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March 31, 2011

We Support SlutWalk Toronto

We want to give a shoutout to a really cool event called SlutWalk happening this weekend in Toronto. The walk was inspired by some slut-shaming comments that were made earlier this year by a Toronto police officer. The officer was participating in a campus safety event at a Toronto law school when he decided to go off script during a discussion about safety tips for female students.
Ronda Bessner, who attended the session, remembered being surprised by what the officer suggested to women.

“One of the safety tips was for women not to dress like ‘sluts.’ He said something like, ‘I’ve been told I shouldn’t say this,’ and then he uttered the words,” said Bessner, Osgoode assistant dean of the Juris Doctor Program. “I was shocked and appalled. I made contact with the police [...] and we’ve asked for a written apology and an explanation.” [Excalibur]
Unfortunately we've all heard slut-shaming and victim-blaming statements like these, but obviously it's especially distressing when they come from someone in law enforcement. The organizers of SlutWalk decided that these comments were basically the last straw and that it was time to take action, and SlutWalk was born. I'll let them explain since they do it so eloquently:

As the city’s major protective service, the Toronto Police have perpetuated the myth and stereotype of ‘the slut’, and in doing so have failed us. With sexual assault already a significantly under-reported crime, survivors have now been given even less of a reason to go to the Police, for fear that they could be blamed. Being assaulted isn’t about what you wear; it’s not even about sex; but using a pejorative term to rationalize inexcusable behaviour creates an environment in which it’s okay to blame the victim.

Historically, the term ‘slut’ has carried a predominantly negative connotation. Aimed at those who are sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. And whether dished out as a serious indictment of one’s character or merely as a flippant insult, the intent behind the word is always to wound, so we’re taking it back. “Slut” is being re-appropriated.

We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality and feeling unsafe as a result. Being in charge of our sexual lives should not mean that we are opening ourselves to an expectation of violence, regardless if we participate in sex for pleasure or work. No one should equate enjoying sex with attracting sexual assault.

We are a movement demanding that our voices be heard. We are here to call foul on our Police Force and demand change. We want Toronto Police Services to take serious steps to regain our trust. We want to feel that we will be respected and protected should we ever need them, but more importantly be certain that those charged with our safety have a true understanding of what it is to be a survivor of sexual assault — slut or otherwise.

We are tired of speeches filled with lip service and the apologies that accompany them. What we want is meaningful dialogue and we are doing something about it: WE ARE COMING TOGETHER. As people from all gender expressions and orientations, all walks of life, levels of employment and education, all races, ages, abilities, and backgrounds, from all points of this city and elsewhere.

We are asking you to join us for SlutWalk, to make a unified statement about sexual assault and victims’ rights and to demand respect for all. Whether a fellow slut or simply an ally, you don’t have to wear your sexual proclivities on your sleeve, we just ask that you come. Any gender-identification, any age. Singles, couples, parents, sisters, brothers, children, friends. Come walk or roll or strut or holler or stomp with us.

Join us in our mission to spread the word that those those who experience sexual assault are not the ones at fault, without exception.

A group of people getting together to publicly speak out against slut-shaming and reclaim the word slut? Yeah, we officially LOVE this event. The walk is scheduled for Sunday, April 3rd at 1:30, but even if you don't live near Toronto (or the locations of any of the satellite events), we encourage everyone to check out the SlutWalk website. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook to learn more and show your support. Happy SlutWalking!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent. I knew when there was a SlutWalk in MN, and know I know the why. Thank you Ladies for the info.