Men "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" on Main Campus Quad
Santa Monica College students walking down the school's main campus quad on Tuesday, April 24, saw lines with tables of different universities visiting for the college fair.
But in the corner next to the library, male students were taking a pledge speaking out against sexual violence towards women, putting on high heels in solidarity with those affected by sexual assault.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes was the fourth event that held place in the school for Consent Week, which aims to promote sexual violence awareness on the SMC campus. An art installation where sexual harassment and assault victims decorated shirts to hang along the quad, and a candlelight vigil for survivors to share their stories took place on Monday.
This particular event was aimed towards men to get involved, and Flavio Medina-Martin, who works in human resources and helps with investigations on campus, gave a speech about how men and others can stand up and not let people accept that violence is okay. Mike Tuitasi, Vice President of Student Affairs, led the pledge alongside others to do so, receiving a white ribbon to wear that symbolized their promises. Afterward, many pairs of high heels were brought so that men could walk through the quad.
“For the most part, 98-percent of perpetrators are men, so I wanted to give the message that comes with men doing that and bring attention to the forefront of what it is to be a victim,” Medina-Martin said. “It’s important that people continue that conversation.”
Rebecca Weiland, a title IX deputy on campus, helped to organize the week. “Of all the consent week projects, this was definitely my favorite,” Weiland said. “There’s a lot of meaning and a lot of heart behind it, but it’s also fun and nice to have some joy and humor. Social justice work can be so draining and emotionally exhausting, so it’s nice that we have an event like this where we can have some fun.”
Many students such as Francisco Hernandez, who wore black high heels, struggled initially to walk around, but once everybody was set up, they proceeded to walk through the quad that was packed with students trying to find their dream colleges.
“After taking this pledge, it really puts you in a position of action,” Hernandez said. “If I see anything that’s kind of taunting, for example, with ‘boys will be boys’ in the locker room, I’ll definitely take charge and say that’s not funny.”
Tanner Jordan could be found doing handstands in his pair of high heels, after he found it to be hard walking on his calves. “The biggest thing I gained from this, in a small perspective, is that when a girl says, ‘Hey, my feet are tired,’ then carry her,” Jordan said. “I know it’s a small thing, but I have a little more compassion for the pain in the legs.”
Other students such as Billy Caro, who wore pearl-gold heels, walked along with the rest.
“It was really difficult, it wasn’t even 15 minutes, but it was tough, and I got tired at the end of it,” Caro said. “I gained so much more respect for women in general. Now we really were put in a woman’s shoes.”
Consent week will end Wednesday, April 25 with the internationally recognized Denim Day, where students are encouraged to wear all the denim they can and meet in the quad in support of an overturned 1998 Italian court case in which a sexual assault case was dismissed because the victim had been wearing tight jeans.