It went like this. At a reverse-demo event in New York last night, Jorge Cortell, the CEO of the healthcare startup Kanteron Systems, noticed a female attendee wearing shoes. He snapped a picture of the shoes. He then tweeted the picture of the shoes. This is what he said:
Sexist! the people cried. No, it's not! Cortell responded. His #brainsnotrequired musings were merely protective, he explained, of the health of the shoe-wearer. And, by extension, of the health of us all. Heels are dangerous. Heels are dumb. High-heeled shoes are not, as it were, "sensible shoes."
@daveambrose not sexist. Logical. Perhaps a man was wearing those. Would be equally absurd. High heels are STUPID, bad for your health.— Jorge Cortell (@jorgecortell) October 23, 2013
@aronsolomon The superficiality of putting image ahead of health. Yes.— Jorge Cortell (@jorgecortell) October 23, 2013
But, of course, shoes are not merely shoes. Shoes, like any other clothing choice one must make every day, reveal something—inconveniently, maybe, but inevitably—about the wearer. Chuck Taylors say something. Sambas say something. Adidas shower shoes say something. And, yes, stilettos say something.
The question is what they say. What Cortell was suggesting with his off-handed "WTF?" comment (and with the #brainsnotrequired tag that accompanied it) is that the stiletto-wearer he creep-shotted was putting superficial concerns—appearance, attractiveness, style—over matters of a more pressing variety. (Comfort, perhaps? The ability to run a 10k at a moment's notice?) His tweet was suggesting, essentially, an inversely proportional relationship between depth of intelligence and height of heel. It was suggesting, as well, that the footwearer in question was somehow attempting to game a system based on meritocracy using something else: femininity.