Ingie Metwally

The Silhouette

 

Is the Slut Walk a degrading walk of shame or a feminist movement?

Apparently, it is the latter. On Apr. 3, 2011, thousands of people gathered to protest violence against women and the blaming of rape victims. Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto police officer, was the one to incidentally inspire the march. Earlier this year in January, Sanguinetti was speaking before a group of York Students on the subject of sexual assault. He suggested that women should avoid dressing like sluts in order to prevent rape. It’s no surprise that many people were outraged by his comment, but the outcome of his verbal mistake has been extraordinary.

So what does it really mean to take part in the Slut Walk? “Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes, and no means no,” the crowd of Toronto protestors chanted as they marched on through Queens Park and onto College Street.

What these people want is to have police no longer blame any rape victim for what has happened to them. The protestors argue that it isn’t the fault of the victim at all, and how they dress shouldn’t be applicable to why they were raped.

Most are appalled at how many people criticize the victim in cases where she may have not been dressed appropriately to their standards. A University of Guelph student, Sierra Chevy Harris, stated that the officer’s comments are “a small example of how a large amount of people in the justice system truly think.”  Harris, along with the thousands of other protestors, simply wants to put an end to slut shaming.

The ‘Sluts’ of Toronto are parading proudly around the city, trying to raise awareness of their cause, grabbing the attention of people around the world. The march that began in Toronto inspired plans for similar events in over 60 different countries, and has actually occurred in multiple countries including the UK and Australia.

The Slut Walks all over the world are promoting the freedom of choice in what every woman wears. The protestors are proclaiming that women shouldn’t be afraid to dress ‘sexy’ and they shouldn’t have to feel vulnerable while doing so.

“We need to criticize the people who are actually committing the crimes,” said Harris, not the women who are simply exercising their freedoms. Rape shouldn’t even be the slightest bit reasoned with.

To some, the Slut Walks are revolutionary, the feminist demonstration of the new century. To older feminists, the Slut Walks are trivial, and aren’t the greatest fights of the feminist movement. To Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail, “Slut Walks are what you get when graduate students in feminist studies run out of things to do.” The issue here is that the attitude that rape victims are to blame has almost disappeared from conventional society.

The feminists of today need to relocate their efforts in fighting for women’s rights. Sure, being able to wear whatever you want should be a right available to all women. But there is no fairness in where on one side of the world, women are complaining that they cannot dress like ‘sluts’ and feel safe, and on the other side of the world, women simply want to feel safe in their own neighbourhood, dressing in the most respectable manner possible. Rape is a disturbing crime, in every circumstance, and if the feminists of today want to really help the women of today, they should be focusing more on preventing the crime itself, rather than preventing judgment on women’s clothing.

The Slut Walks may be applicable to those women residing in the more developed nations of the world, like Canada, the US, and Britain, but it is not at all ready for the rest of the developing world. The women of our society should be looking out with a more worldly perspective, protesting for the rights of women that have yet to achieve the level of independence women of Canada have been privileged with. Before walking out in a bra and tights, ready to protest her right to dress like a ‘slut’, a woman should rethink her priorities and what she can really do to make a difference in the world. Clearly women have a lot more power than expected of them by society, and when they gather together in numbers, they can really make a difference.

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