Every year, fraternity men from every chapter gather together, pop on some cherry-red heels, and take a lap around campus to raise awareness for sexual assault and rape on college campuses.
As I witnessed the university, Greeks, faculty, and even The Sunflower blast images of the event all over social media, I realized that no one seemed to see the flaws in this annual parade.
At first, I didn’t take issue with Walk-A-Mile either.
I applauded the fraternities on campus for taking a stand against sexual assault. I even participated in the event my first two years in Greek life. At face value, Walk-A-Mile is agreeable, commendable, and a little bit funny — grown men defying gender roles by wearing heels for an hour? How inspirational — how brave.
If we can’t give them a trophy for doing the bare minimum, I guess a photo spread will have to do.
Ignoring the hypocrisy I see in Walk-A-Mile would be a great disservice to a community I love and respect.
Walk-A-Mile is tone-deaf. You do not stop sexual assault on campus by parading around campus for an hour — making sure to smile for all the cameras.
If you want to stop sexual assault on campus, stop letting your members get away with “harmless” predatory behavior.
If you want to stop sexual assault on campus, stop ignoring the red flags.
If you want to stop sexual assault on campus, stop coercing your members to drink excessive, dangerous amounts of alcohol because “you’re a p*ssy if you don’t.”
If you want to stop sexual assault on campus, educate your members about consent — over and over again.
If you want to stop sexual assault on campus, hold your members accountable for the dangerous behavior you see but refuse to speak out about.
Walk-A-Mile is an extravagant PR stunt meant to make Greek life look glossy. It’s a performance — it’s not real.
Paired with informational workshops and trainings, Walk-A-Mile has upside as a fun event where Greek members and others can get together and volunteer their time for a cause. Except here’s the thing — it’s not a fundraiser. The “informational” posters along the route are sparse and unnoticeable. When all is said and done, participants get to take their heels off and go back to their normal lives. Survivors of assault do not get that luxury.
Insinuating that Walk-A-Mile is all this campus needs to address sexual assault is a slap in the face to survivors everywhere.
When college women are three times more susceptible to being raped than other women, one flashy event per year is not adequate — it’s an insult.
Walk-A-Mile makes a mockery out of trauma. It belittles the rampant rate of sexual assault on college campuses down to the click clack of heels on the sidewalk and a free T-shirt.
Not to mention that having red pumps as the symbol for a movement meant to raise awareness of sexual assault is sexist and objectifying in and of itself.
Walk a mile in my shoes as I walk to my car in the dark, gripping my keys like a claw until my knuckles turn white.
Walk a mile in my shoes as I get objectified by a male professor in front of the entire class.
Walk a mile in my shoes as I am manipulated and intimidated in the Title IX office.
Walk a mile in my shoes as I wipe the tears off my friend’s face while she tells me the story of her assault.
Walk a mile in my shoes as I send my location to my friends — if I get murdered on this first date, they’ll know where to find my body.
Walk a mile in my shoes as I live in a country where the president is accused of rape — and I am told I should still respect him.
Walk a mile in my shoes in the dead of winter, still getting catcalled as I’m wearing a coat down to my ankles.
Walk a mile in my shoes as I pump my gas in the summer heat, still getting catcalled as I seek refuge in my car — windows up, doors locked.
Walk a mile in my shoes as I get harassed downtown by men twice my age.
Walk a mile in my shoes as I look over my shoulder, making sure no one is following me home.
Walk a mile as I get blamed for my own assault.
Walk a mile in my shoes. I dare you.