These boots are made for justice

Illustration by Madison Cohen

Gentlemen, it’s time to walk the walk. People in Flagstaff, especially men, were encouraged recently to heel up for a Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. Locals took a step toward righteousness and turned the walk of shame into a walk of gain for a cause that raises awareness of domestic abuse. Men who participated bore some blisters Oct. 12 and learned the true meaning of “beauty is pain.”

Typically, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an event where men put on high heels or anything that can be considered “her shoes” and parade around town drawing looks from spectators. This kind of event is meant to attract viewers and persuade them to ask questions about why they are doing so. Kolt Country radio, 107.5, helped host the event, in partnership with local sponsors and Flagstaff’s Sportsman’s Warehouse. The Saturday event raised money with a $25 participation fee and donated it to Victim Witness Services for Coconino County.

Stan Pierce is a morning radio host on Kolt Country radio and the general manager for Stone Canyon Media in Flagstaff. Pierce said this was Kolt Country’s first time doing this event in Flagstaff. There were over 40 people signed up to walk and over 12 different sponsors, who either gave money to the cause or donated products at the event.

“What the event usually looks like is a bunch of guys trying to walk a mile-ish in her shoes — high heels or something like that,” Pierce said. “It’s a visual event — seeing a bunch of guys walking in high heels — and it’s to bring attention to the domestic violence epidemic. Hopefully, that will attract people, and they’ll want to play and participate, or they’ll learn about Victim Witness Services and other domestic violence agencies in the area in case, God forbid, they ever need that service.”

Flagstaff’s Sportsman’s Warehouse manager Jenni Rigo agreed for the store to be the event’s final destination and to host the afterparty. Rigo said that Sportsman’s Warehouse works closely with the radio station and the women’s shelter down the road, Hope Cottage. Rigo said they sponsor Hope Cottage for its annual ladies’ night and raise funds to donate to the shelter. Rigo was excited to see the men walk in heels.

“It is nice having the guys out on display. It’s kind of a fun concept,” Rigo said. “They’re going to be walking around in heels, which is really uncomfortable for them. I guess the idea is if you’re going to put somebody in an outward position like that where they’re going to be uncomfortable in their environment, it’s going to draw attention.”

Rigo said that with the men parading around, this wasn’t an event the public would see every day. She said the event and the afterparty lead people to ask questions.

Sophomore Samantha Margolias said the event was an interesting concept, because a lot of men don’t think about it and don’t understand that high heels really do hurt. Margolias said domestic violence is an important issue, because she has seen people go through adversity and struggle in violent settings.

“I have a friend who, every time he talks about his own experience, nobody really believes him, and that disbelief is discouraging,” Margolias said. “There are people who want to speak up and be heard, but they can’t, because other people don’t understand. It’s upsetting for me, personally, because I think that it’s important to talk about, and I think it’s important to validate people who are in pain and who want to have their voices be acknowledged.”

Domestic abuse is not something to be taken lightly. Students who struggle should not be afraid to reach out to the resources at NAU, a friend, family member, teacher or any other relationship they have that can assist them in a harmful scenario.

The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event did its part to help raise donations and awareness of this cause. It may seem silly to see men stumble their way through downtown but this event had meaning to the community. This does not compare to being a woman, but it’s the closest one can get to spending a day in someone else’s shoes.