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High heels, hairy legs

Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 01:04

walk a mile

Tanner Garza

Traversing the treacherous terrain of a mile’s worth of uneven sidewalk while sporting bright red high-heeled shoes, men showed support for sexual assault survivors Tuesday evening at the 3rd annual Walk A Mile in Her Shoes event.

Angel Glover, Walk A Mile in Her Shoes coordinator and doctoral student in clinical psychology, said the event is about men and women working together to fight against sexual assault.

“Traditionally it’s been the idea that sexual assault is a women’s issue so it’s the idea of getting guys involved as well in fighting sexual assault,” Glover said. “So that’s kind of the basic understanding of the event.”

Jillian Gonzales, senior psychology and women’s and gender studies major, said that because sexual violence is a hard thing to discuss, the event is a creative way to get people talking about sexual violence.

“It’s a real problem, it’s something that people don’t talk a lot about here but it’s something that happens that we need to be aware of so we can stop it from happening,” Gonzalez said.

The event featured a group of 27 registered participants made up of current students, former students, Blinn students, professors and members of the University Police Department.

Heather Wheeler, Program Coordinator of the Women's Resource Center, said although the event is meant to raise awareness and can be amusing, it also serves to inform participants and curious bystanders who try to get a look at the odd spectacle.

“As you can imagine — at Texas A&M University — a gaggle of men wearing red high heel shoes attracts some attention,” Wheeler said. “Every tenth of a mile there is a sign that has a fact either from the Centers for Disease Control, Department of Justice or the FBI that talks about some sexual violence statistics, so what it does is that as people go by and they see these different signs, they learn about some of what the actual truths are about sexual assault in our society.”

Tracy Lowe, full-time staff member of the Women’s Resource Center, said although the event is outwardly geared more to sexual violence against women, male survivors of sexual assault are not dismissed.

It’s not just about women, it’s about everyone because men also experience sexual violence and personal violence,” Lowe said. “So it’s a really good walk to demonstrate the support from males and females who support each other for the cause.”

Glover said when registered participants walk with friends or family, it represents the symbolism of the event.

“Walking a mile in red heels symbolizes journey of walking together,” Glover said. “Women are definitely walking together, but it’s the idea of men and women and families walking together – so supporting each other together.”

Raising $483, interim chief of the UPD Mike Ragan took home the Fundraiser of the Year award and said he didn’t have much hope of making the mile journey in heels.

“I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to make a mile,” Ragan said. “I started off I made it about a hundred yards and then I was like ‘That’s it.’”

Having recruited seven members from his dorm, the Recruiter of the Year award was given to Mobolaji Laja-Akintayo, junior psychology major and resident advisor of Dunn Hall.

“Whenever there were times that I felt like I was about to twist my ankle or something, there was always someone saying, ‘You got it! You got it! You’re almost there!’ So it’s certainly good to have a support factor,” Laja-akincayo said.

Being a survivor of sexual assault herself, Wheeler said support – even from strangers – is an important step in the healing process.

“For me I think this event is important because I am a survivor of sexual assault and I know how important it is in the healing process to know that you are supported – even if it’s by people that you don’t know,” Wheeler said.

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