After the SlutWalk: Still Not ‘Asking For It’

On April 3, 2011, thousands of people walked the streets of Toronto dressed in whatever they wanted in response to comments from a member of Toronto’s police force who told them they shouldn’t. By now, we (hopefully) all know the SlutWalk story: Toronto Police Constable Michael Sanguinetti told a class at York University that women should avoid dressing “like sluts” in order to protect themselves from being sexually victimized. This comment provoked some much-needed attention and shed light on issues that have long been present in our society but are often overlooked — victim-blaming and slut-shaming among them.

Since Toronto’s SlutWalk, at least 25 similar protests have been organized in cities around the world. From Twitter to the blogosphere to The Globe and Mail, it seems like everyone has something to say about the movement.

What to read:

An interview with Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis, co-founders of Toronto’s SlutWalk on Feministing.com.

At SlutWalkTO, Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” by Jaime Woo for Torontoist.

The Best 30 Signs at SlutWalk Toronto” on BuzzFeed.

On the street… at Slutwalk” by Sarah Nicole Prickett for EYE WEEKLY.

Feminism and Fashion: The (Other) Two Solitudes” by Katrina Onstad for The Globe and Mail.

The Funny Thing About the SlutWalk“ on ThoughtCatalog.com. And then editor Ryan O’Connell’s much-needed apology, “We’re So Sorry About ‘The Funny Thing About the SlutWalk.’

A Dress is Not a Yes — SlutWalking in Toronto” by our own Alyssa Garrison for the WORN blog.

Upcoming SlutWalks:

Dallas, TX (April 23)
Rochester, NY (May 7)
Vancouver, BC (May 15)
Waterloo, ON (May 15)
Riverside, CA (May 28)
Montreal, QC (May 29)
Edmonton, AB (June 4)
Chicago, IL (June 4)
Adelaide, Australia (June 11)
Portland, OR (June 11)
Seattle, WA (June 19)

For a full list of SlutWalks, click here.

Want to get involved? Attend an upcoming SlutWalk or organize one for your town. Fight for the countless victims of rape who have felt further victimized by authority figures who care what they were wearing when it happened. Fight for your right to feel safe and dress how you please.

- Stephanie Fereiro

A Dress is Not a Yes — SlutWalking in Toronto

Sluts from all walks of life took over College Street in Toronto last Sunday, chanting one resounding line: However we dress, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no.

The protest march was sparked when local media caught wind of a statement made by a representative of the police force this January during a campus safety information session at York University. According to the school paper, the officer told female students they should avoid dressing like “sluts” to prevent becoming victims of assault.

City-wide, women and their allies were outraged. Not only was the officer’s comment an attack on rape victims, it was an attack on women’s right to wear whatever they want. The idea that women who dress provocatively are “asking for it” is everywhere in pop culture, from crime shows to video games. Sonya Barnett, a SlutWalk co-founder, was already tired of the primitive stereotypes surrounding women and their appearances in the media. For her, the police officer’s sexist statement was a call to action.

“Women, and any gender identification, have the right to wear what pleases them, not the obligation to wear what pleases another. It’s important to make that distinction,” said Barnett.

Barnett and several others immediately began organizing a peaceful protest.Volunteers were summoned, a website was launched, t-shirts and buttons were made. By the time April arrived, over 3000 people had clicked ‘attending’ on the facebook page. The invitation was compelling:

“SlutWalk Toronto is asking you to COME AS YOU ARE. If you want to wear fishnets, great. If you want to wear parkas, that’s just as great. Any gender-identification, any age. Singles, couples, parents, sisters, brothers, children, friends. No matter how you visually identify, come walk with us. And we’re welcoming ALL those who feel that prevailing attitudes as to why sexual assault happens need to change: WHETHER YOU’RE A SLUT OR AN ALLY, come walk, roll, holler or stomp with us.”


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