEN TEETERING ALONG,
UNSTABLE ON THEIR TIPPY
STILETTOS BECOMES VERY, VERY
POPULAR.
THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF CARTOONS
IN
PLAYBOY
ABOUT THIS, IN
FACT,
PLAYBOY
COMES OUT AT
THIS TIME.

Another pinup style poster shows a woman on a picnic mat wearing white stilettos and lifting her skirt as she makes a mischievous pouting face.

Elizabeth continues AND PINUP ART REFLECTS THESE
CULTURAL TRENDS.
THE REASON I CHOSE THIS
PARTICULAR IMAGE WAS, NUMBER
ONE, FOR THE STILETTOS, OF
COURSE, BUT ALSO, LOOK AT THE
LOOK ON HER FACE.
I'M ALSO GOING TO ARGUE THAT
PINUP RENDITIONS OF FEMININITY
BEGIN TO BECOME MORPHED WITH
FASHION IDEAS OF FEMININITY.
AND THAT EXPRESSION OF THE, I'VE
JUST BEEN HIT ON THE HEAD IS
SOMETHING WE SEE OVER AND OVER
AND OVER AGAIN IN FASHION ADS
TODAY.

Now a black and white picture shows a woman in a long gown revealing her leg as she looks at her stilettos.

Elizabeth continues IN FACT, THIS IMAGE IS A FASHION
AD FOR A PAIR OF STILETTOS
CREATED BY BETH LEVINE, ONE OF
THE MOST IMPORTANT AMERICAN SHOE
DESIGNERS.
AND WHAT'S INTERESTING IS THAT
YOU HAVE NOW IN THE '50s, YOU
HAVE
PLAYBOY,
CENTREFOLDS,
NAKED BUT WITH THEIR HIGH HEELS,
PINUPS ARE NOW COMPLETELY
NATURAL IF THEY'RE NAKED BUT IN
THEIR HIGH HEELS, AND
ADVERTISEMENTS FOR WOMEN'S
FASHION ARE COMING INTO
ALIGNMENT WITH ALSO THESE IDEAS
OF THE... OF THE SEXUALISATION
OF THE HIGH HEEL, THE BEDROOM
MEANING AND I WOULD ARGUE THAT
THE HIGH HEEL CONTINUES TO BE
ONE OF THESE PIECES OF CLOTHING
THAT NOW IS SO MUCH BEING LINKED
TO UNDERWEAR, BUT IT'S THE THING
THAT YOU PUT ON YOUR CLOTHES
OVER YOUR UNDERWEAR WHEN YOU GO
OUTSIDE, BUT EVERYBODY CAN STILL
SEE THE LINGERIE WHICH IS YOUR
SHOES.
AND SO THE HIGH HEEL HAS NOW A
SEXUAL MEANING AS WE HEAD OUT OF
DOORS.

A picture shows a pair of red stilettos.

Elizabeth continues THESE ARE A PAIR OF STILETTOS
DESIGNED BY BETH LEVINE FOR
MARILYN MONROE.
ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE TIPPY,
VOLUPTUOUS FEMALES WHO WAS SO
POPULAR IN THE '50s.
WHEN THE '60s HIT, HIGH HEELS WENT OUT.
HIGH HEELS BECAME TOO GROWNUP,
IT WAS NOT SOMETHING THAT THE
YOUNGER CROWD WANTED TO WEAR, IT
WASN'T MOD AND ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT WAS PART OF THE '60s YOUTH
MOVEMENT WAS THIS IDEA OF YOUTH.
AND SO A LOT OF LITTLE GIRL FASHIONS
COME IN.
IF YOU THINK OF TWIGGY WITH HER
BIG EYES AND HER EYESHADOW AND
HER SHORT LITTLE SKIRTS, WEARING
MARY JANES, THERE WAS THIS
ATTEMPT TO LOOK LIKE
PREPUBESCENT -- LIKE SIX-YEAR-
OLDS AND IT WAS KIND OF THE
STYLE AND STILETTOS REALLY
DIDN'T FIT INTO THIS, BECAUSE
THE STILETTO WAS TOO SEXUALISED.
IN FACT, THE STILETTO OR THE
HIGH HEEL HAD GONE OUT OF
FASHION FOR LITTLE GIRLS AT THE
TURN OF THE 20th CENTURY.

