The Science Behind Foot Fetishism

Foot fetishism is nothing new. We can see it in various cultures, communities, and people all over the world have it. Let’s take a deeper look at one of the most common fetishes across the globe. 

What Is a Foot Fetish

Foot fetish, a.k.a podophilia. What is it? In short — people with this paraphilia find feet sexually arousing. Interestingly enough, this is the most common kink, at least when it comes to non-sexual body parts and objects. For some people, the fetish can manifest in different types of ways. They might be into specific sizes and shapes of feet, jewelry, whether toes are painted or not, shoes, socks, and so on.

Those with a foot fetish would want feet to be involved in sex as much as possible. Of course, we should mention that the intensity of fetish can also vary from person to person. For some, it is just increased interest in feet, they find them arousing, and it’s the primary point of attraction. But there are also those who have an intense form of fetish, where they are unable to perform in bed unless they involve feet in it somehow.

The Science Behind It

Throughout history, many scientists tried to explain the reasoning behind fetishes. One of the first to address this subject was Sigmund Freud. Believe it or not, he believed that the foot fetish had to do with the person’s mother (shocking!). According to his theory, a child would be shocked when seeing his mother naked, especially in the absence of a penis. As a result, the child would develop a fixation on parts of the body that looked like a penis. Somehow, he believed that feet look like a penis, and we believe that there is no point in discussing this further for obvious reasons. 

Another researcher, Vilayanur Ramachandran, suggested that the origin of foot fetish is in the way our brains perceive pleasure. He claims that part of the brain that activates when a person is in contact with feet is next to the area of the brain that perceives genital stimulation. 

Whether someone’s brain gets confused or they are looking for penis-shaped objects, the only certainty behind the origin of this kink is kind of anticlimactic — no one knows why people have fetishes.  

Why Do People Have Fetishes?

Why do people love certain music genres? What about movies? There are so many things that attribute to someone having a sexual fetishism. It’s not something that develops overnight, and many people will suggest that we are born with different kinks and interests. 

Psychoanalytic Theories

Once again, we will start with Freud. He thought (and many scientists agreed) in an overarching theory — a person will develop a fetish during an event that occurred during their childhood. It doesn’t have to be anything special or erotic. It’s just something that the circumstances carved in their sub-conscious and will remain with them for the rest of their lives. 

Now, everyone has a different theory, and many people can remember a specific moment in their childhood that was pivotal for their fetish. Needless to say, foot fetish is no different. You can probably find a lot of people remembering the moment when they realized that they found feet erotic and sexual. 

Behavioral Factors

Another theory suggests that the reason behind fetishes can be learning and conditioning. Based on the behavioral factors, it is possible to learn to get sexual pleasure from feet (for example). 

How does this work? In essence, people can learn to like something thanks to their reward system. That includes sexual arousal too. When we talk about the reward, it can be anything. The reward can include physical closeness, intimacy, ejaculation, money, or anything else that someone wants. The entire theory is similar to Pavlov’s Dog and classical conditioning.  

Sexual Instinct

The next thing we should discuss is emotions and hormones. Some scientists believe that hormones are driving us and that they “make” us leave an imprint on objects or items that cause arousal. The theory states that sexual instinct is rather powerful and that it follows inflexible emotions. 

However, this is just another theory that we are yet to prove. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment that brings about the foot fetish — for some, it is an interest; for others, it is so much more. 


Socialization might play an important role in the forming of fetishes across the world. Each community socializes differently, and it might be a contributing factor. The reason why that is important is that some communities might place importance on a specific body part (feet in our example). And the same thing might go for sexual practices. As a result, the community might fetishize a specific act, body part, or anything else. 

The primary problem with this theory is that there are individuals with a certain fetish unique to them. At least when it comes to their community. If there is no one around you with a foot fetish, how can you learn about it through socialization? 

Cultural Factors

The final theory we will discuss is about cultural impact and the effect it might have on the individual when it comes to fetishes. We can safely divide communities into those that are sex-positive and sex-negative. What that means is that the first type will see sex as something fun and enjoyable. It won’t be something under a veil of taboo, and people will be able to express themselves. Scientists suggest that this group is the one that might have more individuals with fetishes. 

While there is no doubt that culture will play a role in forming fetishes, the question is to what extent. Yes, in some cultures, specific body parts are on a higher pedestal, and they might be the object of someone’s desire or even fetish. But fetishes exist in all parts of the world. You don’t need to live in a community where feet are sacred.

In reality, it is more likely that each of the arguments on the list will contribute to the formation of the fetish, and our unique paths and experiences throughout our lives will help us develop a kink of our own. All things considered, the logic behind foot fetish is still a mystery, but is it really important how it occurs? Maybe the point is not to worry about how and why things happen but to enjoy things that make us feel good instead.