Carolyn’s Online Magazine (#COMe)
MONTE WALKED A MILE IN ‘HER SHOES’
To begin to understand another person,
you must begin to walk a mile in their shoes.
For several years the Blackburn Center Against Domestic & Sexual Violence in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, has invited men to become actively involved in their mission—to use their feet to raise their voice and speak out against the social norms that perpetuate domestic and sexual violence.
April 1-30, 2016 Benefits the
Every new subscription to Carolyn’s Online Magazine
will earn a $2.00 donation to the Blackburn Center.
My husband Monte participated in the 2013 Men Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® in Greensburg, PA. At the time I was ill, but I joined him in the 2014 event. Because we took an impromptu trip to Florida last April we didn’t walk in the 2015 event. We both plan on participating in the walk at Lynch Field this year.
- Insanity? Perhaps.
- Impressive? Yes.
I certainly wouldn’t walk a mile in heels. I wore comfortable walking sneakers in 2014.
When Monte returned home after the 2013 event—I was ill so didn’t attend—he told me about his experience. He was “impressed that the football players walked as fast, or faster, than he did. They all walked the mile wearing high heels. Some of them walked pretty well.”
Meanwhile, he watched many of the other male walkers struggle in their high heels, while he walked easily in his street shoes.
That first year Monte felt he wasn’t prepared to walk in women’s shoes. “You would have to practice ahead of time,” he said. “I don’t know how you would do that.”
Later, a couple of my women friends suggested that I take him to a thrift store to find a pair of women’s shoes. They suggested we shop early in the year and recommended he purchase shoes with three-inch heels, wearing them at home to practice walking in them. He could do this while watching wrestling, hockey or football. Hopefully this would prepare him to participate in the 2014 Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® event.
Monte’s shoe-buying adventure started on February 26, 2014, with a visit to St. Vincent de Paul’s in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
As he began searching for shoes another woman doing the same thing told him “The men’s shoes are over there.”
I turned to her and said “It’s OK. He’s looking for a pair of woman’s shoes.”
She looked at me like we were both some type of wierdos.
I waited for a few minutes, enjoying her look of dismay as Monte continued his search. Then I explained Monte was planning on participating, for the second year, in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® event on April 12, 2014, which was intended to raise issues around gender violence. She began to laugh and started helping him find a pair of shoes as other customers eyed them suspiciously.
Finally, Monte and I left the store. He was the happy owner of a pair of women’s flat dress shoes (he said his foot wasn’t flexible enough to wear heels).
While participating in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® in 2014 I watched one man take off his women’s shoes and replace them with his own footwear. Other men paused to remove the shoes and rub their sore feet. However, many of the men completed the walk with no problem. One man even ran his mile “walk.”
Monte said his feet didn’t hurt too much at the end of the walk, but then again, he said I was wearing flats, not high heels, but I guess to really get the effect I should get some small heels.
Afterwards I interviewed some of Seton Hill University’s football playersfor a post on my former online magazine, CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS.
Monte participates in these events because he believes in the Blackburn Center’s work to stop domestic violence.
He doesn’t view high heels as being sexy. He considers women wearing the really high heels as not being too smart, noting that obviously, work shoes can be attractive without being super casual. He again signed the Men’s Pledge.
The men who opted to wear women’s heels took an extra step in understanding what women experience every day: walking in high heel shoes is symbolic of the difficulties and challenges women face every day—being on guard against the possibility of a sexual assault or of violence in their home, and for some, walking the path of healing following an assault.
- …the cardinal sin is when a man raises his hand to a woman or a child or when anyone raises a hand to anyone who is weaker… —V. P. Joe Biden sharing his father’s words
- The effects of sexual assault dampens the exchange of everything from ideas to feelings. It violates the right of everyone to a safe society, according Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf
- For anybody whose once-normal, everyday life was suddenly shattered by an act of sexual violence, the trauma, the terror can shadow you long after one horrible attack. It lingers when you don’t know where to go or who to turn to. It’s there when you’re forced to sit in the same class or stay in the same dorm with the person who raped you; when people are more suspicious of what you were wearing or what you were drinking, as if it’s your fault, not the fault of the person who assaulted you. It’s a haunting presence when the very people entrusted with your welfare fail to protect you. —Pres. Obama
We’re looking forward to participating in the 2016 Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. We’re looking more forward to the day when violence against women—or anyone, anything—becomes a relic of the past.