*TRIGGER WARNING: TOPIC OF SEXUAL ASSAULT/SLUT SHAMING*
How do you define a slut? But really though. What amount of sexual promiscuity, revealing clothing and flirtatious dancing equates the term slut? As I’ve grown as a person I’ve realized that this term cannot be operationalized. If you’re going to call one woman a slut, you may as well call us all sluts. We’ve all been called it before, yet if we consider the negative implications we probably wouldn’t say “I’m a proud slut!!” But maybe if we owned that word, we could finally overcome it.
On January 24th, 2011, Constable Michael Sanguinetti of the Toronto police department made a speech at York University addressing the issue of campus rape. Sanguinetti’s statement that “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized,” showed the police department’s twisted view of sexual assault. This event prompted co-founders Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis to coordinate the first SlutWalk.
They used the word “slut” in their response as an attempt to remove historic, negative connotations of the word. While the term is not always used as an insult, the intent behind the word makes it hurtful every time it is used. Barnett and Jarvis decided that women were going to reclaim the term “slut,” so that no victims of sexual assault felt ashamed to come forward out of fear they would be deemed “slutty.”
Barnett and Jarvis contacted Toronto Police Services to ask for public accountability and a commitment to do better, but the Toronto Chief of Police, Bill Blair, failed to respond to their requests. After the failed attempt at discussion with the Police Department, the first SlutWalk march was on April 3, 2011 at Queen’s Park in Toronto.
The SlutWalk Toronto website advised attendees to dress in everyday wear, to symbolize that rape can occur no matter what a person is wearing. To their surprise, many that attended chose to dress matching stereotypes of the word “slut.” SlutWalk aims to create a safe space for people of all genders, races and walks of life.
SlutWalk’s goal is to eliminate slut-shaming, victim-blaming and rape culture in general. Since the first walk there continue to be walks in various regions across the globe such as Canada, the United States, Central and South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Korea, Israel, Romania and many others.
I want to share this list of all of the different SlutWalk satellites that have sparked since the initial Toronto walk. See if there’s one near you and we can change the way the world views sexual assault victims!
Currently, I’m planning on attending SlutWalk D.C.’s event SlutRock D.C. on August 16th and I would love to spread the word about this amazing upcoming movement. Together we can end victim blaming, slut shaming, rape culture and maybe one day the word slut wont sting. Lets put the shame in the past, and treat victims with care and respect.
Comment if you need anymore information about SlutWalk or about how to find a satellite city near you. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on this movement!