On January 2th 2011, Constable Michael Sanguinetti spoke on crime prevention at York University safety forum at Osgoode Hall Law School. He said, “I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this - however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.” This comment sparked the Toronto SlutWalks, organised by Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis, which marched on 3rd April 2011.
The SlutWalks were named after the offending comment and their aims are, put simply, to protest the justification of sexual assault and rape against women by judging their clothing and general appearance. Initially women were encouraged to wear everyday clothes to the protests in order to show the range and diversity of those who are impacted by sexual assault, but many women took the theme to heart and dressed in revealing attire to show their distaste for the Constable’s remarks and society’s attitude as a whole. It has since grown to be a global annual protest, stretching from its roots in Canada to the UK, much of Europe and Australia.
The SlutWalks have stirred up their fair share of controversy, from within the feminist movement and without. Jessica Valenti labelled the Slutwalks as “the most successful feminist action of the past 20 years” for bringing feminist issues into the public sphere and mainstream media. On the other hand, critics such as Susie O’Brien wrote, “I believe the name will marginalise women and girls who want to be active in violence prevention campaigns but who don’t feel comfortable with personally owning the word slut." The controversy surrounding the marches has, in effect, only served to bring it further to the attention of the media and encourage discussion of modern feminism and its meaning to young generations of women.
The London SlutWalk 2012 will be held on September 22nd this year and many members of Feminism Society will be marching. Provocative attire is completely optional and the aim is for the march to be an inclusive, anti-racist and pro-sex workers’ rights space.
If you haven't been before take a look at our post from last year!