High Heels! Empowering? Or Oppressive?

This is a topic that I often struggle with, and it exists on a much broader sense, I suppose, involving fashion in general. I’ve always been slightly torn, since some people, or most, benefit from fashion in a way; it offers a chance to express oneself, present themselves to the world. On the other hand, it can also become quite oppressive, when you find yourself having to adhere to certain standards, lest you get frowned upon, receive scornful looks, or just sheer laughter.
There are also the expectations that ensue. Many jobs have unwritten rules that practically require a skirt and heels. Many places, including churches on Sundays, court appearances, or any occasion where a woman has to “dress up”, require such uncomfortable attire. Now, for those who enjoy these fashion standards, I urge you to keep enjoying, it is a good thing. But for those that don’t, I wonder, what other choices are there? Personally, my experiences with high heels have not been so great.
My toes have suffered sores, and I cannot stand for long periods of time, which on many occasions, I was required to do. Obviously, given an emergency, I would not be able to run fast enough. Sure, I could take them off, but I would not have the added support and protection of sneakers or shoes. I have also learned that it is a man who originally stands behind the idea for high heels, which angers me a little bit more; although I am not certain of the veracity, nor can I even remember the source where I learned this.
I see high heels as limiting a woman’s ability to move about, rendering her helpless in certain situations; and I am sure most of us have seen those 80s slasher flicks where she’s running in the woods, and trips and falls because of them. (another topic). I see them as a way of exploiting her as some sort of image on a pedestal to be gawked at.
On a more positive note, however, they can make you taller, which is/was a common reason for their use. So, what are your thoughts and experiences with heels?

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