Walking the Walk

USF men walk in heels to show support for women and take a stand against domestic violence and sexual assault.


                                                                                                                                             Video: Katy Hennig | USF News

By Brandi Hollis

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 12, 2012) – Men lined up to pick out the perfect set of heels in an unusual role reversal at the fifth annual “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes: The International Men’s March to Stop Rape Sexual Assault and Gender Violence” at the Marshall Student Center amphitheater Friday.


They tried on pink and polka dot wedges, electric blue high heels, and the signature shoe of the event – the classic red pump, to get the perfect fit to promenade through the University of South Florida campus and show women they stand against domestic violence and sexual assault.


The event was sponsored by the student organization Necessary Improvements to Transform our Environment (N.I.T.E.), The Center for Victim Advocacy, and the Relationship, Equality, Antiviolence League (R.E.A.L.).


Michael Awbrey, president of N.I.T.E., says the event shows women that the men in their lives will stand up and support them against domestic violence.


“We’re trying to get guys to come together and not just realize why they need to stand up against relationship violence but also to show their support,” said Awbrey. “And show, not just survivors, but women in general that are here in attendance that not all guys are bad guys, most guys genuinely care about the women in their lives and they are willing to stand up for them.”


Kelly Miller and Jesenia Giambrone, both freshmen majoring in psychology, were impressed that so many guys were willing to come out and walk in heels to support women, and that they were doing so well walking around.


“It shows that some guys really are against it, they don’t want to be in that stereotype,” said Miller.


Several USF organizations joined in the march. The athletics department had several men’s teams present and Veterans Services closed for the event so all of its employees could attend. USF staff and students marched side-by-side demonstrating their unity to support women.


Several hundred men and women marched down the MLK walkway, through the John & Grace Allen Building, and back around through the Student Services breezeway while holding signs that denounced domestic violence. The event collects gently worn shoes for the march throughout the semester and all unused pairs are then donated to the Family Justice Center.


Organizers asked all men in attendance to sign the “R.E.A.L. Men’s Promise to End Sexual and Relationship Violence Pledge” which was read aloud by hundreds of deep voices, all in heels.


Although Kevin Banks, former assistant vice president and dean of students, was not there to lead the march as he had in years past, Zachary Johnson, a senior in chemical engineering, felt the event was still just as energetic as it’s ever been in the four years he’s marched.


“It’s gotten so much energy from student athletics and student affairs,” Johnson said. “It raises awareness and does so in a positive way and I think that’s what this community needs.”