Philly Marches to End Rape Culture

As I enter the Thomas Paine Plaza at City Hall, I immediately see a swarm of people. According to CBS, about 1,000 people showed up to The March to End Rape Culture protest, formerly known as the Slutwalk, on September 27th.

I’d heard of The March to End Rape Culture before, but this was the first time I attended one of their events. It was an event I’ll never forget. Despite the seriousness of the protest, the atmosphere was so welcoming; everyone was happy to share a common goal to stop victim blaming and raise awareness of rape culture in our society. For those that do not know, rape culture is defined as when rape and other acts of sexual violence is considered the norm in a society.

The Slutwalk originally began in Toronto, Canada, when a police officer suggested that women stop dressing like “sluts” in order to avoid rape. This sparked a huge movement and spread to many cities throughout North America. Philadelphia’s chapter of the Slutwalk decided to change the name to The March to End Rape Culture to bring together a more diverse group of people – women, men, and transgenders. It was good to see people of all genders at the walk because sexual assault it not just a women’s issue; it’s everyone’s issue. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) someone in America is sexually violated every two minutes. The organization, Darkness to Light concluded in a study that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted before they are 18 years old. These statistics are the exact reason why people came to The March to End Rape Culture. Participants want to stop sexual violence from happening and raise awareness of how often sexual violence occurs.

Women were not the only people in attendance. Men and transgendered people came out to support the cause too. Some held signs, one proclaiming, “64% of sexual assaults happen to transgendered people.” This sign really stood out to me and further broadened my knowledge of the effects of sexual violence. While waiting for the march to begin, I spoke to Mike Smaczylo, “I think that it is good to do marches and events like this and to get people to realize the ridiculous standards society puts on people.” Smaczylo revealed that he was a little nervous to go the march, because he did not want to make any women feel uncomfortable, but his girlfriend welcomed him and he was happy to support what he considered a great cause.

I also spoke with Rebecca Dierolf, where I learned that this was her first march too, “I have never attended The March to End Rape Culture protest before, but I am very involved with other feminist and women’s organizations. I am excited to be here and to raise awareness for a cause I am really passionate about.” Dierolf says that rape culture shows the ridiculousness of inequalities in our society and that there is an invisible war on women and on survivors of rape and sexual assault.

This event was not only to raise awareness of rape culture, but to also help victims of sexual violence. Many women’s organizations had a booth at the event and there was a tent of counselors for people to go if they need to speak to someone. If you have been a victim of a sexual attack, you can call Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR) at 215-985-3333. WOAR has a 24-hour hotline and provides free counseling to women, men, and children who have experienced sexual violence.