The male student body at California University of Pennsylvania put its heart and “sole” into a special event Thursday.
Men slipped into baby pink pumps – in not-so-baby sizes – and joined the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” movement to spread awareness about gender violence.
And by the time the shoes came off, the difference they made was tangible.
“I couldn’t feel my toes after I was done,” said Joe Karnash, a sophomore secondary education major who participated in his second walk.
About 175 students and faculty joined Cal U.’s fifth annual march this week, coordinated through the university’s End Violence Center. The event is held nationwide and serves as an “international men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence.”
According to the organization’s website, the event is “a playful opportunity for men to raise awareness in their community about the serious causes, effects and remediations to men’s sexualized violence against women.”
The goal of the march is to get men talking about sexual assault because it is “not just a women’s issue,” but rather an epidemic that affects one in six American women, according to statistics from various organizations.
Karnash said he joined his fraternity brothers of Phi Gamma Delta to support a great cause – “something that men everywhere should support.”
Nancy Skobel, director of the End Violence Center, said many students approached a podium after walking and explained why they joined the event. Others yelled encouraging messages like “We’re doing this for you” to female students passing by. Others carried signs supporting women and wore “Pump Up” T-shirts.
“It was just a great group of guys who care about this issue,” Skobel said, adding that “a few had a greater appreciation of what it feels like to walk in heels.”