Sigma-Upsilon Walks a Mile in High Heels

Sigma-Upsilon Walks a Mile in High Heels

MAHWAH, NJ - The Sigma-Upsilon Chapter (Ramapo College), two other fraternities on campus and male athletes clomped around campus in high heels Tuesday, in an unusual effort to raise awareness about violence against women.

With their hairy legs and jock socks peeking out, the 70 students wended past the student center, freshmen dorms and academic halls carrying anti-violence placards and chanting.

"What do you want?" boomed the baseball team's relief pitcher, wearing white Mary Janes with ankle straps.

"No more rape!" the marchers -- in stiletto heels and pointy-toed pumps -- bellowed back.

"When do you want it?"

"Now!"

Three fraternities joined the march, as did players from the baseball and track teams.

Called "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes," marches like these began in Los Angeles six years ago, after a male family therapist there argued that rape is a men's issue, given that 99 percent of perpetrators are male.

Inspired by the saying "You can't understand someone's experience till you've walked a mile in their shoes," organizers maintain that the campy scene draws much needed attention to the cause, and provides an opportunity to consider the gender stereotypes that sexualize women and glorify machismo and male violence.

The marches have since spread to 12 other states, including Connecticut and New York. In addition, other TKE chapters have participated in the same type of march in their community; some of those including Beta-Rho (Univ. of Akron) and Mu-Chi (Univ. of North Carolina-Wilmington).

This is Ramapo's second year hosting such a march, part of the school's "violence awareness week," which addresses rape, stalking, domestic violence and relationship abuse.

Waddling and stumbling, the marchers tried pumping their arms for momentum and complained about their numb toes, aching ankles and contorted knees, hips and backs. "I can't feel anything right now," muttered one marcher, his wide feet bulging out of his heeled sandals.

For a topic so serious, the march seemed more like a football pep rally than a women's studies class. The men chanted, "Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Sexual violence has got to go!"

But by the end of the mile, as the men massaged their ankles and wiped blood from their toes, some said the experience made them realize there is a lot about women's experience in society that they hadn't previously considered.

"Wearing those heels is like being hit with a huge hammer," said Brian McCarthy, a junior from Oradell who walked with his fellow Fraters.

"You get the part about the oppressiveness of women's fashion within the first 10 seconds. But it also gets you to think about women's perspective on other things.

"Most guys don't ever think about how many men commit violence against women, because unless we're forced to think about it, we get to bypass this stuff in our everyday lives."

Adapted from North New Jersey News Article. If you would like to see your chapter news here, contact Communications Coordinator Tom McAninch.

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