There is no doubt about it. High heels are sexy. But why?
It likely has nothing to do with feet and everything to do with the up-turned ass that wearing these shoes creates (see dramatic Disney renditioning of the effect to the right). Called “lordosis”, the posture is a universal signal of sexual readiness (probably something those 17th C. aristocratic dudes didn’t realize when they first adopted the fashion of wearing heels).
Cats do it, rats do it, even elephant seals do it. It’s just that in the animal kingdom, such a stance comes as a spontaneous, hormon-driven response to the touch of a male, as opposed to a wardrobe selection.
According to the authors of the fabulous book, Zoobiquity, here is how it works: a nerve signal triggered by a mounting (or in some cases, gently touching) male sends a message to the female brain. Depending on where the female is in her cycle, levels of sex hormones relay the message to say “assume the position” if the female is receptive or “Clock him one and get the hell outta there” if the female is not so ready.
In cats, the response is really extreme and obvious. So too in rats and horses—a female may even lift her tail out of the way to expose herself. It’s slightly more subtle in cows and primates. And in elephant seals, it takes a keen eye to spot.
In this species, the female rarely outwardly solicits sex from the harem master (and who can blame her? Would you want 5000 lbs of hulking seal bubbler pressing you into the shifting sands?). But closer scrutiny shows she may subtly cue that she is ready by spreading her flippers and raising her rear when he lays a flipper across her back. It’s slight, but it is definitely lordosis.
So, gentlemen attracted to the hot brunette in the six-inch red stilettos can feel in good company with a host of other mammalian males: it is a deep-rooted, primitive evolutionary response.
Which makes me wonder: could we create this effect in other species, too?
In other words, if it were possible to give a little lift to the rear of a female, would an otherwise uninterested male swoop in? Could it help captive breeding programs struggling to get endangered species to mate? What would that look like? Come on designers… chime in.