Men in Heels Take to Downtown Mall

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Matt Baltz looks nervous. One foot precariously placed in front of the other, he takes his first tentative steps in unfamiliar footwear: pale pink heels.

"I'm very scared because I know that the downtown mall is cobblestone and a lot of people I talk to say watch out for that," says Baltz.

Baltz isn't teetering around without a purpose, though. He'll be hitting the mall this weekend along with about 50 other Charlottesville men for "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes."

It's an event which challenges men to walk around the way their girlfriends, sisters, or mothers might, all to raise funds for the Sexual Assault Resource Agency. Unlike other fundraiser walks, though, the participants won't be lacing up sneakers. They'll be strapping on stilettos.

"I think that sexual assault and rape is something that we need to talk about and make it open and public and realize that it's a problem we can solve. I think it's a fun way to show it to the community and get it out there," says Miles Morrison, who will be walking alongside his Alpha Phi Omega fraternity brothers.

Morrison has walked in the event before, and he says the sight of otherwise manly guys strutting around in heels definitely grabs people's attention.

"I'm really excited to have people come up and be curious and wonder what the events about and raise awareness for SARA and sexual assault," says Matt Junclaus, another APO member who will be walking in the event for the first time this year.

"You don't often see groups of 40, 50 plus guys walking in heels, and so, just by that sheer fact, it's going to draw attention, which is excellent," says Alexander Keevil, another APO teammate.

Laurie Jean Seaman with SARA says the walk does more than just grab people's attention; it makes people think. She says that while a lot of programs and education related to sexual assault focus on women, this weekend's walk engages the guys, and challenges them to think about the realities of intimate partner violence.

"Everyone is part of the problem in a way, just because of our culture, and the way we think about consent and sexuality, so everyone needs to be part of the answer," says Seaman.

"Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" kicks off at 1:30 on Sunday afternoon on the Downtown Mall.

Reported by Claire O'Brien
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