On Sunday, March 26th, 2013, I did something new. I decided to join hundreds of other men, women, and children and participate in the 7th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, hosted by the Victoria Women’s Sexual Assault Center. The organizers of this unique event invite community members – with a particular focus on men – to walk in solidarity while taking a position against sexualized and gender-based violence, which is largely perpetrated by men against women.
Despite the very serious nature of the practices of violence we were opposing, the energy of the event was lively and spirits were high. This was in part due to a particularly unconventional characteristic of the Walk a Mile event: men were given the opportunity to put the metaphor “walk a mile in her shoes” into practice by literally wearing fancy footwear. For me, the novel experience of strutting my stuff wearing a pair of tall wedges, surrounded by a group of likeminded allies was a total blast, and something I would love to do again in the future.
Part of the reason I chose to participate in this year’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes was to stand in solidarity with the many clients I’ve worked with – both women and men – who have been victims of sexualized violence. I left the event feeling excited about the way in which there appears to be a turning of the tide in men’s culture. An increasing number of men are recognizing that what often gets called “violence against women” is not just a women’s issue. I believe that more and more men are taking interest in contributing to a world that is safe for all its citizens, regardless of their gender, and stepping into the realm of accountability by thinking critically about how we’re taught how to be men within the larger culture. As a therapist I’ve always enjoyed engaging with clients in fascinating conversations about how they cleverly and beautifully resist violence – either as perpetrators or victims. These conversations are important steps toward ending gender-based violence, and are crucial to engage in all year – not just on special occasions like Walk a Mile.
I’d like to offer tremendous gratitude to those who contributed pledges in support of my participation in this event, and for helping me raise way more than my goal of $500.00. I’m already eagerly looking forward to doing it all again next year!