Tuesday, May 1, 2007

I won't even walk a mile in those shoes

I know this is probably curmudgeonly of me, since the men in question are trying to do something good, but whose idea was this Walk A Mile In Her Shoes campaign? If you're unfamiliar with it, it's basically a bunch of men who walk in high heels to protest violence against women. It's billed as "The International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence." Which is all well and good, as we need men as allies in this fight.

But why, oh why, would you have as the central theme of the parade one of the very symbols of women's oppression? High heels are dangerous to one's health. Don't believe me? Read this. And this. And...this. In addition, they make it nearly impossible to outrun an attacker - unless that attacker is also in heels, which is unlikely. Finally, walking a mile in high heels will tell men nothing about women's experiences with violence and rape. Not one thing.

Plus, lots of women don't wear high heels at all, yet their experiences of rape and violence are no less real or painful. Men could walk a mile in my normal footwear without the slightest discomfort, which would teach them just as much about rape as walking in heels would (which is nothing).

I appreciate these men's willingness to participate in this event. I do. But if they're gonna walk a mile in high heels, it ought to be in protest of the Hotness Standard that demands that women wear debilitating footwear. Why does oppressive fashion escape the critical gaze here? Walking a mile in her shoes offers lots of striking visual images of dudes in heels, but beyond that, the gesture is meaningless. Empathizing with her lived experience and staging a gimmick-free protest march would be much more powerful.

Just sayin'.


Amy said...

stupid heels.

Anyway...I actually wanted to say that Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking" is an effing amazing book.

Kristin said...

Ha, I had complained about what I perceive to be the mocking tone of this campaign (though I appreciate the intent! Really! I do!)on Feministe... needless to say, I was in the minority.

Glad to see I'm not totally alone in not appreciating the way they approached the issue of violence against women. :)

Gender Blank said...

I've actually been a little ill about the fact that this campaign has been getting fawned over on some high-profile feminist blogs. Feministe was one of them. Feministing was another. I am not at all surprised that you were in the minority in voicing your concerns. I find that I am often in the minority in those places, so I usually leave it to brave people like you to battle the empowerful third-wavers. Sorry 'bout that.

EBuz said...

Not about shoes, or Joan Didion, but I'd like to nominate a quote for the "dumbest thing [you've] heard this week"

It's here, and it's the one from Matt Barber of the Concerned Women for America.