Instead of their usual shoes, slides or Crocs, UNT Dallas men donned high heels this week for a great cause and a great time.
These hardy souls wearing atypical soles exemplified the saying, "You can't understand another person's experience until you've walked a mile in their shoes." Male students, faculty and staff, supported by their female friends, classmates and colleagues, boldly confronted gender stereotypes and expectations. Free high heels were provided, making it easy for the guys to switch out their usual footwear for something more wobbly and challenging.
It was all part of the university's second annual "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event, on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, which called attention to the causes and effects of sexualized violence by men and solutions to preventing it. The walk recognized National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the need to make resources available for victims and abusers.
UNT Dallas President Bob Mong and Chief Human Resources Officer Tony Sanchez joined dozens of others as they carefully balanced themselves and skillfully navigated the course around campus.
The purpose for all participants, supporters and organizers was to get people talking about sex and gender biases, gender identity and gender relations in a safe environment without judgment or stereotypes. They were among countless men, women and families around the world who have joined the award-winning “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®: The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence" since 2001.
Experts say anyone can fall victim to sexualized violence regardless of gender identity. Sexualized violence devalues women, female practices, feminine ways of thinking, feeling and being, feminine energy, and femme presentation. The target of sexualized violence can be a female body, the body of someone presenting as female or femme, or a male-bodied or male-presenting person insufficiently performing masculinity.
In order to prevent it, organizers of the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" movement believe we need to educate ourselves and others, examine the sexual and gender biases that seed sexualized violence, and innoculate ourselves and our cultures against them.
When the mile-long excursion ended, the UNT Dallas men felt educated and enlightened (and sore). Their high heels were donated to the Genesis Women's Shelter in Dallas. And the slight pain some of the guys felt was worth it, knowing their actions and message could help prevent much more serious pain.