The following is an article written for M.A.L.E. It was an invitation to discuss the estranged relationship between black men and their feet. The gentlemen weighed in and I think we found a valid explaination to the great mystery.
I am a big foot hedonist, I love to worship feet and when the praise is reciprocated I lose my mind. I get extensive pedicures just for another chance to have them touched. I truly believe that feet are a great symbol of availability and exposure; thus, I get very turned on when I see men barefoot, wearing sandals or even having their ankles exhibited.
One of life's great mysteries has always been black men and their feet! For some odd reason, they're hidden at every cost. The thought of having them exposed, touched or treated is considered terribly taboo in the black community. Why? Black men's reputations has been tarnished over wearing a pair of sandals in public. (shout out to Jay-Z) I have seen black men walk around pools with their toes bunched up. I have seen thousand degree days and brothas were still rocking Timberlands. Even in the bedroom, some refuse to remove those tacky ass tube socks!
One brother in particular, NudeinDC, wrote a very good comment regarding the matter...
"I don't consider myself as a feet-lover, but still can appreciate the added vulnerability of someone who's barefoot. And yes, sometimes tube socks can have the opposite effect.
Maybe that's the answer though... Maybe brothers feel the same sense of vulnerability and anything coming off as vulnerable is considered too feminine."
It all made sense, black men's relationship with their feet is indicative to his pervading defenses. There is an unwritten code that any sign of vulnerability is strictly prohibited. Smiling, acts of kindness and even wearing sandals can make you a target. Whether the domain is on the streets, the work place or at home, black men have been conditioned to maintain a steely veneer; from head to toe.
In addition, vulnerabilty is considered to be a feminine trait. Enough said. Being raised in a misogynous society, especially in the African American culture, the last thing men want is to be placed in the position of a woman. According to Toddy English, the black man's 'foot shame' develops from having an aversion to all things feminine. Even men with well-maintenanced feet will keep them hidden out of fear that it'll be a confirmation of femininity, to the point of assumptive homosexuality.
"I told a female--online (who never met me)--that I liked wearing sandals. She automatically asked me if I was gay because, and I quote, 'Most straight men don't wear sandals.'"
Fun fact: neurologists have found that the genitals and feet occupy adjacent areas in the somatosensory contex. Thus, the wiring tends to get crossed, resulting in the sexualization of feet. This can explains both foot fetishes and modesty, in the brain, genitials and feet overlap thus sharing the same stimulus. This overlapping also occurs within the social arena, which could explain why its acceptable for woman to display their feet and men it isn't. Woman are encouraged to exhibit their bodies, where men are taught not to. On the other hand, some gay black men that are open with their sexuality have no problem wearing sandals or recieving pedicures.
Overall, I would attribute the veiling of black men's feet to his repression of his feminine side and sexuality. Due to our history and living environments, we are bred to be hard and unwaivering. I think that when black men can embrace their receptive/nurturing side, the foot shame would dissolve. Unless, of course...
"Their feet (the average str8 black man) are CRUSTY and RUSTY! They often have fungus which discolor their toe-nails which they DONT BOTHER TO CUT OR TRIM. Many of them have never removed their cuticles since BIRTH! Wouldn't YOU keep your socks on, too !"