By Michael Chu
Jeff Perera stood smiling, wearing his bright red size 10 high heels, as people gathered at Dundas Square to take part in the second annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes campaign on Sept. 30.
The campaign includes men and women and aims to stop gender-based violence with awareness by gathering people for a walk in high heels.
The group representing Ryerson included the Ryerson Commerce Society, the Ryerson Engineering Students Society, Women in ITM, the Ryerson Students’ Union, and an appearance by President Sheldon Levy and Provost Alan Shepard.
Gender-based violence is a subject Perera, organizer of the Ryerson walk, fully understands.
“My father was abusive towards my mom,” Perera says.
“[As a child] I said something to my mom in Sinhalese, which I didn’t speak, but I had heard at home.” And having little knowledge of his mother tongue at such a young age, his mother just smiled and embraced him.
“What I had said was, “bitch, take me home”,” says Perera. “It was an indicator of how my dad spoke to my mom at home.”
Perera said reconstructing the typical macho-male stereotype by educating men to embrace the power of dialogue helps men to embrace their true masculinity.
“Being a prototypical man is a performance, an act,” says Perera. “From the clothes, to the things being said, it limits men. It doesn’t allow them to be comfortable being who they truly are.”
“I admire every man that comes out do to this,” says Perrera. “It shows other men it is ok to come out to this type of event.”
“It was a great cause to support,” said George Phu, president of the Ryerson Commerce Society. “I would encourage other males to support an event like this. Even walking a short distance in heels can make a difference.”
Through the Ryerson White Ribbon Campaign, Perera (co-chair of the campaign) hopes this event increases awareness of men’s role in preventing gender-based violence.
“I am hoping that a day will come that we never have to do this walk,” says Perera. “But we have to create awareness to get to that point.”
Photo by Terry Sparkes