No one knows better than most women what it’s like to walk in high heel shoes. But several men got the opportunity to experience that last week for a serious cause.
About 20 male faculty, staff and students at St. Xavier University put on red, black, white or blue high heels and walked a mile around the university’s Chicago campus to raise awareness about sexual violence against women and to kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.
This is the university’s second year holding the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event, which took place March 30 at SXU’s Chicago campus, 3700 W. 103rd St.
“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence” is a fun opportunity for men to literally walk one mile in women’s high heel shoes while raising awareness and getting the community to talk about the serious issue of sexual violence against women.
According to facts and figures on display during last the event at SXU, rape results in about 32,000 pregnancies each year; 38 percent of rapists are a friend or an acquaintance; and the presence of a bystander makes a completed rape 44 percent less likely.
Anna Goldman, head coordinator of SXU’s “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event, said a lot of men expressed following the success of last year’s occasion that they didn’t want it to be the end, so the walk was held again this year.
“Even though it’s a kind of fun, silly event, there’s nothing fun or silly about violence,” said Goldman, who walked alongside the men as they marched in heels and carried signs about violence against women. “It is to let people know how prevalent sexual violence is on campus.”
One in four college women will be a victim of rape during her academic career, and less than five percent of college victims file a police report, according to the facts and figures on display.
John Pelrine Jr., SXU’s vice president of student affairs and one of the men who participated in the walk, said students are educated as soon as they arrive to the university about sexual assault.
“We do a lot of education from the day they arrive here for the orientation program,” Pelrine said. “We try to bring the issue to the forefront. And there are strict policies in place where anyone is held accountable for their behavior.”
Pelrine said most of the men in the walk have experience with knowing someone with a background in violence. And that he thinks it’s important for people in the community to see prominent men be involved in such a cause.
Brandon Swanson, assistant director for alumni relations, who also participated in the walk, said he hoped people in the community would take away that sexual violence against women is happening.
“They’ll be able to see the statistics and know that really happens,” Swanson said. “It may be people you work with or who are in your family. Make sure you see the signs and are aware. If they reach out to you, be that support system.”