Although the mere notion of women demanding their rights by protesting is scandalous and unacceptable to many, there are some protests within the diverse feminist movements of the world that many deem more controversial than others. However, women have always lived at the heart of controversy each time they have sought to challenge the patriarchal norms that prevent them from achieving their true potential and living life to the fullest. One such movement was the SlutWalk movement.
Don’t be fooled, the SlutWalks have been some of the most groundbreaking movements in feminist history and here is why: the walks have challenged the notion that women provoke rapists to attack them because of what they hear. This idea is common even now, where men use victim-blaming and slut-shaming tactics to silence the voice of those who have been hurt due to men who should know better than to hurt women on the basis of their clothes.
The movement was started by five women in Toronto. The outrage started when students were told to not dress like sluts if they wished to avoid rape at Toronto’s York University. In a world where even university campuses and academic institutions don’t provide safety from sexual harassment and assault, it is important to understand exactly why women decided to go against these sexist dress codes; this is exactly why the protestors wear as little as possible.
One of the reasons why this movement became so widely recognized and spread like wildfire was due to the validation of women’s anger. This anger stems from the fact that if a woman is raped, more often than not one of the first questions among many other questions asked her is not always, “are you alright?” or any other questions that might comfort the woman, but, “what were you wearing?” when this question is asked, you assume two things: firstly, that a woman’s clothes have a significant link to why she was raped and secondly, men are lustful beasts who cannot control themselves when they catch sight of a woman’s skin and therefore lose all control and civility and attack them.
This is true especially for young women, who formed the majority of the protestors in these walks because they’re much more likely to be blamed for wearing “inviting” or “suggestive” clothes when the only questions clothes might answer for a person vary from the color they prefer to wear, or the current season they’re wearing those clothes in. Moreover, even minor girls are blamed for the skin they show if they are sexually abused in any way, which is further problematic because while women are not mere objects of a man’s sexual fantasies or desires, children should never even come close to be sexualized.
This is an incredibly strong movement not just for those who are victim-blamed for wearing clothes that seemed provocative, but those who do not have a chance to wear what they please because they are labeled as a slut for it. This movement reclaimed the slur for women, but remember that despite many thinking that the young women had given into the idea of the hypersexualized industry by dressing in their underwear in many cases, the organizers wished for women to wear whatever they pleased, symbolic because women who have modeled in lingerie have been raped, and women who have been covered from head to toe in a veil have been raped too, and there is simply no justification for the crime of violating a person’s body like that.
These women took their anger, their pain and their solidarity to the streets to demand that people respect all women, including the sluts.