A picture shows a shoe painted as a race car, with a very low heel.

Elizabeth continues IT WAS PERFECTLY FINE FOR THE
LITTLE GIRLS TO WEAR IT BEFORE
THEN, BUT BECOMES INAPPROPRIATE
WHEN THE HIGH HEEL BECOMES SO
POWERFUL IN PORNOGRAPHY AND IN
FETISH WEAR.
THE OTHER THING THAT CANNOT BE
IGNORED IS MEN'S ATTEMPT AT
WEARING HIGH HEELS IN THE '70s.

[Laughter]

A picture shows tall silver boots with platforms and tall wooden heels.

Elizabeth continues WHEN
MEN WORE HIGH HEELS, I FIND THIS
ACTUALLY REALLY FASCINATING.
WE HAVE THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT,
BACK TO NATURE MOVEMENT AND THE
SEXUAL REVOLUTION ALL GOING ON
AND ALL OF THESE IN FASHION ARE
SOMEHOW, THE SAME STORY GETS
TOLD OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
THE HIPPIE BACK TO NATURISTS,
WELL, WHAT'S THE IDEAL WOMEN IN
THAT SCENARIO?
BAREFOOT AND PREGNANT ON A
COMMUNE.
YOU COULDN'T ACTUALLY HAVE A
MORE TRADITIONAL VIEW OF
FEMININE BEHAVIOUR THAN THAT.
AND FOR THE DISCO LOOK, IT WAS
ABOUT NO SPRINGS -- NO STRINGS
ATTACHED, FREE SEXUAL ACTIVITY,
IT WAS SORT OF PATTERNED ON
MASCULINE FANTASY.
AND SO, HOW DO MEN WEARING HIGH
HEELS, HOW DOES THIS FIT IN?
WELL, IF YOU THINK ABOUT THE
PEOPLE WHO FIRST START WEARING
HIGH HEELS, IT'S A TOP-DOWN KIND
OF TREND.
IT'S SOMETHING THAT ROCK STARS
ARE DOING, THIS IS, THESE ARE
ELTON JOHN'S.
AND ELTON JOHN, KISS, DAVID
BOWIE, EACH OF THEM ARE USING
HIGH HEELS IN A SLIGHTLY
DIFFERENT WAY, BUT AT NO TIME IN
THE '70s DO I BELIEVE MEN EVER
ENGAGED IN WEARING UNISEX
FASHION.
AT NO TIME DID THEY EMBRACE THE
FEMININE IN THE HIGH HEEL.
WHAT THEY DID WHEN THEY WORE
THESE PLATFORMS WAS THEY WERE
ROCK STARS AND ROCK STARS GET
LOTS OF CHICKS.
AND SO IT WAS A WAY OF
REAFFIRMING THEIR MASCULINITY
THROUGH CAMP.
THERE WAS A TRADITION IN WESTERN
CULTURE, THERE IS A TRADITION IN
WESTERN CULTURE, THE HARPOON
LAMPOON -- THE HARVARD LAMPOON
CLUB IS A GOOD EXAMPLE, OF THE
PARODYING OF WOMEN'S FASHION TO
ASSERT ONE'S MASCULINITY AND I
WOULD ARGUE THAT THAT'S EXACTLY
WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE.
AND THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF IT IS
LOOKING AT SUPERFLY.
IF YOU LOOK AT SUPERFLY FASHION
IN THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN
COMMUNITY, A COMMUNITY THAT HAD
JUST RECENTLY, JUST POST CIVIL
RIGHTS ERA, PEOPLE WHO -- MEN,
WHO HAD TRADITIONALLY BEEN NOT
BEEN ALLOWED TO WALK DOWN THE
SIDEWALK, HAD TO STAND TO THE
SIDE WHEN THEY SAW A WHITE MAN
COMING, WERE NOW STRUTTING DOWN
THE SIDEWALK.
AND THEY WERE DOING IT AS PIMPS.
AND THEY WERE EMBRACING A KIND
OF PIMP FASHION THAT WAS
IMMEDIATELY STEREOTYPED AND MADE
CURRENT IN THE MEDIA.
BUT WHAT THIS STEREOTYPE TELLS
YOU IS NOT THEY'RE WALKING DOWN
THE STREET LIKE WOMEN, THEY'RE
NOT TOTTERING ALONG, THEY ARE
TAKING UP SPACE, THEY'RE TAKING
UP THE SIDEWALK AND INVARIABLY,
THEY ARE OWNERS OF WOMEN'S
SEXUAL COMMODITY.
THEY HAVE MANY WOMEN AROUND
THEM, AND WHAT BETTER WAY TO
AFFIRM HOW MASCULINE YOU ARE
THAN WHAT YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER?
AND SO I FIND THE USE OF THE
HIGH HEEL WITHIN THE AFRICAN
COMMUNITY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN
COMMUNITY AND THEN STEREOTYPED
AND ULTIMATELY ENDING UP IN
DISCO, THINK OF JOHN TRAVOLTA,
HE IS NOT BEING A GIRLIE MAN, HE
IS, HE IS PROCLAIMING HIS
MASCULINITY THROUGH, IN PART,
HIS HIGH HEELS.
ONE OF THE MOST IRONIC PICTURES
I CAN THINK OF OF THE TIME
PERIOD IS FROM THE BOSTON RACE
RIOTS, WHERE THERE'S A MAN
COMPLETELY DRESSED UP IN
AFRICAN-AMERICAN INFLUENCE
CLOTHING, A WHITE GUY, RIGHT
DOWN TO HIS HIGH HEELS, KICKING
A BLACK STUDENT WHO HAD FALLEN.

