“Carlo disappeared into the back room for a moment, then returned with an ordinary shoe box. He opened the lid and removed a hideous pair of black and white pumps. But these were not an ordinary pair of black and white pumps; both were left feet, one had a right angled turn with separate compartments that pointed the toes in impossible directions. The other shoe was six inches long and was curved inward like a rocking chair with a vise and razor blades to hold the foot in place.” – an excerpt from “Cruel Shoes” by Steve Martin
In general, the qualities that a man looks for in a pair of shoes are comfort and practicality. How a shoe looks tends to be secondary. Many women’s shoes, on the other hand, are made more for looks. While most women have at least one pair of sensible shoes, there are probably others in her closet that are designed more for fashion than for comfort. On April 21 a group of men found out what it’s like to walk in women’s shoes.
The Women’s Center of San Joaquin County held its 5th annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” march, this time along the Miracle Mile in Stockton. The event is a fundraiser for the center, but also it’s held to raise awareness and to involve men in ending rape, sexual assault and gender violence.
There were many styles of shoes to choose from, and many men looked for the flattest shoes possible. But there were also quite a few who gravitated toward red pumps with about 3” heels.
When the march started down the course, a loop down from Tuxedo Avenue to Castle Avenue to Harding Way and then back up to Tuxedo, everyone was enthusiastic and raring to go. At about the halfway point, I asked John Thorpe and Stephen Maney how they were holding up. Thorpe, who was wearing knee-high silver platform disco boots, said that he was doing OK, but he wouldn’t want to wear them every day. Maney, who opted for a pair of the red pumps and was stepping gingerly, could only say: “I’m dying!”
Not too far behind Thorpe and Maney, Sahil Kumar, also wearing the red pumps, was lagging near the rear of the pack. He was clearly having trouble. Weaving like a drunken sailor, Kumar’s ankles gave way and he tripped and stumbled with nearly every step. I don’t know how he managed to say upright, but he did. He reminded me of the old Playskool tagline: ”Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” Great cries of “whoa” and “ooh” went out from the few people behind Kumar each time he would stumble and nearly fall, and then cheers immediately afterward when he managed to catch himself and recover. He completed the mile safe and sound, though I bet his ankles probably thanked him when he finally took off the shoes.
There are macho terms of “Be a man” and “man up,” meaning to be tough, to take pain or adversity. Sahil Kumar proved that even in 3-inch red pumps, he could still walk like a man.