“Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized“. Yes, you read that right. This staggering advice was given at a campus information session at York University in Canada earlier this year by a representative of the Toronto Police Force.
When Founders of SlutWalk Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis first heard about this hideously out of whack advice they decided to bypass the noise and apology-demanding and march straight to the front door of the Toronto Police Service.
And they weren’t just going to march as angry women – they were going to march en masse as sluts.
According to their website the term “Slut” is being reclaimed:
We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.
With sexual assault already a significantly under-reported crime, survivors have now been given even less of a reason to go to the Police, for fear that they could be blamed. Being assaulted isn’t about what you wear; it’s not even about sex; but using a pejorative term to rationalize inexcusable behaviour creates an environment in which it’s okay to blame the victim.
The first SlutWalk took part in Toronto on 3 April and it was a huge success with close to 2 000 women gathering to walk.
Their mission ? To reclaim the use of the word slut. To take away the power of the word from harming and damaging women and telling them that they are less worthy of protection and respect.
“It is a message of love and strength to all women (and men), especially those who have been assaulted at the core of their being.”
And now slut walking has gone global with marches in North America and Europe ready to go ahead and separate marches about to take place in Melbourne (28 May), Sydney (13 June), Brisbane (28 May) and Adelaide (11 June). More than 3500 people have already registered in Australia to march for the right to wear what they like and behave how they want without harassment.
If you want to register or find out more you can check out the Facebook page here
Here are some of the fabulous women and men who have already marched in Slutwalks around the world, everywhere from Toronto to Dallas to Boston and beyond
And if you are going on your local slutwalk, what might you wear? Anything really – because that is part of breaking down the slut stereotype. So wear what you would as you go about your normal life asking not to be raped – be it your office clothes your tracky daks, your party gear your swimmers or your jeans.
Do you think the word slut still carries a stigma? Do you use it? Do you hear it? Are we STILL living in an age where people truly believe what a woman wears gives anyone the right to rape or assault her?