Students strut in heels to raise awareness for sexual violence

The men of on-campus Latino organization Hermanos Unidos ditched their sneakers and strapped on high heels to help raise awareness for survivors of sexual assault during the Walk In Their Heels event in Malcolm X Plaza April 20.

SF State psychology major Wilton Marin, a member of Hermanos Unidos, said wearing heels was a fairly positive experience, but he noticed a lot of people looked at him differently.

“A lot of times women say they feel like an object, something for people to just simply stare it,” Marin said. ” That’s how I feel (today).”

Wilton Marin who is majoring in Psychology and mini ring in Latino studies,  solicits donations in heels for “Walk in Their Heels,” an event to raise awareness on sexual crimes committed against women in Malcolm X Plaza Monday, April 20. (Martin Bustamante / Xpress)

Wilton Marin who is majoring in Psychology and mini ring in Latino studies, solicits donations in heels for “Walk in Their Heels,” an event to raise awareness on sexual crimes committed against women in Malcolm X Plaza Monday, April 20. (Martin Bustamante / Xpress)

Hermanos Unidos operates its non-profit organization on three pillars: academics, social networking and community services, according to SF State biology major and Hermanos Unidos fundraising chair Jose Ramirez.

“(Hermanos Unidos) is partnering with The Sexual Abuse Free Environment Place for Walk In Their Heels,” 19-year-old Hermanos Unidos member Jacob Montoya said. “ We want to bring an end to gendered violence on campus and to the community abroad.”

Ramirez said the money raised during Walk In Their Heels is going to both The SAFE Place and La Casa De Las Madres, a non-profit organization in the Mission District that offers advocacy and support services to women, teens and children exposed to and at risk for abuse and domestic violence, according to La Casa’s website.

The Sexual Abuse-Free Environment Place offers free counseling sessions for survivors of sexual assault and serves the community at SF State in areas of sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual harassment and stalking, according to SAFE Place intern Sandy Lopez.

“We’re trying to raise awareness and we’re having men promote the event so it’s different and not just women speaking on these issues,” Lopez said.

The men and women that participated in the event wore small plaques around their necks with various sexual assault facts. The plaque around Lopez’s neck stated that in the U.S., every two minutes a woman is sexually assaulted.

“Our mantra (for Hermanos Unidos) is that we want to become ‘un neuvo hombre,’ a new man,” Montoya said. “That goes along with breaking the stereotypes of super machismo, macho man, in the Latino community.”

Montoya said walking in a woman’s shoes meant trying to understand and take into account the double standards and constant pressure women are placed under by society.

“What we’re doing here is the literal sense (of walking in their heels) just to get a shock value,” he said. “It’s not really the heels that are raising the awareness, it’s the attention the heels are bringing to us so we can inform others (about sexual violence) and get our cause out there.”

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