Saturday, October 16, 2010

Requesting is not Demanding or Forcing


Contrary to a lot of comments in the shoes-off debate, there is a difference between requesting people to remove their shoes and 'forcing' or 'demanding' them to do so.

I consulted the Meriam-Webster dictionary:

Request: to make a request to or of, to ask as a favor or privilege

Demand: to ask or call for with authority : claim as due or just, to call for urgently, peremptorily, or insistently

Force: to compel by physical, moral, or intellectual means

We do not force or demand that visitors remove their shoes, but we request them to do so.


Celestial Fundy said...

I believe the photo of the police holding cell is in Belgium.

I hope our good friend Eldar never ends up in there!

Moderate Mouse said...

Holding cells? So THAT's what's going on in the first pic.

Moving on, shoeless get-togethers are not in my future (that I know of). However, I think after I bought a pair of ballet flat slippers earlier this year (and two more pairs later on) and started wearing those around the house in place of "real" shoes, I began to see how much of my shoe-wearing wasn't as necessary as I had thought in the past.

Not only do I wear my slippers when I'm going to be staying in for the day or evening to the best of my knowledge, as of the last month or two, I've been wearing them from when I otherwise dress for the day to closer to time to go (barring especially tight time constraints in the morning, which maybe happens occasionally these days). I've found that being in real shoes causes me to dwell on the fact that I'm going to be going out at any minute or at such-and-such time and become too anxious about said engagement to want to do much of anything around the house. Being in slippers doesn't necessarily deny that I'll be going out at some point, but it reinforces the fact that I'm not going anywhere at the moment so I might as well catch up on dishes, check the dog's waterbowl, catch up on some reading, etc. While I'm pretty good about not losing track of time, I'm prepared to use the built-in alarm on my phone to my advantage if it should ever come down to that.

I wonder if it could be argued that refraining from, or at least minimizing shoe-wearing in the home forces (for lack of a better term) a person to live in the moment so to speak as (at least in theory) the absence of shoes gives the impression of not going anywhere at that particular time.

Sandro said...

Two interesting cases about shoes-off in the medieval Europe:
1.As it is known, the policy was followed in Holland few centuries ago; somewhat 16 century's English lawyer wrote he had once come to a Dutch woman's house, and a servant returned him back to the doortp take his shoes off.
2.a French writer, Maurice Druon, wrote upper-class ladies in France took their shoes off at the door at the plague times.

Sandro said...

A famous French shoe designer (Laboutin if I'm not mistaken) recalled in his childhood women took their high-heel shoes off in museums due to the special rule shown by no-heel signs hanged; he said the topic had been back as an invitation to a shoeless party in a villa with expensive parquet. It seems French upper classes may follow the policy!

Celestial Fundy said...

I get the impression that the requirement of removing high heeled shoes in poublic buildings was more common years ago.

Perhaps this was because many more women wore sharp heels in the fifties.

Sandro, I had heard about the 16th and 17th century Dutch, but I was not sure about the accuracy.

Do you have any sources for those facts?

Sandro said...

I have read about it in numerous sources. Trying to recover them right now, I have failed (yet I am extremely sure I read that about an English lawyer very recently, something like a month ago), but found a new one:)
It is s Google library scan, Memoirs of George and Lady Grisell Baillic, (1823?), where a "she" (supposed to be a, or the, lady) comes to Utrecht she used to live in before but is not allowed to enter the house because the hosts are afraid she will dirty it. She offers to "put off her shoes", but it doesn't help.
We can see it was not a problem for a lady to offer her shoes off, which indirectly means she's got used to it when in Utrecht. On the other hand, the unanswered question is why she was refused.
I remember a line from a novel about Peter the Great, Russian Tzar coming to Holland where the shoes-off rule is mentioned.
BTW, the same novelist, Alexey Tolstoy (nothing with Leo Tolstoy!), wrote a novel about 1920-30s Sweden with shoes-off mentioned as the rule. He died in 1945, and this mentioning couldn't have come up as a false result of modern experience. So, we can believe him that shoes-off was really practiced i Sweden even 70-80 years ago.

Celestial Fundy said...

Interesting. I heard conflicting accounts on how old the custom is in Sweden.