Source: Artstor, Title: “Erotica: Lover Delights in the sight of her Tiny Feet
Chun gong hua: hu xiang ai fu”, 19th Century.
In this picture we see into the private life of a woman and man presumably husband and wife. The man is leisurely laid back resting on a bed while he admires and holds the small bound feet of this woman. At the time, bound feet were a sign of femininity and thought to have put women in a more domestic position by essentially crippling them and limiting their mobility to ensure dependence on men. In this picture, we are exposed to this misogynistic dynamic as it is the female on display and the male enjoying as the viewer. Ultimately, I think the body language depicted in this picture speaks to the symbolism of footbinding as beautiful, an embellishment of the female body and as a sexual object.
The man is in a relaxed posture enjoying while the woman displays her foot allowing him to fondle it. Both of their facial expressions would suggest pleasure and content with the beauty of the bound feet. The placement of the picture, a bedroom, reveals a very concealed part of a couple’s private life and implies sexual undertones to the man and woman’s interaction. On another note, based off of the decoration of the bed sheets, nice clothing the pair wears and the fashionable style of the woman’s hair I would deduce this is a higher class couple. It speaks more to the elegance and status of the woman’s bound feet because she is wealthy enough to be able to bind her feet because it is not necessary for her to work. I find that the color blue is very dominant in this picture as both the woman and man are wearing it as well as the bed sheets. Blue can be perceived as a very elegant color as it is often used in traditional Chinese porcelain and fine china.
In conclusion, this image offers a lot of little signs to overall depict the dynamic between men and women with their feet bound. It also allow us to see what went on behind closed doors in the private life of Chinese women and men. One aspect of bound feet was its connection to sexual fantasy and fetish. It was a symbol of a women’s sexuality, beauty and high class.
make a central thesis statement first, then support it via the explanation of how the visual denotations connotate social-cultural meanings