What is the SlutWalk?
The SlutWalk is a movement that began in Toronto, Ontario in response to a comment made by Constable Michael Sanguinetti on Crime Prevention at York University, stating that women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to avoid being victimized. The response from this comment was large and unexpected, inspiring a gathering of over 3,000 people in the city of Toronto to gather at Queenʼs park. The gathering began with speeches followed by a march to the police station. Since the occurrence of the first SlutWalk, there has been growth all over North America, spurring the fastest growing feminist movement in over 20 years. It has gathered thousands of men and women, and been debated heavily in the media.
The SlutWalk initially encouraged women to dress in everyday clothing, in order to portray an image of the average women, although many dressed as “sluts” instead. The SlutWalk is a movement designed to help combat rape culture, stop victim blaming, and create a society which encourages sexual empowerment and an attitude of disgust toward those who do not respect boundaries.
What will the SlutWalk do for the community?
The SlutWalk will help to create awareness of resources available to both men, women, and trans individuals who have faced sexual assault in Victoria. It will help combat a culture which blames victims. It will help create a culture which encourages those who are dealing with the effects of assault to seek out counseling and resources. Furthermore, it will encourage and educate those who have experience sexual assault to report it.
Why is the SlutWalk needed in Victoria?
It is estimated that approximately 1 in 3 women will experience an instance of sexual assault at least once in their lifetime, although itʼs possible that the actual number is even higher than this. These statistics are difficult to measure exactly, since many instances of rape go unreported. Additionally, in many instances when a rape is reported, the case fails to go to trial.
I am someone who has experienced sexual assault first hand. It is traumatic, an emotionally taxing experience, and when it first happens to you it is difficult to know where to go, how to feel, or what to do. There are so many resources available to people who have experienced sexual assault, but many of these associations or programs which offer help to those dealing with this are either go unnoticed, do not receive enough advertisement, or are seen as inaccessible. Additionally, although there are many resources available to women who have experience sexual violence, there is not the same accessibility to other genders that have had the same experience. The SlutWalk is an opportunity to help create a culture that states that sexual assault is not okay, and bring an increased awareness of the resources available to those who have experienced it.
Why are you using the word “Slut” in the name of your walk?
The word “Slut” is central to our movement, not only because it was the word constable Michael Sanguinetti used during his lecture on Crime Prevention, but because we believe that it can be reappropriated. We believe that we can make this word a term of empowerment and change its meaning in the way we have done with other words like “queer” or “gay”
It was a term used to dehumanize people, and to imply that there are certain people who deserve more rights and protections than others. For those who choose to reclaim the word, “slut” can mean a number of things. It can mean an individual who is unapologetic for being a sexual being, for pursuing pleasure on their own terms. It can mean an individual who is strong enough to have hot consensual sex on their own terms. An individual who clearly communicates their boundaries.
Do I have to dress like a “slut” for this event?
Answer: We encourage you to wear whatever you want. If you want to wear jeans and a tee? Awesome! If you want to wear a nice summer dress? Go for it! You want to wear fishnets? Rad! Your body, your choice. You have our support!
Can I participate if I’m a guy (or other gender)?
The answer is YES! This movement does not discriminate against gender. Rape effects men, women, trans individuals. Victim blaming is damaging to everyone, and creates social constructions that are damaging.
What is Rape Culture?
Rape Culture is a concept which links rape and sexual violence to the culture of a society. It is a culture which condones, normalizes, glorifies, and tolerates rape.
Examples of Rape Culture:
1) Ideas that women have a responsibility to dress or act a certain way to prevent rape
2) Jokes about rape or domestic violence
3) The Facebook memes going around with quotations like “Women deserve equal rights…and lefts”
4) The case of Steubenville, Ohio when a teenage girl was taken from party to party, assaulted, videotaped, tweeted about and then major news stations like CNN and ABC talked about how it was such a tragedy for these young man’s football careers to be ruined
5) Blaming people or attempting to hold people accountable for their own Sexual Assault.
Do you expect all of the participants of SlutWalk to reclaim the word “Slut” as a term of empowerment?
Absolutely not. The aim of the SlutWalk movement is to reappropriate the word so that it’s not something that can hurt us anymore like other words have been reappropriated (ex. gay, queer). For those who choose to reclaim it as a word to mean sexual empowerment and freedom, we encourage that.
However, not every single person will want to reclaim “slut” as something for themselves, and that’s okay too. What is important are the ideals behind SlutWalk
– That we should respect every individual’s right to exercise their own sexual and individual freedoms
– The right to choose what happens to our bodies
– The right to report violence if it is committed against us without fear of persecution
– Acknowledging that we live in a society which normalizes rape and start looking critically at our media, legal institutions and other institutions that contribute to the normalization of sexual violence
-Stop victim blaming
How can I keep up to day on what is going on with SlutWalk Victoria?