The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Walk a Mile event educates central Iowa with high heels

The high heel is a prime symbol of male objectification of women, as the heel visually extends the leg and causes great discomfort to the wearer. This weekend, men will be given a chance to experience the pain of high heels for a good cause.

This Sunday, between 12 and 4 p.m men from Poweshiek, Marshall, Jasper and Tama counties will walk a mile in high heels to raise awareness of issues of domestic violence and sexual assault against women.

Organizations all over the world, including various Iowa institutions, sponsor the event as a part of April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Last year, a fraternity at Central College held the same event to benefit a crisis intervention center in their community.

This year, Susan Klumpner ’09 and Helen Bailey ’09 helped organize the event with The Domestic Violence Alternatives/Sexual Assault Center (DVA/SAC) in Marshalltown.
“We’re basically a small project trying to do a big thing,” Klumpner said.

Klumper and Bailey have been interns at the Center since the beginning of the year, working nights with dedicated women. The Center stretches its resources over Poweshiek, Marshall, Jasper and Tama counties.

Earlier this semester, Klumpner and Bailey decided to start a fundraising project, to raise money for the DVA/SAC in the face of economic hardships and government cutbacks. For advice, they went to the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assualt (ICASA), which suggested Walk a Mile. They presented the project to the leaders at the shelter, and then the hard work began. “I’ve never planned an event like this before,” Bailey said.

First, Klumpner and Bailey had to figure out where the event would take place. Traditionally, the walk traverses city streets for awareness, due to the fact that Walk a Mile, like the drag show during Pride Week, is not just for fundraising, but also to educate about gender variance. After examining their options in Marshalltown, they decided to hold the event at an elementary school.

Planning the event also included taking measures that the organizers had not anticipated. “Because we’re using a trademarked name, we have to follow certain rules,” Klumpner said. They had to sign an organizers’ agreement, order the shirts off of and communicate with the international organization to make sure they were in accordance with regulations. However, due to a conflict with the Marshalltown High School prom, they could not have it during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
After scheduling, Klumpner and Bailey realized they needed shoes for the event. The fraternity at Central provided many of them, but for the large sizes they contacted Barney, an online merchant whose company creates shoes for drag shows.

Advertising was another factor to consider. For this, they sought the assistance of the Feminist Action Coalition (FAC), which ran Take Back the Night last week.
“I had no idea how much work they had done yet.” Klumpner said. “Helen had written a press release, and a contact list, and Anna Friel [‘10] and I sent it out and then called a bunch of radio stations.”

Collaboration between the two groups did not end there. “We’re going to have other stuff at the event specific to other sexual assault awareness projects,” Klumpner said. “Katie’s bringing in the Clothesline Project [from the Spencer Grill], for example.”

FAC will also be one of ten groups with a booth at the events which will feature DVA/SAC advocates from the,college and other community organizations, such as the Grinnell
Chamber of Commerce.

Klumpner and Bailey plan to have a live DJ and band at the event, and a motley cross-section of Iowa life will also be present.

“The Marshalltown High School principal got really excited about the project,” Bailey said. “So most of the boys’ athletic teams will be at the event too.”

Katie Jones ’10 encountered similarly enthusiastic reactions in her door-to-door work in Grinnell. “I thought people might be uncomfortable, but no one was,” Jones said. “The woman at the Pizza Hut was like ‘We’re not allowed to put these up in the front of the store, but I’ll put it in the employee room!’ She was so wonderful—was sort of worried about the town, but everyone was really excited.”

In Jones’ work with the Queer Leadership Council planning the Pride Parade last month, she found that discussions about including the town in the event planning brought up many of her original concerns about the town. “They couldn’t figure out a good loop system [for the parade], and they thought it would be kind of weird to have it end in town,” she said. “I don’t there’s a lot of focus on stuff during Pride Week about doing stuff in the community. I think it’s mostly focused on Grinnell. People want to do it, but they haven’t really yet.”

Brian Perbix ’09 has been one of few men involved with DVA/SAC ever since he became a peer advocate as a second-year. He believes that most campus activists struggle with the planning of such events as Walk a Mile.

“I think a lot of activism around sexism and genderism is focused on broadening the scope of this work,” Perbix said. “It’s one thing to talk about this stuff in a closed liberal arts community, but it’s definitely more difficult to bring it into the real world.”

Perbix also mentioned that the gender ratio often starts off less skewed in trainings, but after some time, women stick with it more than men.
“From my experience, men typically don’t go to Take Back the Night events,” said Perbix. “Maybe this will help change the perception that this is a women’s issue.”

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