by Paola Quinones
Hoards of women and men march, holding signs that say, “I’ve had enough” and “Slut Power.” Some are clad in lingerie, others in typical day-to-day wear. This is some of what you might expect to see in a SlutWalks. These walks were created in order to raise awareness to victim blaming behavior in rape cases. They first began when a Toronto officer was quoted saying that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” While the officer has since issued a public apology, the effect of his accusations has been powerful.
SlutWalks started in Toronto and spread throughout the U.S., as well as in Europe, Asia, and Australia. The purpose of the SlutWalk is to take away the negative and shameful connotations to the word “slut” when applied to women. Essentially, the protestors hope to stop the propagation of a rape culture that makes it okay to dismiss a rape victim based on their clothing, or whether or not they put up enough of a fight.
The reality is, 1 in 4 college women will be the victims of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault. Turning the blame on the victim is not okay. The SlutWalks bring to the public’s attention the frequency of rape cases, as well as the fact that a large number of them go unreported.
The comments from the Toronto officer came in the advent of the No Tax Payer Funding For Abortion Act , which sought to redefine rape to only “forcible rape,” and creating different degrees of severity. This suggests that some cases not as important as others.
Getting involved in a SlutWalk is simple and not just intended for women. Men participate in the SlutWalks as a show of support and to represent male victims of rape who often go unrecognized or are ridiculed. While rape is a sensitive subject and usually avoided, it is refreshing to see such a positive move to empower the victims of such a horrible crime. It is vital to make people notice that this is very much a relevant issue in today’s society.
The SlutWalk DC website suggest that this is not a location-specific issue, but one that spread from its inception in Toronto to multiple satellite locations using this as calling to the public to take part. The site states: “We are asking you to join us for SlutWalk, to make a unified statement about sexual assault and victims’ rights and to demand respect for all. Whether a fellow slut or simply an ally, you don’t have to wear your sexual proclivities on your sleeve, we just ask that you come. Come walk or roll or strut or holler or stomp with us.”
It is important for college students to be aware of the issues affecting multiple campuses, but is nationally a large problem and should not be ignored or downplayed.
Visit the Toronto Slutwalk website for information and pictures of satellite SlutWalks, and for inspiration on putting together and taking part in your very own SlutWalk.