Men from across the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh community will fit themselves into pairs of high-heeled shoes and walk in support of “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” May 1 to raise awareness about the effects and impact of sexual violence.
The event is hosted by the Women’s Center and is co-sponsored by a collective body of UW Oshkosh departments, including the Athletics department, the Veterans Resource Center and the LGBTQ Resource Center. Registration for the event, which will begin in Titan Underground at 4:30 p.m., is $5 with proceeds going to Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services and Reach Counseling Services.
Though the walk is open to people associated with any gender, men are encouraged to wear high heels and women are encouraged to wear whatever feels comfortable to complete the one mile walk.
“This conversation is often seen as a women’s issue, but we need more men to stand as our allies,” said Geneva Murray, director of the Women’s Center on campus. “Very few men are perpetrators of violence, and we want to have a loud message on our campus that men should be women’s allies. They should stand with us and everyone in saying that violence, street harassment and discrimination are not acceptable at UW Oshkosh. We are all Titans, and we should all stand together.”
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes began in 2001 as a way to raise awareness about sexual violence, as well as show how this form of violence affects both women and the men involved in their lives. Since then, events have sprung up across the nation and have spread across the globe, with some as far as Uganda and Taiwan.
Murray said UW Oshkosh’s event is attempting to expand this message to the LGBTQ community as well.
“Sexual violence can happen to people within the LGBTQ community. It can also happen to cis-heterosexual women or cis-heterosexual men,” she said. “We support the message of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes but think it’s important for us to consider how the message can be expanded on our campus.”
Liz Cannon, director of the LGBTQ Resource Center at UW Oshkosh, said the Walk fits into the LGBTQ Resource Center’s mission of educating and showing commitment to these issues.
“Gender violence is a serious issue in the LGBTQ community. Many individuals are targets because their gender identity falls outside the accepted norms of gender expression,” Cannon said. “We applaud cisgender men who will show their support by wearing high heels and not see this behavior as a joke but as a way to show solidarity with both women, cisgender and transgender, and gender nonconforming individuals.”
Alyssa Kreitzman is a student intern and peer educator at Campus for Awareness and Relationship Education (CARE), also co-sponsoring the event, who said CARE taught her of the prevalence and seriousness of sexual violence.
“Rape, sexual assault and gender violence are not simply women’s issues. The many victims and survivors of these crimes are mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, grandmothers and wives to the men in this community,” she said. “Men’s lives are affected by violence against women too… men are the majority committing these crimes, however, it is only a small number of our nation’s men. It is necessary that men understand what it is like for women to experience gender violence and for them to take a stand next to the beloved women in their lives to end it.”
Murray said that booths will be set up at the event to display information about resources and how people can get involved in sexual violence awareness.
“The important thing to remember is that this walk is not the end of the discussion,” Murray said. “We want people to get more involved with the groups on campus that are educating people, and each other, about healthy relationships.”