Men don high heels to raise sexual-assault awareness

Jeff vonKaenel

I have never worn high heels, let alone walked a mile in them. So when one of my favorite nonprofits, WEAVE, challenged men to walk a mile in high heels to raise awareness of sexual assault, I decided to sign up.

While I have run in numerous 10Ks and half marathons, after seeing my walking equipment for the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, I was frankly more worried about injury from this short 1-mile trek.

The charming but somewhat sadistic folks at WEAVE presented me with silver, size 11, 3-inch spiked-heel shoes. These shoes were clearly dangerous. When I was trying them on, I was not sure my foot would bend enough to fit into these leathery torture devices. Reluctantly, my foot did.

Standing up in the alleged footwear, I was thrilled to have my 5-foot-8 height suddenly become 5-foot-11, but I was nervous about staying upright. It was a very thin spike holding me up. Standing seemed difficult. Walking was absurd. And walking a mile was a fantasy.

Nevertheless, I, along with 200 or so other guys, showed up in Midtown at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. As you might expect, men who would agree to walk a mile in high heels for WEAVE tended to be good sports. And they were.

Since the walk actually started at 10 a.m., my merry fellow walkers and I had considerable time to discuss what we all had in common. That consisted of high heels and how we came to be there at that moment. Many of the fellows had received strong encouragement on the home front to sign up.

A small collection of show-offs were somehow able to run in high heels, but most of us walkers were experiencing this for the first time. Unfortunately, I cannot say that the first time was the charm for me. With these shoes, I felt vulnerable. My feet hurt, and walking was downright unpleasant.

The female spectators had looks of obvious joyful glee while watching us struggle through our high-heel stroll. If facial expressions could talk, they would have been screaming, “This is the crap that I have to deal with every day!”

Besides raising money and increasing awareness of sexual assault, the purpose of the walk was for us to experience walking in the type of shoes many women wear. Let me say that even though I wore thick gym socks with my high heels, I still felt the pain. I have no idea how anyone could wear those shoes and dance. But what upset me the most during my 1-mile walk was the very idea that someone, anyone, would feel the need to wear these ridiculously painful shoes in order to look good. That realization made me feel very, very sad.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.