Slutwalk: A March To End Rape Culture

On Tuesday September 13th, Women in Leadership and Learning (WILL), hosted its annual Slutwalk. Slutwalk is a march to end rape culture, and it originally was created as a response to a Toronto police officer’s statement to York University students that women should not dress like “sluts” if they want to avoid being raped. Understandably, a large amount of people were angered that a person in position of power would blame the victim of rape rather than the rapist him/herself. The belief that the police officer expressed represented the extreme victim blaming that is constantly perpetuated by society. Women are constantly told to not wear particular pieces of clothing if they don’t want to be perceived as “sluts” or as being “easy”. If they do wear any of those pieces and they receive unwanted attention or are sexually assaulted, it is believed to be their fault and said that they were asking for it. However, just as Ashley Van Riper, a speaker at Slutwalk said, “It is always the rapist’s fault.” 

It makes sense that there is some confusion concerning rape culture when even people who are in higher positions, such as police officers or judges, are able to dismiss cases of sexual abuse because of pity for the rapist. Brock Turner was found guilty of sexually harassing a girl who was unconscious, and was only sentenced to six months, because according to Judge Aaron Persky, “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.” Students who marched in the Slutwalk retaliated against his sentence by chanting, “Fuck Brock Turner.” Cases like those that favor the perpetrator rather than the victim are what makes it more difficult for victims to come forward with their abuse, or to even admit it to themselves. These cases are unfortunately not uncommon. TCNJ alumna, Jennie Sekanics, spoke about her personal experience with sexual assault. She explained that many people do not even realize that they are sexually assaulted because of the way the rapist twists the situation. It goes so far that victims believe that they are the one at fault, that they are to blame. Jennie further explained that this is because of the rape culture and victim blaming that exists in this country. 

Slutwalk also provides an opportunity for women to change the meaning of the word, “slut,” and give it a more positive connotation. Several speakers such as Gigi Garrity and Bridget Appleby stripped down to their bras and said, “I am a slut,” both in mockery of the term, but also in an attempt to take ownership of their bodies and to change the reaction to the word, ‘slut.’ The poem, “Hi, I’m a Slut,” written by Savannah Brown and recited by Gigi, then goes on to say, “Hi, I’m a slut and no, that doesn’t mean I am nothing.” Being a “slut” does not determine the worth of a human being.

Many people view rape as a women-only issue, but a group of men from the fraternity Phi Alpha Delta would say otherwise. There was a very small amount of males who participated in the Slutwalk, so when we asked senior Brian Litt why he attended he said that he and the other present brothers of Phi Alpha Delta wanted to represent their fraternity and come out to learn about something that they know is relevant and important to their community. Slutwalk, although hosted by WILL, is an event at TCNJ and at other communities that is open to anyone that would like to come.