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—SlutWalk slogan

A SlutWalk is a feminist gathering intended to raise awareness against rape and other forms of violence against women, generally distinguished from other such gatherings by the fact that a number of participants will be dressed like sluts.

It is essentially third-wave feminism's version of a Take Back the Night march, an alteration of style that has made some people rather upset.[1]


The SlutWalk concept originated in Toronto in April 2011, when a Toronto police officer stated to a crowd at York University that to avoid being made victims of sexual violence, "women should avoid dressing like sluts." This statement is based on an old myth that many people have been at great pains to debunk, and is highly erroneous, firstly because most rapes occur between acquaintances rather than strangers, secondly because what "dressing like a slut" actually means can vary widely (see: Sharia countries), thirdly because some people have mental issues and think every woman is a slut, and finally because rapists are not concerned so much with women's clothes as what is under the clothes.

But the founders of the SlutWalk movement, Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis, took their criticisms a step further than that. In their view, in suggesting that women could take some independent preventative action against rape, the officer was essentially saying that women who did not take such measures were at fault if they did wind up getting raped.[2]

So, they held a big march, carrying signs that were mostly variations on the theme, "Nobody asks to get raped." Furthermore, and more noticeably, they decided to put the word "slut" the center of their rhetoric by seeking to redefine the term as "someone who is in control of their own sexuality."[3] This resulted in many people coming out in slut outfits, despite tut-tutting from such alte kaempfer as the British/Israeli/American anti-pornography feminist Gail Dines, who believed that women who dress like sluts are sluts "defining their sexuality on male terms."[4] Other groups decided to copy this approach, and thus the SlutWalk movement was born.[5]


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