Image by Amanda Tripp

Walk Like a Slut

By Linda Kobashigawa & Amanda Tripp

As if its name isn’t provocative enough, imagine hundreds of women and men dressed in as a little as possible carrying hand-written signs exclaiming that “rape came before miniskirts,” and that it’s “my pussy, my choice.”

This wasn’t just a free-for-all call for anyone to dress “slutty” and walk through the streets of Downtown Los Angeles hoping to get attention. This march had a purpose and a message: Stop slut-shaming, stop victim-blaming, and stop the persistence of rape culture. The height of the march was when marchers were met near the front gates by Christian fanatics with blow horns and signs screaming about the sins they felt were being committed. They shouted “whores” at the crowd, damned them to hell, and condemned homosexuality, while the Slut Walkers twerked in front of them and proudly shouted their slogans. It was comforting to be in such a large group of like-minded individuals going up against the ideals that are constantly pressed upon us in society.

Model, actress, and former stripper, Amber Rose, organized the second annual SlutWalk that took place in Downtown Los Angeles’ Pershing Square on October 1st. Rose has experienced her fair share of “slut shaming,” particularly by her high-profile, media-loving rapper ex-boyfriend, Kanye West. She isn’t bitter about the hateful words that have been spewed about her. Instead, she has used them as fuel to enact a wave of change. Her goal for SlutWalk is to empower women and remove derogatory labels from our vocabulary. She was quoted as saying:

“The one thing I wish people would walk away with is being motivated and compelled to do their part in addressing these issues. I believe that everyone who experiences the Amber Rose SlutWalk will walk away with a softer heart and be a little less judgmental and cruel to each other and empowered to become agents of change.”

Without consent, it is rape.

If her wish were to be granted she would have over 7,000 agents of change produced by this year’s SlutWalk. The event was loaded with special guests like celeb gossip king Perez Hilton and Frenchie Davis, the former American Idol contestant that was cut from the show after topless photos of her surfaced online. It was a day full of what seemed like infinite skin, but zero judgment. SlutWalk not only pushed to the forefront the issues of sexual violence and bullying that plague our society, but the way these issues are commonly understood and discussed. At first sight, a sign that read, “we need to talk about consent, not my outfit,” seemed quite clever and even fun to chant. However, it is deeply disturbing to realize that our society can consider a woman’s appearance to be a cause – or even worse, a justification – for why she was sexually assaulted. This is a myth that we must work together to dispel because victim blaming only perpetuates the idea that “she was asking for it,” and relieves those who commit acts of sexual violence from any responsibility.

With the current political rhetoric by the Republican nominee for President, and what seems like an endless slew of rape trials in the headlines that result in less-than-just verdicts and sentencing, it is a movement like this that speaks to people. Men and women carried signs and painted their bodies with slogans such as “Don’t tell me what to wear, tell him not to rape” and “without consent it is rape.” A theme that was pushed beyond the easy-to-swallow “white Feminist” viewpoint, many spoke about the importance to recognize the privilege of having a platform and the high number of sexual violence within other communities that too often gets overlooked and unacknowledged. We were reminded that there is no “poster child” for sexual assault. Each victim has his/her own story to tell, and for those who can’t, we can raise our voices, open our arms, and march – or twerk! – in the streets for them.

Amber Rose’s SlutWalk isn’t the only event of its kind. In fact, SlutWalks have been taking place for at least the last five years after a policeman in Toronto, Canada advised female students not to dress like sluts to avoid being sexually assaulted. Since then, walks have been organized in cities throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, just to name a few. Amber’s SlutWalk will continue next year. We are excited to see the event grow and flourish and to be part of a movement that advocates for victims of sexual violence, gender equality, and women everywhere.

 

Notable speakers:

Emily Lindin–author and filmmaker. Emily talked about how her body developed earlier than many of her classmates and was quickly targeted by bullies who labeled her a “slut” and “easy” based on her appearance. She recounted how she wasn’t comfortable going to her parents for help, and how alone she felt. How the boys at school thought it was permissible to slap her butt or grab her breasts because she was a “slut” anyway. Emily decided that she couldn’t allow herself to let others suffer alone like she did. She founded the UnSlut Project, a collaborative space for people to share their stories of sexual bullying and “slut” shaming, and support one another.

Devon Brooks–Co-founder of Blo, the largest chain of blow dry bars in the world. Devon was sexually assaulted in separate events when she was 18 and 21-years-old. One of the most memorable moments of the event was Devon’s story about being raped when she was 18. It was by someone she knew and trusted, and she wasn’t out partying, getting drunk, or wearing “slutty” clothing. At the time of her assault, she was in jeans and a t-shirt, at her apartment. She slammed the idea that women who go out dressed a certain way are asking for it and that the victim is just as much to blame as his/her attacker.

Meika Hollender – Co-founder of Sustain, a company that makes natural condoms, lubricants, and other sexual health products. Meika spoke about women making up over 40% of the purchasing of condoms yet the condom market is not geared towards women. After further investigation, she discovered that it is not healthy for women as many condoms are lubricants contain carcinogens. This is what led her to co-found Sustain. Since then she has started the #getontop campaign encouraging women to pledge to have safe sex.

*****

Linda is a Fresno native and a graduate of the Mass Communication & Journalism Department at Fresno State. She received her Master of Library and Information Science from UCLA. She is a librarian and reluctant cat owner living in Fresno. Amanda Tripp is a Fresno citizen engaged in criminal justice reform and a member of Community Alliance editorial board. You may contact her at AmandaNTripp@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x