It was an unusual sight at Penn State DuBois on Wednesday as more than two dozen male students walked together around campus wearing red high heels. The walk also took them off campus and down Liberty Boulevard, as women showing their support to the cause walked alongside the guys to cheer them on.
The men were participating in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, a men's march meant to raise awareness of the battle against rape, sexual assault and gender violence. The event was organized by Passages of Clarion, Clearfield and Jefferson Counties, in conjunction with the Penn State DuBois Office of Student Life. The idea behind the march is to get men more involved in issues surrounding sex crimes.
"Most of the time people think of sexual violence as a women's issue, but men are really the ones who can make a difference," said April Fleck, a prevention educator with Passages. "We want men to become aware of what they can do to step in and stop these things from happening. If they see something or know of something happening, we want them to do what they can to stop it."
Fleck said the event also raises awareness of the fact that women aren't the only victims of these crimes. She said, "When you ignore men, you also ignore that one in six males will be a victim of sexual violence before the age of 18."
Staying true to the name of the event, the Penn State DuBois men really did walk a full mile in high heels supplied to them by the Office of Student Life. They walked through campus, then down Liberty Boulevard in DuBois and back. The route had been designated earlier, and measured to be exactly one mile.
"It's definitely different," said student Evan Aravich, of Brockway, about wearing the women's shoes. "I can't imagine why or how women wear these things all day."
"They're higher than I thought they would be," said student Ben Fordoski, as he balanced cautiously, taking his first few steps in this unfamiliar footwear.
At the end of the walk, most of the men agreed that it was a fun way to try something they've never done before while making a positive statement.
"It's something I never had a chance to do, wearing high heels, and it should definitely make a statement," Fordoski said.
Aravich said, "It's a good cause, and it should show the community that we're fighting against sexual abuse."