Slutwalk: Moving Against Intolerance and Toward Education

Slutwalk is a protest that was sparked after a Toronto police officer, Michael Sangunetti told a personal security class at York University that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”. The officer’s words although were not unusual as it is the view that is held by many people in society, it gave an insight into the force’s view on sexual assault victims. The first protest took place in Toronto on February 2011, and later spread to other major cities throughout the world, such as New York, Boston, London, Paris and Tel Aviv (Jarvis and Barnett 2011). The way the protest went global, just shows how victims of sexual assault around the world face the same challenges as they enter the criminal justice systems. The protest began because a group of York students had enough of victim blaming by the police and the public and they wanted to show that there is no correlation between how a woman is dressed to the likelihood of her being attacked. The students wanted to raise awareness about sexual assault victims and to educate the public about the realities of sexual assault. It aims at changing the word that has been historically so stigmatizing and limiting women’s sexuality and has been used as a way to rationalize sexual assaults. The protest wants to change the way police and society views victims of sexual assaults as they argue that it is the women’s right to wear what she wants without fearing she will be stigmatized by society. Women have the right to wear and behave as they please without worrying about being victimized and later be blamed for their attack. The officer and the Toronto police force has issued a public apology yet they failed to convince the founder of Slutwalk, Sonya Barnett who in response to Sangunetti’s apology said that “It was evident that if you’re going to have a representative of the police force come out [and say that] then that kind of idea must be still running rampant within the force itself and that retraining really needs to happen to change that mentality”(CBC News 2011). The co-founders of the Slut Walk wanted to use the protest to change the association of the word and use it in a more positive way to define someone who is not ashamed of their sexuality and that the term should not stigmatize women because of their sexuality (Jarvis and Barnett 2011). The protest brings together people from different genders, ethnic backgrounds, economic background, age and religion to fight against the discrimination by the society towards women who have been victimized. At this point the co-founders simply wants to bring out as much people as possible to these protests as strength is in numbers (Jarvis and Barnett 2011). It is a highly important cause that has been ignored in the past and it is time that people change the way society views rape and empower the victims and not the perpetrator.

References

CBC News.2011. “Toronto Slut Walk Takes to City Streets”. April 3. Retrieved on October 14, 2012 (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2011/04/03/slut-walk-toronto.html)

Flack, Derek. 2012.“The origins of Slut Walk Toronto”. Blog TO, March 22. Retrieved on October 13, 2012. ( http://www.blogto.com/city/2011/03/the_origins_of_slutwalk_toronto)

Jarvis, Heather and Sonya Barnett. 2012.“SlutWalk Toronto”. Retrieved on October 13 2012 (http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/about/how)

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