Last updated: July 6, 2012 7:30 pm
Hundreds march in Vancouver’s second annual SlutWalk
VANCOUVER (CUP) — On June 30, more than 200 people gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery for Vancouver’s second annual SlutWalk.
“This is a march to end slut-shaming and end victim-blaming, and it’s a movement that’s happening across the world,” said Rachel Malek, one of the organizers of this year’s Vancouver event. “We are going to be doing this year after year now to raise awareness and end victim-blaming everywhere.”
The movement began in Toronto last year, in response to a comment by a Toronto police officer that a woman should “not dress like a slut” in order to avoid sexual assault. SlutWalks have since been held around the world, attracting media attention in part because of the provocative name.
Signs seen at the event held slogans such as “Slut Pride” and “I’m not asking for it until I ask you for it.”
“We should have the freedom to dress how we wish without [it] being considered being an invitation to sexual assault,” said participant Lysse Dahl.
There was much debate prior to this year’s event over the appropriateness of the word “slut.” In the movement’s beginnings, it advocated for reclaiming the word “slut” as an empowering term rather than a negative or violent one.
However, critics raised concerns that some groups of women, including racial minorities, didn’t consider reclaiming the word “slut” to be empowering. They suggested changing the name to make the movement less likely to exclude those who find the word uninviting.
Local organizers decided to put the name to an online vote. Voters were asked to choose between four possible names: “SlutWalk,” “Yes Means Yes,” “End the Shame” and “Shame Stop.” The original name stood, receiving 53 per cent of votes, and the event was billed as SlutWalk for another year.
This year’s organizers sought to make the event more equitable in other ways: they shortened the route to accommodate physically disabled participants. Last year, the route was a two-hour trek through Gastown, while this year it only went down Granville to Davie Street and back to the Vancouver Art Gallery.
The organizers plan to continue the movement with another annual event next summer.