ODU protests sexual assault with Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

Updated: Aug 4, 2018

Alex Scruggs | News Editor

Maybe the pain is what participants take away, maybe its what makes them understand. “On a pain scale of one to 10, an 11,” said Dariel Taylor, an ODU senior participating in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. “I’m going to make it through this mile because women do it every day, so what’s a mile going to hurt?”

The event wasn’t raising awareness for the pain of high heels, though. According to Rainn.org, one out of every six American women has been the victim of attempted or completed rape. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes attempted to bring awareness to the issue of women and sexual assault. “I’m here because I think its very very important for men to stand with women against sexual violence… I love our women,” said Taylor. “It’s important to know that we’re here for them and will always support them.”

The event, put on by the Women’s Center, started with hundreds of high-heeled shoes. Men lined up to grab a pair and put them on, observed by women, who traditionally wore flats. With the roles being reversed, awareness is supposed to be brought to the issue of sexual assault, and the disparity of women affected by it.

Before the march started up, President Broderick stood at a podium in front of Webb Center and briefly addressed the crowd. “I’m guessing that we have three or four or maybe even 500 of you here. That says a lot about us,” said Broderick. “Hopefully one day we won’t have to gather for causes like this.”

This was the 10th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. University Vice Provost Brian Payne, speaking before Broderick, said that over 275 men signed up, which is “our largest crowd ever.”

Participants walked from the front of Webb, up the south side of Kaufman Mall, stopped at Monarch Hall, turned toward Dragas Hall, and then marched back to the front of Webb. Not quite a mile, but the message was still clear.

Charity Grahm, an M-Power volunteer with the Women’s Center, said, “I want the guys to take away certain aspects of what it feels to be like I am. What it feels like to go through something traumatic. For the way that society is set up, to understand the negative parts of it and get a bigger picture.”

Connor Simpson, a junior and member of the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity, said, “I support the cause. I can’t fully understand what (women) go through, but I sympathize.” Simpson wore high heels like most men, and like most men, his heels clashed with his outfit. “You know, we are Greek, we’re a male organization, we understand the stereotypes of us… we don’t stand for that, we don’t support it,” said Simpson. “We’re here to be the change, the motivation to spark that revolution.”

In addition to Broderick and Payne, several university administrators were in attendance. “I’m not just to observe, I’m here to participate. I’m here to show that in safety for women, it’s not just a women’s issue. It’s all of our issue,” said Austin Agho, university provost. “I hope the message is that we all believe that we are in this together.” Agho wore what appeared to be zebra-print heels. Upon closer inspection, however, they were found to be flats in the image of heels.

Walk a Mile wouldn’t have been complete without plenty of women watching, and even helping. Emily Levy, a freshman, was there to support her friends, “They don’t know how to walk in heels,” she said.

“Yes I do, I can do tricks,” said one friend, rolling his ankles.

“No, I’m looking at you right now. They can’t walk in heels, so I’ve got to teach them.”