Some women think high heels are empowering. Some women think high heels are damaging, sexualized, oppressive tools of the patriarchy. What happens when you use high heels as activism?

The "Walk For Women" ad above, seen on Sociological Images, promotes a charity event for the Women's Center Of Wake County, which began "as a grass roots movement to meet the needs of women re-entering the community from prison." The center has now shifted focus to address the issues of homelessness for women with children and single women. A worthy cause, and one that deserves attention and zippy marketing tricks — but what do high heels have to do with anything?

According to a site promoting the walk:

On June 6th, women (+ men!) will endure some high heel induced agony for a good cause. The Walk for Women will be a one-mile high heel strut through downtown to benefit the Women's Center of Wake County… Can't wait to which men decide to step up to the challenge and experience the pain we ladies get to each day. There will even be prizes awarded like "Best in Shoe" and "Best Man in Heels". It's a fun event for a wonderful cause, so get out and show your support to help make walking in some women's shoes a little less painful.


Sure, it's for charity, and it's just for "fun," but as Sociological Context's Gwen points out:

What type of awareness is it raising? Is walking around in high heels supposed to increase a person's understanding of some of the problems women face? What are bystanders supposed to get out of it?


Also associated with the Walk was a "Beauty Blitz" at a local salon, where people could get services and have a cocktail. Gwen notes, "So the event is this strange mixture of helping women by using the trappings of femininity (high heels, beauty care). And I just find it kind of odd."

"Walk for Women": High Heels as Activism [Sociological Images]