Frank Baird, Walk Founder
Frank Baird first proposed Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®: The International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence to Valley Trauma Center (VTC) in 2001. Women had created a successful rape crisis movement and Frank was grateful to have been able to join their efforts. He had worked with VTC since 1993 and wanted to increase the opportunities for men to contribute to efforts to end sexualized violence.
"Violence against women does not just affect women," he said. "Men are hurt and angered when women they care about are raped. Men are hurt and angered when they try to develop relationships with women in an atmosphere of fear and mistrust and blame. And the same violence that targets women also targets men because rape isn't about sex, its about power, control and violence."
Recovery & Prevention
While helping survivors reclaim their lives from the negative effects of sexual assault was rewarding, Frank knew that for every man who could be persuaded to think differently about gender roles, gender relationships and gender violence, many more women would be spared. So, too, would the men in their lives.
"It's sometimes suggested that men need to talk with men about being men, that that's how and where men define themselves, he said. But we don't live in the world alone. And talking just with men limits the possibilities of how we define and experience ourselves. I prefer to broaden the dialogue. Besides, just deciding among ourselves what being a man is doesn't mean it'll be easier to live with the results once we leave a weekend mens-only retreat and return home to relationships with our mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, daughters and other women. We co-create who we are in relationship."
Each year the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® Mens March has the support of men, women and children who march along side high-heeled men. "This march gives men the opportunity to publicly demonstrate their courage and commitment to preventing sexualized violence," said Frank. It gives the community the opportunity to celebrate mens commitment, and it encourages the community to talk about these very important concerns. We share the world. I'm glad theres room for all of us to participate in this march and in this cause."
Frank started working with VTC as a volunteer Rape Crisis Advocate. Using a wealth of diverse skills he soon proved valuable in additional ways. He worked as a Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) Trainee and Intern providing therapy for VTC clients. As Training Coordinator he developed and managed a program that provided continuing education classes for licensed MFTs, social workers and psychologists, the publicity and fees benefiting VTC and its efforts to serve an ever-broadening clientele. Frank developed and managed VTC's computer network and developed databases to manage client, personnel and prevention-education information. Drawing upon his background in theater and film, in 2001 and 2002 Frank co-directed VTC's VDay production of The Vagina Monologues to again publicize VTC's work. "We had a large, multi-ethnic, multi-aged, multi-sized cast each year and really brought Eve Ensler's piece to life for so many - for the women who played the characters, for the women in the audience, and for the men brave enough to broaden their understanding and appreciation of women's relationships with their vaginas."
Currently a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California, Frank has a private practice in Westlake Village, CA. He is also team leader for the Adolescent Treatment Team and Couples Treatment Service at Kaiser Permanente, Department of Psychiatry in Reseda. He teaches Postmodern Therapies at Phillips Graduate Institute and Marriage & Family Therapy classes at California State University, Northridge. He has provided clinical supervision for therapists in training at Phillips Graduate Institute's clinic, California Family Counseling Center in the Postmodern Therapies Internship and at VTC until 2006 when he went on to pursue other opportunities.
Frank Baird and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® have won the following Awards & Honors:
• Equality Now: On the Road to Equality, Honoring Men on the Front Lines - 2006
You can also read some of Frank's published work as a therapist here.