Monday, May 3, 2010

High Heels Kill

A couple weeks ago I took part in the Sexual Assault Resource Agency's Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, in which men, well, walk a mile in her shoes (primarily high heels). It raises money and awareness for sexual assault resources in the Charlottesville area. It's quite hilarious to watch dozens of men parade along the Downtown Mall in high heels, and it was interesting to give it a shot myself, too. At the same time, though, it just reinforced something I've been thinking for a long time.

Now, I want to make perfectly clear that I'm not blaming any victims of criminal activity for what happened to them. No one should have to be subjected to violence or other crimes, and things like dressing scantily are not "asking for it" as some people say.

That said, it cannot be denied that there are certain actions that put people at risk. I occasionally find myself in less than favorable neighborhoods at hours I'd rather be in bed. When I have to do this, there are certain things I do to keep myself safe. I stay aware of my surroundings, I try to stay unencumbered, and I don't wear shoes that make it impossible for me to move faster than a crawl without falling on my face.

This last one, as you may have guessed from the intro paragraph, is my main point. Things like wearing high heels is inherently risky. High heels have a long history, but numerous branches (notably in Venice, Turkey, and China) began as a way of inhibiting movement, either to control women or show that a person's social status was above that requiring manual labor. They are, from a personal safety standpoint, a very bad choice.

However, they continue to thrive, as they're attractive and societal norms make them expected in certain situations. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but it cannot be denied that they put women at risk. Not a large one, to be sure, but given how much fuss is made over preventing sexual assaults, even small improvements should be considered. Encouraging women to ditch high heels, or at least choose ones that can be kicked off in the event of an emergency, would save lives.

I think, though, that this isn't the direction society will head. Saying that not wearing high heels, or tight wrap-around skirts, or other clothing that restricts free movement, is frowned upon. The argument is that women (in a broader case, people in general) shouldn't have to restrict their lifestyles to stay safe. In an ideal world, this would be perfectly true. In the real world, though, this argument breaks down. There are people out there (not very many, but a few) who will hurt others, and if people are concerned about falling victim to those acts of violence, it's foolish for them to ignore actions they can take to stay safe, whether it's staying in groups when in unsafe areas, not getting trashed at parties, or, god forbid, wearing flats instead of heels.

1 comment:

  1. amen to flats, jeans, t-shirts, or if all else fails, a totally immodest hike-up-those-skirts-and-run approach.