On Sunday, men in Minnesota, USA held a "Walk a Mile in her Shoes" community walk to raise awareness about domestic violence. Men had the option of literally walking in women's footwear - high heels were available in all sizes for participants.
While I'm sure most women appreciate the thought of men experiencing the real skill it takes to strap on those stilettos and make it across the street, all the while maintaining an air of elegance, I doubt a few red pumps are genuine symbols of making it a "mile in her shoes."
My first encounter with the famous saying about seeing life from another person's perspective was not a mere mile in his or her shoes. I read a book in grade four where a character was told to "walk a moon in her moccasins." A moon meaning one whole month.
A mile is easy. The average person can walk a mile in about 20 minutes. A month, on the other hand, involves many more steps.
For example, 20 minutes in some uncomfortable heels will result in a few blisters. Wear those heels for a month, and a few foot sores will harden and become part of the foot. Possibly, even scars.
I can't help but wonder what an awareness campaign where the mile in her shoes was really a month in her shoes.
He could take daily shot of estrogen and see how hard it is not to cry at insurance commercials. Or breast cancer commercials. Even the occasional McDonald's commercial.
He could trade his fear of going bald for a fear of being ugly. Looking like Mr. Clean might not seem so bad after facing the prospect of looking like one of Cinderella's ugly stepsisters, or like a witch hunted at the Salem witch trials.
He could easily exchange those heels for some comfy flip flops, then carry around a hungry baby and find a place to sit down and breastfeed. Or better yet, go back to work and find a place to express milk for his child.
He could sit with other women at social functions and try to manoeuvre a conversation where "I've been doing fine" can mean "I'm in way over my head at work," or "I just chased my sons around the yard, trying to get them to stop sword-fighting with fire pokers," and sometimes even "I'm fine, actually."
But of course, these things are only possible in bad movies where Rob Schneider accidentally puts on magic earrings that switches his brain with a girls'. (It's a real movie, I swear.)
So instead we must be satisfied with the metaphorical meaning of walking a mile, or a moon, in another's shoes. It's a good thing we have imaginations.