By Eleni Papageorgiou,
It’s not a new TikTok trend, it’s not a fashion tip, it is about a movement that started in 2001 by Frank Baird, marriage and family therapist, clinical counsellor and mindfulness facilitator in Westlake village, USA. Walking in high heels is not so easy for men. However, a group of men took on the challenge to show their support and solidarity for women experiencing violence and abuse. Why high heels? Because high heels give women height, which is associated with power and masculinity. Men wearing heels, marching against sexual violence and gender stereotypes is becoming more and more popular for their sarcastic way to project such an important issue. Rushed by the widely known saying “You can’t understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”, they decided to put it into practice.
As long as “Red Heels” try to fight violence, we will try to find out what sexual violence means and who it is referred to. Any unarmed person who is subjected to violence of any kind because of his gender or against his gender, suffers from sexual abuse, which can be physical, psychological or even verbal. Usually, this kind of abuse comes from the side of men, who underestimate any kind of female appearance, female practices, feminine ways of thinking, feelings and well-being. They treat women as inferior, unable to rise in the hierarchy of the professional area, without many choices in their personal lives etc. The list of misbehaviors goes on but it is vital to mention the UN’s Declaration About Women’s Rights:“Globally, an estimated 736 million women -almost one in three- have been subjected to intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both, at least once in their life (30 per cent of women aged 15 and older)”.
Recently this form of violence has also spread to people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community. Once again, toxic masculinity does not accept the different way of thinking or being and consequently leads to aggressive reactions against the above community. Also, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic many women were trapped at home with their abusers and domestic violence rose miraculously.
In order to highlight the problem, to raise awareness of the world and to fight against violence, men from all over the world wear a female symbol to reflect equality. Lawyers, doctors, directors, influencers and media personalities participate in this movement and the marches it carries out (where they literally walk 1 mile on heels) not only to educate the participants but also the whole audience that meets them. Seeing these male figures not only wearing heels with pride and joy but also holding banners or shouting slogans against female violence must be really uncomfortable for a man who defends patriarchy and that’s why they have been in the news more than once. Their action is so organized and multifaceted including a list of tips for walking in heels, providing Official Walk Shoes and after parties with food, music, foot massage etc.
Gender roles are changing and some old-fashioned male minds should start thinking differently. Sexualized violence is a pressing issue. We must educate people around the globe about the causes, effects and solutions to end this kind of violence. We should all stop reproducing patriarchy and male dominance. It is high time for the world to reconstruct gender identities and the “Walk a mile in high heels” is on the right path.
- These Men Wore Heels to Campaign Against Domestic Violence, The Singapore’s Women’s Weekly, Available here
- Facts and Figures: Ending Violence Against Women, UN Women, Available here
- Put Yourself in Her Shoes, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, Available here