I was very disturbed reading this one:
In China, for one thousand years, women practiced the custom of binding their feet. Footbinding usually began between the ages of 6 and 9 years. Mothers would first soak their daughter’s feet in warm water, massage them, and trim the toenails. Then, using strips of cloth from four-to-10 feet long, they would begin the two-four-year process of creating a 3-inch foot by bending the four smaller toes under the ball of the foot and then wrapping them tightly under the instep and around the heel.
It was a long, slow, agonizing process. In the best conditions the bandages would be removed every two days, the foot washed, and any blood or infection or putrefying flesh cleaned away. The binding would then be rewound, more tightly, slowly crushing and constricting the bones of the feet. The pain was excruciating, yet the girl would daily be forced to walk on her feet until eventually the bones cracked and broke. Optimum success was achieved when the broken toe bones, for all practical purposes, fused with those on the ball of the foot; when the toes and arch broke and bent so as to meet the heel; and when the arch raised in such a way that it was parallel to the leg.
The “perfect” foot was tiny, slender, deformed and 3 inches in length — 2 1/2 inches if very successful. Approximately 10 percent of the girls whose feet were bound died from infection or gangrene. Naturally a woman was, for all intents and purposes, hobbled, or crippled, for life.
No amount of attempting cultural sensitivity and understanding for this Chinese custom of the past can redeem it from the barbarity that it was. One must conclude that only a fundamentally ill society — one steeped in ignorance, superstition, and profound chauvinism/inequality — could have practiced this custom.
Let us never succomb to similar abuses that betray common sense and decency, such as allowing the transmission of our own society’s abusive and unhealthy oversexualization of the body to our children.