Some men walking down Pollock Road yesterday afternoon only had one question for passerby — “Are you man enough to wear heels?”
Clad in colorful high heels, more than 40 men “strutted their stuff” in the second annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march, which was the final event held for Sexual Assault Awareness week.
The march was organized by the Center for Women Students and Penn State Men Against Violence.
Before the march, MAV Vice President Mark Sousa spoke to the crowd, saying on his way over to the march he looked at the trees blooming and realized spring is a time of new beginnings.
“We see this event as the conclusion [to Sexual Assault Awareness Week], but it also signifies a new beginning that us as men want to make a difference,” Sousa (senior-nuclear engineering) said.
Sousa said that everyone was there in honor of those affected by sexual violence in order to regain something that might have been taken away and to help eradicate the problem of sexual violence.
Once the march began, the group made its way from the Boucke Building down to Burrowes Road and back along Pollock Road, with support coming from all sides along the way.
Both men and women stood on the sides or walked along with the group encouraging the men to keep going and expressing their appreciation for what they were doing.
Tessa Capperella, who also walked in the march, said the march and the men who participated in the walk impressed her.
“It’s awesome to see all these guys because usually you have the stereotypical men who won’t do something like this,” Capperella (junior-labor studies) said.
Many participants walked with little to no problems while some hobbled to keep up with the crowd. However, a group of men from Lion Ambassadors decided to participate by adding their own twist to the walk — namely, by walking backwards.
Andrew Coleman, donning a pair of red high heels, said a few of his friends who were walking are involved with Lion Ambassadors and since they have to give tours of the campus by walking backwards, he said they wanted to do the same for the walk.
“We hoped by walking backwards we would attract attention and people would see what we were doing more,” Coleman (sophomore-mechanical engineering) said.
Coleman added that his aching feet gave him a new appreciation for women who wear high heels.
Susan DelPonte, a student affairs specialist at Penn State’s Center for Women Students, walked with the participants and pointed to a sign that said, “Sexual Assault IS a Man’s Issue.”
“It’s true because many, although not all, of the people who commit acts of sexual violence are men,” DelPonte said.
She said the march was a way for men to understand and feel the pain of rape and sexual assault survivors. The only way to know what that type of pain could be like was to walk a mile in their shoes, she said.
DelPonte was very impressed with the turnout of men and called them brave for walking in support of the cause.
“I think it’s fabulous and all men should do it,” DelPonte said.
After the march ended, the men limped inside to change their shoes while Ryan Brown dropped down on the front steps of Boucke, saying he gave credit to all the women who wear heels on a normal day.
“I walked a mile in her shoes, and I’m exhausted,” Brown (junior-integrative arts) said.
“My feet are terrible,” Sousa agreed. “But it’s a good feeling.”