There is an old saying: “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” On October 7, 2009, the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” program is calling all men and women to “get their swagger on and strut in stilettos” to protest rape, sexual assault and gender violence. This program asks men to literally walk one mile in women’s high-heeled shoes throughout Millersville University to protest.
It is not easy walking in these shoes, but it is a fun way to get the community to talk about something really difficult to discuss: gender relations and sexual violence.
Frank Baird first proposed “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence” in 2001. Donna Cargas, who is part of the Millersville University Police Department, was the one who thought to bring the idea to campus.
The program provides several opportunities to get people talking as well as helping men better understand and appreciate women’s experiences. The walk hopes to change perspectives as well as improving gender relationships and decreasing the potential for violence.
Sexualized violence does not only affect women; it affects the men who care about either them, their families, their friends, their coworkers, or other communities. Every two minutes someone in America is raped and one in six American women are victims of sexual assault. That means someone you care about, someone you know, has been or may become the victim of sexual violence.
The walk is being organized by the Elsie S. Shenk Wellness and Women’s Program and the Millersville University Police Department, where a portion of the proceeds from sponsored walkers will benefit Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County. They are also collecting items for the women and children in the local domestic violence shelter. Drop-off boxes can be found in all resident halls, the Montour House, and the Lebanon House.
The opening ceremonies and on-site registration are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on October 7th outside of the Student memorial Center by the bookstore entrance with the walk beginning at 6 p.m. Walk on registrants are welcomed to join. Men are encouraged (but not required) to walk in women’s shoes as well as to bring their own high heels because there will be a limited number available at the event for those who do not have their own shoes. Participants are being asked to obtain a minimum of $10 in sponsorships.