These pages are not legal documents. They are not intended to be legal documents.
The main purpose of these pages is to make the idea of going barefoot more accessible to people, especially people like me who have been forced to suffer needlessly in shoes, and who may not realize that there is another option, and also to make people more aware of the needless barriers to going barefoot, in the hopes of effecting change.
It's also a stress reliever for me, an attempt to be more proactive in dealing with these issues, an attempt to have some fun in the middle of all of it.
Some pages have had their links removed. The pages are still there, and will stay there as long as I am with my current web host.
June 22, 2014
Trigger warning for brief mention of criminal abuse (first paragraph).
I was sexually abused as a child. When I tried to talk about this with people who knew my abuser(s), they said I was brainwashed by a therapist or something, because it couldn't possibly be true. Later, when I was diagnosed with autism, they said "So that's what it really was! You weren't abused, you just thought you were because you're autistic!" Huh?
People will go out of their way to discount information they can't deal with. If they find it threatening, they try to make it go away or turn it into something else. Anything other than deal with reality.
More recently, I have been trying to convince people that I go barefoot for medical reasons. I have documentation from my doctor in Vancouver (since retired). But that's not enough! It's never enough! I am required to provide more documentation from someone here in Montreal! More, more, more! But it is very hard to get a doctor here. I am on a waiting list, as well as waiting to see a psychiatrist. So I wait, and wait, and wait, and in the meantime I experience a lot of discrimination. Not fun. But at least the other side doesn't have to deal with my pesky reality for a while longer.
What gets me is that, twice now, people in important (legal) decision-making positions have discounted the very real physical problems I have wearing shoes, and they want me to find an expert to explain why being autistic causes my problems with shoes.
I'm pretty sure non-autistic people would find it torture to be forced to walk on overlapping toes, too. And I'm pretty sure non-autistic people would find it very stressful to have the skin stripped off their heels every time they start wearing a new pair of shoes - bleeding, pain, agony. And I'm pretty sure that non-autistic people would get exhausted and fed up too, if they tried to get custom fit shoes, and those didn't fit, and none of the specialty stores could help, and the last time they replaced footwear it took them six months to find a pair of shoes that wouldn't make their heels bleed, and those shoes didn't fit either (size 8 on size 5 1/2 feet but, hey, at least they could be walked in, with overlapping toes as per usual).
So why are people so intent on blaming autism and "sensory issues"?
Gee, maybe they feel threatened by the idea that shoes are bad for people, and that forcing people to wear shoes in order to go to school, hold down a job, participate in society, is just plain wrong.
I have no idea why people would find this so threatening. I'm autistic and don't fit in no matter what I do, so I have no vested interest in the things people do to show they're "modern", like wear uncomfortable clothes, hobble my feet, remove body hair (can't stand the feel - that's a sensory issue), plaster stuff on my skin, etc. (Not that autistic people don't sometimes do these things - some do for various reasons - it's just that it appears to be less common because we're less likely to care about looking like everyone else.) I do believe in basics like being polite, not going around killing people, not stealing from them etc., but this superficial stuff (yo! if you don't look like us that means we get to bully you!) does nothing for me. Literally. I'd still get bullied anyways.
But also I found shoes torture all those years, and for me finding out you can go barefoot in town was so liberating, I just kind of assumed other people would find it liberating too. You don't have to suffer! Your heels don't have to bleed anymore! You are allowed to able to move your toes when you walk! You can have so much room for your toes you can even put your weight on them, instead of heel striking out of necessity!
Apparently people are so afraid to see that a tradition that is really nothing more than a tradition (not a health or safety issue most of the time) has been hurting people for years for no good reason, that they would rather blame everything but the real problem.
(On the other hand, it's nice if this means that lots of people don't find shoes to be torture. Shoes will still increase the risk of long term problems for these people, but at least they're ok for now.)
I don't know why people are so attached to the idea that shoes could never ever ever do anything wrong, ever, and that I'm mean or deluded for even suggesting it (to paraphrase some conversations I've been in with respect to the subject in the first paragraph). That (my not knowing why) you can blame on autism. I appear to be much less attached to groupthink than the average person, and I think that is one of the advantages of autism. (Yes, there are advantages to autism, both to individuals and to society, if people would only care to notice.) Though you don't need to be autistic to be ornery about the facts, or to be relatively impervious to groupthink, thank goodness.
The real problem isn't autistic sensory issues, or insubordination, or ignorance of social norms. It's shoes.
Let me repeat that: The real problem is shoes.
Shoes are bad for you. They've always been bad for you. Even today, now that shoes are far more ergonomic than they've ever been (some of the time, at least) they're still bad for you. Even when they fit, they're still bad for you. (But obviously they're much worse when they don't fit. Hello bunions, hammer toes, overlapping toes, bleeding heels, etc.)
Don't get me wrong. Footwear is very useful in environments that are difficult or impossible to go barefoot in: sharp rocks; commercial construction sites; deep cold; outer space. So we need more ergonomic footwear for those situations. And they need to fit everyone, not just people with average feet.
And obviously, shoes can be a fashion statement. If you like wearing shoes and want to wear them, that's your call. Go for it! Have fun! You're allowed to drink too much, smoke, and wear tacky clothes that don't let you move, too. It's a free world.
Seriously, if you're going to hurt your feet in shoes, please do it in style, and have fun doing it. Otherwise, why bother?
But don't force it on anyone else. For some of us, for a variety of reasons, shoes are not fun at all. They're torture.
So here I am, unable to take transit for more than two years now, waiting waiting waiting for the chance to get more medical documentation (that still might not be good enough) to maybe fix some of this. And I get people deciding after all this that I go barefoot for "lifestyle" reasons. How can people so completely miss the point?
It seems that once again I find myself marginalized, ignored, dismissed and misunderstood because I consider something to be abusive, and other people don't want to address the issue.
I realize that people don't mean to be abusive. I'm not saying that people are/were mean to me on purpose. I'm just saying this is a tradition that hurts everyone (some far more than others), and it's time for people to figure. it. out., and it's time for it to stop. Now.
It's easy to point fingers at other cultures because of how they harm people unnecessarily (dress codes, genital surgery, fear of outgroups). It's not so easy to see our own as clearly (and we have versions of all of these). This is of those things we need to see more clearly.