Just a few weekends ago I had the honor of participating in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event with the Blackburn Center of Greensburg. It is an international men’s march to put an end to rape, sexual assault, and gender violence. They say “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” So, this event places men in the shoes of women literally by raising awareness for domestic violence and physically by wearing bright red high heels and walking a mile. It is a playful way to bring serious issues to light and break the silence regarding men’s sexualized violence against women.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes took place around Greensburg Salem’s track, with the fence lined with supportive artwork of local students. The event began with inspirational speakers reminding us why we were there and how we can make a change beyond the event. There was a moment of silence for victims of sexual violence and also a dance performance to lighten the atmosphere in preparation for a fun and informative afternoon. This set the tone for the event to begin and we were off on our mile!
Seeing grown men stumbling around in heels was quite the entertainment! But all of us knew that it was for a much bigger reason than for some laughs and a photo-opp. The greatest thing to see, in my opinion, was the male support. The men hardly complained about the heels, and they truly wanted to make a difference to stop rape culture – which was the event’s intention. Though the target participants for this were males, we walked along side women and children too. It was truly awesome to see the community come together to break the silence about this typically “hush-hush” topic. Supporters and victims walked together in hopes of a better tomorrow.
We walked the walk and we’re going to continue to talk the talk. Open communication about sexualized violence is crucial. Speaking out is the hardest thing for a victim to do, that is, unless this topic becomes more approachable. Hiding away the causes, effects, and remediations of sexual assault makes this epidemic difficult to cure because of how challenging it can be to get people talking. Those unfamiliar with men’s sexualized violence toward women tend to not recognize its magnitude. That’s why conversation is so important and this was a big take away from the event. The speeches throughout the walk gave tips on how to get people talking now, so prevention can become possible. This event helps men understand and sympathize with women’s experiences, thus changing their perspective. Relationships between the genders are also improved by sharing this experience and showing unified support, which decreases the potential for violence. It is also very important to talk about recovery if it has unfortunately already occurred. For healing, participation in this event informs the community that services are available for recovery. (In Greensburg, this would be the Blackburn Center www.blackburncenter.org) Walk a Mile also demonstrates that men are willing and able to stand by women and make the world a less violent place.
This cause means a lot to me, so I’m very thankful that I had my best friends, Megan and Kris, and my boyfriend, Mike, there to support it with me. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is a large and growing march in our community, but I would love to see participation and support increase even more. We will definitely be adding this to the list of Her Campus events for next year!!