14 September 2012

How much can red stilettos actually hurt?

For better or worse, looks like this is the first in a series of posts relating to gender and sexuality issues here at Princess Tradescantia.

Today's thoughts were precipitated by a friend's post on Facebook regarding the picture to the left. This photograph is from a fundraising event at my alma mater, Western Kentucky University, which aimed to raise awareness about sexual abuse and violence about women (the full article from the event is here). My friend, who also attended WKU, asked for my thoughts on the event.

It's not shocking this event has garnered attention in subsequent months. Although events like this have taken place in other locations for years, Bowling Green, KY is a fairly conservative area. When combined with the participants representing a fraternity, that steadfast bastion of gender binary, opinions run very hot about the intentions, sincerity, and consequences of this event.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how I actually feel. I spent a lot of time reading others' viewpoints about this event. I've decided my conclusions are fairly simple. This was a fundraising event, and the goal was to spread awareness about domestic violence. Could they have accomplished their goals in another way? Sure. Could they have donated the money they spent on heels instead? Of course. Did some of the participants use it as an opportunity to mock the transgender and transsexual communities? Perhaps. Are there hypocrites in the group, who are themselves perpetrators of sexual violence? Possibly.

My opinion boils down to a very simple argument. Their goals could've been accomplished just as successfully in a different manner. All of the bones of contention voiced by opposers would've still occurred: there would still be homo- and trans-phobia, and there would still be less-than-sincere participants. There is an advantage to the red stiletto approach, though. There is now a group of men living in a conservative area who no longer find it quite so shocking that men might wear high heels. They've allowed themselves to be seen and photographed wearing stilettos, and maybe a few of them even kept those shoes. The event was planned with good intentions, and they met their goal of fundraising and attention. Additionally, I argue that simply by virtue of wearing heels for a mile walk, these men added to the normalization of acceptance of such behavior. That little bonus, to me, is well worth it.

Or maybe I just like the gender-bending aspect of watching men wear high heels.

1 comment:

Marco Octávio Pellegrini said...

I just loved the idea of this fundraising event. When I read about it on Facebook I was thrilled with the idea of uniting awareness about sexual abuse and violence about women, and in some way approaching the binary gender system issue in modern occidental culture.