By Jugal Mody
We have all been subjected to the rather aggressive (and most definitely banal) conversations on the ‘Slutwalk’ protest phenomenon. With people screaming at each other, “What if I call you a slut?” And people screaming back, “Like I care.”
The Walk A Mile In Her Shoes protests have been on for much longer than Slutwalk and have been seemingly less polarizing. #WalkAMileInHerShoes protests have been happening in parts of Canada, the US and UK since 2001. The latest one was on June 8 in St Louis, Missouri. About 200 men walked a mile (roughly 1.67 km), in new, spanking red pumps, to raise awareness about sexual violence. (Boys sans fashion sense can check out the ‘Natalie’ model of shoes worn by the men in St Louis, which come in sizes up to 15, here.)
— St. Louis, MO Police (@SLMPD) June 4, 2013
— Peel Regional Police (@PeelPoliceMedia) May 11, 2013
Reading this article about the St Louis walk reminded me of something that happened to me last year when I lived in Delhi.
It was 1:30 am and I was walking from Savitri Cinema Complex to CR Park. It had been a long day and I was carrying a sling bag that I’d shifted from across my chest to let hang on just one shoulder. I was in a collar t-shirt. It was high summer, and I had learnt that jeans are not something a human should wear in that kind of heat. I had taken a scissor to an old pair of jeans because I couldn’t be bothered to go shopping for shorts. I hadn’t cut my hair in two or three months. I was wearing chappals.
I heard a car enter the road I was on. Then I heard it slow down. Living in Delhi, people warn you about all kinds of things happening. A friend had once told me never to take an auto with more than one person sitting in it. This friend was a guy, too. Coming from Bombay, I just assumed this was Delhi paranoia. What was the worst that could happen? He would beat me up and take my bag. I wasn’t carrying my laptop, so the most I could end up losing was my press card (I worked for Tehelka then).
“Aey,” someone shouted from behind me. And then a whistle. Not a musical one, just a flat one-note whistle. (I can’t whistle. Girls I have dated have tried to teach me and failed.)
I turned around. Two boys in an old, red Zen. The moment they saw my face they hit the accelerator. I heard one of them yell, “BHAAG! BHAAG!”
Did those men in the Zen run away because my sparse facial hair repulsed them or because they had expected a girl? I’ve often wondered, since that day I walked a little more than a mile in my chappals.
Back to the protests. I don’t understand the pain that heels cause and why someone would want it. I do understand that sometimes with art (and a great pair of legs in heels, preferably black or beige, is art) comes a certain level of discomfort. I also get that it’s a personal choice. You didn’t ask, but I have always always been more of a guy who likes a girl in ankle-length socks and flat soles.
While on the subject of shoes, here are three other items of how to be awesome in them.
1. You might want to dance to.
2. You might want to lech at.
3. You might want to watch out for.