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Thousands march for Slutwalk 2012


Thousands march for Slutwalk 2012

International activist movement's genesis was in Toronto
UPDATE - May 29: As thousands of sluts and their allies marched from Toronto City Hall to Queen’s Park on May 25, they chanted, “Yes means fuck me! No means fuck you!

Like the previous year, Slutwalk 2012 felt like a celebration. Marchers say they are sex-positive and fighting back against victim-blaming and sex-shaming. They marched for the right to walk the streets safely and to live free of violence.

The march ended with a rally in front of Queen’s Park. Speeches were made by Morgan M Page, trans program coordinator at the 519 Church St Community Centre; Michelle Chai, from Planned Parenthood; and activist Jules Kirouac and her mother, Deborah. 

See Xtra’s photo gallery here:    

Slutwalk set for May 25 at Nathan Phillips Square

May 24: Last year, thousands of women and their allies marched through Toronto to fight back against victim blaming and slut shaming related to sexual violence. One year later, Slutwalk has become an international phenomenon, with more than 200 similar events in cities around the world.

But has anything really changed?

Organizer Colleen Westendorf says there’s still a long way to go. Slutwalk Toronto 2012 will once again take to the streets on May 25, beginning at Nathan Phillips Square at 5pm.

“We want to bring more awareness to how sexual violence affects boys and men. As children, boys are just as likely to be victimized as girls,” Westendorf says. “Certain women are disproportionately affected, such as indigenous women, disabled women, trans women and women of colour.”

Slutwalk began as a reaction to a 2011 comment made by Toronto police officer Michael Sanguinetti who -- infamously -- advised a group of women at York University how to avoid sexual violence.

Sanguinetti said, "You know, I think we're beating around the bush here. I've been told I'm not supposed to say this; however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."

Toronto Police Service (TPS) constable Wendy Drummond distanced the TPS from the comment, saying the organization does not share Sanguinetti’s view, nor does it reflect the training received by officers.

Westendorf says the TPS is still missing the point. “Stop saying it’s only one officer,” she says. “We hear stories of victim blaming and slut shaming all the time still.”

While there has been some willingness from police to begin a dialogue, she says, there is not enough effort to address problems embedded in the organization. “We still don’t think there is anywhere near enough sensitivity training. We know that sexual assault training is not given to all officers.

“We need to ensure safety for victims. God forbid someone is victimized, but if they are, can they be guaranteed support? Can police guarantee that the person they disclose to and reach out to is not going to tell them it was their fault? It should be an obvious thing,” she says.

Drummond says the concerns raised by Slutwalk are “not systemic issues at TPS.”

“The chief [Bill Blair] came out and said it’s archaic thinking. And if it still exists among our officers, we need to provide more training to them and bring more realization of victimization to them,” she says.

Drummond has been among a handful of officers engaging activists discussing these issues on Twitter. She says Slutwalk has had a valuable impact on police. “That’s one of the greatest things that have come out of this.”

“We have the same end goal, which is to stop the violence and bring those responsible to prosecution. And we can’t do that if people don’t come forward. If they don’t feel comfortable coming forward, that needs to be addressed.”

Last year’s march was met with widespread support in Toronto. But in other cities, the reaction has been mixed.

Westendorf says there is still misunderstanding surrounding the use of the word slut.

“This is a word that has been used as a tool to oppress women,” she says. “Our message is, You don’t have to be a slut, but if you are, that’s okay. The point is that slut shaming is not okay. No one should use your body, your sexuality, your experience, as an insult to degrade you.”

In some smaller cities, some organizers have been uncomfortable with the word, while others have been fearful of outside attacks if it’s used. Some have asked participants to “dress appropriately so as not to draw attention to the negative connotations” of the word slut. “That’s really frustrating because that’s the whole point. People should be able to dress how they want. We should not be policing women and their bodies.”

In Bangalore, India, police shut down the march before it even started, she says.

“The police said they were concerned Slutwalk will attract a lot of violence and lead to rape, so it wasn’t allowed to happen,” Westendorf says.

She notes that the majority of mainstream international media coverage about Slutwalk starts with a sentence talking about women dressing "slutty" to protest rape. “No. That’s not what this is. We say, ‘So what if I am a slut in a sex-positive way? Does that make me open to violence? Does that make it okay for you to blame me for violence?’”

Still, Westendorf marvels at how far the Slutwalk movement has travelled, noting marches in Kathmandu, Bucharest, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The message has resonated particularly strongly in Brazil, she says, which has declared national Slutwalk on May 26. “It’s called La Marcha de las Putas, or March of the Whores.”

