Men walk for sexual assault awareness


Men walking the streets in high heels is not a common sight in the U.P.; but in Marquette, it is spectacle with a purpose. To recognize National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, men will be walking a mile in women’s heels to get a small sense of what it is to be female.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. in the Michigan and Huron rooms of the University Center, and the walk will start at 6:30 p.m. in front of the University Center.

“The purpose of this event is to bring awareness to our community that sexual assault actually occurs and that we would like support to help put an end to sexual assault and violence,” said Kelly Laakso, sexual assault advocate for the Women’s Center and co-creator of the event.

The presentation before the walk will include a testimonial from a survivor speaker on the healing process after domestic abuse and The Clothesline Project will also be on display.

The Clothesline Project is an exhibit of T-shirts that are a testament to violence against women.

About 30 men have signed up to walk in heels, but Laakso said men can just show up to walk or support those who are walking.

“The walk is in high heels just so men can experience a portion of what it’s like to be a woman. If someone would like to participate, we’re hoping they could find their own high heels. Otherwise, flip-flops will work,” Laakso said.

According to Laakso, walking in heels doesn’t compare to the trauma from a sexual assault, but this event is an opportunity to ease the tone of a serious subject.

“‘Walk A Mile In Her Shoes’ is putting yourself into the shoes of another. It’s a plea for empathy for the victims and for the awareness of sexual assault,” she said.

Katherine Sartori, a resident adviser in Halverson Hall and a member of Women for Women, an organization comprised of all the female houses on campus, said it’s a symbol of womanhood to wear high heels and it makes talking about sexual assault awareness more approachable.

“The heels are supposed to represent the fact that men may not understand what women are going through or feeling when they are sexually assaulted. It’s a less intimidating way to present a topic that needs to be discussed,” Sartori said.

Erin Bostelmann, a resident adviser in Halverson Hall, said the event is meant to encourage people to get information about violence against women so that it may be prevented, and so that victims can begin the healing process.

“The walk is a light way to bring a lot of people together for one cause. Sexual assault awareness is not a pretty topic, so this is a way to make the issue lighter and hopefully easier to talk about if necessary,” Bostelmann said.

This event is sponsored by the Women’s Center, NMU Public Safety and the Health Promotions Office along with Women for Women and the Lambda Chi Fraternity.

The Women’s Center offers free services to women who have been sexually assaulted.