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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Heels bring sex crime awareness to new heights

 
 

Donning red high heels, more than 100 men took to campus streets and sidewalks to raise awareness for sexual violence.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes was hosted by the Women’s Resource Center and the Student Anti-Violence Educators Tuesday in Koldus Plaza. Supported by wives, daughters and friends, the men walked a mile course in three-inch-tall red heels. Holding signs that said, “I am man enough to walk a mile in her shoes,” participants hoped to bring visibility to sexual violence in the community.
Sonia Mahabir, assistant coordinator for the Women’s Resource Center, said it was significant to host this on a college campus because colleges are home to the populations most affected by sexual violence.
“We have seen from research and statistics that women in college, ages 18-24, are in the age group that is most likely to be victims of sexual violence,” Mahabir said. “You have to think of the environment – they are new, they don’t have a comfort zone. There are people who know how to prey on these women.”
Mahbabir said the number of participants doubled and visibility vastly improved from the previous year’s event.
Brooke Joplin, donations manager for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes and senior psychology major, said the organizations involved used this increased interest to dispel perpetuated stereotypes about sexual violence.
“We’re trying to raise awareness that sexual violence is not just a female issue,” Joplin said. “So many times it’s portrayed by the media as a female-only issue, but males can be victims too. It’s a way for men to take charge of sexual violence. Usually its females taking charge for other females.”
Ryan Cano, communication specialist for the department of multicultural services, said his sexual orientation and work with the GLBT Resource Center has given him a unique perspective on the interconnectedness of gender and identity. Cano said wearing heels can be used as a tool of emancipation from societal gender roles.
“I feel empowered,” Cano said. “I identify as genderqueer, which shares aspects of the male and female genders. Walking in heels connects to the female aspects of my life. I think it shows that gender is a social construct and we can use it to empower people.”
The University Police Department participated in the walk. Ed Costello, UPD sergeant, said he hopes participating in the event will help male police officers identify with women and make the officers more approachable. Walking in heels, Costello said, helps him view sexual violence from a woman’s perspective.
“Just the idea to walk in someone else’s shoes, just for a mile, helps people experience what someone else goes through,” Costello said. “The heels are symbolic. It gives you a different perspective and allows you to empathize with what someone else.”
First-time participant William Rapisand, sophomore chemical engineering major, said not only were the heels themselves symbolic, but the act of men walking in a mile in heels meant much more.
“The power to stand up in heels symbolizes the physical effort to stand up for yourself,” Rapisand said. “It’s one thing to have women showing support for their own rights. But here you have a diversity of genders and ethnicities showing their support. It shows that we are all fighting for the same thing.”
Proceeds from the event benefited educational programs to raise awareness in hopes of preventing future sexual assaults on campus.

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