Tuesday, May 27, 2008

News - May 27, 2008

Women gain respect from men in heels
The Patriot-News - PennLive.com - Harrisburg,PA,USA
He and other similarly attired men then strolled down Market Street in Camp Hill in the "Walk A Mile In Her Shoes" stroll to protest rape, sexual assault ...
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Jolynn Smith, Zeck Mohrmann, Dickie Landry, Wayne Ditch and Jon Smith
The INDsider - Lafayette,LA,USA
Each year Lafayette and other surrounding parishes participate in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march, which supports the international organization ...
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Men to don high heels for a cause
Carlisle Sentinel - Carlisle,PA,USA
The reason: Freed will lead the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event protesting rape, sexual assault and gender violence. Sponsored by the Stop the Violence ...
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Even More Confused about Women and Hillary
Huffington Post - New York,NY,USA
Recently, I walked in "the International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence," subtitled "Walk a Mile In Her Shoes...
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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why These Shoes?

Linda and Donna wrote to me with the following question:

Why would you use the symbol of high-heeled shoes to raise the awareness of sexual assault? To see the words high-heeled shoes and sexual assault in the same context is to say they have something in common. How can you raise awareness by creating a connection that should not be made in the first place? This symbolism implies that there is a connection between to two.

Please enlighten us.

From someone who wears high heeled shoes and someone who does not.

I wrote the following response. What do you think?

Hi Linda & Donna,

Thank you for your email and an opportunity to consider your questions and describe a bit about our relationship to these cultural artifacts and metaphors.

We took up the metaphor, "You can't understand another person's experiences until you've walked a mile in their shoes." We wanted an opportunity for men to better understand that some of women's experiences are significantly different than mens. Too often these differences are glossed over by ideas like, "We're all human, after all." Gender training and day to day living can obfuscate differences. High heeled shoes represented an opportunity for men to step into shoes that carry the cultural symbolism of "woman" in "femininity." The physical experience of walking in shoes that can be painful and require "training" to master provided an opportunity for men to better understand how something so taken for granted as the shoes a person walks in can make for very different experiences in day to day living. We hoped that awakening to this one taken for granted notion would make way for more awakenings. The more awake we are culturally, the more freedom we have to negotiate the meaning of symbols given to us (or sold to us) and the idiosyncratic meaning we make of these symbols.

For us, the connection with "sexual assault" is already embedded in "high heeled shoes" because they are culturally marked as "feminine." "Feminine" is too often marked by patriarchy as "less than" and subject to "objectification." There are slang names for high heels that clearly expose this danger and manufacturers and retailers market these shoes more "benignly" as "sexy."  

We want to call into question the cultural assumptions and practices that allow these markings to go unexamined and operating with impunity. Complicating these markings in a surprising and interesting context can make way for remodeling the markings and helping individuals have more say in their own relations to these representations.

Our interest is not in requiring women to change their relationship with these symbols, but to invite men to be more aware of the multiple layers of meaning embedded. We want men to consider the relationship they prefer to take to these symbols rather than the relationship they have been given or sold. We want men to consider engaging in conversation with a given woman her relationship to these symbols and negotiate how this relationship may influence or be part of the relationship between that man and that woman.

We believe these considerations, examinings and potential awakenings can help men be more articulate about their interests and intentions, more successful in having the effects of their interests and intentions match up and make for more successful and satisfying relationships between women and men.

Then, if one person wants to take on "sexy" as a descriptor of their fashion or even their person, they can do so with more freedom and less constraint from cultural or patriarchal dictates.

If another person wants to take on high heels as, say, "cool shoes" without other cultural signifiers, they can do so with more freedom to co-create with the cultural symbols and markings their unique relationship.

Our hope is that in a given instance, a man and a woman can negotiate the meaning and relationships to cultural artifacts and signifiers in ways that privilege their specific interests and intentions rather than being constrained by the obligations of dominant (and dominating) meanings.

What effects do these thoughts have on your thinking? I am very interested in your questions and thoughts.


News - May 15, 2008

Here's a link to a great video of this year's Logan, UT Walk. This video has shown on MTVU several times. Way to get the word out! 

http://think.mtv.com/044FDFFFF0098A08A00170098F153/




Monday, May 12, 2008

News - May 12, 2008

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes
Indianapolis Star - United States
Hendricks County Sheriff's Department court Deputy Dane Morgan, slips on a pair of high heel women's shoes for the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event to ...
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Men wear heels to raise money for shelter
Chicago Tribune - United States
Mary Williams, who handles marketing and business development for Sheltering Wings, says the Walk a Mile in Her Shoesevent Saturday raised nearly $7000 for ...
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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Walk Story - 2008 Plymouth, NH - Denise

Here is a Walk Story from Denise who participated in the Plymouth, NH
Walk:

What a great concept... Thank You ...

My daughter helped to organize the students on her campus this past month. It
was such wonderful therapy for her. She was raped September of '06. The students, fraternities and friends that came on her behalf was endearing to me, and empowering to her...especially when the sporting team of the "creep" were among the groups walking for her. (Thank God he had left the school in '06)

Men supporting women - MEN saying no - I love it! It is lovely to know good does still exist in the world. Its been such a scary place lately. The boys there today, not too many with heels - perhaps daunted by the snow and ice - still looked cute with their ribbons. It made me cry.

On my daughter's behalf - Thank you and your organization.

Denise

News - May 1, 2008

Event raises awareness of sexual violence
Morris Daily Herald - Morris,IL,USA
The main goal of the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes organization, according to its literature and Web site, is to help people realize sexualized violence does not ...
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Men pumped up to fight assault
UM Maneater - Columbia,MO,USA
By Gwen Daniels Sophomores Jordan Sexton and Scott Rowland run in heels Sunday as part of the 'Walk a Mile in Her Shoes' event at Stankowski Field. ...
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Men don women's shoes for a good cause
Tacoma Weekly - Tacoma,WA,USA
The event was the third annual "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" fundraiser for the Sexual Assault Center of Pierce County, an event geared to raise awareness and ...
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