GS community walks a mile in high-heels to raise awareness on gender issues

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event brings gender issues to light

Davis Cobb, Correspondent

The skill required to walk in a set of heels is one many women have had to learn for generations, with the shoes historically being a part of most ‘professional’ attire; Wednesday, members of the Georgia Southern community, regardless of gender, gathered at Sweetheart Circle to try themselves at this skill and bring attention to issues regarding gender violence and sex or gender biases.

“The high heel certainly is representative of gender-based violence that typically, women wear high heels, and so that’s a way for men to experience what that’s like and to raise awareness about gender-based violence like sexual violence,” said Lauren Patterson, Chair of the Sexual Assault Reponse Team at GS.

Organized by GS’ Sexual Assault Reponse Team since 2013, the event Walk a Mile in Her Shoes encourages men across the world to walk a mile in high-heeled shoes, raising awareness for issues related to gender discrimination.

The event has been a yearly constant for the university since 2013, with the exception of last year’s event cancellation because of the pandemic. Patterson and the rest of her team were determined to continue the tradition this year, though adhering to social distancing guidelines would alter the process just a bit.

“We love having students, faculty, staff and the community come out,” Patterson said. “That’s another thing about this program, is that we really do try to engage community members to participate as well.”

The change in routine to make the event more COVID-19-friendly saw little to no negative effect on turnout.

Patterson reported seeing a steady pace of participants throughout the evening’s 2½ hour march – among them several first time marchers.

“It gives a different perspective, and it’s a really easy way to better show people that this is a problem that we all have to work against,” said Jack, a junior business administration major. “One person speaking up about the right thing isn’t going to change it; all of us need to do it together.”

The event also saw the participation of former students or members of the community taking part in the march, something that Patterson hoped to encourage during the event.

“[Gender violence] is a clouded subject, so I feel like a lot of people are sensitive the first time, so a lot of people aren’t willing to go out there and talk about it and say, ‘Hey, we’re here to support you, believe you, back you up.’” said Joe, a GS Armstrong campus graduate.