Walk A Mile In Her Shoes 2018: Culture, Conversation and Change

By guest blogger Kristal Reynaga

 

Every year an increasing number of men — and their entourage of supporters, friends, co-workers, women, families, businesses, and community leaders alike — join the high-heeled-hilarity and fund raising event, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®: The international Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence. This year, Sacramento’s annual event will be held in the heart of downtown on Sunday, May 20, at Crocker Park.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® is a powerful, yet playful opportunity to raise awareness about the causes, effects, and remediation of domestic and sexual abuse toward women (and men), which affect individuals and families regardless of education, religion, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

Proceeds raised from the event benefit WEAVE™, Sacramento’s primary nonprofit service and resource provider for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking.

As a survivor of domestic violence and of sexual assault, it is my responsibility to highlight Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® and serve as an example of what overcoming and healing can look like — and that it is possible.  Everyone deserves to know their worth and value; that they are deserving of healthy relationships; and to know the joy of real love. I hope that awareness events, such as WAM, empowers both men and women to have those difficult, yet important, conversations that can change patriarchy deeply rooted in many societies.

It is imperative that women (and men) who are victimized have access to a supportive network and feel inspired, not ashamed, to seek them out; and, that they have the courage and strength to escape the violent environments that put their lives and the lives of their families in jeopardy everyday. Having experienced it first hand, I know how hard it is to not self-blame, to become empowered, and to leave — especially in the Latino community. I am grateful to organizations such as WEAVE™, and I am determined to do my part to raise awareness and empower others.

Three local Latinas founded WEAVE™ in 1975 to address the issues of domestic violence in the community; and, local Latinas are making advocacy history in Sacramento, again!

In 2015, Chicas Latinas de Sacramento leadership felt it was necessary, and time, to invite and include Latinos in the conversation – by creating WAM’s FIRST Latino walking-team: Los Hombres de Las Chicas.

We asked our male friends and family members to join the team, and we are so thankful that they rose to the occasion. Our first Latino team to Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® for Weave™ was a success, with over 25 Latino men participating with Los Hombres de Las Chicas, 30 the year after.

We are proud that the tradition and advocacy continues with Los Hombres de Las Chicas in 2018 and hope to break our previous record! However, getting our men to walk with us, or for us, isn’t always easy due to a “machismo culture” that persists in the Latino community. According to Machismo Sexual Identity, “In terms of machismo, males have an expansive and almost uncontrollable sexual appetite, and it is their right to satisfy that desire in the ways they choose.”

As one might imagine, wearing a pair of red high-heels isn’t a respectable representation of a man’s uncontrollable sexual appetite. In fact, this is the exact opposite of the culture that has plagued Latinos for far too long. But, as with many issues, to change something requires the ability to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

According to What Rape Culture Looks Like in the Latino Community, “ It is believed that by the year 2050, 10.8 million Latinas in the U.S. will be survivors of sexual violence.” Think about that. How will the 10.8 million Latinas projected to be affected by sexual assault (this does not include all the other women who will also be affected), directly or indirectly affect you?

If knowing that your mother, wife, or daughter could be raped doesn’t bother you, or change you in some way, then consider the 5 Myths About Sexual Assault That Just Aren’t True, which reads, “About 3 percent of men will experience an attempted or complete rape during their lifetimes, and one in ten rape victims are men.”

No one deserves to be exposed to sexual assault, or abuse, but until we all rise to the occasion to stop the abuse, reject harmful cultural norms (such as machismo), and change the legal system and repercussions for the perpetrators of these violent acts, then these issues will continue to plague our society — and the Latino community.

According to the National Latin@ Network, “Approximately 1 in 3 of Hispanic/Latino women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner in their life time and 1 in 12 of Hispanic/Latina women experienced this violence in the previous 12 months.”

So, whether you’re a brother, uncle, cousin, father, friend, friend of a friend, co-worker, husband, fiancé, or a neighbor, we are counting on you to join the conversation and use the power of your macho-ness for the purpose of protecting your women, all women!

Men.

Should.

Be…

Proactive to the pandemic that systematically masks sexualization and domestic abuse toward women. And, as protectors and providers men should be protecting women (and their families), not harming them.

As we seek to change the broken patriarchal society and cultural taboos, we need men to be accountable, take action, and support Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® — especially men of color, as these issues disproportionately affect our communities, yet are rarely talked about.

It is incredibly important for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® to reach Sacramento’s Latino community. Which is why I am proud to be a part of Chicas Latinas de Sacramento and help encourage participation in support of WEAVE™ and its programs and services. It can be difficult to get Latinos in heels, but it can be done, and we are so grateful for the ones who do!

Learn more, register, share! Los Hombres de Las Chicas

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