A picture shows a high-heeled platform leather boot with a pattern of stars and stripes.

Elizabeth continues THERE'S AN EXAMPLE OF SOMEBODY
IN TORONTO WHO WORE THESE SHOES
IN THE '70s AND HE, UH, HE SAID
HE GOT IN LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS
OF FIGHTS IN 'EM.

[Laughter]

Elizabeth continues NOT
BECAUSE THEY WERE GIRLIE,
BECAUSE HE WAS TOUGH.
AND DISCO, IT'S INTERESTING THAT
WHEN DISCO COMES BACK -- COMES
INTO FASHION, REMEMBER, WOMEN
HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN WEARING THE
FLAT LITTLE MARY JANES AND ALL
THAT '60s KIND OF LITTLE GIRL
STYLE, THE STILETTO COMES BACK
WITH A VENGEANCE IN THE DISCO
ERA AND IT IS, IT'S A STYLE THAT
IS INTIMATELY CONNECTED TO THESE
IDEALS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION.

A picture shows golden high-heeled sandals.

Elizabeth continues AND FOR THE FIRST TIME, BLATANT
REFERENCES TO PORNOGRAPHY ARE
USED IN FASHION, TO PROMOTE
FASHIONS SUCH AS THESE HIGH
HEELS.

Now a picture from a magazine shows a woman in a short black skirt, a black blazer, and black pumps.

