Walk Like a Slut

Women in Toronto took to the streets on Sunday in their sluttiest attire (or jackets and jeans, because it’s cold in Toronto!) for the first-ever Toronto Slutwalk. The walk was in protest of a Toronto police officer who said that women could avoid being victimized if they stopped dressing like sluts. Because dudes only get rapey when they spot a tube top, right?

Nice work, sluts. I salute you, and I’m with you in spirit.

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Crime, Sex, Sexual Assault and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Walk Like a Slut

  1. Claire N says:

    “Nice work sluts…”

    You’ve been looking for an excuse to say that for a long time, haven’t you? :)

    Seriously now, it’s a really interesting concept for a protest. I was under the misapprehension that it was just about reclaiming the word slut in relation to sexual assault–which is impportant for some–but yes I totally understand the message and reason behind it. It’s awesome and there were so many people there!!

    Sluts and/or survivors ahoy!

  2. Emeryn says:

    Bravo to the women who participated in that!

    On another note, I wish I hadn’t looked at the comments of that article. I really need to remember to stay out of comment sections while at work, because RAGE is not a productive mood for me.

    Dressing sleazy and flaunting your body in provocative ways towards another person is a form of sexual assault. It is about power and control. Some members of our justice system thankfully recognize this.

    Now if that isn’t one of the most victim-blamingest things I’ve heard in a while, I don’t know what is.

    Not all of the comments are bad, but a good deal of the ones I read were.

  3. Jay says:

    Also a contributing factor to participation in the rally were the now-infamous remarks made by a judge in Manitoba when he gave a 2 year conditional sentence to a rapist (ie, no jail time.) She was wearing a tube top, y’all, so it wasn’t really rape. He was just a “clumsy Don Juan.”

    http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/rape-victim-inviting-so-no-jail–rape-victim-inviting-so-no-jail-116801578.html

  4. Claire N says:

    Yep it’s not just victim blaming though as in something happened to her because she did this; it’s full on painting the person–usually a woman–as the aggressor and as someone who causes harm to another person through what’s she wearing. FFS. I am so over appropriation of victim/survivor group language and the counter claims of abuse and assault done in the most ridiculous ways to evade culpability.

  5. Skye says:

    I was there that day, and I was so proud to see so many women-AND MEN-there.

    It’s the talk of Toronto right now-and inevitably, it’s brought out the best and worse of its citizens. There’s been incredible statements of support and there’s been outright vitrol from Twitter trolls.

    But it has raised my hope in humanity. Things have to start somewhere!

  6. LC says:

    I have friends in Toronto who I am very proud of right now.

    @Emeryn – The mind boggles. As Claire N points out, that’s actually turning the person dressing provocatively into the *aggressor*. It’s unreal.

  7. ozymandias says:

    Dressing sleazy and flaunting your body in provocative ways towards another person is a form of sexual assault. It is about power and control. Some members of our justice system thankfully recognize this.

    Dressing in ways which people happen to find attractive is exactly like rape! How could I have never realized this before? All those men running around shirtless, you know what you were asking for. And don’t get me started on those guys in eyeliner…

  8. debbie says:

    I was there, and it was great, especially considering how quickly the event was put together.
    I was really happy to see groups like the Bad Date Coalition and local women’s shelters participating, as well as mention of Canada Border Services Agency’s shameful treatment of non-status women:

    http://216.129.193.100/news/story.cfm?content=179448

  9. Rach says:

    I second that “Nice work, sluts” sentiment.

    Sounds like an excellent event and I wish I could have participated.

  10. Brett K says:

    I was there in spirit. (In body, I was still in bed, but whatever.) Awesome event, though, and it’s such a relief to see an organized response to the TO police’s victim-blaming bullshit.

  11. Florence says:

    Nice work, sluts.

    *bows*

  12. Hugo says:

    And what I love about this, among a billion other things, is that it says that men are grown-ups, capable of seeing women’s skin and even being aroused as a consequence — without being driven mad and turning to violence. Slut power liberates men from the myth of male weakness, a happy byproduct.

  13. Bushfire says:

    Yeah! I just knew Feministe would cover this soon!

    Just so y’all know, there is a Slutwalk Facebook group, a website, and many Youtube videos where you can learn about the event. There are now sattelite Slutwalks happening in other cities, some of them in the U.S. See if one is happening in your city! Start your own!

  14. Congrats Toronto – we’re having one in Ottawa too!

    http://winottawa.org/media.html

    We’re so psyched by how much attention they’ve gotten in Toronto, and we’re reaching out to everyone so we can try to generate as much media attention for the Satellite SlutWalks as we can. Check out the SlutWalk Toronto webpage (http://www.slutwalktoronto.com/satellite) to see if there’s a Satellite SlutWalk in your area coming up, and make sure to join us if you’re in the National Capital Region this Sunday!

  15. Skye says:

    Hugo: And what I love about this, among a billion other things, is that it says that men are grown-ups, capable of seeing women’s skin and even being aroused as a consequence — without being driven mad and turning to violence. Slut power liberates men from the myth of male weakness, a happy byproduct.

    THANK YOU. I never understood why people fall back on the “she was dressed so provocatively he couldn’t help himself!” argument. Doesn’t this imply that men are weak fools, with no control over their faculties? It’s an insult to men, not an attestment to their qualities!

  16. erika says:

    i was really glad to hear about this event, but disappointed to hear that they actively discouraged linking it to broader anti-police, anti-prison, and sex workers’ rights work — something that satellite slutwalks in other cities might want to reconsider! fingers crossed.

