Men just weren’t made to do this: Performances of Drag at “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes”


by: Tristan S. Bridges

**Note: I consider marches a form of performance art, which is why I feel this piece belongs in the Arts category.**

In the article  Men just weren’t made to do this: Performances of Drag at “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” Tristan S. Bridges’ seeks to understand and dissect the goals and implications of the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes marches. The marches are events designed to highlight and garner empathy in men for sexual violence and inequality faced by women in an attempt to make them better allies. Bridges attended five “Walk a mile in her shoes” marches over three years to understand the environment and reactions of the group as well as conducting a literature review.

Walk a mile in her shoes marches are one-mile walks where men are asked to walk in high heel shoes to understand what it is like to be a woman in the modern era. The shoes are used to highlight inequality faced by women. For Bridges’ however, the shoes and nature of the event can become problematic as it gives a more satirical nature to the event. Bridge’s remarks one comment a woman made who asked the importance of high heels. She was confused about the significance as not all women wear heels. She felt that the shoes distracted from the point of the march and made the event more of a joke. Bridge’s is concerned that the humor component of the march hurts the initial message by trivializing women’s day to day experiences. 

For these events, many men dawn high heels but also other stereotypical female clothing, some in full drag. Bridge’s literature review seeks to understand the application of drag for empowerment. He notes that during the Stonewall riots of 1969, the first people to fight back were Drag queens. However, after research, he concluded that drag is only an empowerment tool when used in the LGBTQA+ community as in Faerie culture, drag represented a means to mitigate the derogatory nature of effeminacy. Bridges examins another cultural phenomenon, powder puff football, a tradition in many high schools where girls for a single game are trained by coaches to play a game of football against each other group of girls. However, in many cases, this game is seen as a satirical event. This author notes that this continually enforces the idea that women should not be taken seriously and their empowerment is only temporary. He feels that a similar phenomenon is happening at these marches are set in a satirical light.

This article is useful as it highlights the struggle for women to have their concerns heard. Women-focused events frequently are downgraded in seriousness by their male onlookers even if they were started with the best intentions. Bridges’ also highlights that the nature of these marches continues to reinforce the idea that women’s problems are temporary as it is a special event.

Originally Published By: Sage Journals