Elizabeth continues IN THE '80s -- WE'RE GONNA GET
THERE -- THE POWER SUIT COMES
IN, WOMEN, MEN, COMPLETELY
ABANDON THE HIGH HEEL, THE MEN
USING THE HIGH HEEL FOR MAKING
SOME KIND OF SOCIAL STATEMENT OR
JUST HAVING FUN LASTS OF REALLY
SHORT PERIOD OF TIME.
THEY ABANDON IT, TAKE UP THE BROGUE,
MAYBE THEY WEAR A STATUS SNEAKER
FROM TIME TO TIME, BUT THEY'RE
NOT GETTING THEIR STATUS OR
GENDER IDENTIFICATION FROM THE
HIGH HEEL ANYMORE.
AND WOMEN BEGIN TO ENTER INTO
THE WORKPLACE, THE DRESS FOR
SUCCESS PEOPLE TELL THEM, WEAR
BASICALLY A MASCULINE TYPE OF
ATTIRE, BUT MAKE SURE YOU HAVE
SOME FEMININE DETAIL, SUCH AS A
SKIRT AND PUMPS.
FASHION TELLS THEM, THAT'S RIGHT, BORROW
FROM THE MAN'S WARDROBE, BUT
SEXY IT UP A BIT, GIVE YOURSELF
A MINISKIRT AND GIVE YOURSELF
SOME STILETTOS.
IT'S INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT AT
THIS TIME, VICTORIA'S SECRET
BECOMES IMPORTANT, AT LEAST IN
THE UNITED STATES AND VICTORIA'S
SECRET WAS VERY, VERY REFLECTIVE
OF 19th CENTURY IDEAS OF THE
COURTESAN, 19th CENTURY IDEAS OF
FETISHISATION AND SUGGESTING
THAT UN -- AND IF ANY OF YOU
HAVE SEEN THE VICTORIA'S SECRET
CATALOGUE, YOU KNOW THAT
INVARIABLY THOSE GIRLS ARE CLAD
IN SEXY UNDERWEAR AND HIGH
HEELS.
SO IMAGINE A WOMAN SUCH AS THIS
WALKING INTO THE COURTROOM IN
TOWERING STILETTOS.
AT THIS POINT, I WOULD ARGUE,
THOSE STILETTOS CANNOT BE
DIVORCED ANYMORE FROM THE
SUGGESTIONS OF WHAT SHE HAS
UNDERNEATH.
THE STILETTO NOW HAS SUCH STRONG
SEXUAL MEANING AND IT CAN BE
DESTABILISING, OR FOR SOME
WOMEN, THEY BELIEVE IT IS
EMPOWERING.

A picture shows a black pump with a red heel.

Elizabeth continues THAT'S AN EXAMPLE OF AN YVES ST.
LAURENT 1980s PUMP, TO BE WORN
WITH POWER SUIT.
BUT FOR MOST WOMEN TRYING TO
NAVIGATE THIS WORKPLACE
ENVIRONMENT, IT WAS THE LOW
HEEL, THESE WERE WORN BY DIANA,
PRINCESS DIANA.

A picture shows low-heeled pale blue pumps.

Elizabeth continues AND IT WAS THE LOW HEELS THAT
INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, GRRL
CULTURE IN THE '90s DECIDED WERE
REALLY WRONG.
SO NOW WE COME UP TO
CONTEMPORARY TIMES, BASICALLY,
WE ARE IN THE '90s.
AND ONCE AGAIN, THESE SAME
THINGS THAT I HAVE BEEN HEARING
OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN AS
I'M DOING MY READING COME TO THE
FORE.
YOU HAVE GRRL CULTURE BECOMES
REALLY IMPORTANT, G-R-R-L AND
WHAT THEY DO IS THEY BEGIN TO
FEEL THAT THE DESEXED,
DEFEMINISED, OLD FIGHTING
FEMINISTS WORE LOW HEELS AND
WERE -- LACKED FEMININE CHARM.
YOU HEARD THAT QUOTE BEFORE, IT
WAS FROM THE NEW WOMAN IN THE
POST WORLD WAR I ERA.
AND TO QUOTE A, A GRRL, IN FACT,
SHE'S THE EDITOR OF BUST
MAGAZINE, THE MAGAZINE FOR WOMEN
WHO HAVE SOMETHING ON THEIR
CHESTS, SAYS, "FROM LIPSTICK
LESBIANS TO ROUGE-WEARING RIOT
GIRLS, TODAY'S VAMPY VISIONARIES
BELIEVE THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO
MAKE A FEMINIST STATEMENT
WITHOUT RESORTING TO WEARING
BIRKENSTOCKS 24-7."
I FIND THAT INTERESTING THAT
THEY FEEL THAT SOMEHOW THEY CAN
MAKE A FEMINIST STATEMENT USING
THE LANGUAGE OF THE HIGH HEEL.
AND THEY OFTEN POINT TO MADONNA,
THESE ARE A PAIR OF MADONNA'S
FROM 1985.

