Rape, sexual assault and gender violence are often seen as problems that women face when, in fact, these are society’s problems. Sexualized and gender-based violence not only affect the women who are victimized, they impact the people who care for the women, too. And because this tragedy affects all genders, all genders can play a part in preventing it.
Men are invited to speak out against domestic violence at Walk-Awhile in Her Shoes, on March 28. This is an opportunity for men to step out in a unique and fun way and proclaim that they will not tolerate such violence within their community.
The goal of this event is to promote communication about sexualized violence and to combat stereotypes that women face. To do this, all the participating men will walk a mile literally in “her” shoes, meaning high heels. This may give men a new awareness as to what women experience in fashion and creates a strong, if humorous, visual symbol of solidarity. The participants who sign up in advance can have shoes provided by the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County (RCVCC), which is sponsoring the race. Men purchasing their own heels, are also welcome and encouraged to participate.
In the past few years, the Fayetteville area has had a tremendous turn-out for this event. The variety of walkers that participate shows that rape and abuse affects people of every walk of life. “There are a diverse group of men and women who come out every year to support the walk. Last year, brothers from the Tau Gamma Gamma fraternity walked side by side with bikers in red high heels. Fire fighters showed up in turn-out gear to walk. This year, Chief Medlock has authorized police officers to support Walk-Awhile by wearing their uniforms while walking in heels,” Deanne Gerdes, the Executive Director of RCVCC said. The large show of men also helps to bring a fun and festive atmosphere to the march in spite of the serious issues it supports.
Though the march is designed for men, there are also ways for women to get involved and support the cause. “In the past, women have cheered on the men and escorted the parade of high heels from the Market House back to the AIT building for the reception. Last year, we even had cheerleaders come out with pom-poms to show their support for the walkers. This year, we are introducing a ‘shoe-gram’ where anyone, whether male or female, can sponsor and pay for a man to walk in high heels for Walk-Awhile. Our volunteers will then deliver the shoe-gram and the recipient can then choose to accept and walk or graciously decline the invitation. Anyone interested in purchasing a shoe-gram can contact RCVCC at 485-7273.” Gerdes said. Monetary donations are also welcomed at www.rapecrisisonline.org. This website can also provide information about volunteer opportunities.
For men walking in high heels for the first time Gerdes offers some advice, “Move your hips and swing your arms for balance. Swing your arms. Do not flap them. You cannot fly, though with shoes like these you’ll feel like you can soar.
While standing still, place weight on heels using toes for balance. Don’t wobble. If you start to fall, fall gracefully and roll, shoes in the air. Do not break a heel. Do not take anyone down with you.”
To register, call the RCVCC at 485-7273 or fill out a registration form at https://www.facebook.com/pages/RCVCC-Walk-A-Mile-In-Her-Shoes/266266913408980. Registration costs $20 person but it is $10 for students. To include shoes is an extra $5. Registration includes a T-shirt, two admissions to the reception and two drink tickets. The student registration includes a T-shirt and one admission to the reception. The march starts on Hay St. and is on March 28. Check in is at 6 p.m. and the walk will begin at 7 p.m.
Photo: To raise awareness about domestic violence, participating men will walk a mile literally in “her” shoes, meaning high heels, on March 28.