More than 500 men literally walked a mile in women's high-heeled shoes Tuesday [March 5] as part of an event at Mississippi State and an international awareness campaign designed to raise awareness and stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence.
"This is a fun event, but it sends a message about a very serious issue. By participating in the walk, men are making a statement against gender violence," said Leah Pylate, assistant director of health education and wellness and sexual assault at MSU Health Services.
Pylate added that bringing the issue of rape, sexual assault and gender violence into the spotlight, the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event encourages men not only to take a stand against the violence, but also to create a culture in which there is zero tolerance for violent behavior among peers.
An opening presentation featured Bill Kibler, vice president of student affairs, and Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman, among others.
Kibler told the crowd of primarily college men that they all have women in their lives and they all have a responsibility to help stop violence against women.
"It's not enough to just avoid engaging in violence. We're obligated to speak out against it and protect women from it," Kibler said. "All women deserve to be treated with respect and dignity at all times."
Russ Overby of Verizon Wireless informed students about the issues of "textual harassment." He said electronic devices and social media networks are mediums that are often used to send harassing messages, and he advised the audience that harassment of any sort -- including Facebook stalking or frequent texting of a demanding or intimidating nature -- is not acceptable.
The crowd walked in various styles of women's footwear around the Junction to show support for the "Walk a Mile" cause.
"The whole event centers around the concept that you never know what someone is going through until you walk a mile in their shoes," said Bowen Lancaster, a public policy and administration graduate student from Columbus. "By adding understanding, you gain respect," he said.
For more information about Mississippi State, visit www.msstate.edu.