A picture shows red high-heeled platform sandals with a pattern of stars made of rhinestones.

Elizabeth continues AGAIN QUOTING FROM DEBBIE
STOLLER, ON MADONNA, "SHE
DRESSED LIKE A SEX OBJECT, BUT
ACTED LIKE A SEX SUBJECT.
MADONNA SUGGESTED THAT THE
TRAPPINGS OF FEMININITY COULD BE
USED TO MAKE A SOCIAL STATEMENT
THAT WAS POWERFUL RATHER THAN
PASSIVE."
NOW I FIND THIS VERY INTERESTING
AND I KNOW THAT A LOT OF CURRENT
SCHOLARSHIP IS LOOKING AT
WOMEN'S USE OF FASHION TO SEE,
NOT TO STAND BACK AT SIMPLY LOOK
AT IT FROM A PATRIARCHAL -- LOOK
AT IT WITHIN THE PATRIARCHAL
STRUCTURE, BUT TO LOOK WITHIN IT
AND SEE HOW HOMOSOCIAL DESIRE,
HOMOSOCIAL COMPETITION, ALL OF
THESE THINGS HAVE BEEN
ARTICULATED THROUGH FASHION.
BUT WHAT I FIND MOST INTERESTING
ABOUT THIS IS THAT, AND IN DOING
SO, THEY ARE REJECTING A
PATRIARCHAL MODEL.
I DON'T FEEL THAT THOSE TWO
THINGS ARE EXCLUSIVELY AGAINST
ONE ANOTHER.
I FEEL THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY DO
BOTH THINGS.
BUT I WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT IS
ABOUT THIS NEW IDEA OF SEX THAT
HAS BECOME SUCH A POWER
STATEMENT FOR TODAY'S WOMEN.
FOR EXAMPLE, VICTORIA'S SECRET
LOST ITS BOUDOIR, BORDELLO LOOK
AND NOW THEY SELL STRIPPER G-
STRINGS.
THE G-STRING THAT YOU DON'T WANT
YOUR DAUGHTER TO WEAR IS, COMES
FROM STRIPPER CULTURE.
MANY, MANY DOCTORAL STUDENTS NOW
ARE BECOMING STRIPPERS TO
EXPLORE THE POWER OF BEING A
STRIPPER.
AND YOU CAN GET MANY T-SHIRTS
FOR TEENAGERS THAT SAY THINGS
LIKE "PORN STAR."
THERE IS ALSO PIMP CULTURE,
WHICH CANNOT BE DENIED.
THINK OF SNOOP DOGGY DOGG.
THINK OF ALL OF THE MTV VIDEOS
THAT YOU SEE.
PIMPING IS THE NEW POWER.
BUT PIMPING, WHICH IS MARKETED AND
YOU CAN READ PEOPLE SAYING THESE
THINGS, IT'S ABOUT BEING IN
CONTROL OF WHAT IT IS YOU'RE
SELLING.
BUT WHEN IT'S YOUR OWN SEXUAL
COMMODIFICATION, I STILL
QUESTION WHERE THAT POWER IS.
BUT IN SUMMING UP, HOW DOES THIS
BRING ME BACK TO THE HIGH HEEL?
WELL, WHAT I HOPE YOU REALISE FROM
THIS TALK OR ARE CONVINCED BY,
BY MY TALK, IS THAT THE HIGH
HEEL REMAINS...

Now a picture shows black and silver shoes with extremely tall platforms and heels.

Elizabeth continues I SHOULD HAVE TALKED ABOUT
THOSE, BUT, OH, ACTUALLY, THE
WHOLE IDEA FOR THIS TALK CAME
FROM THIS PAIR OF SHOES.

