Penn State

Marchers make statement about sexual violence against women

Video: Penn State's Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event

The annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event hosted by Men Against Violence at Penn State was held to benefit the Centre County Women's Resource Center March 28, 2016.
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The annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event hosted by Men Against Violence at Penn State was held to benefit the Centre County Women's Resource Center March 28, 2016.

It’s not every day that you see Penn State President Eric Barron trotting around the HUB in pointed-toe pumps.

But in Alumni Hall on Monday afternoon, he made an exception and a statement regarding what he called “a very noble cause.”

That cause: sexual violence against women. The event: Penn State’s sixth annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march.

The march, which asks men to literally put on a pair of pumps, mostly red, and walk a mile, has flourished into an internationally acclaimed movement, aiming to promote awareness regarding sexual violence against women. This week, Penn State’s Center for Women Students expanded the event to include a plethora of additional events, including a discussion moderated by Eve Ensler, the author of “The Vagina Monologues,” Monday. This event comes at the beginning of the final week of Women’s History Month.

“I think men play an incredibly important role against violence against women,” said Barron to a mostly male audience of Penn State students. “You’re making a statement and making a difference not only to the nation, but also to the world.”

“You can’t know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes, as the famous line goes. It’s important for people to see this,” said Tim Donovan, coordinator for Penn State’s Men Against Violence.

Sexual and domestic violence run rampant in Pennsylvania. According to the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, a woman or child is killed every three days due to domestic violence.

One of the women who fights in the trenches against this violence is Centre County Women’s Resource Center Director Anne Ard. Ard also attended the march and spoke Monday, sharing her experiences as an advocate.

Ard told the audience that in 2015 alone her organization assisted more than 1,500 victims of domestic violence in Centre County.

“I would like for you to put me out of business,” she said regarding the future of eliminating violence against women.

“If you can take your mind off your aching feet for a minute, then you can look around and perhaps see the pain of others, perhaps victims, both men and women, on this very campus, as you make your way down Pollock Road this afternoon,” Ard said.

And to some, the line between victim and violator starts with consent. In exchange for the definition of consent, attendees received a free T-shirt with the words “yes means yes,” from the Center for Women Students.

On a small piece of paper, each attendant was given the definition, which is considered “a voluntary agreement to engage in specific sexual activity during a sexual encounter. It is informed, freely and actively given, mutually understandable words or actions which indicate a willingness to participate in an agreed upon sexual activity.”

Outside, aching feet were met with will and determination as the men poured out of Alumni Hall, into the HUB foyer and into waves onto Pollock Road.

“We definitely care about domestic violence against women and sexual violence against women,” said Neil Baldasan, a petroleum engineering student and member of Beta Theta Pi, donning bright red pumps and a smile.

Many stopped to snapchat and photograph the group of men walking down Pollock Road, while a few others stopped to reflect, cheering them on.

It takes a ton of guts to put on heels and tell what society has largely portrayed as a mostly female narrative.

TaNeel Real Bird

“I think it’s amazing to see men doing this,” said TaNeel Real Bird. “It takes a ton of guts to put on heels and tell what society has largely portrayed as a mostly female narrative.”

Jalelah Ahmed: 814-231-4631, @jalelahahmed

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