Posts tagged: walk a mile
Walk A Mile in Her Shoes was the first White Ribbon Campaign event I was a part of, and I was a part of it in a very intense, tangible way. Despite being in leadership positions before, this was the first time it involved activism. It was exhilarating! If I’m passionate about something, I have no problem devoting all of my time to it. I spent hours making posters, handing out fliers, and endearing my fellow “strutters”.
© Char Loro www.lovehard.ca
However, I spent most of my time encouraging my boyfriend and father, who were excited to walk, but were still struggling with what it really meant for them - straight white and black men - to be walking in heels.
© Char Loro www.lovehard.ca
My father, who is mainly a playwright but really involved in all things showbiz is used to the idea of costume. He really will wear anything. Unsurprisingly the sight of him in heels walked the very thin line of education and entertainment. The Toronto Walk a Mile event is held downtown during the work day, so it’s mostly the white collar 9-5 crowd that participates over their lunch hour. 9-5 white collar my father is not, and neither is the majority of the population so he made it his mission to represent. A 6’2, bald and bearded man dressed in a Canadian Tuxedo is a fearsome thing to behold. Compared to the clean shaven, suit wearing participants and uniformed officers, it is sufficient to say he stood out.
The looks he got went from what looked liked horror, to amusement, disgust to ambivalence. The courage it took to look like what some people might peg as a person who is ignorant, or maybe even violent - destroys preconceptions about who women matter to.
In my boyfriend’s case, there were a whole lot of other intersections that made his experience very different. Age for one thing - chirping from friends was not an issue whether lighthearted or not in my father’s case. There’s also the whole experience of doing it as a black man. Of course being a man in Canada gave both my father and him shared experiences, but we all know society is not post-racial and there are cultural expectations that clash heavily. More on that from the boyfriend’s perspective in part 2- to be posted tomorrow!
Despite being caught up in walking the walk, I came face to face with the boundaries and social norms that keep men in a tight - albeit, slowly changing - box of machismo. I saw men struggling with these boundaries to prove they could do it and to show the women in their lives they cared.
All the men who participated showed vulnerability, they made room for failure, embarrassment and possible emasculation all for the sake of those women who are and will become victims of violence. This act also encouraged men who feel so trapped by limited masculinity to seek help. Their support of the White Ribbon Campaign proved being a man does not necessitate aggression, and does not exclude strutting in heels.
All the cool kids are doing it. Why aren’t you? Join numerous campus groups and our biggest Ryerson team yet as we walk to end violence against women.