In just a few days, we will be meeting at Offutt Field in downtown Greensburg with one goal in mind: raising awareness about gender-based violence. As always, we’ll have lots of fun — with a DJ, prizes, donuts, coffee and even a sausage truck from Uncle Charley’s — but our mission is serious. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an opportunity to educate our community about the impact of domestic, sexual and other forms of gender-based violence in Westmoreland County. It is also a chance to learn more about how we can all play a part in changing the culture that accepts this violence as inevitable.
This year, our focus is on the harmful gender norms that are so common in our society. Statements like “boys don’t cry” or “man up” are regularly said to boys, teens and men without much thought, but can have a lasting impact on their health and development. As you’ll learn at the Walk, when boys and men absorb these gender norms, they tend to turn inward and become afraid to show any emotion other than anger. This can lead to lifelong consequences, including health problems and a greater risk of suicide and self-harm. It is also a root cause of gender-based violence: when boys and men are encouraged to view women as objects, and to express themselves through violence and anger, they are more likely to engage in abusive behaviors. Statistics show that the men are the primary perpetrators of all types of violence in the United States.
As you’ll learn at the Walk, we can change this reality! There are so many ways to make a difference in the lives of boys, starting with encouraging them to express a full range of emotions and holding them to the same standards as girls. By making these changes, we can not only help our boys become healthier adults, we can also make an impact on the rate of violence in our society — particularly gender-based violence.
Our event at Offutt Field (our first time at this venue) promises to be a memorable one. While only service animals will be permitted at the event, we are thrilled to welcome men, women and children to join us as we walk, run, strut and even stumble around the field. There will be plenty to eat, drink, learn and do on what we hope will be a beautiful April morning.