Tuesday, May 01, 2007

On a mile in someone else's stylish pumps

Okay, so as someone who has spent a great deal of time walking longer distances than anyone should have to in taller shoes than anyone should really wear, I respect and appreciate what these guys are doing.

There are some complaints in comments at Feministe - they're just dressing in "woman drag," which is degrading and mocking to women; they're not abandoning their male privilege, so they can never really understand; and the most common complaint, they're wearing comfy socks with their painful high heels, which is totally cheating.

While I can understand where these women are coming from, I also can't resist the urge to unbend just a bit and accept this gesture in the spirit in which it was intended. Sure, it's kind of frustrating to have to frame the issue as "domestic violence hurts us all" because "domestic violence hurts women" isn't a compelling enough reason to march. But if the alternative is "domestic violence isn't even on my radar" - and that's the sad and scary truth with a lot of people - I'll take whatever I can get.

The point of the march was that the men were trying to, quite literally, "walk a mile in our shoes" - they were donning the oft-painful hobbles of patriarchal oppression and walking around as a way of saying that, hey, we care about this, and moreover we care about your physical safety, and that's why people need to donate to the Valley Trauma Center. Maybe they were bringing a little bit of humor into a not-terribly-funny subject; I'm certainly not going to slap them on the hand for it, and I'm not sure that bringing humor isn't a good thing anyway.

Maybe in a perfect world, it wouldn't take men in pumps to make people aware of the extensive harm caused by domestic violence. But in a perfect world, there wouldn't be domestic violence at all. Sometimes you have to choose between a less-than-perfect effort and an unsuccessful one. The point of the entire exercise was to increase awareness of the issue in general and raise money for the Center specifically, and also to underscore the fact that you don't have to be a woman to care about domestic violence. And if it takes a hairy, tattooed man in a pair of size-12 Easy Spirits to get that point across, I'm all for it. I'll even walk alongside - in a comfy pair of charming flats.

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