The SlutWalk is a transnational movement that originated in Toronto, Canada. It was started as a reaction to a Toronto police officer, by the name of Constable Michael Sanguinetti. Who suggested at a campus safety forum that, “Women should avoid dressing like sluts to avoid rape.” This incident sparked outrage, while revealing misogyny and victim-blaming in the modern day patriarchal culture. Therefore, Heather Jarvis (pictured below), co-founder of the SlutWalk and student in Toronto gathered with other willing participants in order to get their message out that victims of sexual violence deserve support, not scrutiny.
The SlutWalk Movement inspired women all over the world to spring into grassroots action and to challenge harmful victim-blaming and the objectification of women’s bodies. These marches were unlike any other done in the past, the mood of the participants was upbeat, playful, but at the same time very serious. Participants marched in what is known as “slutty” attire, carried homemade signs, and shared their sexual assault stories in order to open the eyes of the millions of people watching.
Even though the marches were peaceful and inspiring, other feminist had a problem with the language being used during the protest. Black Feminist in particular felt as though they could not completely reclaim the word “slut” as white women could because they do not have that privilege. This was due to the historical legacy of slavery and the dehumanization of black women through rape.
“As Black women, we do not have the privilege or the space to call ourselves ‘slut’ without validating the already historically entrenched ideology and recurring messages about what and who the Black woman is. We don’t have the privilege to play on destructive representations burned in our collective minds, on our bodies and souls for generations.” (Black Women’s Blueprint 2011)
Tension were increasingly high between the White feminist and Black feminist when a young white participant in the NYC SlutWalk held up a sign reading “Women is the NI**ER of the World.” Black feminist bloggers and forums criticized the leaders of the NYC SlutWalk position as privileged and misguided. This prompted an apology and refocusing of the NYC movement from its leaders.
There are other problems with the SlutWalk Movement that has been pointed out by bloggers. One blogger Mary Kassian, founder of “Girl Gone Wise” felt as though the slut walk movement was spreading the wrong message to young girls. She listed five problems she had with the marches.
- It absolves girls of risk-management responsibility
- It equates sex with power
- It teaches girls that its cool to be crass
- It casts men as oppressors
- It encourages sexual permissiveness
In conclusion, the SlutWalk movement is still occurring all over the world today (which is great). I choose this topic because I felt as though it is important for young girls and women to not be ashamed of their sexual history & also have the courage to go to the police when assaulted without feeling as though they’re responsible.