  17. erika says:

    whoops, sorry, to the best of my knowledge they actively discouraged the first two but just sort of glossed over the 3rd.

  18. My partner and I spotted some people walking near the Legislature after the march[0]. I wonder if some people I know turned up for the walk. It may have been one of the most energizing events in town in a long time, and that includes last year’s G20 mess. There were some truly troglodytic comments around the usual yakker sites, but I figure if they drove MRAs, feminist-haters, and abusers nuts they did something right. Also good to hear that Jane Doe is still busting cops in the chops! It’s something of a bad trip to read her book and see so many of the cops involved with her case in high-profile positions today… like Toronto police chief.

    [0] Well, she spotted likely attendees; my eyes are useless.

  19. Ashley says:

    Slut it up! Wow that officer sounds ridiculous.

  20. Iany says:

    Good on them, seriously. Best march ever.

  21. Vertigo says:

    One of my favorite slogans was ‘Why is it this hard to be this easy?’ :)

  22. Pingback: The Slutwalk, and how there is no. such. thing. as. third-party. consent. « The Delphiad Blog

  23. Dominique says:

    It’s unbelievable how many people simply don’t understand that consent is NON-TRANSFERABLE. That means the woman who looks fabulous… isn’t doing it for you. Unless she specifically says so. That, and consent is something which can be WITHDRAWN AT ANY TIME. Just because you consent to x, does not automatically confer anyone consent to do y. As a (very inadequate) example, if you consent to lend someone your car, it doesn’t mean you consent to let them stay at your house, or even take your car a second time. How is this not clear and obvious is very discouraging.

  24. Beth Mann says:

    You know, I want to support this type of protest, but somehow, it always gets under my skin. Reminds me of Boobquake, which I didn’t really support and wrote about:

    http://tinyurl.com/298d82m

    Bottom line: women dressing “slutty” can be accidentally exploitative and essentially pandering. There’s just too many mixed messages there. Too many onlookers “enjoying in the fun” in a way that hardly feels like a legitimate protest. Its “protest lite” turning the situation into a party-like atmosphere…I don’t know. The message gets too diluted when you’re worried about what to wear.

  25. debbie says:

    Beth, I agree that Boobquake could be characterized as “protest lite”, and I didn’t participate. I do think that there is a substantial difference between Boobquake, where individual women wore low cut shirts in the context of their daily lives (I don’t remember that much about it -was there another aspect of the protest that I’m forgetting about?) and a march with a rally and speakers outside of Toronto police headquarters.

    Most of us were wearing jeans and coats. It’s still cold in Toronto. No one I was with worried about what to wear, beyond checking the weather. Those who did dress up were doing so to make a point – that dressing like a “slut” doesn’t mean your asking for it. I also don’t like the idea that what one wear’s determines whether you are considered to be feminist or someone worth taking seriously.

    Erika, I was also discouraged by the way that the incident that sparked the protest was presented as the unfortunate attitude of some police officers, without consideration of the role that police and prisons play in society. I didn’t see Jane Doe speak at the rally, but I have seen her speak before, and she has critiqued the idea that a “law and order” agenda is an effective way to deal with the problem of sexual assault.

  26. Nahida says:

    I’m down with this!

  27. Bitter Scribe says:

    This reminds me of that British TV commercial, I think it was posted on this site, that sarcastically depicted a young woman in a clothing store telling the clerk something like, “I want something that will get me raped tonight.” It’s appalling that a police officer would buy into crap like that.

  28. Brett K says:

    Bitter Scribe:
    This reminds me of that British TV commercial, I think it was posted on this site, that sarcastically depicted a young woman in a clothing store telling the clerk something like, “I want something that will get me raped tonight.” It’s appalling that a police officer would buy into crap like that.

    I think the commercial you’re talking about was a part of this Scottish campaign – which is brilliant and very much in line with what the Slut Walk is about.

    And as for the Slut Walk being “protest lite” – well, no. As Debbie said above, it was an organized, peaceful protest with a rally and speakers. That’s hardly the equivalent of posting a facebook status and claiming it’s activism. Moreover, throughout history protests have *always* had a party-like atmosphere (which isn’t to say that this was true of every protest ever, but it’s certainly not a recent phenomenon). Protest is, I think, often a form of celebration as well as activism. And I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way.

  29. Brett K:
    And as for the Slut Walk being “protest lite” – well, no. As Debbie said above, it was an organized, peaceful protest with a rally and speakers. That’s hardly the equivalent of posting a facebook status and claiming it’s activism. Moreover, throughout history protests have *always* had a party-like atmosphere (which isn’t to say that this was true of every protest ever, but it’s certainly not a recent phenomenon). Protest is, I think, often a form of celebration as well as activism. And I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Paging Emma Goldman. Emma Goldman to the black courtesy phone, please.

    (yeah, i know “her” line is a paraphrase someone else cooked up; i still love it :) )

  30. Claire N says:

    Look I know boobquake was problematic in all sorts of ways but I was checking through the comments on Facebook and it was striking to see how many women were supporting each other and the breasts in question (even when the women didn’t know who the breasts belonged to) when invariably MEN were saying sexist and misogynistic things.

    And also with Brett K.

  31. GordianKnot says:

    I’m new here, so I wanted to post something in true solidarity. One of my heroes, Christopher Hitchens, is bisexual and he spoke of how unsolicited attention from [older] males was terrifying to him and totally resolved the question that women somehow are asking for it by being so attractive:

    http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/7/2010/03/500x_hitch2.jpg

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