Some may have wobbled, some may have tripped, but they all walked tall in their high heels.
Friday marked the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, part of series of Penn State events focusing on Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Dozens of male students donned high heel shoes for a walk down Pollock Road from the HUB-Robeson Center to Old Main in support of survivors of sexual violence.
All men participating were provided with a pair of high heels, most of them red, in sizes up to 14. The shoes have been specially made in men’s sizes and collected over the years, said graduate student and event participant Anna Jantz.
“We’re always excited for this event,” Jantz said. “It’s a great event to bring out lots of men and engage them in the issue of sexual violence and prevention.”
Friday marked the seventh year of Walk a Mile, she said, and it helps bring focus on long-standing action against sexual violence. The event continues to be hosted by the university’s Men Against Violence group through the Center for Women Students.
MAV representative John Broderick explained the importance of recognizing that sexual violence affects everyone, that people of all genders can be victims and perpetrators. While sexual assault is often viewed as a womean’s issue, men are able to show to the community their support through events like Walk a Mile.
A student, identified as Liz, said last year she became part of the statistic that one in four women are victims of sexual assault.
“I know you may hear the statistic and not realize how big of an issue this is,” she said. “You never understand what it means to be a survivor, but by putting on these heels today, you are taking a first step in helping anyone who does know.”
The heels symbolize the story of someone who has experienced sexual assault, she said, and encouraged everyone while walking to think about the vulnerable women in their lives and to stand up and help women.
“There is so much you can be doing to end sexual violence,” she said, “and it starts today.”