By Carly Thomas
Jeff Perera is a workshop facilitator for the White Ribbon Campaign and the founder of the organization’s Ryerson chapter. Thursday’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes was its biggest fundraiser of the year.
The Eyeopener: What is the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes campaign and what is its purpose? Jeff: The idea is engaging men in the conversations about the realities of women and violence against women in our world. It’s a tricky subject. It’s a taboo conversation.
So the idea is to literally get men to walk a mile in high heels. And it’s not to say that all women wear high heels, or that putting on a pair of high heels will tell you what the experience is like for women everyday.
Not at all.
But the idea is to start that process, to take a moment and make a small statement like that… When a women puts on a suit… her image increases in power and respect.
But when a man puts on something that’s feminine, like a pair of high heels, it’s a comedic tease. It’s funny.
It’s seen as degrading.
By doing this publicly it gets men to think about just how much it sucks to walk down the street in high heels, how much it hurts and how difficult it is. And the guys start to think about other things like what it’s like to take the subway, what’s it like to walk down the streets any day or night as a women, you know, when you’re subjected to unwanted calling or street harassment.
The Eyeopener: Why is this event important in light of the recent sexual assaults on campus? Jeff: It’s very important because there is work that we all have to do, to make our spaces safer to work, live and study. And this engages men to think about that.
In seeing this event and hearing about it, it’s a way of catching people’s attention and talk about the positive role men can play; as allies, as engaged bystanders, as role models.
Not all men are part of the problem, it’s that men aren’t doing enough to be part of the solution… As men, we need to talk about the things we can do… It’s literally one step at a time, in high heels or not.