The most high-profile criticism of Slutwalk came in September in the form of an “Open Letter from Black Women to the Slutwalk.” The letter addressed the inherent privilege of reclaiming the word slut. “Women of colour, whose bodies historically have been hyper-sexualized and put on the auction block through slavery, are still struggling to be seen as human beings. They don’t have the privilege to reclaim the word slut,” Westendorf says. “The letter made some very good points and it sparked a huge dialogue.”

But Slutwalk’s biggest impact so far is perhaps its effect on Google searches, she points out. “Two years ago when you searched ‘slut’ in Google, all you got were porn sites. Now when you type in ‘slut’ you get a lot of really useful information on slut shaming and how victim blaming affects sexual violence, which is another way we are taking up space.”
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for Christ's sake. I wish men would stop apologizing for being. And I wish woman would stop with their misandry. Tinkerbell where are you?
Stupid thing to say without backing it up
Activist says “Certain women are disproportionately affected, such as indigenous women, disabled women, trans women and women of colour.” Is that because native men and men of colour are more likely to be rapists of their women? See how quickly that falls apart as informative and just becomes incendiary?It's probably best that you reference hot-button statements like this, lest you display the same ignorance as the hapless cop who kicked off this entire business.
Yes, but....
Todd, there's without a doubt a grain of truth at the centre of what you are saying, (but remember that "The Left" is a large swath of social and political thought as well as something of an abstraction and that we don't all believe the same things). I think a similar example is found in profiling - some activists oppose it on the basis of race but are quite happy to apply it to gender: "safe space" for women necessarily means excluding all men, including gay men who don't tend to assault them. One need only look at the forceful exclusion of all men from "dyke-identified space" to see the rather awesome double standard. Gay men are about the only ones who don't have a social context for committing acts of sexual violence against women - a woman is more likely to be assaulted by another woman. But few of us seem to complain when men are collectively profiled in this manner and excluded en masse. It's time to stop putting up with that shit.
“SAFE SEX SLUT WALK” to protest HIV infections
@TODD you are very clever in your perceptions. Indeed if someone who has a communicable disease, elicits agreement from another to have sex --without telling them of possible infection or harm-- that constitutes fraud and in effect sexual assault. We need a _“SAFE SEX SLUT WALK”_ to bring more media light to those immoral people who knowingly infect others and don't care about infecting others. There was another one this week who was apprehended for non-disclosure, yet a second time. There are more and more of those bastards --Gay and Straight— who keep infecting others even after they have been jailed for it previously. The “takes 2 to Tango” crap doesn't work anymore where deception, fraud and sexual assault are involved. ___ We need to take to the streets to protest against HIV infections in a “SAFE SEX SLUT WALK” ___ The Pride Parade would be a great place for a “SAFE SEX SLUT WALK.” A great chance to hand out condoms and blow them up as decorative balloons.
Different forms of sexual assault
It’s ironic that the gay Left opposes some forms of sexual assault, but not others. For example, if you commit sexual assault by physically forcing yourself on someone without their consent, the gay Left will oppose you (as would most decent people in society). But, if you’re HIV-positive and you commit sexual assault by obtaining your sexual partner’s consent by fraud or deception (e.g., lying about your HIV status before having unsafe sex, not telling your partner you’re HIV-positive before having unsafe sex, or initially wearing a condom and then secretly taking it off), then the gay Left will march in the streets for your right to have unsafe sex. For example, see http://www.xtra.ca/public/Toronto/AIDS_Action_Now_day_of_action_on_HIV_criminalization-11494.aspx
Men are also sexually objectified and raped
Men are also sexually objectified and raped, not only by other men (jail comes to mind) but also by women. Albeit in smaller numbers. That may be because men tend not to wear genital revealing clothing. Men are expected to hide their genitals in public. Heterosexual society considers male genitals to be ugly and dangerous. Whereas women are expected to reveal theirs --decoratively. Women love exposing especially their breasts. They do it quite obsessively, whatever their age and weight. There are times when I would welcome the Burqa on Yonge street... ____ If men are also objectified and raped, then there should also be scantily clad men wearing only spandex thongs to show off their genitals --front and back-- at the Sl*t Walk. Men should also protest the idea that male genitals are considered ugly and that they are raped in smaller numbers —that's an insult. ___ If women can expose their breasts and wear barely-legal mini skirts in public as a fashion statement and a desperate need for attention, then men should also be able to wear genital revealing clothes in public. ___ And people should not be raped for their clothes. That is so shallow. Rapists should start focusing on inner beauty...
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