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Men walk in high heels to combat sexual assault of women
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Men walk in high heels to combat sexual assault of women

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Bright red high-heeled shoes usually worn by female impersonators showed up Saturday on about 200 men in downtown St. Louis.

They teetered on four-inch heels down Washington Avenue and onto the Eads Bridge before returning to their starting point at the Missouri Athletic Club.

It was all for an event called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” meant to publicize efforts to combat sexual violence against women. Among the walkers were St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson and East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks.

“Let’s make sure our young boys respect our women at all times and in all places,” Parks told the walkers and their supporters at the start of the event.

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” events began in 2001 and have become a nationwide project of Venture Humanity, a nonprofit organization in Westlake Village, Calif. YWCA Metro St. Louis was the event’s partner in the local walk.

Police closed a stretch of Washington Avenue for the walkers who slowly made their way down the street and onto the bridge. Dozens posed for cellphone photos taken by friends and relatives.

Inside the MAC before the walk, Bob Barnes slipped off his high heels to rest his feet. Later, Barnes, head of The Barnes Consulting Network, of Chesterfield, gingerly but gamely completed the entire route.

He said that “committing to the walk” was important to let his granddaughters know the importance of preventing violence against women.

Standing out among the walkers — many in T-shirts and shorts to go with their high heels — was Kevin Desrosiers. He wore a black tuxedo, complete with cummerbund and tie (a clip-on, he admitted). Desrosiers, accompanied by his wife, Elizabeth, participated through a volunteer effort of Monsanto, where he is a team leader.

“I had a red cummerbund, the red tie and now the red shoes,” he said.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay spoke to the walkers at the start of the event but remained in his regular footwear.

“It’s important we have a city where violence of any kind against anyone is not tolerated,” he said.

Also speaking was Adrian Bracy, chief executive of YWCA Metro St. Louis, which has a sexual assault center that counsels victims and provides violence-prevention education.

She said “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” was a significant effort to counter sexual violence against women.

The red pumps used in the events are the “Natalie” model from Le Dame Footwear, of Verona, Wis. They have reinforced heels and come in men’s sizes up to 15, the company says.

D’Marco Farr, a St. Louis Rams broadcaster and former player, was the emcee at Saturday’s event. He introduced Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis, who told the crowd his “very sore heel” prevented him from wearing the red shoes. The crowd booed good-naturedly.

“I also have turf toe,” Laurinaitis said, to more boos.

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Tim Bryant is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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Over 100 men sported high heeled shoes and walked down Washington Ave. and onto the Eads Bridge during "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" aimed at rai…

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