Dozens of guys teetered down the stairwell at Boucke Building, unsteady on their feet, not sure how to maneuver.
They lurched and wobbled, but they powered through. They were determined to show they were up to the challenge.
The task? Mastering the high-heeled shoe. The reason? The stairwell was between the Penn State Center for Women Students, on the second floor of Boucke, and the rallying point outside — where the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event was stepping off.
It is the fourth year for the walk, during which the Penn State Men Against Violence don women’s shoes and parade along Pollock Road to bring attention to violence against women for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
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“I think it’s something that is usually seen as a women’s issue,” said adviser Dylan Howser, a graduate assistant in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. “It won’t stop until people see it as a human issue.”
That starts with men stepping up and standing up.
“I joined because I recently committed myself to nonviolence,” said sophomore Michael Banerjee.
“The point is not to trivialize. It’s to get to a point where we can start a conversation.”
His friend, sophomore Brynne Travis, is happy to see men taking a stand for the issue, and acknowledges that the spectacle is part of how they are focusing attention.
“I think sometimes you have to use humor in college,” she said. “But there’s only so much humor you can use.”
The picture of a crowd of college guys stomping down Pollock Road like a fashion runway in strappy silver sandals, blood red stilettos and one pair of patent-leather platform pumps did bring more than a few laughs.
But it also brought an even larger crowd of onlookers to hear the message and see the banners.
One proudly held sign proclaimed, “I am man enough to walk a mile in her shoes.”