“Fuck-me shoes, alternatively fuck-me boots, is a slang term for women’s high-heeled shoes that exaggerate a sexual image. The term can be applied to any women’s shoes that are worn with the intention of arousing others. It is sometimes used to imply condemnation against the women who choose to wear them or in a misogynistic fashion toward the women who wear them.
Prominent feminist Germaine Greer brought what had been an “obscure” term to more mainstream notoriety when she used it in 1995. Greer used the term in referring to British journalist Suzanne Moore as having “hair bird’s-nested all over the place, fuck-me shoes and three fat inches of cleavage”. Greer made the remark in response to a column Moore had written about Greer in The Guardian, where Moore had mistakenly repeated an incorrect rumor that Greer had a hysterectomy as a voluntary decision to have herself sterilized. Greer was also quoted during the 1990s as criticizing a number of women writers that she termed “lifestyle feminists” who were, in her view, espousing feminism at nothing more than a superficial level. Church-Gibson identifies Greer as a dominant player in defining an anti-fashion feminist rhetoric.
Moore’s response to Greer was that her fashion choices were dictated by her own tastes and not to please men: “as someone who grew up with punk and Madonna, I take it for granted that women dress to please themselves and not men.” Moore has said her footwear is “not worn just for the benefit of men”, implying that the intention is twofold, to please both her and observers, although she also says “Most of the pleasure [of buying shoes] involves a private fantasy that begins with me and ends at my feet. Men don’t get a look in.”
The incident, and the term, received coverage in British media and beyond, and the term has become associated with Greer in popular culture. Greer had been denouncing stiletto shoes as symbols of women’s subordination as early as 1971.
(The Italian word “stiletto” comes from the Latin stilus, the thin pointed Roman writing instrument used to engrave wax or clay tablets in ancient times. The stiletto began to gain fame during the late Middle Ages, when it was the secondary weapon of knights. The term in plural “stilettos”, is also used as slang for a long, thin, high heel (stiletto heel) for certain boots and shoes.)
The underlying conflict arises from the question of what is considered an appropriate way for women to present their bodies, particularly in public spaces. Feminists are divided on the issue with First wave feminism more likely to condemn certain forms of clothing whilst Second wave feminism began to take a more sex-positive stance and Third wave feminism has largely come to view criticisms of fashion choices to be “slut-shaming”, an action viewed as misogynist, even when coming from other women.”