[Laughter]

Elizabeth continues I WAS
DOING, I WAS GIVING AN INTERVIEW
AND THIS -- TO A FASHION PERSON
AND SHE CAME DOWN INTO STORAGE
AND SHE SAW THESE SHOES AND SHE
SAID, ARE THOSE VERSACE?
I WAS LIKE, NO, THEY'RE
STREETWALKER SHOES.
AND I REALISED HOW CLOSE, HOW
SYMBIOTIC THIS RELATIONSHIP WAS
BETWEEN CURRENT FASHION
STATEMENTS AND THE SEX TRADE.
AND SO I BEGAN TO TRY TO FIND
OUT WHY, WHY, WHY.
NOW I'LL END WITH MANOLO
BLAHNIKS, SINCE EVERYBODY KNOWS
MANOLO BLAHNIK.

A picture shows a high-heeled golden sandal.

Elizabeth continues SO IN CONCLUDING, MY POINT IS IS
THAT YOU SEE THIS, AND YOU SAW,
SEXY SHOE.
COST A LOT OF MONEY.
THAT'S A HIGH STATUS SHOE.
THAT'S ONE OF THEM LIMOUSINE
SHOES.
AND THAT COULD BE THE END OF
YOUR CONCEPT OR THINKING ABOUT
THIS PAIR OF -- THIS PARTICULAR
SHOE.
BUT STEP BACK AND PRETEND YOU'RE
AN ALIEN FROM OUTER SPACE.
THERE'S NOTHING NATURAL ABOUT
THIS!
THERE IS NO MEANING IN THIS
ARTEFACT.
I THINK THAT WHEN PEOPLE SAY
WOMEN LOVE HIGH HEELS BECAUSE
THEY ALL LOVE SHOES, THAT'S BACK
TO THE WOMEN BEING IRRATIONAL
STORY WE'VE HEARD SINCE THE DAWN
OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT.
OR, WELL, IT'S THE INTRINSIC,
ESSENTIAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL,
PHALLIC NATURE OF HIGH HEELS
THAT MAKE IT, MAKE WOMEN LOVE
THEM.
WELL, FIRST OF ALL, IT WASN'T
JUST A WOMEN'S FASHION, IT
STARTED OUT AS MEN AND SECOND OF
ALL, IF THIS WAS ESSENTIAL, I
WOULD BELIEVE EVERY CULTURE ON
EARTH WOULD HAVE A HIGH HEEL.
THIS MEANS THAT THE HIGH HEEL IS
AN ARTIFICE, IT IS A --
SOMETHING THAT IS CAPABLE OF
HAVING MUTABLE MEANINGS.
IN TODAY'S WORLD, WE CAN WEAR
STATUS SNEAKERS, I CAN SPEND
700 dollars ON A PAIR OF REALLY
COMFORTABLE SHOES.
I DON'T HAVE TO SPEND 700 dollars TO HAVE THIS.
YET STILL I PERSIST.
WE ALL, ALL THE WOMEN HERE
INVARIABLY, PROBABLY STILL WEAR
HIGH HEELS.
I THINK THAT IF HISTORY GIVES US
ANY INSIGHT, THE HIGH HEEL WILL
CONTINUE TO BE WITH US.
YOU KNOW, THERE WAS THAT MOMENT WHEN
WE THOUGHT 9-11, NO WAY WE WERE
GONNA WEAR STILETTOS EVER AGAIN,
THAT WAS THE BIG NEWS!
WELL, WE KNOW THAT THAT DIDN'T
HAPPEN.
SO I THINK THAT THE STILETTO,
THE HIGH HEEL, WILL CONTINUE TO
HAVE MEANING.
BUT I ALSO THINK THAT BECAUSE
ITS MEANING IS MUTABLE, BECAUSE
IT IS SIMPLY AN ARTIFICE, WE
MIGHT SEE MEN IN STILETTOS AT
SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE, WE
DON'T KNOW.
WE CAN APPLY ANY KIND OF MEANING
TO THESE SHOES AND I THINK
THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS WHY
THEY HAVE BEEN SO ENDURING.
THE END.

[Applause]

Watch: High Style: Cultural Politics and the History of High Heel