SlutWalk – The Movement to Place the Blame for Rape on the Rapist, not the Victim –
Co-founders Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis decided to redefine the word “slut” as someone who is in control of their own sexuality, to reclaim the word slut as a site of power for women. They observe that historically, “slut” has had negative connotations, and that their goal is to reclaim the term.
On January 24, 2011, Toronto Police Constable Michael Sanguinetti and another officer from 31 Division spoke on crime prevention, addressing the issue of campus rape at a York University safety forum at Osgoode Hall Law School. During the talk, Sanguinetti interrupted the more senior officer and said: “I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”
After an article that reported on the situation received international attention. Sanguinetti apologized for the remark saying:
“I made a comment which was poorly thought out and did not reflect the commitment of the Toronto Police Service to the victims of sexual assaults. Violent crimes such as sexual assaults can have a traumatizing effect on their victims… My comment was hurtful in this respect. I am embarrassed by the comment I made and it shall not be repeated.”
The apology was attached to an email distributed to the Osgoode community by law school dean Lorne Sossin who said they’ve been told the officer “is being disciplined and will be provided Co-founders Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis decided to redefine the word “slut” as someone who is in control of their own sexuality, to reclaim the word slut as a site of power for women. They observe that historically, “slut” has had negative connotations, and that their goal is to reclaim the term. Their website states:
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.
Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, ON., where Michael Sanguinetti spoke the words which sparked Slutwalk
Barnett considered the apology was not enough, since the officer’s stereotypical idea still exists in society. “The comment that was made by Officer Sanguinetti comes from a place where sexual profiling and victim blaming is inherent and a large trait and we’d like that changed,” Barnett said, Read more about the movement at SlutWalkToronto.com
Photo credit: Ottawasun