Men came together from various Northwest Missouri State campus organizations, slid into red high heels and strutted their way across town April 17. Around 50 men participated in the event to raise awareness about the causes, effects and remediations to men’s sexualized violence.
A total of $1,081 was raised for the event and donated to the North Star Advocacy Center.
This year, the national Walk a Mile in Her Shoes organization celebrates 20 years of its founding. At Northwest, the event is hosted annually by the Interfraternity Council.
To kick off the event, participants joined at the bell tower where two guest speakers reminded them of the importance behind Walk a Mile.
One of the speakers, Monica Zeigel, the University Hope 4 All coordinator, informed participants that a sexual assault takes place every 73 seconds in the United States — a majority of these assualts committed by men.
“There’s an old saying that, ‘You can’t understand a person unless you walk a mile in their shoes,’” Zeigel said.
Zeigel continued that although the heels may be uncomfortable and difficult to walk in, it helps represent the “uncomfortables” of being a woman.
Following the speakers, the men marched their way to the Nodaway County Courthouse. All but one participant was able to make it through the full route due to his shoes being uncomfortably too large.
Sophomore Grant McRobert, risk management chair for Delta Sigma Phi, participated in Walk a Mile for his first time.
“It’s just taking steps, starting conversations that men need to have,” McRobert said.
He said he walked the mile to promote the cause and to make a statement against sexual assault. McRobert noted he participated on behalf of Delta Sigma Phi and its support for the advocacy center.
McRobert recalled his experience marching in heels.
“It was awful; my toes were on fire,” McRobert said. “It was fun, but we were all suffering equally.”
McRobert joked he power-walked through the march, making his way to first place.
Junior Kevin Nguyen, Interfraternity Council vice president of philanthropy and community service, planned this year’s Walk a Mile event.
Nguyen, who also participated in the march, bought himself his own pair of heels for the event. He said the heels he purchased were too big for him, resulting in him stuffing the toes with socks for more stability.
“It was rather painful,” Nguyen said. “Especially walking downhill in the heels with my toes, like, pressing up against the heels. It was not the greatest, but it’s part of the advocacy that we do.”
Nguyen said men wearing high heels helps draw community attention to the reasoning behind Walk a Mile.
Because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Nguyen said the Interfraternity Council tries to hold Walk a Mile during this month each year.
Nguyen said Walk a Mile is meant to educate the community and allow them to have conversations about the fight against gender-based violence, sexual assault and domestic violence. Another reason he added for participating in the march was to advocate for those who may be afraid to speak out by uplifting the victims’ voices and supporting them as much as possible.
“I think it’s just a part of the statement that it makes,” Nguyen said. “Seeing, you know, a group of like 50 men wearing bright red pumps — it makes quite an impact.”