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Slut. According to the dictionary: “a dirty, immoral or untidy woman”. We use it to describe someone who is purposely sexually promiscuous, but also tend to equate the word with revealing clothing -- even going so far as to assume that women who dress a certain way are looking for a certain type of sexual attention. In many cases, this assumption allows our society stand by as women (and men!) are violated -- too blinded by the title to recognize that rape has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s appearance and everything to do with power and control.
On August 13, 2011 in Washington D.C., women’s advocacy and empowerment organizations gathered together on the National Mall to challenge the way we interpret the word “slut”, decry the excuses we make for people who abuse it, and demand a culture that truly values sexual empowerment, equality and safety, rather than abuses it.
The event was one of more than 80 SlutWalks that have occurred around the nation and across the globe. The SlutWalk movement began in the early spring of 2011 after a police officer who was speaking at a crime prevention and safety forum in Toronto recommended that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” (Read more about this event and get a taste for some of the controversy surrounding the topic here: http://www.excal.on.ca/news/dont-dress-like-a-slut-toronto-cop/).
Women took to the streets to protest this blatant victim-blaming and shaming, wearing clothing that exposed their bodies and might typically be classified as “slutty”. Capitalizing on shock value (but maintaining an extremely basic message) the SlutWalks are meant to show the world that no matter what a person wears, he/she does not deserve to be raped.
D.C.’s SlutWalk participants were no different. Women and men, young and old, scantily clad and those wearing average sightseeing apparel, joined together in the shadow of the Washington Monument (or as the keynote speaker Andrea Bredbeck referred to it: “the f***ing biggest phallus on the planet!”).