Strutting To Make A Statement

There is something powerful about being a part of something that is bigger than yourself. Being part of a moment in time where a group of strangers can come together for one unified cause. To be part of a social movement that is more than just a political protest but rather provide a hope that positive change is upon us.

Thanks to a couple of amazing women at the Women Center, the University of Waterloo held the first ever SlutWalk in the KW region just a few mere hours ago. I remember in the beginning of the winter term, one of my friends Erin (an executive of the Women Center) came into my room and told me all about her exciting new conquest at the Women Center to bring forth the SlutWalk to the University of Waterloo. I was amazed that it hadn’t had been brought forth sooner but I couldn’t have been prouder of the work that Erin among her fellow comrades did to accomplish this.

Up until a few hours ago,I had never participated in a SlutWalk let alone any rally or protest before. I remember hearing about the SlutWalk a few years back when I was in high school. I didn’t really know much about it other than it was a walk in protest to a comment made by some police officer where women could wear literally anything (or nothing) they wanted. As an ignorant teenager, I associated the Slutwalk as something that was very scandalous that only crazy people took part of. The whole concept of women walking around with literally nothing on didn’t make any sense to me, and I was just confused and baffled by the idea. However, fast forward to present day and through meeting some amazing people such as Erin and some of my fellow Indevours, I have learned the true meaning and now understand the main ideas behind the SlutWalk.

The SlutWalk is a monumental transnational movement of a march that is held to protest against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s appearance and a call to end rape culture. The first ever SlutWalk was held on  April 3rd 2011 in Toronto, Ontario and since then these marches have symbolized a unified statement about sexual assault and victims’ rights and to demand respect for all. This all started after Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police Force officer, made a public statement on January 24th, 2011 reiterating the Force’s views on sexual assault as “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”.Since the initial walk in Toronto, the SlutWalk has become more than a political protest but also about freedom of expression.

So without really knowing much about the SlutWalk, I did some research and then it dawned on me, what does one wear to a Slut-walk? One of my friends suggested that I wear a scandalous outfit that was sexy and revealed it all. Another agreed and suggested I go naked.  I knew that some participants were going to be shirtless or wearing tight short clothing. And I didn’t want to stand out like a sore thumb if I didn’t conform to that. But then it hit me, I was no different than many other ignorant men and women who believed that the true underlying reason behind many sexual assault cases was because of how promiscuous a woman dressed. What I wore to a simple march let alone what I wear every day or when I go out with friends should not define me or label me as a “Slut”.

 

Many can argue that the SlutWalk is just a march that lacks the substance and drive to be a monumental movement. But I see it differently. I see it as something that is about to achieve its tipping point effect to break stereotypes and change the way modern society views violence against women. I mean looking back to when the walk first took place in 2011 and seeing it grow into something bigger is powerful. To see the effects that it has by raising awareness and generating discussion on the issues surrounding rape culture, victim blaming and slut shaming. It shows the power that a group of individuals can have to create change.The walk breaks the norms and perceptions that society has on how a “Slut” should look, act and dress. Hearing and seeing stories of rape victims who participated in the walk wear the clothes that they were raped in shows that rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter what you wear, what your gender is or orientation. Rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone and perpetrators could be people close and dear to your heart. The SlutWalk brings light on the issue that how you dress and present yourself is not the cause for being assaulted it is just an excuse that the system and society think. Women are blamed and taught to apologize for provoking, taunting and teasing men. They are just asking for it by wearing seductive clothing and walking home alone at night. Victim blaming and slut shaming is a very real thing that is overlooked by society.

We focus on saving our world and protecting our planet but what about saving and protecting the lives of hundreds and thousands sexually assault victims. We need to start teaching men and women of all ages, race, and orientation that no one is ever asking to be raped or sexually assaulted. No means no. Everyone deserve to live a life without fear.

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10 thoughts on “Strutting To Make A Statement

  1. I’m so sad I had to work and couldn’t walk with you!
    I think we would have had a great time and come up with some great conversations.
    Is there anything that you’re planning on doing (other than the SlutWalk) to combat victim blaming and slut shaming?
    Maybe we can do it together 🙂

    • I wish you could have joined us Emily.The walk was interesting to say the least. Well further to eliminating the word $lut from my vocabulary I have started correcting the choice of words that some of my students and friends chose to use to describe women. I think simple things like correcting language will hopefully go along way. It generates discussion and forces these individuals to question what is right or wrong.

  2. Great post! Just wondering what your thoughts are on the men and women who participate in the walk naked. In my opinion, if they are trying to promote the idea that rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone, would it not be a better idea to wear an everyday outfit (like you did) to prove this point?

    • Thanks Kristen for your comment and question!

      To be honest, I didn’t agree with men and women who participate in the walk naked as well but after having a discussion with some of my friends last night I understand why. So, the walk is trying to break down the idea that what a victim wears is not their fault.Therefore,as radical as it is,no matter the choice of clothing or lack thereof, it is never the victims “fault” for the choice of clothing being to reason to their assault.

  3. Thanks for this post Anusha. I’m glad your experience at SlutWalk has been so impactful 🙂 Let it be known that rape is caused by misogyny, institutional tolerance, structural violence, and most importantly – rapists. It is not caused by a woman’s choice of clothing – and this is absolutely not up for discussion. Nobody in their right mind “just asks for it”. Thanks again Anusha!

  4. Great post Anusha, thanks for sharing your experience! I agree that education is really important. Any ideas on how to convince some stubborn roommates of mine to stop using the term?

    • My biggest thing is just stopping them and questioning what they truly mean. Education is knowledge and knowledge is power. Its okay to be that friend that does this. Its important that people continue to question and deter their friends and families from using words like $lut. If all else fails, challenge them to stop using the word. See how long they can go without it. Its doable.

  5. I believe that people have the right to dress how they want, however society doesn’t have the right to dictate how other’s respond to various styles of dress. With that said, I do not believe that rape can ever be justified or excused but I do agree with the officer that certain types of clothing are going to provoke certain responses, the reactions that they provoke should never infringe on the security of other people, but unfortunately in some cases they do. Men need to understand that just because some women may wear slut attire it does not mean that they are slut, but women need to understand that if you dress like an “officer”, to continue Chapelle’s analogy, you can expect to be treated like an officer.

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