The Women’s Center hosted the 11th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser last Thursday in the quad to raise awareness of gender violence, rape and sexual assault.
Each year, male participants wear high heels in order to better relate to and appreciate women’s daily experiences.
The goal is to change men’s perspectives on issues that affect women.
“It helps raise awareness about a serious issue but in a fun way,” Women’s Center Director Brenda Bethman said. “There’s always a big turnout, especially with fraternity members and sports teams.”
As participants arrived, the quad became engulfed by a sea of men wearing pink T-shirts said that read, “Put yourself in her shoes,” provided by the Women’s Center.
Women’s Center staff members and volunteers organized the event. Informational tables were set up with pamphlets about preventing violence and abuse, as part of the UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project’s educational mission.
Proceeds of $2,000, from the registration fees, benefited the UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project. The project’s self-stated mission is to provide “victim support services, advocacy, training, education and outreach to the campus and community.”
Registration fees ranged from $15 for students who brought their own shoes to $50 for non-students with shoes provided by the Women’s Center.
The majority of shoes offered were purchased with Women’s Center funds. Others were donated.
In order to accommodate every male participant, the Women’s Center provided shoes up to size 18.
Freshman Kris Webb wore fire-engine red stilettos. “It’s for a great cause,” Webb said. “I did it last year and it was painful but I’m doing it again.”
Sophomore Daniel Beeman wore glittery platforms. “I’m participating partly because I want to walk around in heels for a day,” Beeman said. “The other part is because it’s for a good cause.”
Habib Hassan, cultural events coordinator for the Activity and Program Council, sported classic black patent leather pumps with matching black tube socks.
“I feel like it’s important for me to support women. It’s something that affects us all,” he said.
Lively music blasted as participants arrived and strapped on their shoes. Prior to the walk, Bethman thanked sponsors and participants then introduced guest speaker Scott Mason from the nonprofit Rose Brooks Center, which works with victims
of domestic violence.
Mason related the importance of ending violence and abuse against women to personal experience, having witnessed the abuse of his mother for years.
He encouraged the participants to not just wear the shoes, but to think about and discuss their meaning. He stressed men can end gender violence as opposed to being the perpetrators.
At the conclusion of the opening speeches, an entertaining dance spectacle kick-started the walk. A pale pink ribbon was broken as the parade of men proudly marched through the quad toward Rockhill Road.
While most of the participants sported women’s shoes, some men decided to keep their original footwear and show support with the event T-shirt.
Many of the participants held decorated signs in support of the movement to end sexual violence. Some read, “Rape hurts all of us,” “I take no as an answer” and “Men can help stop rape.”