Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Walk a mile in her shoes

Violence against women is disturbingly prevalent globally.  Women and girls are the primary victims of sex trafficking, honor killings, rape, assault, and domestic violence. Men perpetrate the majority of the violence against women, but not all men are bad.

I have often heard a picture is worth a thousand words, but usually been quite satiated after a mere handful.  After seeing this picture, I was literally at a loss of words.

On September 27, 2012 at least 1,000 Toronto men took part in the annual "Walk A Mile In Her Shoes" march, bringing awareness to ending violence against women and girls.  Based on the idea that, "You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes". The event was organized by Canada's White Ribbon Campaign for the fourth year in a row.

The White Ribbon Campaign is the largest male effort to end violence against women.  Men wear white ribbons as a commitment to never commit or condone violence against women.  The organization was founded in 1991 and within six weeks over 100,000 men across Canada donned a white ribbon.  I am saddened that I found this statistic shocking, as it is a testament to my lack of faith in American men.

A statemement on the White Ribbon Campaign's site explains that "'Walk a Mile in Her Shoes' isn't simply a stunt — it's a statement about men's role in ending violence against women; an issue that is connected to strict gender roles and expectations of men. By wearing heels and acting in solidarity with women, we want to show that we'll do whatever it takes to make this a safer world for everyone."

This goal is achieved by creating and disseminating educational resources aimed towards boys and men  increasing awareness of sexual violence and harassment against women, as well as challenging the misogynistic norm of thoughts, actions, and even language.

This is a novel idea that in fact should be ingrained in every culture worldwide.  This picture should not blow my mind, or anyone else's.  Men have a responsibility to end violence against women.  Men should take an active role to understand the experiences a woman faces, and maybe then progress will be less inertial.  Every man should take this pledge.


VK said...

It seems a wonderful idea. Indeed, sexual harassment’s problem has been for a long time analyzed towards changing women’s behavior. This has been rightly criticized: why should women be responsible for the bad behavior of someone else? Involving men in the fight against violence towards women changes the perspective. This action goes also further: men become active. I think that this action has a powerful impact. Is that due to some legitimation? The question about feminist’s issues needing men to be legitimized is controversial and needs to be discussed longer. But it seems to me than that, when we have a powerful tool, it has to be used.

Sara said...

I agree with the previous commenter, that too often violence against women is categorized as a "women's issue." This is an issue because of men. Since men are usually the cause of the sexual harassment and assault, it is important to bring men in as allies in the fight against it. Events like "Walk A Mile In Her Shoes" seem like a great way to bring men into the discussion, and also make a statement.