Hannah Collings – Staff Writer
Nearly 40 men signed up to receive and wear a pair of 2-inch, bright red heels and walk around Clarion to bring awareness to and end sexual violence last Wednesday, April 12.
The Clarion V-Day Project and Passages co-hosted Clarion University’s 3rd annual Walk a Mile in her Shoes, an international initiative begun in 2001 by men speaking out against sexual violence.
Since the majority of sexual crimes are committed against women, the aim of the event is to create male allies for females in the fight against sexual violence.
Student Cole Johnson was a first-time walker. He said his six sisters drove him to walk a mile.
“I don’t want anything bad to happen to any of my sisters,” Johnson said. “And I noticed I haven’t been taking an active role in setting an example for how men should treat women in their lives.”
“Maybe they’ll see that there brother is standing up for women who don’t want to be sexually assaulted or raped or discriminated against.”
Walkers met in the Gemmell Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) to receive heels and make signs. A PowerPoint presentation played on a screen with facts about Walk a Mile, sexual violence statistics and how to respond to someone who says they are a victim of sexual violence.
After men registered and put on their heels, they and more than 60 other men, women and children walked from the MPR, across campus and into downtown Clarion. Walkers crossed Main Street at the corner beyond the post office, turned back toward campus and ended the walk in the MPR.
Several men put packing tape over the tops of their feet to secure ill-fitting heels.
Zachary Shoup, second-time walker, but first-time heal-wearer said, “I’m very excited because it’s actually going to be the real experience, what it was made for.” But Shoup admitted, “It’s tough walking in them.”
Many men struggled and limped through the mile. A man who has walked the mile in heels for three years, Anthony Haone, said he and his fraternity brothers do a yearly sprint to the finish line.
Signs were posted around the MPR that said: “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?,” “No more slut shaming” and “Put yourself in her shoes.”
Passages is an organization which supports and provides counseling for those who experience sexual violence. It began at Clarion University in the 1980s. Passages provides free services in Clarion, Clearfield and Jefferson Counties.