The SlutWalk movement — and its supporters, critics, critical supporters, and supportive critics — has twisty, turny story that began when a Toronto police officer suggested that women were getting assaulted because they were dressing like “sluts.” In an attempt to reclaim the word and affirm women’s right to wear whatever they feel like wearing, some Canadian feminists created SlutWalk Toronto — a protest against victim blaming combined with a celebration of personal empowerment.
As the movement’s organizers put it, “We are tired… 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… 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.”
The first SlutWalk drew a few thousand protesters, and similar marches followed in London, San Francisco, Melbourne… all around the world, really. And now, thanks to a group of dedicated local activists, it’s Baltimore’s turn. SlutWalk Baltimore is scheduled for noon on September 17, starting at the Inner Harbor and ending in front of City Hall.
A protest calling for an end to victim-blaming and exposing the hypocrisy of some police officers seems particularly appropriate here, as Baltimore’s police force recently made national news for under-reporting rapes. But the SlutWalk movement is not without its critics (read a round-up of critical viewpoints here). As Rebecca Traister recently wrote in the New York Times, “But at a moment when questions of sex and power, blame and credibility, and gender and justice are so ubiquitous and so urgent, I have mostly felt irritation that stripping down to skivvies and calling ourselves sluts is passing for keen retort.”
Where do you stand on the SlutWalk phenomenon: liberating or reactionary?