Strutting their Stuff
Thursday, Apr. 17, 2014
SAAVI volunteer Macy Keith leads a group of men and women in support of awareness about sexual assault at the Walk A Mil in Her Shoes event. Walk A Mile is iconic for putting men in women's high heels. (Mikayla Kapp photos, the Statesman Online)
The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman or the Hard News Café or both for inclusion in Utah State Today.
Strutting their Stuff
Some traded dress shoes for decorated flip-flops; others swapped sneakers for shiny red heels. No matter their footwear, men and women joined together Wednesday afternoon [April 16] to Walk A Mile in Her Shoes.
This is the ninth year the Sexaul Assault and Anti-Violence Information Office has sponsored the national campaign to march against rape, sexual assault and gender violence. More than 60 men pre-registered to walk; more signed up on the day of the event.
Jenny Erazo, SAAVI coordinator, said the purpose of the march is to demonstrate that gender violence is a problem that needs to concern all people, regardless of their gender.
“Overall, the message I’d like to send with this is that rape and sexual assault, having a safe campus, it’s not just a woman’s issue,” she said. “Men are survivors. Women are survivors. There is something everybody can do to play a role in it.”
Macy Keith, a communication studies major and SAAVI volunteer who led the first march, kept up the energy of the group by leading the chants and cheers. She said Walk A Mile puts men in a woman’s shoes, literally and figuratively.
“Getting (men) more involved in this campaign in ending rape culture is the most important thing,” Keith said. “It’s a battle on both sides of the gender front … We can only do so much when it’s just women going to these events.”
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, one in five women will experience sexual violence at one point in their lives. The Utah Department of Health reports one in three Utah women will experience some form of sexual assault, and one in eight will be raped.
“I work at the counseling center, and too many of our clients experience sexual assault and other forms of violence,” said Steven Lucero, a psychologist for Counseling and Psychological Services. “I feel like it’s a problem on our campus and nationwide for men, women and everybody in between to have to worry about their own safety.”
Erazo said she understands sexual violence is an uncomfortable topic and sees this event as a stepping stone to progress.
“Not everybody is passionate about rape and sexual assault,” she said. “So, if you’re not comfortable sitting in an hour-long presentation about this, but you are comfortable to slap on some red shoes and walk a mile and hold a sign, I’m going to meet you where you’re at … A seed has been planted.”
Members of the club Fight the New Drug also joined the march to show support. Fight the New Drug is dedicated to spreading awareness of the negative effects of pornography in relationships.
Scott Henninger, the club director, said viewing pornography and date rape are correlated; people are more likely to believe rape myths such as, “the victim was asking for it,” if they have viewed pornography.
“We wanted to partner with SAAVI,” Henninger said. “They’re doing a lot of good things, and we have a lot of things in common. We’re all about supporting real love, not any of the fake stuff.”
Brandon Hustead, a sophomore majoring in physics, said the heels were hard to manage, but he walked to show his support for the anti-rape campaign.
“It should be important to everyone,” he said. “Why wouldn’t it be important? … People aren’t really open about it, and they don’t really know until they see these statistics. Hopefully it opens the eyes a little more and people will want to do something about it.”
For others, the walk was more personal. Nicolas Haws, an electrical engineering major, said it’s important for him to support this cause.
“I have five sisters, and heaven forbid anything like rape would ever happen to them,” he said. “So I really support this cause.”