Male students ‘walk a mile’ in heels for assault awareness
Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 00:04
Male students in bright red pumps took over The Green Wednesday afternoon, ambling along the mile-long walk to raise awareness about sexual assault and gender violence.
Sorority members and friends of participants lined the green to watch the men strut past them in stilettos. Adam Cantley, assistant director of University Student Centers and Fraternity and Sorority life, says the event is a playful way to attract attention to a serious issue.
“It’s one of those events that people know about,” Cantley says. “And let’s face it, it is funny to watch men in heels. But it’s also a powerful and motivational message.”
Students from the Inter-Fraternity Council and the Office of Equity and Inclusion have participated in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event for four years. Men at the university were encouraged to don a pair of heels, to be worn for the duration of the walk, provided by the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes organization as part of the International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence.
Cantley says the event is crucial in recognizing the urgency of the problem of sexualized violence.
“In my opinion, we do it because sexual assault issues are still happening,” he says. “We need to bring awareness and state that we recognize this problem continues.”
Signs posted along the route of the mile-long walk suggested that the problem not only persists, it is more common than people might think. Each sign had a different statistic about sexual assault, such as “1 in 4 women are raped,” and “Every two minutes an American is a victim of sexual assault.”
Junior Mike Porter, who has participated in the walk for three years, says that although the event has been successful in highlighting the issue of sexual rape, assault and gender violence, it deserves more attention in order to eliminate the problem.
“I’d say it’s more of an issue than people give it credit for,” Porter says. “[The goal is] stopping the attitude that’s causing the problem.”
Sophomore George Gradwell says the event addresses the persisting problem of domestic violence.
“We keep hearing about abusive relationships,” Gradwell says. “Those numbers are very high. That’s why it’s important to do this.”
Scott Michels, a speaker at the event, talked with the students about his work shedding light on sexual assault, notably working in conjunction with Delaware MEN, the Delaware Men’s Education Network. The organization prompts men in the community to take a strong stand against wrongful and violent acts, especially against women.
He discussed the stereotypes associated with fraternities and the roles of college-age males in society.
“Speaking for myself, [college-age males] are role models,” Michels says. “I want them to have the courage to stand up and stop [acts of violence], to end some of the concepts that lead to action, such as sexual jokes.”
Paul Hengesteg, the event coordinator and program coordinator for the university’s Office of Equity and Inclusion, emphasized in his speech at the event that members of society should not assume that females are the only victims of sexual assault, and that associating all males with acts of violence is not justified.
“Most men don’t rape, and not all men abuse,” Hengesteg says. “So it’s useless to point fingers.”
Freshman Sara Marin, a pledge for Delta Gamma, says members of the sorority gathered to watch the procession.
“I do know things happen all over, on different campuses, on the news, all around the world—the statistics show it,” Marin says. “Seeing how many guys participated and all the advertisement shows all the support they have for women.”
She says the event had an impact on members of the university community.
“It was really influential for everyone on campus,” Marin says. “They were adorable.”
Junior Jake Conley says in addition to raising awareness, the event has the power to alter stereotypes.
“I think it’s a good cause a lot of people overlook,” Conley says. “I think doing this redefines stereotypes, especially for fraternities. We need to keep doing that.”
Many students, including Gradwell, say they will participate in the event again next year.
“How do I like my heels? They are fantastic,” Gradwell says. “They are for a good cause. We need to improve awareness.”